mintCast 193 – A New User’s View of Mint

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Main Topic: A New User’s View of Linux Mint


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Hosts: Rob, Scott, Joe
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Podcast Entry and exit music provided by Mark Blasco ( The podcast bumpers were provided by Oscar.

9 Replies to “mintCast 193 – A New User’s View of Mint”

  1. Bill_MI

    Sorry, but every time I think a show is extra good I feel like writing. I’m only sorry I missed a big part of the live stream when it got busy at home. 🙁

    This time it was double-good! I already love to hear the luddites Paddy and Joe plus this concept of looking at distros from a new-user aspect really hits my interest. I’ve been saying for years Linux is its own worst enemy for attracting new users so getting these problems out there has to be a major help.

    In Linux olden days, it was strictly an issue that talented developers that wrote great code, and worked 100% on a command line themselves, didn’t always have the greatest GUI or UI skills. It’s a… you can’t make good GUIs if you never use them yourself… sort-of-thing. To some extent, this remains true today.

    But the newest confusion often comes from a different angle. Much better UIs are being developed that are just thrown into the mix where they often add more confusion and split the experienced from the new users in a major way. “Software Centers” are a prime example. Old timers tend to ignore them (at least this one does, I’m a big synaptic user) and new users get stuck ironing out the glitches among themselves on forums. They also add yet another way to install software, a confusion by itself which you did mention.

    How many old timers have setup a Mint or Ubuntu install for someone then wince when they get asked about the Software Center? I have. “Um… ok… let’s take a look… I’ve never used it…”.

    I have no real solution for this but can throw out an idea. We have a sense how bug reporting and resolution works. How about a similar “Sucky-Software” reporting and resolution system? A better name may be first priority. When bug reporting is used, such problems get swept aside: “works as designed” since it’s really not a bug. But would it get used? Would it make any difference? Too much work for the return? Would it create even more in-fighting? A penny for your thoughts.

  2. richardquirk

    I’ve seen that /etc/ config file dialog as well. They should do like I think Suse does, and move your file to /etc/config.$date.backup and just install the new one anyway, and at the end of the update give you a heads up that the file was updated in case your modifications were important. Easy to say, right? It’s probably “impossible” to actually implement an any reasonable way.

    And I agree with the comments about Mozilla – I’m very worried about them. They seem to have lain down with the dogs of the mobile world and gotten up all covered in fleas. When Rob said “heh, next Mozilla will sell adverts on your Firefox” – and look at the news this week. They *are* starting to sell adverts on the new tab page! Ulp.

  3. Tricia

    As an actual very new user, this was timely! I have extensive windows home user experience and have tried pclos and ubuntu in the distant past (5+years ago). After being fustrated with the ungainliness of those distro’s in the past and my Dell Inspiron 6400 no longer handling win7 well I found Mint 16 Cinnamon. It is working well. However, you guys are not really speaking true “new user” language. Mint Cinnamon is really close to being “effortless” out of the box.

    • 3dbloke

      Ah. Another Inspiron 6400 user! Bought mine August 2006. Upgraded hard drive and 4GB memory (although only 3.2GB is addressable because the machine is not 64-bit). I’ve found it runs Windows 7 OK, but that won’t stop me moving to Linux Mint.

      If your laptop is struggling to run Windows 7, it might be that the cooling system is full of dust. I opened mine up recently and it was pretty bad 🙂 When it gets hot, the CPU slows down. Before cleaning it, my laptop’s fan was going into overdrive for no obvious reason.

      Ref: How to dismantle a Dell Inspiron 6400,

      • Tricia

        I made a mistake mine is actually an Inspiron E1505. It used to run well (Win 7 home) but I put it away for a year and took it out last month. It was sooo unstable that I started looking around for something to make it stable. I have exposed the “guts” of this laptop several times! I am now using Mint 13 Cinnamon. It did much better out of the disk than 16 and was easier to configure since it was a mature distro. I would love to find a more powerful laptop to use. I am trolling ebay for a good deal on a 2 year old laptop. We will see. I plan to install mint on it as well.

  4. Sam

    Hi. I’m a long time listener in the UK of your podcast. I really enjoyed the last episode about a new user’s view. It got me thinking about some of the valid criticisms levelled at Mint and I wondered what it would be like to have a new user’s view of Windows. Difficult I know but I came close when I went back to Windows 7 for a while recently thinking hi res audio would be easier. It wasn’t and the exeprience was awful. So much I wanted to do didn’t work and I was so glas to get back to Mint 16! I won’t be doing that again. Thanks for the great show. Sam.

  5. Thomas C, UK

    In the Mint Xfce discussion, on the “update configs have changed dialog” question, my approach is to click the option to view the differences between the files. Whenever I’ve done this, it’s been clear that the existing config (the older one) is the one to keep, because the old version has Cinnamon references, while the new one appears to be standard Debian configs. So, the my response is “No, keep the old version”.

    But I agree entirely with Rob’s remark that this is not the question to be asking users. I’m a relatively new Mint user and past experience has taught me to expect a few rough edges in the Linux “user experience”, but it is a little annoying to see this in an otherwise polished OS and desktop.

    One other question I would raise, for an OS distro targetting potential Windows users: Where is the webcam recording software? Cheese is the closest answer to this, but it simply does not perform (frame rates are desperately low). Is there something else I should know about?

    –Thomas C.

  6. 3dbloke

    Comment #2, on the subject of the various Mint flavours. As Joe said, the Linux Mint web site looks nice and it’s easy to find stuff, but there is a *total* lack of information on the recommended minimum hardware specs and differences between Cinnamon, Mate, KDE and Xfce. This definitely needs to be addressed by the Mint folks.

    In my case, I listened to a MintCast that included a discussion of Mate and Cinnamon, and I had experience of Xubuntu and KDE in other distros. I tried Mint 15 Mate and Cinnamon in VirtualBox and didn’t see an obvious difference in performance on my seven year old laptop (Centrino Core Duo 2GHz). I preferred the look of Cinnamon, so that’s what I chose.

    I’ve since installed LMDE 15 Cinnamon on a spare hard drive and it’s the one I intend to stick with. Currently waiting for the new ISO with UP8.


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