Linux Mint 8 KDE (Helena)

I’ve been somewhat tardy in getting to the KDE version of Linux Mint 8. But I’ve finally been able to sit down with it and thus couldn’t resist writing a review. As great as the GNOME version of Linux Mint is, it simply isn’t for everybody. Many people still prefer KDE to GNOME and a separate review is helpful for those looking for an alternative for GNOME.

Please note that this release weighs in at a chunky 1.16GB so it’s not going to fit onto a CD. You’ll need a DVD to burn it to before you can run it as a Live DVD or install it on your system. If you’re using VirtualBox, VMWare or Parallels, you can just do a regular install from the ISO file.

What’s New In This Release
Linux Mint 8 KDE is based on Kubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala), Linux 2.6.31, Xorg 7.4 and KDE 4.3.4.

New Features & Changes
Here’s a brief list of new stuff and changes:

Screenshots have been moved to the corner in Software Manager, this has freed up more space to view software and see reviews.

Now there is no need to manually refresh Software Manager, instead you will be automatically notified of new “mintinstall-data.”

Multiple application install/removal in Software Manager.z

Update manager has multiple improvements including the ability to define visible columns and to resize the Update Manager itself. The UM also uses Synaptic to refresh the list of updates and error messages appear in the main window. You can also customize software sources, choose preferred mirrors and also ignore packages you don’t want.

There’s also some new artwork included in Linux Mint 8 KDE and the “Air” desktop theme replaces the “Oxygen” them.

Updated  Software
There are also some new applications installed by default including:

Google Widgets
KDE Partition Manager

Use Minitube to view YouTube videos.

Hardware Requirements & Installation
Like its GNOME counterpart; Linux Mint 8 KDE is a Live DVD. You don’t need to actually install it to check it out. Just pop the DVD into your computer and boot it up. You’ll be able to use a fully functional Live DVD desktop. If you choose to, you can install Linux Mint 8 KDE or you can simply opt to keep running it via the Live DVD.

If you like it, I recommend trying to install it as you’ll probably get better performance once it’s running via your hard disk. The Live DVD ran pretty well for me though, I can’t complain as applications loaded quickly and my overall experience was good.

Hardware Requirements
The hardware requirements are the same as for the GNOME version of Linux Mint:

A minimum of 512MB of RAM is recommended. Once installed the system works fine with as low as 256MB RAM. The installation process deals with 2.5GB of data compressed on a 700MB CD and it can hang or fail on systems with less than 512MB RAM. If you have between 256MB and 512MB RAM you may have to try to install several times.

Installation Steps
As with any version of Ubuntu, the install itself is mostly painless. Even if you haven’t installed Linux before, you shouldn’t have a problem with it. It’s certainly no more difficult than installing Windows on your computer.

Here’s a breakdown of the install steps:

Step 1: Choose your language.

Step 2: Set your time zone.

Step 3: Pick your keyboard.

Step 4: Disk Partitioning

Step 5: User Info

Step 6: Summary

Step 7: Install

The install didn’t take long (about 15 minutes or so) and, once it was complete, I simply rebooted to begin using my Linux Mint 8 KDE system.

Once you’ve picked your Language, Time Zone, Keyboard, Disk Setup and User Info your install can begin.

Booting & Login
Bootsplash Screen: When you first boot up your Linux Mint 8 KDE system, you’ll see the Linux Mint KDE logo. There’s nothing else on the bootsplash screen to look at or use though. It’s stark and simple, to say the least.

Login Screen: The login screen features the KDE theme colors, along with some German text welcoming you to your new Linux Mint 8 KDE system.

I have no idea why the text at the top of the login page and on the buttons to the left was in German. I didn’t install it in German. But it wasn’t a problem when I finished logging in; everything else was in English. So I had no problem actually reading anything on my desktop.

The Desktop
As always, the first thing I noticed when booting into the desktop was the desktop music. I’m always glad to hear it since it lets me know that the sound is working fine on my new system.

The second thing that grabbed me attention was the Welcome to Linux Mint 8 menu. If you’re a veteran Linux Mint user, you probably won’t find it of deep interest (except for the new features list). But newbies will love it since it contains the following links:

Browse New Features
Read Release Notes
Download User Guide
Visit Forums
Connect to Chat Room
Become A Sponsor
Make Donation
Get Involved

The welcome menu is a nice touch and one I’d like to see other distros and remastered distros adopt. It just makes so much sense to make it easy for people to find basic information to get started and also to contribute to the ongoing development of a distro.

