Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Linux Mint- a fantastic alternative to Windows

I have never been a fan of Windows and found the outdated capabilities of the operating system an annoyance. For this reason, I stopped using my desktop computer at home (with Windows OS) and switched over to an iMac 2 years ago. Prior to that I had also bought a Macbook for my girlfriend and found that the learning curve was really not as steep as people made it out to be.

Slowly but surely I got infatuated with my Mac and have never looked back since. Although, I still use Windows at work, since this is Korea, and there is no way out  ! Moreover since my girlfriend needs to use Internet Explorer for all her banking needs I resultantly partitioned my iMac to install Windows 7.
This arrangement works beautifully for me. I use the Mac OS part while my girlfriend uses the Windows section. However, I couldn’t but help notice my old desktop gathering dust in a corner. So I decided to make better use of it, and bought an S-cable to hook it up to my 42 inch TV to watch streaming video. The only problem was that my computer kept crashing (which, while not surprising, was really very frustrating).
Last Sunday, I finally got fed up with the blue screen of death and decided to try out the GNU/Linux variants. This was not my first attempt at installing Linux on my computer, having done so a couple of years ago. At that time, I gave up because of the steep learning curve. This time however, my internet research showed that many of the Linux distros have advanced GUI capabilities, with many more software options. So finally I narrowed down on 3 distros- Ubuntu , Linux Mint and Mandriva . I would have loved to try Red Star, but couldn't find it anywhere ;)
Anyway, I installed all the three of them (takes just 20 minutes to install), one at a time to test out the different capabilities and then decided to stick with Linux Mint.
Originally launched as a variant of Ubuntu with integrated media codecs, it has now developed into one of the most user-friendly distributions on the market - complete with a custom desktop and menus, several unique configuration tools, a web-based package installation interface, and a number of different editions. Perhaps most importantly, this is one project where the developers and users are in constant interaction, resulting in dramatic, user-driven improvements with every new release.
Some of the key advantages of Linux Mint are:
•It's one of the most community driven distributions. You could literally post an idea in the forums today and see it implemented the week after in the "current" release. Of course this has pros and cons and compared to distributions with roadmaps, feature boards and fixed release cycles we miss a lot of structure and potentially a lot of quality, but it allows us to react quickly, implement more innovations and make the whole experience for us and for the users extremely exciting.
•It is a Debian-based distribution and as such it is very solid and it comes with one of the greatest package managers.
•It is compatible with and uses Ubuntu repositories. This gives Linux Mint users access to a huge collection of packages and software.
•It comes with a lot of desktop improvements which make it easier for the user to do common things.
•There is a strong focus on making things work out of the box (WiFi cards drivers in the file system, multimedia support, screen resolution, etc).
As this blogger states- “Simple: The derivative is better.”
I would highly recommend it to anyone who if fed up of Windows, but afraid to switch over to the Mac. Best of all, it is free!