Episode 120: Mint Reputation Overdraft?


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  • Is Lightworks for Linux right around the corner? (phoronix.com)

The Main Topic: Mint Reputation Overdraft?

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8 Replies to “Episode 120: Mint Reputation Overdraft?”

  1. merelyjim

    Still downloading the Ogg-file, but YES! Finally VLC!
    (I’ll listen silently to the episode before shooting off my mouth again)

  2. wall-e

    I agree with many of the things Thistleweb said.

    Mint is still one of the better distros, but it HAS been degrading since about 10. That’s true of many other distros as well. Many of the problems are upstream. Once installed, Mint works better than most distros. But Mint does not seem to be well tested, the regressions are increasing, and there are many times when I feel they shortchange their users. Mint explicitly targets new users. These are people with little knowledge of Linux, and computing in general, and I don’t think Mint has served them well, especially recently.

    Like Thistleweb, I, too, have wondered if Mint actually tests before they release. Sometimes, when trying new software, I’ll find errors that are a dead give-away the programmer could not possibly have tested, because he would have found the error, and, being a professional, would have fixed it before release.

    Take, for example, the problem with Jockey in Mint KDE 12. If the nVidia driver can’t be installed, your user can’t run. Its critical. I’d think this would be one of the main things that would be tested before any release. Consider also that, in the release notes for LMDE, users were told to use any package manager they wanted, including Synaptic. Synaptic is meant for stable repos – it doesn’t work well on repos with holds. I’m sure that was the source of several damaged installs.

    Mint has not given me warm fuzzies with their actions with banshee, either, or the forced extensions in firefox. This seems very contrary to the spirit of Linux to me. It would have been much better for them to have just put ads on their site. Yeah, maybe it blew over quickly, but it left a bad taste.

    These aren’t the only reasons, or even the main reason, I have moved away from Mint in the past year. Much of it has to do with the changes Ubuntu has made under the hood. But Mint’s issues play a large part, too.

    I also have no problems with MintCast (including those mentioned by Thistleweb), other than the problems I have with most other Linux podcasts and reviews. The problem is that few of you mention Linux’s problems, especially as they impact new users.

    I hear it said often that a given Linux is install-and-go, user friendly. I once heard a comment on a podcast that Linux is great because you can give a disk to a friend and just know it will work. That’s simply not true. Its going to depend on your hardware. And when you say that all the reviewers think Mint 13 is great — so it must be great — realize reviewers often suffer from the same blind eye.

    Linux-wide, it seems politically incorrect to mention any problems. Often the response to anyone who brings up those problems is to marginalize them. I was once called a troll on the Mint forums for saying Linux really isn’t very user friendly. Linus himself seems to think its nVidia’s fault that the driver written by X.org doesn’t work with the kernel written by Linus. Even you guys said Thistleweb was ranting. Well, maybe he was a bit. But most of his points are valid.

    Rob mentioned the dirty work he’s had to do to get some Linux’s to install, but all the great times he’s had fixing them. It’s been 20 years. You should not, at this point, have to do a lot of dirty work to install a user-friendly Linux. Say what you will about Windows, but I’ve never seen a Windows install disk that didn’t work.

    Alright, so I’m a grumpy old bastard. I realize Linux development is different. But I spent 40 years in UNIX software engineering. We would never have released without testing critical functionality. We would have been open to users about the problems in our software, as a matter of professional responsibility. And we would have made it a priority to fully explain to untrained users how to fix those problems. You know, as opposed to “Google it. The solution will be the 15th one you try”. Mint suffers from these same problems.

    Kids these days.

  3. Bill In Michigan

    Didn’t Walt Disney often say something like “it all started with a mouse”? Maybe ThistleWeb can say the same.

    I’ve coincidentally had similar mouse issues the last few years and I bet I’m not alone. The left button switch gets flaky and you start getting unexpected double-clicks. Been there, done that, and it’s very very frustrating.

    It makes you want to punch things… or at things…

    I actually don’t have a lot of issue with ThistleWeb’s content if 1) You remove all the personal attacks and 2) The more global source of the stresses on Linux Mint be considered.

    I hope 1) is obvious. For 2), I see a far more global cause and effect taking place that is completely outside Linux Mint.

    Do I think the talent in Mint spread too thin? Yes. I wish good developers grew on trees, too.

    Do I see buggy, incomplete and anti-productive releases? Yes. I’ve tried but Cinnamon just isn’t ready for me, personally. But it may get better, time will tell.

    Do I see Linux Mint or it’s leader responsible? Not really and certainly not fully. Nor is this problem isolated to Mint.

    The entire ecosystem created by the Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, Gnome, Cinnamon, Mate, Mozilla, Compiz, Unity, Xorg, and Linux kernel (sheesh, sorry if I missed someone) has been in turmoil for several years now. Mint is responding best they can and probably the most guilty of trying to do too much.