The welcome menu makes it easy to get started with Linux Mint 8 KDE.

If you want to change your desktop settings, click the Linux Mint button on your panel then click Applications then System Settings then Desktop. That will allow you to change Desktop Effects, Multiple Desktops, Screen Edges, Screen Save and to Launch Feedback. Right clicking the desktop opens another menu that lets you change wallpaper, theme, etc.

This distro comes with Air and Oxygen as the default installed themes. You can add more though if neither floats your boat. Just right-click the desktop then choose Desktop Settings then click the New Theme button and a window will load with lots of alternative themes to choose from. You’re bound to find something that’s more appealing than the default theme.

The blue wallpaper in this version of Linux Mint is obviously geared toward matching the KDE theme. That’s fine but I have to admit that the green color of the GNOME version is more attractive to me. Obviously the wallpaper can be easily changed though so it’s not a big deal.

The desktop is uncluttered and clean. I placed the KSnapshot icon on the desktop.

Bundled Software
Here’s some of the software included in this release:

There is no separate bundled category for games in Linux Mint 8 KDE. If you want games you’ll have to add them yourself via Software Manager.

Acquire Images
DNG Image Converter
Document Viewer Drawing
Gwenview Image Viewer
digiKam Photo Management
showFoto Photo Viewer and Editor
XSane Image Scanner

Krfb Desktop Sharing
Akregator Feed Reader
Guarddog Firewall Config
FileZilla FTP
Google Gadgets
Kopete IM
Tucan Manager

Amarok Audio Player
K3b CD & DVD Burning
KsCD Player
Dragon Video Player

Kontact PIM


There’s plenty of other software available too via Software Manager.

Software Management
Software Manager makes it easy to manage your software. To access it simply click the Linux Mint 8 icon on your panel then choose Applications then Settings then Software Manager. You can search for software and you can read reviews of applications written by other users.

Clicking the Features Applications link in Software Manager will display a helpful list of popular applications that can be downloaded to your system.

Software Repositories
You can add or remove software sources by clicking the Linux Mint button on your panel then choosing Applications then System then Software Sources. You will need to type your root password in to access the Software Sources menu.

Sound and Multimedia
As I noted earlier, the sound seemed to work fine when first booting into Linux Mint 8 KDE.

YouTube & Flash
I played YouTube videos in miniTube and also in Firefox via the YouTube site. Video and sound looked great in both of them. I was able to play HD YouTube videos in Firefox without any problems.

For some reason, I was not able to get my test DVD to play. I’d picked “Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country” but it wouldn’t play in any of the applications I tried. Not sure what the problem was since I was able to get DVDs to work in the GNOME version of Linux Mint 8.

Problems & Headaches
As usual with Linux Mint, it’s pretty tough to find things to complain about. The inability to get DVDs to play properly was probably the worst problem I had while using the KDE version of Linux Mint.

One other thing that I found somewhat annoying was the lack of games in the default install. Given that there are plenty of them available in Software Manager, I’m not sure why at least some aren’t bundled into this distro. I assume that there are some KDE users out there who might appreciate playing a few games if they were installed by default. Yes, it’s possible for the user to install them separately but it just feels odd that none are installed by default.

Beyond that, I really didn’t encounter anything of significance in terms of using Linux Mint 8 KDE. If you’ve run into a particular problem though, please post about it in the comments. I’m sure other readers might find it helpful or interesting.

Where 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 check out the user guide, wiki and the Linux Mint 8 KDE discussion forum.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
If you’re a Linux Mint KDE user then this upgrade is pretty much a no-brainer. This release gets you up to date with the latest version of Ubuntu (though Ubuntu 10 isn’t far off so I’ll be reviewing this again soon enough) and KDE.

If KDE isn’t your thing though, there’s nothing here that will make you want to use it instead of the GNOME version.

What’s your take on Linux Mint 8 KDE? Tell me in the comments below. Looking for opinion columns and other articles by Jim Lynch? Visit

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 8 KDE (Helena)
Web Site: Linux Mint
Price: Free
Pros: Easy install, good selection of software, KDE 4.3.4.
Cons: Doesn’t include bundled games. I was not able to get my test DVD to play properly.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced desktop Linux users.
Summary: Linux Mint 8 KDE brings Linux Mint KDE up to speed with Ubuntu 9.10 and adds some custom upgrades of its own. An excellent desktop distribution that any KDE user should consider using.
Rating: 4/5