Linux Mint 7 (KDE)

I recently took a look at the Gnome version of Linux Mint 7. That review proved to be quite popular and brought a lot of traffic to DLR. I’ve been patiently waiting for the KDE version to be finished and now it’s finally here. So I snagged a copy and gave it a whirl.

What’s New In This Release
As with the Gnome version there’s some great new stuff in this release:

KDE 4.2.4
Amarok 2.1
Firefox Bundled with Moonlight and Silverlight Plugins
Linux Kernel 2.6.28
Ubiquity installer supports ext4 filesystem
Based on Ubuntu 9.04 (faster boot times, better wi-fi/3G connection switching, better notifications)
mintMenu (trash status, suggestions, keyboard shortcut)
mintInstall (featured apps, screenies downloads, better GUI)
mintUpdate (package sizes, no tray icon blinking, changelogs)
mintUpload (ad-free, graphical service manager, gui buffs, scp/sftp support)
mintWelcome (new popup welcome screen)

Rather than rewrite everything I wrote about the new stuff in the Gnome version, I’m going to simply paste in here so you can review it as it’s pretty much the same as in this KDE version of Linux Mint 7:

If you haven’t used Linux Mint before than mintMenu will be particularly appreciated. You can easily access all of the important places on your computer, your favorite apps (or all apps), utilities like the command line terminal, text editor, screen resolution, system monitor, etc. And you can also access your Control Center, Software Manager, Package Manager or logout/quit.

This release lets you see the status of your trash can and you can right-click it to empty it if you want. You can also use a keyboard shortcut to open the menu. Plus you’ll see suggestions when you use the Filter feature and no results are displayed. mintMenu is something that was already good and it just got even better in this release.

One of the nicer things about mintInstall in this release is Featured Applications which highlights some popular apps for users. While the list might seem basic or obvious to experienced Linux users, newbies might find some of the suggestions listed there quite helpful or at the very least interesting. I like this kind of approach for a desktop Linux distribution.

It’s important not to assume that everybody knows everything about every last Linux application ever created. Welcoming new people into the Linux fold by gently giving them an introduction to some useful apps is a very good thing.

Having said that we could debate whether or not the Featured  Applications list should have more or less apps. I am in favor of not overwhelming people with too many especially people newer to Linux so I think the amount listed by default is pretty good. Your mileage may vary, however.

As far as mintUpdate goes, I’m glad its system tray icon no longer blinks. Let me tell you that I hate any freaking update prompt that bounces, blinks or otherwise distracts me. Don’t even get me started about the idiotic bouncing blue ball in OS X. Damn annoying thing, I can’t stand it. For a company that is supposed to be so slick, Apple does some stupid things sometimes.

mintWelcome is something that I initially was dubious about as I generally detest some stupid menu popping up in my face when I boot into an operating system. However, I cautiously endorse it as it is relatively sedate and does not overwhelm a user with choices. I think making the user guide, release notes and list of new features available is a very, very good idea. Especially for newbies.

And ditto with putting a forum link in the menu as community support is so very helpful for many people. And I have no problem with the Linux Mint developer soliciting donations either as the distro has to be supported financially somehow.

mintWelcome
Requirements & Installation
Here are the system requirements for use of Linux Mint 7 (KDE):
A minimum of 4GB of free space and 256MB RAM are needed. For a comfortable experience we recommended to have at least 512MB RAM and 10GB of free space.

Like the Gnome version, the KDE version is a Live CD. So you can simply boot up and you’ll find a usable KDE desktop where you can click the Install icon to begin your installation. The install is very easy and took about 10 minutes or so. Even if you’ve never installed Linux before you shouldn’t have a problem installing the KDE version of Linux Mint 7.

I had no problems with my install and was able to boot right into my new KDE desktop.

kdeinstall0

kdeinstall

kdeinstall2

Desktop & Apps
One of the first things that you’ll notice if you are coming over from the Gnome version is that the desktop wallpaper in the KDE version is blue. It looks every bit as beautiful as the Gnome version but it’s a different color that better matches the KDE desktop environment theme.

