Linux Mint 9 KDE (Isadora)

The last review I did of Linux Mint 9 covered the GNOME version. This week it’s time to look at the KDE version. Linux Mint 9 KDE is based on Kubuntu 10.04. This release includes KDE Plasma Desktop 4.4 and Linux Kernel 2.3.2. The Linux Mint developers did a great job with this release, as you’ll find out in the review. KDE users should be very happy indeed with Linux Mint 9 KDE. It’s as good for KDE users as the GNOME version is for GNOME users.

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new stuff you’ll find in this release:

KDE Network Manager
New Applications
New Backup Tool
New Software Manager
Enhanced Look and Feel
Windows Installer

I’ll cover the Software Manager in the software section of the review.

KDE Network Manager
Linux Mint 9 KDE now uses the KDE Network Manager instead of the GNOME version. The KDE Network Manager supports Wired Ethernet Devices (IEE 802.3), Mobile Broadband Devices (GSM, CDMA, UMTS, etc.), Wireless Ethernet Devices (IEEE 802.11) including unencrypted, WEP, WPA Personal, and WPA Enterprise. It also supports VPN (OpenVPN, VPNC), Dial-Up (PPP) and DSL (PPPoE).

New Applications
New applications include ActoneISO, Bleachbit, Yakuake, Dansguardian, Htdig and Miro. AcetoneISO is a cool application that lets you easily manage CD/DVD images. Bleachbit is a helpful tool that lets you free up disk space, remove junk and protect your privacy. Yakuake is a terminal emulator based on KDE Konsole technology. Dansguardian offers web content filtering that concerned parents might find useful.  Htdig is search-indexing software, and Miro offers a large range of video content.

New Backup Tool
Linux Mint 9 KDE has a new backup too. The new backup tool preserves your preferences and data. It also tracks the software you installed. When you upgrade to a fresh install of Linux Mint, the backup tool will restore your data as well as the software you had installed on your Linux Mint system.

You can also opt to restore your software selection on a different computer. The backup tool can perform incremental restorations and backups, and it can compress and archive “on the fly.” It also performs an integrity check on each file (but you can turn this off if you want to speed up your backup).

Enhanced Look and Feel
The welcome screen is now in HTML, and contains extremely helpful links to support, documentation and community resources. Linux Mint 9 KDE also comes with better backgrounds. Update Manager now contains a new icon set that promises better integration with the desktop.

Windows Installer
The Windows Installer is back after being removed for the last release. If you use it, you can install Linux Mint as a program on your C: drive, without having to change your partitions. Frankly though, I’m not sure that it’s really worth doing. If I were going to run it in Windows and didn’t want to mess with partitions, I’d just use VirtualBox, VMWare or Parallels. However, it’s still a nice option for those who wish to use the Windows Installer.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s a list of what you’ll need to run Linux Mint 9 KDE:

* x86 processor
* 512 MB of system memory (RAM)
* 5 GB of disk space for installation
* Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
* DVD drive or USB port

Installation
The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end. The install is very easy and very fast. For this review, I downloaded the 1.35GB DVD.

Since Linux Mint 9 KDE is a Live CD distro, you don’t actually have to install it to run it on your computer. Just pop the CD or DVD into your system, and boot up. The Live CD desktop may run a bit slower than the regular install, since it’s running off the CD or DVD.

Booting & Login
The bootsplash screen contains one of the new backgrounds, as does the login screen. The background is attractive, albeit a little bit bland looking.

Notice that you don’t see the Linux Mint logo on the bootsplash screen though, it seems to have been a bit underplayed in this release. It does appear on the login screen, but even then its presence is not overwhelming.

The Desktop
The Linux Mint 9 KDE desktop contains the blue Isadora background, which helps differentiate from the blander looking Kubuntu that it is based on. However, I still think that GNOME version of Linux Mint has a much more attractive look to it. The green color in the background and theme sets it apart and makes it much more distinct than Linux Mint KDE. Perhaps I’m just not as big a fan of the color blue as some other folks.

When you first boot into the installed desktop, you’ll notice the Welcome to Linux Mint menu.

Themes
The default theme is Oxygen. If you prefer to change it, click the K button on the panel and then go to Settings then System Settings. From there choose Appearance and select Styles. Click the Get New Themes Button and you’ll find a bunch of alternative Plasma themes.

