Linux Mint loves and hates - 10 reasons distribution is better, and worse, than Ubuntu

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Tighter security

By default, LinuxMint forces users to choose whether to automatically logon; Ubuntu clients logged us on automatically, and didn't indicate a password strength.

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Resources are easier to find

Civilians to black-belt kernel geeks will enjoy the fact that the Mint community is easily accessible, and resources are divided into easy to understand areas. Ubuntu, which serves as much of Mint's basis, isn't quite as nicely organised.

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More client media options

Linux Mint 12 contains the best of the best in terms of client-based media players and viewers. There's a definite slick feel to the apps chosen, and we were reminded of the Apple behind-the-scenes thoughtfulness of simplicity but high compatibility with various media types.

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Timely updates, and lots of them

Linux Mint's updates, like Ubuntu and other distributions, are easy to access and deploy. Unlike other distributionss with strictly scheduled updates, however, you never have to wait - Mint updates come out constantly. We hope they're watching dependencies, although we found only a few things that were out of sync.

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Gnome UI

You like Gnome, and maybe you like Mint's method of making Gnome 3 look and feel and work like Gnome 2.3. Or maybe you're a civilian and don't care, and you just want to download a distribution and make it work. Linux Mint 12 has burst into the charts for both its simplicity, and its geek cred - but also importantly: Mint is not Ubuntu Unity - as Unity is an odd pariah among the Linux cognoscenti.

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Mint updates can be slow to download

The initial product load is comparatively fast, especially for the default configuration. Linux Mint 12 started with a full-live kernel that allowed us to run defaults that worked on all hardware platforms we tested. What made us growl was that despite the comparatively huge download, the initial update cycle took a while. A really long time. Can't Mint update base default packages and their dependencies before we download it?

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Mint is desktop only

There are no server or cloud versions, no cool virtualisation stacks, no clever configuration methods for batch download, and if you're an enterprise configuring administrator, your pension plan is assured. Hark: yes you can use Ubuntu's clever methods for distribution of Linux Mint 12. You just have to figure out how.

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Help files not that helpful

Civilians might be dismayed to press the F1-Help key when clicking the Home directory icon (left panel), and find that the help files are missing (right panel).

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Too many client options

We had no problem with a diverse number of client platforms. The fact that there's a hardware resource doesn't necessarily mean that compatibility won't be an issue. Some of the online hardware device driver blanks still need filling in, so the desktop "help screen" Hardware selection is a little deceptive if you have austere hardware or those that need hard-to-find closed source drivers.

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Office alternatives could be better

Linux Mint 12 default installations include LibreOffice, which we're familiar with, and has a look and feel of older "Office-alike" products. What we were dismayed with is the fact that there are no cool conversion templates, wizards, examples, and the now-superfluity of extras that come with certain other "Office" products. Even a few links to online downloads would help. But they're scanty at best.

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