There’s quite a bit of software included with Linux Mint 7 (KDE) and here’s a sample of what you’ll find:

Graphics
DNG Image Converter
Okular Document Viewer
OpenOffice.org Drawing
GIMP
Gwenview Image Viewer
Scribus Page Layout
Krita Painting and Image Editing
KolourPaint
digiKam Photo Management
Karbon14 Scalable Graphics
KSnapShot
XSane Image Scanning

Internet
KTorrent BitTorrent Client
Krfb Desktop Sharing
Akregator Feed Reader
Guarddog Firewall Configuration
Kopete IM
Quassel IRC
KMail
Mozilla Thunderbird Mail/News
KNode News Reader
Firefox
Konqueror

Multimedia
Amarok Audio Player
K3b CD & DVD Burning
Gnome MPlayer Media Player
Mplayer Movie Player
KMix Sound Mixer
K9copy Video DVD Backup
Dragon Video Player
VLC Media Player

Office
OpenOffice.org
Krita
KOrganizer
KAddressBook

Others
KNotes
KMouth Speech Synthesizer
SuperKaramba Desktop Widgets
Ark Archiving Tool

Adding software is quite easy, just mintInstall to find the apps you want.

mintInstall

Multimedia
As with the Gnome version, you will find that Linux Mint 7 (KDE) is fantastic for multimedia. You won’t need to run around installing codecs to play your DVDs, watch YouTube videos and do the usual multimedia stuff you do on a computer. Pretty much everything you need comes bundled into Linux Mint 7 (KDE).

What I Liked Most
Aside from the usual slickness of Linux Mint, I very much love the fact that multimedia works so well right out of the box. This makes it so much easier for folks that are new to Linux who might not even know what a codec is or how to install one. It makes desktop Linux so much more appealing and useful.

I also loved the blue version of the Linux Mint 7 wallpaper. Wallpaper is obviously a pretty small matter in the grand scheme of things but it’s a nice touch and it shows the usual great attention to detail demonstrated in many other ways in Linux Mint 7.

ledzeppelin

Problems & Headaches
One of the worst things about Linux Mint is that it usually doesn’t have much in the way of problems me to report on in this section. But here are a couple of things that I noticed that you might want to bear in mind.

The default KDE menu behavior might be a turn-off for some people. Obviously it can be changed to classic so I wouldn’t count it as too big of a headache but some people coming from Gnome or other desktop environments might not appreciate it. I’m getting used to it though, slowly but surely.

If you’re a gamer then you may be irritated that there are no games included with Linux Mint 7 (KDE). But don’t worry too much. If you start mintInstall you’ll find quite a few waiting for you and mintInstall makes it very easy to install new apps.

featuredappsWhere To Get Help
You can always post a note in the Desktop Linux Reviews Forum and we’ll do our best to offer feedback or at least point you in the right direction. You might also want to visit the Linux Mint discussion forum or drop by the Linux Mint Wiki.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It

While I generally consider myself a Gnome man, I’m slowly warming up to KDE and I found myself liking this version of KDE the best. Linux Mint is one of the best desktop distributions around and the fact that KDE users get their own version of it makes it a great choice for them. I suspect that there may even be some Gnome users out there who might consider switching over to the KDE version after using this release.

This distribution, along with the Gnome version, is highly recommended for those who are new to desktop Linux. It’s easy to install, comes with a ton of great software and is multimedia ready right out of the box. Linux Mint 7 (KDE) is a great way to get your feet wet with Linux.

kickoff

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 7 (KDE)
Web Site: http://www.linuxmint.com/download_ce.php
Price: Free
Pros: Gorgeous wallpaper, excellent selection of software, multimedia ready. Provides KDE users with their own version of Linux Mint 7.
Cons: No games included by default. If you want games you’ll have to install them separately after you install Linux Mint 7 (KDE).
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users. Highly recommended for beginners.
Summary: A terrific alternative to the Gnome version of Linux Mint 7 for KDE users.
Rating: 4/5