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Linux Mint 9 KDE (Isadora)

August 5, 2010
By

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

 


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22 Responses to Linux Mint 9 KDE (Isadora)

  1. Josh on December 29, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    I used Mint 9 KDE until the release of Mint 10. I appreciate KDE, and enjoy KDE very much. I also like GNOME, LXDE, XFCE, Openbox, IceWM, and other DE/WM's. For me, the environment the OS operates in doesn't matter nearly as much as what the OS can do and how the OS does it.

    That said, I love the way that Debian & Ubuntu based OS's, like Mint, work as an OS. I prefer Debian based stuff to Fedora or Slackware based OS's because of the way the system works and is set up. KDE is a great environment to work in, and Mint is a great OS to work with, so putting the two together brings an awesome user environment!

    There — my $0.02…

    –Josh :devil:

  2. czerro on October 10, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Linux Mint is targeted to a certain user and has a specific intent. It is not designed for server use and does not offer that level of security. It is designed to be transparent and easy to use out-of-box. The authentication warning exists for a reason, just like ANY other root procedure contains a warning and requests root privileges before proceeding. Package authentication is definitely something that needs to be fixed, but installing software from third-party sources is always somewhat of a security risk. How does it make one feel better to verify this data with a key provided from the same? If you need tighter security and use many questionable third-party sources, then Linux Mint is not for you. I still think it is an excellent distro, and succeeds as a complete out-of-box environment as intended.

  3. Brian Masinick on August 19, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Jim, I just noticed this flaw in your review; I had apparently glossed over these words earlier, guess most others did too: "This release includes KDE Plasma Desktop 4.4 and Linux Kernel 2.3.2."

    What's THAT? The Linux kernel is probably 2.6.32.2 or something like that. Here's what the Mint site says: "Based on Kubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx, Linux 2.6.32, KDE 4.4.4, Xorg 7.5 and Amarok 2.3.0, this edition features a lot of improvements and the latest software from the Open Source World."

  4. dragonmouth on August 8, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    @Eddie Wilson

    I stopped using/testing *buntus quite a while ago so I didn't know that Ubuntu's Software Manager and Mint's are different. I did not realize that Mint has its own versions of those programs. In retrospect, that is to be expected. Everybody and his uncle wants to use Ubuntu as the base for their distro but, at the same time, they want to customize it so it does not look like Ubuntu. Maybe Mint developers customized Software Manager out of working properly.

  5. Eddie Wilson on August 8, 2010 at 11:36 am

    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.

  6. Brian Masinick on August 7, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    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.

  7. factotum218 on August 7, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    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.

  8. DistroLink on August 7, 2010 at 5:23 am

    thank you for your reviews!

  9. Singu on August 6, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    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.

  10. dragonmouth on August 6, 2010 at 4:06 pm

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

  11. Brian Masinick on August 6, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    @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.

  12. dragonmouth on August 6, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    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.

  13. Brian Masinick on August 6, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    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! ;-)

  14. Brian Masinick on August 6, 2010 at 11:50 am

    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! :-)

  15. Ankleface Wroughtlan on August 6, 2010 at 9:21 am

    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.

  16. john_21 on August 6, 2010 at 7:43 am

    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.?

  17. Brian Masinick on August 6, 2010 at 6:56 am

    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.

  18. Brian Masinick on August 6, 2010 at 6:43 am

    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.

  19. Barnabyh on August 6, 2010 at 4:00 am

    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.

  20. Singu on August 6, 2010 at 1:14 am

    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.

  21. subhashish on August 5, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Hey you forgot to mention Gnome-mplayer in multimedia section of included software(page 4).

  22. Lev on August 5, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    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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