Linux Mint Debian Edition has proven to be a popular release for the Linux Mint developers. It’s certainly at the top of my list of favorite distros. Linux Mint Debian edition uses the GNOME desktop and, as good as it is, it’s just not right for some folks (especially those on older or slower computers).
Enter Linux Mint 201104 Xfce version. Now you can get the benefits of a rolling Debian distro and the virtues of the lightweight Xfce desktop environment. Linux Mint Xfce runs on top of a Debian Testing base and makes use of the same repositories as regular Linux Mint Debian Edition.
For those aren’t familiar with rolling release distros here’s a brief bit of background:
In software development, a rolling release approach refers to a continuously developing software system, as opposed to one with versions that must be reinstalled over the previous versions. It is one of many types of software release life cycles. Rolling releases are typically seen in use by Linux distributions. A rolling release is typically implemented using small and frequent updates. However, simply having updates does not automatically mean that a piece of software is using a rolling release cycle; to qualify as a rolling release, the philosophy of developers must be to work with one code branch, as opposed to discrete versions. Updates are typically delivered to users using a package manager and a software repository accessed through the internet. Not all distributions based on rolling release distros are themselves rolling. Conversely, there are rolling release distributions that are based on development branches of non-rolling distros; there are also (partial) rolling release distributions based on stable branches of non-rolling distros.
And if you aren’t familiar with Xfce, here’s a bit more background to bring you up to speed:
Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and low on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly. Xfce embodies the traditional UNIX philosophy of modularity and re-usability. It consists of a number of components that provide the full functionality one can expect of a modern desktop environment. They are packaged separately and you can pick among the available packages to create the optimal personal working environment. Another priority of Xfce is adhereance to standards, specifically those defined at freedesktop.org. Xfce can be installed on several UNIX platforms. It is known to compile on Linux, NetBSD, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris, Cygwin and MacOS X, on x86, PPC, Sparc, Alpha…
What’s New In This Release
Since this is a rolling release, there really wasn’t a coherent list of new features for this section of the review. However, you can browse the release announcement to gain some additional insight into the virtues of Linux Mint Xfce. I found it interesting that the other version of Linux Mint Debian Edition will eventually be called Linux Mint GNOME Debian or something like that.
Here are some of the highlights from the release notes:
Better software selection
Here are the figures from the Linux Mint blog regarding the performance boost:
- Mint Xfce: 114 MB RAM (Mint 9 Xfce: 153 MB RAM)
- Mint Xfce + Writer + Calc + Firefox: 177 MB RAM (Mint 9 Xfce + Writer + Calc + Firefox: 212 MB RAM)
- Mint Xfce + Writer + Calc + Firefox + Thunderbird + VLC + Rhythmbox: 220 MB RAM (Mint 9 Xfce + Writer + Calc + Firefox + Thunderbird + Gnome MPlayer + Exaile: 256 MB RAM)
The big thing here obviously is the performance boost. I have not verified this but the figures presented seem quite reasonable and if they are true then I think users should be quite happy indeed with this release! That said, it’s not like running any Xfce version of Linux Mint was ever slow or pokey. It’s probably one of the most responsive, least bloated desktop environments you can pick to run. But if the Linux Mint developers can make it even better, I’m all for it.
The software selection basically puts it on par as the GNOME version including adding VLC and replacing Exaile with Rhythmbox. These are good moves and should add value for most users. Of course these programs were available for download but if they come installed by default now, so much the better especially for new users that might not have come across them before.