A Linux Mint 14.1 walkthrough

SSD arrived! Back to Windows 8 and impressions

After two weeks, finally my SSD arrived, and it was time to install Windows 8 again. One of the things I noticed going back to Windows after two weeks was the startup time. Man, Microsoft has really improved that a lot… Metro is love it or hate it as usual, and Office 2013 is leaps and bounds better than LibreOffice can ever be. Nowadays I go back and forth between the two operating systems at home to be honest, since I like both very much. At work, my PC is running Mint almost exclusively since our work PCs have Windows XP preinstalled, and well, let’s face it; XP doesn’t cut it anymore.

As for my impressions after all this time with Linux Mint? It is a mixed bag really. You really need to put some time into it and customize it the way you like it. Some things will not work out of the box, some other things will need some tinkering in order to do so (and others a LOT of tinkering). If you expect a perfect out of the box experience, well, it isn’t going to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I have been running Linux distributions for more than 20 years, and trust me, Linux has come a LONG way. But there are small details here and there that ruin the experience. If I didn’t know my way around the command line, I wouldn’t be able to even install the OS; and I had similar experiences with Ubuntu in the past too. Which is unacceptable in my opinion, the operating system should take care of everything while installing, giving you minimal fuss. Once you log in to the desktop, you have to start searching for ways to customize your desktop, copy files in hidden directories, do things that are generally not very user friendly in order to perform the most trivial tasks, like installing your own theme. Sharing can be a real pain, especially if you have mixed networks with Windows/Mac or Android machines connecting to it. On the other hand, driver support is excellent and the application selection is vast, make no mistake. But good applications can be lost in there, so you need to search for the stuff you need. Fortunately there won’t be many things that you will be lacking out of the box, since Mint and all Ubuntu derivatives comes with a wide selection of software preinstalled, which is certainly more impressive and more complete than anything Windows has to offer out of the box.

Linux has a wide selection of software, shells, window managers, you name it; everything can be replaced and that’s the beauty of the operating system. You don’t like the shell? You change it. You find the notifications ugly and cumbersome? You change that too. Everything can be changed with a bit (or quite a bit) of OS plumbing, and this is the thing that defines the beauty of it. After the first couple of days, that you will have installed your applications, setup the environment just the way you like it, and solved any potential issues, you will find Mint a joy to use. Gaming is of course an issue as always, as is to run Windows applications – some will work beautifully, some will not, some will almost work to the point of frustration, but that is expected. Hopefully, with Valve’s push, more publishers will also release their games with a Linux client as well, making the games multiplatform and Linux a viable desktop alternative.

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