Open Source investigate

A look at Linux Mint Debian Edition

If you are more of the Debian persuasion, there's still a Linux Mint distribution for you.

The primary version of Linux Mint uses Ubuntu as its source, but to think that it is the only source would be wrong; there's also the Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE).

Apart from its Debian roots, LMDE differs from regular Mint versions by being a rolling release; meaning that the system is constantly and gradually updated, rather than having a massive update every six months bundled into a new release of the distro that demands a new installation or comprehensive updating sequence. Hence, LMDE should only ever need be installed once.

LMDE tracks the Debian Testing branch, but rather than have the slew of daily updates that occurs in testing, Mint rolls the updates into "packs" to provide an amount of stability. Because LMDE maintains compatibility to Debian, it is possible to switch over to Debian Testing or Debian "sid" Unstable repositories if the LMDE update packs are too infrequent.

The other way that LMDE differs is by defaulting to the MATE desktop. MATE first appeared in Linux Mint 12, and was rather rough around the edges. With the release of MATE 1.2, and its quick inclusion into LMDE, we used the opportunity to cast an eye over the GNOME 2.x replacement, as well.

Previously, MATE was a hodge-podge of MATE-branded applications and legacy GNOME applications, and so it remains, but to a lesser extent. Even though MATE says that it has solved all of the conflicts with GNOME, and has moved all of the configuration files into ~/.config/mate.

MATE does not offer anything in the way of improvements to the GNOME 2.x; rather, it is still completing its forking and has reduced the number of bugs and quirks in the desktop.

For users who still pine for the GNOME 2 experience, MATE is now "good enough" for you.

Given that users fluent in the command line and fixing Linux borkage are likely to be attracted to LMDE's Debian roots, I think that the MATE desktop is a good choice for this edition.

Compared to the glossy aesthetics of the standard Linux Mint, LMDE looks downright boring. Its edge comes from the rolling updates, and the slight chance that stability will fly out of the window for a few days. And I imagine that users of LMDE wouldn't have it any other way.

LMDE: it's Mint, just a bit more conservative than you are used to, yet not.

See more of LMDE in our gallery.

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Some would say that it is a long way from software engineering to journalism, others would correctly argue that it is a mere 10 metres according to the floor plan.During his first five years with CBS Interactive, Chris started his journalistic advent...

6 comments
andrew5859
andrew5859

Personally, I think SolusOS is better than LMDE.....although I had started with LMDE....there was no reason to fork gnome 2 and some of the side choices to make LMDE better? Cinnamon, Mate.....come on....Cinnamon, you can't even resize the task bar or make the fonts bigger....there's also a lot of other programs that no longer work with LMDE because of all these supposed improvements....so I heard about SolusOS and installed it, and have my apps from before and they work great.....thanks Ikey for a great OS....You can see the result from SolusOS on the distro watch page: http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=solusos

lefty.crupps
lefty.crupps

Enough with the various Gnome interfaces and mixed desktops; give me KDE and keep the limited-use apps for those that don't know how to configure things. This is Linux, not OSX.

phil
phil

If you have not tried Cinnamon I would recommend it. It uses GTK3 (rather than GTK2 which Mate uses, making it a bit stuck in the past) and is more modern looking than Mate, while keeping most of the Gnome 2 desktop metaphor that many (including me) like.

Aysgarth
Aysgarth

LMDE offers a choice of user interfaces. Mate for the die hard Gnome 2 people, Cinnamon for people who like the old desktop metaphor but still want the latest software and Gnome Shell 3.2 for those who embrace the future. Also available is the Xfce4 edition. Once installed they all look very similar, with the classic Mint layout, theme and menus.

james.vandamme
james.vandamme

I struggled with LMDE for months, and there were no updates at all, and when the last came I fooled with it for hours trying to get it to work. I think "cutting edge" means "perpetually broken". I installed Mint 12 Cinnamon instead, & smiled. Why do they bother with Mate? Refine Cinnamon instead.