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.

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Comments

  1. Eddie Wilson says

    dragonmouth wrote:

    Since Software Manager is part of Ubuntu, it is possible that *buntus have the same problem as Mint.

    Mint wants their versions to be separate from the Ubuntu versions and that's where you get the problems. Mint has their own software manager, update manager, and several other nice tools that they have worked hard to develop. With the level of talent they have it's a mystery to me why they consider this a non issue. As stated earlier it wouldn't be advisable to teach new Linux users bad habits.

  2. Brian Masinick says

    factotum218 wrote:

    I gave it a go and enjoy it so far. It’s only been a week but I haven’t touched KDE since Slackware 9. KDE4 is pretty but seems a bit overkill for my needs.

    Overall it’s a nice out of the box desktop distribution, but if I where going this route I might just stick with Debian after sorting what I want in my application menu. No matter which distribution I pick, I usually end up with the same system in the end. Linux Mint is a great way to ease into a good starting point for a desktop system.

    You may want to try installing Debian Squeeze if you have Slackware background but are now looking at Debian alternatives. Debian Squeeze has not yet been released, but it is now in code freeze for release, meaning that only release critical changes can be made. Debian Squeeze is ALREADY very solid, and I recommend it heartily for intermediate and expert users.

  3. factotum218 says

    I gave it a go and enjoy it so far. It's only been a week but I haven't touched KDE since Slackware 9. KDE4 is pretty but seems a bit overkill for my needs.

    Overall it's a nice out of the box desktop distribution, but if I where going this route I might just stick with Debian after sorting what I want in my application menu. No matter which distribution I pick, I usually end up with the same system in the end. Linux Mint is a great way to ease into a good starting point for a desktop system.

  4. Singu says

    Authenticaton problem is a serious issue here, more so since this is third most popular Linux distro according to DistroWatch, and often used as a first choice showcase to Linux noobs. This fact makes this not only Mint community problem, but Linux problem as well. This is ongoing from Mint version 7, while not being mentioned in the release notes or download page, and I have not found any signs that devs think this is something serious and their breakfast talk. Infact given this is a security issue, silence is defaning. Given all this, third party pressure is needed for the good of Mint and Linux, particulary from blogers,journalists etc. Despite this, Mint developers have earned through hard work and dedication right to be first heard on this and explain their reasons. Learning Linux newcomers to blast their way through authentication warnings is not acceptable, and to stress once more, Mint is third most popular Linux distro so this is Linux problem as well. I can not confirm functionality problems mentioned by dragonmouth since authentication issue had a StopSign effect on me. I agree with Brian, there are other debian distros out there, but given Mint popularity this authentication issue should not be left unanswered for Linux good itself. In short: Mint devs should be asked some serious questions.

  5. dragonmouth says

    Since Software Manager is part of Ubuntu, it is possible that *buntus have the same problem as Mint.

  6. Brian Masinick says

    @Dragonmouth, after initially being pretty positive about Mint, I have reassessed my recommendations, and like you, I simply cannot recommend this distribution or any distributions based on the Mint repositories because of the way in which they dis-assemble authentication, even in upstream packages that DO contain authentication.

    You have added a number of other concerns to the ones I've learned of today. I don't have any distributions based on Mint permanently installed on my systems right now, and based on what I have been learning over the past several hours today, until there are changes in the way that packages are managed, the most a Mint system will see of my hardware is a quick run live or from a virtual machine. There are too many good systems out there to even consider a system that SEEMS so easy for beginners, but like the software from the consumer market leader, have serious security flaws; Mint seems a lot like them in this regard, so no thanks.

    I love Debian based software, but I can get other Debian based systems that are just as simple, but significantly more secure. Debian Squeeze is one, at a low level, but SimplyMEPIS is probably the finest derivative around that consistently follows stability, security, and best practices, so that is what I recommend for first time users to the Linux community.

  7. dragonmouth says

    I installed Mint 9 KDE this afternoon. I wish I could be as positive about it as you are. I found the following problems:

    At the end of the install process, the Installer connects to Mint Repositories and downloads over 200 meg of Language packs and Fonts. That after I checked English as my desired language. How many users in the world need or want Xhosa language pack that is one those installed by default? I don't need all those languages and fonts. Whichever, if any, I need, I can install later. After the install, I had to waste time uninstalling all that garbage.