    Root cause? I’ve been jokingly saying for a few years: “Blame it on the iPad.”

    This is actually no joke in my book. The overwhelming success with the masses has created a stress like we haven’t seen since the first GUI. “We gotta do something!!!” can be heard throughout the land. And the code spews… and spews… and the users saw it. And it was NOT good.

    Gnome did this… and Ubuntu did that… and Mint did something else. Too much too soon – the recipe for disaster and instability.

    That’s the way I see it, sorry so long-winded. But after all, it all started with a mouse… 🙂

    All Comments Welcomed,

  4. ibm450

    totally agree with wall-e & Bill with the above posts.

    over the years using linux, since mint 7, ive been trolling forums, even up-to today, (including mint13 and unity), for either software / hardware fixes to enable linux to just run on my pc’s (either very poor battery life or extremely high temperatures).

    i will say that everytime i boot back into win7/xp, it makes me wonder how much linux is behind the desktop 8 ball and how well the M$ os’s really are – its becoming more evident that “things really JUST work on windows based os)

  5. merelyjim

    You know, I actually think we got a little bit spoiled by the Glory Days of Ubuntu 8.04

    That was when I first began seeing the signs of “it worked perfectly, right out of the box!!!” We were all so freaking happy at not having to manually configure the sound card, we let a lot of the other things slide… like overuse of the color brown.

    Today, we’re so used to the kernal auto-configuring and detecting everything, right off the bat, that we have time to be a bit more picky about little things. I see a few people moving over to distro’s with more fine control, like Arch, or straight Debian, but I see a lot more people wanting their One Big Problem to be fixed by the community.

    There’s only so much community to go around.

  6. tkd17

    Mint fanboys seems a harsh judgment given MintCast is often covering thistlewebs preferred distribution SolusOS; other distros are frequently discussed and even frequently recommended (Sabayon anyone?); and there is plenty of griping abut Mint repo updates, install grief, etc.

    I think the posts above are all pretty good, and I do think some valid criticisms were made about the future of Mint. I also suspect I mostly got spoiled with a pretty solid Mint 10 distribution, which I happen to still be using. Cinnamon is interesting but I have had problems with lock-ups, slow main menus, etc, and the forums suggest I’m not the only one. Could be Cinnamon is leaving my hardware behind. The reviews have been pretty good (Cinnamon is the future! http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/going-to-windows.html), but not universally good (at least 1/2 of the Linux Action Show doesn’t see the point: http://www.jupiterbroadcasting.com/19307/cinnamon-desktop-review-las-s21e08/).

    I plan to sit out for another cycle or two and see what happens as the GNOME 3 dust settles.

    Nice work on the podcast – if you aren’t annoying someone with your opinions, then what is the point of broadcasting them?

  7. Rainy

    To give my humble input as well on this issue.

    Clearly, Thistleweb went on a rant. People need money to succeed. Just donations aren’t covering it. And unfortunately, it is the nature of the common man (and woman) to expect something in return, even for donations. Whether it be recognition, a specific driver in the kernel or simply a faster release schedule. Plenty of options. Not to beat a dead horse to dead, but if users were to purchase something through a store like Amazon, and a small percentage goes to the referrer, then I really don’t have an issue with it, especially when aforementioned product doesn’t cost the end user any more.

    Now, on the the technical issue. Recently, I tried to install LDME Cinnamon on a friends computer. However, the wireless card wasn’t recognized. In Mint 13, there were no problems. The issue I am having with this is, that Debian can’t seem to get a driver working that Ubuntu seems to support out of the box. This particular laptop is brand new and top of the edge technology. Similar scenario: After upgrading another friend’s LMDE from Kernel 2.6 to 3.0 on an older laptop, the Atheros Wireless card doesn’t work anymore. So, I did a work around and it was fine. Then, UP 4 comes out with Kernel 3.2 and bang, no more wireless. Sorry, but this is unacceptable to me, especially when you’re trying to get new users involved. It’s understandable that if a wireless card doesn’t work from the start and you have to fool around to get it working, it’s fine. But to upgrade your system and it doesn’t work anymore, should never happen.

    This brings me to my final point. The Update packs for LMDE. Clem mentioned they were supposed to be semi-rolling, which I can appreciate, especially when certain issues need to be resolved. However, at least programs like Firefox and Thunderbird should find their way into the updates. Is it really that difficult to simply release updates of software that is already installed?

    Don’t get me wrong. In General, I think that LMDE is a very stable release, except for the issue above and it is my preferred distro of choice. Some issues shouldn’t be as they are. Things like this will inevitably drive away new users, who could be assets to the community, after they got their feet wet.

  8. Tim

    I just wanted to say, I’m still listening to the episode, but already I am so glad I gave your podcast a try. Since abandoning the Linux Action Show I have had a difficult time finding a good show that covers Linux news and topics. You guys do that and you do it well. I’m subscribing and sticking around for a while.

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