Posted on Monday 23rd of April 2007 at 13:09 in Linux

Review of Linux Mint Bianca KDE Edition - Ubuntu derivative

With all the hype surrounding Ubuntu at the moment I think it's important not to overlook the other recent releases. One of these is Linux Mint Bianca: KDE Edition.

Linux Mint is a derivative of Ubuntu with a goal of providing a more complete out of the box experience by including browser plugins, media codecs, DVD playback support, Java and some other stuff too. It claims to be compatible with Ubuntu and it's software repositories so let's see what Mint is all about.

Out of the box?
I find it strange that Mint intends on offering a more complete out of the box solution than Ubuntu - from which this is based. While this has been more true in previous releases of Ubuntu (with things like EasyUbuntu used to increase immediate functionality), Feisty Fawn has shown itself to be more than capable on a fresh install... So already I'm doubting whether Mint has a worthwhile objective or not.

What I'm looking for
All I'm doing is evaluating how easy the distro performs a few basic tasks that I consider fundamental for "normal" use (I'm looking into how I review distros again so this is subject to become more in-depth later). The distro needs to network to my current setup, obtain a media file (normally an episode of Family Guy), play it without issue, allow for full web browsing, offer easy access to common applications. The review must also be written, formatted and published from within the review environment.

Reviewing Linux Mint Bianca: KDE Edition

I chose to look at the KDE edition over the other current releases through personal preference but I shall continue comparisons to other distros irrespective of their environments.

Let me start shallow to begin with; it's a nice looking distro but not quite to everyone's taste. It's using the "Vista-esque" theme as default which is a nice touch because I actually quite like how Vista presents the minimise/maximise/close buttons. So it looks quite nice, implementing a minty-green theme.

linux mint desktop

The menu contains more than the average, which is a decision I'm not sure I like - I prefer the normal KDE application menu being present than needing to use the menu for everything. All in all though, it looks alright (and being KDE you can modify it to your hearts content).

Let's connect to my network and grab something to play
As with all the other reviews it's important to grab a video file from my current setup and play it. Once again it was simply a matter of opening an "explorer" window and opting for a "network". Selecting "Samba share" gives you the option of selecting which Windows shared network to connect to. Once again I connected to "badger" (my home network) and navigated to my supply of Family Guy.

family guy

Playing an episode of Family Guy
The result of executing the file I copied from my NTFS shared system was excellent. Opting to play the file resulted in "Kaffeine" playing the episode without delay. Clearly Mint has a comprehensive set of Codecs preloaded - which is good.

family guy playing

Brief conclusions
It's alright. I can't say that I like it more than Ubuntu, Kubuntu, SimplyMepis or PCLinuxOS but it's a perfectly decent distro. I find provided applications a slightly "odd" decision, lacking some familiar faces that I'd expect from a KDE environment but that doesn't really matter for new users. There are plenty of entertainment/media applications available and everything seems to work once again. "Adept" replaces the familar Synaptic (as far as I can tell) which isn't an issue as the two behave largely the same.

minty menu

It's ok but I can't say it excells because I think it's window for success closed the moment Feisty was released. Preloaded codecs aren't any real advantage over a system that downloads them on demand. It just doesn't seem to sit together quite right either; there's just something awkward about how it feels while using it.

It's good and everything I've tried just works but I see no advantage using this over (K)Ubuntu. It just doesn't seem to offer any more than Feisty has been able to deliver and that's the danger of developing a derivative of the most popular "usable" distro around. I'd bet the development team for Ubuntu is bigger and therefore able to cover more ground quickly.

So finally
It's good, I just don't think it has a real application anymore. Ubuntu Feisty Fawn just manages so much and has such a loyal following that it's hard to accept a derivative that doesn't surpass it's parent in any obvious way.

It doesn't grab me and while it IS an excellent release I don't think it has enough appeal to dent the market in the same way Ubuntu or PCLOS can.


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