    "Cowsay" and "fortune" packages cannot be uninstalled without destroying the system. They are integrated into the base system and their removal results in the removal of "mintsystem" among other packages.

    Monitor and video card capabilities are not recognized properly and there is no easy way of resetting the resdo0lution/refresh rate. Config files have to be edited manually.

    Only few cursor themes are available by default.

    No explicit root logon but that is endemic to all *buntus and derivatives.

    Using the user password to access trhe Admin functions is not very good security, no matter what the Ubuntu developers say.

    The logon Welcome Message still says "Welcome to Kubuntu"

    The Software Manager that you love so much has to be used very carefully. It does not check or warn of dependency problems. I wanted to uninstall "cowsay and "fortune". Synaptic warned me that system files will be removed along with "cowsay". Just for giggles I used Software Manger to uninstall "cowsay". After asking me for the Admin password, without any warning it happilly removed it and the system files. OOOPPSSS!

    Software Manager does not display packages to be updated.

    Software Manager displays packages in review-number order – high to low. There is no way to change that.

    There is no way to reload/refresh ths Software Manager database of packages.

    Why have Software Manager, Update Manager and Synaptic? Synaptic does whatever the other two do and more and then it does it better. At least the developers did not include KPackage also.

    I would not reccomend any version of Mint 9 to a beginner until Software manager is changed and would suggest caution to all others.

  8. Brian Masinick says

    One of my long time friends over on the forum side of this site, "Dragonmouth", just installed both the LXDE and KDE variations of Mint, and found a number of issues. He had some concerns on the LXDE side about the Software Manager, particularly:

    Software Manager does not check or warn of dependency problems.

    Software Manager does only one action at the time. No way to add/remove more than one package using SM.

    He then asks the question: Why have Software Manager, Update Manager and Synaptic? SM and UM each do only part of the job. Synaptic does all that the other two do and then more.

    Then he raises an issue:

    Synaptic shows 28 packages to be updated but Update Manager shows only 22.

    The Software Manager and the Update Manager APPEAR to be convenient, and Jim has mentioned in multiple reviews that he likes them better than Synaptic, but now I am leery about that.

    As an experienced user and administrator, I'd rather even use low level tools if I have to in order to ensure that my system is safe and secure. The classic command line apt-get tool is faster than Update Manager or The Software Manager, and now it also appears that it is more TRUSTWORTHY as well.

    I'm no longer sure that I consider this a good system for beginners, because there are way too many "surprises" lurking below the visible surface for the inexperienced beginner. I'd much rather recommend a solid, stable desktop system, such as SimplyMEPIS or PCLinuxOS rather than any of the recent Linux Mint releases.

    Isn't there a movie called "What Lies Beneath"? Perhaps that should be the subtitle of the next Linux Mint review! ;-)

  9. Brian Masinick says

    Ankleface Wroughtlandmire wrote:

    It’s a shame that they didn’t offer a 700 MB CD edition of the Mint 9 KDE edition. A 1.3 GB DVD is just too much in my opinion. Several users requested it on the forums, but they were basically shot down.

    I can understand a KDE edition no longer fitting on a CD. Kubuntu and a few others may attempt to do it, but compromises, leaving common applications out is the way that they do it, so Mint, wanting to provide a complete experience, undoubtedly chose to go another route. On the other hand, if a Fluxbox or LXDE edition couldn't fit on a CD, I'd suggest it was too bloated because those environments are much smaller than KDE and intended to run in limited hardware environments.

    So far the Kubuntu camp has managed to constrain itself within a CD; I have to wonder how much longer that can happen – unless you install JUST the core, and REQUIRE everyone to download the specific components they want. For many of us, that WOULD be an option – I wouldn't mind that at all, but again, that's not for everyone. Even in the second decade of the twenty first century, not everyone is broadband equipped, and even some who are have download size restrictions; you just can't win with everything, so you have to cleanly define exactly what you are producing and stick with it.

    The good news is that there are PLENTY of options to choose from. The Linux Mint and Ubuntu distributions alone have choices of all sizes, shapes, and LITERALLY colors! :-)

  10. says

    It's a shame that they didn't offer a 700 MB CD edition of the Mint 9 KDE edition. A 1.3 GB DVD is just too much in my opinion. Several users requested it on the forums, but they were basically shot down.

