Linux Mint, an Old Familiar FriendLinux Mint Debian edition has almost everything I am looking for in a distro. The familiarity of debian commands from my Ubuntu days, the rolling distribution updates of Debian (and ArchLinux) plus my the nostalgic window manager that I never could give up - MATE (a Gnome 2 fork) . After having two weeks of using LMDE as my primary distribution on my Lenovo T420, I have been very pleasantly surprised. MATE has the stability and programs that Gnome 2 had, although it takes a bit of getting used to since the applications have different names.
PerformanceOverall I have been very impressed by the performance of LMDE and MATE. Compared to the latest version of Ubuntu and Gnome 3 in general, the memory usage of LMDE is lower. My setup which I use as my my development station rarely uses more than 1.5 GB of RAM and usually hovers around 675 MB when I'm doing normal internet browsing. The availability of graphics drivers isn't quite as nice as Ubuntu or other version of Linux Mint which will display a notification if proprietary drivers are available. The same drivers are available for LMDE, you just have to install them yourself through the command line or synaptic package manager. For those of you who have a hybrid graphics card like Nvidia Optimus, LMDE works surprisingly well with bumlebee to run everyday programs through the Intel integrated graphics and switch to the Nvidia chip for more power.
MATEMate is the desktop manager of LMDE. After Gnome stopped supporting Gnome 2, the MATE project picked up where Gnome left off and began forking the existing Desktop Manager and application suite that came with it. They tweaked it into something called MATE. Besides the names of applications, you won't notice much of a difference between MATE and Gnome 2, which is absolutely fantastic. I grew up on Gnome 2 and haven't been the same sine I was forced off of it. The developers on the MATE project have done a great job bringing the useability back to the desktop. If you happen to have the opposite opinion that I do, LMDE comes with Linux Mint's Cinnamon desktop installed as well. It is as simple as selecting a different session from the login menu to add a bit of spice (pun intented) into your mint.
Battery LifeThe length of your battery life depends greatly on the version of the kernel you are running (to find this run the command uname -r). LMDE currently has kernel version 3.2 which has brought some great improvements since early kernel versions. Out of several distros I have had installed on my laptop recently, LMDE has the longest battery life by at least an hour. If you are running a debian based system and want to take advantage of the latest and greatest kernel, take a look at my tutorial and compiling the kernel on Debian based systems.
ApplicationsLMDE comes with Linux Mints standard applications and philosophy on a distribution. The Linux Mint creators believe that a distribution should just work, which means they include almost everything you need out of the box. The main applications are:
- Firefox for web browsing
- Pidgin for instant messaging
- Xchat for IRC
- The LibreOffice suite for documents
- Pluma (a gedit continuation) for text edititing
- Banshee for music