With Ubuntu's 12.04 LTS as its underpinnings, Linux Mint 13 Maya was recently released in three versions, KDE (new), Xfce, and Gnome-Cinnamon. We tested each version separately and while we still like Mint, we're accumulating a nagging list of bugs - some of which are the fault of Ubuntu, and some are the twists that Linux Mint takes on its own.
Lightweight Xfce version
We found that the lightweight Xfce version of Linux Mint 13 is perfect for loading on to older notebooks and desktops. It's simple and has a common foundation with Gnome versions that enables various graphics apps and UI behaviors to work together.
Cinnamon’s 3-D effects
Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon features dazzling 3-D effects, if an application, and most importantly, the machine's graphics chipset and memory support it.
KDE version offers best overall experience
The look and feel of this version will ruffle the feathers of no one, and the apps, especially the various media apps, were mature, cohesive, and played nicely together. The KDE version was perhaps the single best improvement in Linux Mint 13, overall.
Few post-install updates needed
We were happy to find that there were fewer post initial-installation updates needed to bring the system up to date. Our prior experience had us glumly waiting for a long list of packages to be downloaded, installed, filed away, rinsed, repeated. Our experience this time around made us feel in all three editions as though the payloads had been thought through, and the initial mix was up-to-date.
We easily installed the three LinuxMint versions onto a test notebook (Lenovo T520 ThinkPad with Core i5 Intel chipset, 8GB of memory, and internal 500GB Hitachi conventional drive). Others have complained about driver detection problems with older Dell models, but we had no difficulties. We were heartened to see an enormous variety of supported text languages.
Upgrades can be difficult
Upgrading from a prior version to Linux Mint 13 can be problematic. Linux Mint's website suggests that upgrades are likely unnecessary, as the built-in updating functionality keeps most things reasonably up to date. But there are many legitimate reasons for an upgrade and changing from one edition to another is harder than it needs to be. If you want to upgrade, it's best to backup key data files, remember your customisations and then use the siege howitzer of the traditional Unix/Linux/Solaris/BSD/GNU file cannon: the tar -xvf command.
The Gnome-Cinnamon backup app
The Linux Mint backup app under Gnome-Cinnamon will stymie many users. It's unclear, and uses selections and terminology which might not lead to a successful backup. We have decades of experience with some highly sophisticated backup and archiving schemes, but we got grey hair from this one.
Cinnamon lacks spice
We found Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon to be sluggish and unpredictable.
File system flaws
The primary difficulty comes we found, when using a different file system than the host, on USB-attached drives with large subdirectories. Manually - via a shell - we can find information perfectly fast. The UI in both Gnome versions, however, takes forever to manage large flat subdirectories into view, sometimes crashing. KDE doesn't display this behavior but Xfce does.
IPSec VPNs can be tricky
IPSec VPNs can be difficult to make work, we've found in testing. We can connect via PPTP to our Apple MacOS 10.6 and Windows 2008 R2 networks, but connections failed to stay up. IPSec VPNs are more troublesome still, and we received intermittent and random disconnections even when connected through pristine, local wires and routing.
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