Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Linux Mint 14 KDE: One of the best KDE distros of the year

Linux Mint does it again! The thing I admire about Linux Mint is the ability to work on any type of system and refined interface that it brings on the table - every time! When I reviewed the Mint Maya KDE, I was wondering if I had seen any KDE distro more complete than this. With the Mint Nadia KDE release my impression has changed. This edition not only looks gorgeous but the KDE bloat-wares are gone to actually give the users a more functional set of applications.

From Linux Mint 14 KDE

Linux Mint 14 KDE actually completes the release cycle for Nadia with Cinnamon, Mate and XFCE already out. I wish for a LXDE edition as well, but never mind. I created my own Mint 14 LXDE from Mint 12 LXDE! Anyway, coming back to the KDE edition. The 32-bit works with both 32-bit and 64-bit machines.

From Linux Mint 14 KDE
From Mint 13 to 14, the 32-bit ISO has gained a little bit of bulk and now stands at 1.1 GB. KDE desktop is upgraded to 4.9.2 (which upgrades to 4.9.3 after the first update) and Linux kernel to 3.5.0, same as Kubuntu 12.10. Alongside, there are quite a few incremental improvements in this edition, like
  • Dolphin 2.1 has now back and forward buttons, better artwork, ability to show metadata like ratings, tags, image & file size, authors, etc. and even group files based on metadata information
  • From Linux Mint 14 KDE
  • Incremental improvements in Konsole, Kontact, Kwin, Korganizer, etc. to make them faster and more stable
  • Software Manager (MintInstall) has some serious improvements to showcase, like it no longer uses aptdaemon but its own apt client which come with full debconf support. It means that you can now install debconf enabled packages like Wine, Microsoft fonts, etc. from the software manager only & not resort to synaptic package manager. Plus, it now runs as root and now it doesn't require the user to type password every time an application is installed.
  • Mintstick replaces USB Image Writer and it has better GUI and progress reporting.
To test the distro, I first did a live USB and then booted it up on my Asus K54C 2.4 Ghz Core i3, 2 GB RAM laptop with a 8 GB partition allocated for Linux testing. When satisfied with live boot, I installed it on the 8 GB partition mentioned above. Further, to test whether it can perform on limited resource systems, I did live boot tests on a Asus Eee-PC 1101HA netbook with 1.38 Ghz Intel Atom processor and 1 GB RAM. Another live boot test was done on a 2003 HP P4 (2.4 Ghz single core), 1.5 GB DDR RAM desktop.

I don't know if other users have experienced it or not, but LM 14 KDE takes a bit of time to settle down after live boot. Initially, on all the systems I tried, it was painfully slow but after 5 min. I could see the real performance. However, there was no such issue after installation. Touchpad and Wifi detections were immediate and automatic. Sound worked perfectly - I could boot up and start playing my favorite movie!

Applications
As mentioned, Linux Mint 14 KDE practically has all the applications that I wish a distro should have. The list is well thought out and more than sufficient for regular needs.
  • Office: LibreOffice 3.6 suite, Okular Document viewer, KAddressbook, Korganizer, Ktimetracker, KContact
  • Internet: Firefox 17, Ktorrent, KGet download manager, Akregator Feed Reader, Kopete IM, IRC Client, KMail, Kvpnc VPN Client, Adobe flashplugin 11
  • Graphics: GIMP 2.8, Gwenview Image Viewer, Digikam photo management, KSnapshot, Xsane image scanner
  • Multimedia: Amarok, Kaffeine Media Player, VLC 2 and multimedia codecs
  • Others: Kate text editor, K3b disk burning, USB Image Writer, Upload Manager, Backup tool, Ark archiving tool, KGpg encryption tool, Klipper clipboard, Knotes, Kcalc, Kmag screen magnifier, Konsole, Root Konsole
Only addition I can suggest is Skype 4 to the list instead of having two media players (Kaffeine & VLC) doing the same thing. Otherwise, complete.

All the multimedia codecs and flashplugin are already present in LM 14 KDE. Right after live boot / install, I could start playing my favorite youtube video online or listen to music apart from watching movies.

Appearance
The looks haven't changed much from the last release, but I could see the marginal improvements in design and aesthetics, as given in the release notes. In general, aesthetics are really good and sufficient attention has been given to the details, like fonts, color combination of the applications to suit the theme, etc. KDE 4.9.2 as usual looks shiny and bright. Dolphin 2.1 is much better than Dolphin 2.0 functionally, if not in looks. Further, animations are subtle and doesn't cause distraction, which is good.

From Linux Mint 14 KDE
From Linux Mint 14 KDE
From Linux Mint 14 KDE
Installation
Installation is pretty much the same - usual Ubuntu and it takes about 30 minutes. Steps are like language, location, keyboard, user name and password, installation drive, etc. preferences followed by installation from the ISO. No surprises there and things went smoothly at a single go.


CPU and RAM Usage
Linux Mint 14 KDE is best-in-class in terms of resource usage. As mentioned earlier, I used a proper laptop, a low powered netbook and an antiquated PC. Everywhere Linux Mint 14 KDE booted up well. Even on my netbook and HP P4 PC, I could do my regular chore, although a bit slow, but still reasonable speed to do my work smoothly.