Wallpaper
If the bland, blue Isadora wallpaper doesn’t appeal to then just right click the desktop and choose Desktop Activity Settings. From there, you can choose from a good selection of alternative wallpaper, some of which is much more interesting than the default choice.


Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
No Bundled Games (Available in Software Manager)

Graphics
AqcquireImages
digiKam
DNGConverter
GIMP
Gwenview
KSnapshot
Okular
OpenOffice.org Drawing
XSane
showFoto

Internet
Akregator
FileZilla
Firefox
FrostWire
Guarddog
KMail
Konqueror
Kopete
Quassel IRC
Tucan Manager

Multimedia
AcetoneISO
Amarok
Dragon Player
K3b
KMix
KsCD
Minitube
Miro
Songbird
VLC

Office
KAddressBook
Kontact
KOrganizer
KTimeTracker
Okular
OpenOffice.org

Others
Wine

Software Management
New Software Manager
The Software Manager has been totally rewritten, it now handles more than 30,000 packages. Packages are broken into categories including: Featured, Accessories, Education, Games, Graphics, Internet, Office, Science, Sound and Video, System Tools, Programming and All Packages. User reviews are also included in the Software Manager.

If you’ve used the Ubuntu Software Center then you’ll feel right at home using the Software Manager in Linux Mint 9 KDE.

Software Repositories
Given the amount of software that you’ll find in Software Manager, I see no real reason to add more repositories. However, if you want to, just open the Software Manager and click Edit then Software Sources. From there you can add additional repositories.

Adding & Removing Software
To add or remove software, find the application in the Software Manager and click Install or Remove.

 

Sound and Multimedia

YouTube & Flash
I did the usual test of YouTube and had no problems running videos. I didn’t need to install flash to run them. This is one of the nicest things about Linux Mint; you get all of the codecs you need to run most anything. There’s no real need for you to run around installing software to enjoy multimedia on your computer.

You can also watch video via Miro, Minitube or VLC. All of these applications come bundled in Linux Mint 9 KDE, so you have an enormous range of content available. VLC, of course, is probably the single best piece of software available for playing media. I keep it on all of my computers; it comes in Linux, Windows or Mac versions.

YouTube videos played well and I did not need to install Flash.

Problems & Headaches
One of the things I find most irritating about KDE are the god-awful sliding application menus. Thankfully, it’s possible to simply right-click on the kickoff button and choose “Switch to Classic Menu Style.” Yes, I know that I’m probably a minority on this issue; but I’ve never understood the rationale behind the sliding menus in KDE. They are more trouble than they are worth, in my cantankerous view.

Beyond that, I didn’t encounter any noticeable problems with Linux Mint 9 KDE. Like its GNOME counterpart, it seemed very stable and I didn’t see any application crashes or other overt issues with it.

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 Linux Mint 9 KDE forum and the Linux Mint Community site.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Installing Linux Mint 9 KDE is a no-brainer for KDE users. I find it to be a much better value than generic Kubuntu. The Linux Mint tools, multimedia codecs and other goodies make Linux Mint 9 KDE a delight to use, even for a non-KDE person like me. Frankly, Linux Mint 9 KDE is what Kubuntu should have been all along.

If you don’t like KDE in the first place, then stick with the regular version of Linux Mint 9. If you’re a fan of KDE, I think you’ll really enjoy this release. There’s an enormous amount to like and very little to dislike.

Linux Mint 9 KDE is fine for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit the DLR forum for more discussions. Visit JimLynch.com for opinion columns.

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 9 KDE (Isadora)
Web Site: http://www.linuxmint.com
Price: Free
Pros: New software manager, new applications, KDE Network Manager, new backup tool and an enhanced look and feel.
Cons: It’s KDE, so if you don’t appreciate what KDE has to offer then stick with the GNOME version of Linux Mint 9. Beyond that, there’s not much in the way of cons in this release.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Summary: Linux Mint 9 KDE is Kubuntu as it should have been. This release adds new applications, a new software manager and so much more. It’s well worth a download for anybody interested in using KDE as his or her desktop environment.
Rating: 4.5/5