  11. john_21 says

    Good review,

    Being a Kde user for quite some time , i can say that kubuntu has improved over the years and mint supercedes it. For beginners mint KDE should be ideal. But KDE is not ubuntu's strength, but improving steadily.

    PCLOS,mandriva ,suse,excel at KDE because they focus more on that. Another distro which surpised me is Fedora KDE,its slowly catching up and becoming rock stable.

    Keep those reviews coming,

    Did You do a review on Pardus.?

  12. Brian Masinick says

    Good review, Jim. I think that the packaging issue raised by Singu does elevate a couple things in what is otherwise a really good desktop system. 1. Authenticating packages ought to be an absolute requirement. In this day and age of spoofing, who knows whether ANY package, no matter how otherwise "official" it may appear, hasn't been hijacked by someone? Not having a superb and automatic authentication scheme, especially when the installer is so much of a push button operation may be a much more serious issue than first meets the eye. 2. The defensiveness of the people on the Mint forum regarding this topic leads me to question whether or not the Mint forums are as useful as a couple of the other top vendor forums. I consider both PCLinuxOS and MEPIS Lovers Forums to be superior in this regard. Rather than constantly defend, both of the other forums would be more likely to research the issue and discuss it in detail, and typically come up with a solution.

    That's a pretty big "ding" to what is otherwise an outstanding distribution. For me, I'd rather stick to my Debian based distributions: sidux for my Sid (Debian Unstable) core system – I have to get more involved with packaging in this one than most others, but I use an external tool called smxi that really helps – but doesn't "hide" stuff from me, I use antiX for my Squeeze (Debian Testing) system; it's light and fast, then I use SimplyMEPIS for my Lenny (Debian Stable) system. SimplyMEPIS would be the one most closely aligned with Mint's KDE edition. Mint is newer, fancier looking, and comes with more software. SimplyMEPIS is more basic, simpler, and has the US requirement of having to enable the Multimedia repository to get libdvdcss2, but other than that, is every bit as easy, with what I believe to be a superior user forum.

    I think Mint will get more users than the alternatives I use, but based on this review and the comments I've seen so far, Mint isn't for everyone, even though it's good. The packaging issue is pretty disturbing, and that may be a deal breaker for some people.

  13. Brian Masinick says

    Singu wrote:

    Mint cant authenticate downloaded packages by default. I installed Mint 9 KDE and noticed authentication failure on every package during first update. Went googling and found this thread on Mint forum which confirms that third most popular Linux distro is not capable of authenticating its own binaries, or any other binaries.

    http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=46&am
    This is not mentioned in the Mint release notes as it should be, and it certainly should be mentioned in this or any other review of this distribution. BTW: Nice site.

    I think you have found both a weakness and apparently a really "sore spot" on the forums. There are ways to authenticate. All you have to do is to include the appropriate "signature", which is basically an encrypted Cookie like file. I am almost 100% certain that Ubuntu has such a file. Apparently Linux Mint wants THEIR packages to be installed in preference to Ubuntu packages when differences exist, and they have not (yet) figured out a way to have authenticated Ubuntu packages plus THEIR packages in the same packaging system. This may be a weakness of their new packaging software, but I'm not sure that's where the issue lies.

    This does seem to be a rather serious deficiency in what otherwise appears to be a near perfect desktop system for overall use.

  14. Barnabyh says

    Thanks for a good and quite in-depth review. Might try this, I'm slowly coming around to KDE4 recently as I found it has improved a lot.

  15. Singu says

    Mint cant authenticate downloaded packages by default. I installed Mint 9 KDE and noticed authentication failure on every package during first update. Went googling and found this thread on Mint forum which confirms that third most popular Linux distro is not capable of authenticating its own binaries, or any other binaries.

    http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=46&am

    This is not mentioned in the Mint release notes as it should be,

    and it certainly should be mentioned in this or any other review

    of this distribution. BTW: Nice site.

  16. Lev says

    I tried this edition on my testing machine and, damn, I like it a lot. Even more than the GNOME version. it looks spectacular, apps are just awesome. I'll keep testing it for a few days more to get a bit more used to it and if all goes well I might even switch to this KDE edition.

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