From freedom came elegance

In an attempt to activate the Avant Window Manager, I deleted some system files (specifically, libc6) that are necessary for a great many things to run. “But hey,” I thought, “it’s Linux. This is no big deal.” Instead, it was an ideal opportunity to try a distribution I’d read some good things about recently, and since that distribution is based on Ubuntu (which is, in turn, based on Debian), there wouldn’t be a huge shift for me to get used to. Firing up ye olde web browser, I started downloading Linux Mint and burned it to give the distro a go.

The installation went smoothly, but it has been a bit of a bumpy ride to get it finished, due largely to the way I copied my backup over I think (overwriting some configuration files in the process). The restricted drivers tool that installed my video drivers didn’t activate 3D acceleration automatically, but a nifty tool called Envy was able to uninstall and reinstall them, doing all the configuration and activation on its own. Envy is one of the neater Linux tools I’ve seen among the various distros I’ve driven, and definitely worthy of praise (particularly if it can handle ATI drivers as well as it did my nvidia one; I’ll have to try that at work some time).

Still, I had to redo my video 3 times, and though I was impressed that the GUI never died on me (though it did downgrade to safe mode at 800×600), it’s not what I would call ideal. Package management is fantastic, however, and so far Mint has the best I’ve seen. Coupling the renowned Synaptic Package Manager from Ubuntu with their own Software Portal application, you can find nearly anything and install it with just a few mouse clicks. All dependencies and configurations are done for you, and its simplicity is startling to those used to compiling for kicks.

And, of course, coupled with its elegance, the Avant Window Manager is a crowning feature. Available on all distros, it just looks nice alongside Mint’s interface improvements (Gnome with a nice theme, to be honest), and since it was my original goal, I’m glad to have it working so easily through the Software Portal.

Unfortunately, I have the same problem with Mint that I had with Ubuntu 7.10 (yet do not have with Ubuntu 7.04), which is that my digital camera does not work. In 7.04, I plug it in, it is detected, and I can pull the pictures off, no problem. Now, nothing, and a lot of users have the same problem. There is supposedly a patch or way around it, but I haven’t been able to get it to work yet. I can transfer the photos to my computer via the laptop, but that’s sort of a pain and I’m not sure it’s worth having a distro installed that doesn’t do everything I want/need it to do (even if it is shiny).

In the end, Linux Mint is nice, but it is plagued by the same shortcomings as most Ubuntu releases and distros: by focusing on being cutting edge, some stability is lost. All-in-all, it’s a fantastic distro, but regression of features simply should not occur. I’ll dig around a bit more and try to apply this patch, but I’m not holding out a whole lot of hope. We’ll see what the morning brings.

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