On my Asus K54C, LM 14 KDE used 1-5% CPU and 255 MB RAM with task manager running, which is marginal improvement over LM 13 KDE (270 MB RAM) on the same machine. Further, based on the previous tests I did, I see that it's performance is actually much better than any other KDE distro (almost at par with Mageia 2 KDE).

Overall
In last couple of days, I tested LM 14 KDE on a netbook with 1 GB RAM, a P4 PC with 1.5 GB RAM and a Corei3 machine with touchpad & 2 GB RAM. It worked reasonably well on low resource machines and really fast on the i3 laptop. If you are looking for one of the best KDE spins, Linux Mint 14 should be the choice for you. It looks elegant & shiny, performs better than any other KDE distro and has a really good ensemble of functionally useful apps. Plus, in my testing, it worked on whatever systems I tried - even on low resource systems! Definitely one of the better KDE distros of the year and I safely recommend it. In my last couple of days of usage, I found it to be really fast and stable distro. The subtle animations don't hamper with productivity and it is really smooth to use.

On the question of upgrading from LM 13 KDE, I would rather not. The primary incremental improvement is in KDE desktop environment and even Linux Mint 13 has KDE 4.9 now. So, right now there is no motivation for me to upgrade LM 13 KDE to LM 14 KDE.

You can download Linux Mint 14 KDE from here.
You may interested to read my recent article on Comparison of Best KDE Distro of 2012.

Note: I replaced my Linux Mint 13 XFCE installed on my Asus EeePC 1101HA with 1 GB RAM and 1.38 Ghz Intel Atom processor with Linux Mint 14 KDE 32-bit and it is running awesome! My most versatile KDE distro of the year is Linux Mint 14, undoubtedly. Works on any and every kind of machine.

41 comments:

  1. The list of incremental improvements to KDE epitomizes everything that's wrong with modern desktops. Now having a back and forward button in the file browser is something to write home about.

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    1. Well said, add to it adding a shut down button to Gnome 3 as well. I guess, somethings are better when kept simple.

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  2. "Only addition I can suggest is Skype 4 to the list."

    Anyone needing Skype can easily add it. I don't consider it basic enough to add it to the size of the download, remembering that not all of us are on unlimited high speed connections.

    I live in a rural area without DSL availability and my choice is between dialup, paying extra beyond a fairly low threshold or having the provider slow access to a crawl after a sizeable download. Extra programs beyond basic functionality are clearly a negative to people in my circumstances.

    With it being so easy to install software, I don't understand why increasing the number of programs included as a basic part of a distro is considered a plus. Yes, there are newbies-but even in Windows, they have to install Skype, so having to do so in Linux won't be anything new to them.

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    1. I understand your point. But, isn't it an advantage that any one of your friends/you download a Linux distro, a lot of people can benefit from the live CD/USB you create, without having to download a single application? Also, there are many users I know, incl. myself, for whom Skype is a necessity. I have seen Skype, if incl. in the distro itself, doesn't take much effort to configure and detect your hardware. Whereas, if you try to install from repo, a lot of times, it is unable to recognize the hardware. Hence, my request of incl. Skype within the ISO itself. If you talk of distro size, LM is already 1 GB and as little as 30 MB extra size won't hurt anyone. And please don't compare Linux to Windows, the product proposition is different for Linux.

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  3. It's my habit to completely setup one distro, use it for 5-6 months, and then switch. I've recently setup my Kubuntu Quantal, so perhaps no change in the near future. But after reading this review, I think my next distro is gonna be either LM 15 or openSUSE 13.1.

    And yeah, I agree with the previous comment that Skype falls into the same category as Cairo Dock or Synapse or Cheese - a great addition but never a basic necessity.

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    1. I understand, but there are quite a few users like myself, who use Skype on regular basis and hence, a bare necessity in any OS that I am using. Anyway, I guess ISO size is not a constraint these days, majority of the Linux OSs don't fit in conventional CDs! So, adding some utility apps like Skype won't harm the cause, instead of having two media players (Kaffeine & VLC) in the same ISO.

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    2. Yeah, that's a point. Two players, both Qt-based, doesn't make sense. That way, Skype would be nice. And again, Mint is one distro which doesn't care about being as open source as possible.

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  4. I really love Linux Mint KDE, but I wish they'd stop the Kubuntu crap and make it look just like the other distros they put out. Why blue? Kubuntu and Linux Mint are the only distros I know of that has a KDE version that looks different than the Gnome version for some strange reason. Nothing looks as good as Linux Mint 9, which I think Mint should adopt as THE Linux Mint look from now on...on all desktops.

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    1. Should be possible to make a theme for KDE based on Gnome Linux Mint 9, Any KDE theme artists out there?

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    2. Frankly I don't mind the blue in their KDE. At least it's not that same sickening green they always use in all their other desktops. Enough with that ... it's boring. Change is good once in a while.

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    3. Kubuntu and Linux Mint are both backed by Blue Systems. Blue Systems also employs several key KDE developers.

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    4. Right. Canonical no longer supports Kubuntu.

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  5. Other screenshots of Linux Mint 14 "KDE" here: http://linuxscreenshot.netsons.org/linux-mint-14-kde/

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  6. I've been playing around with this new KDE version of Linux Mint for over a week now and find it to be one of, if not the best, KDE distribution I've ever used. This desktop version has it all: a great polished look, fast, stable, secure, and with a well thought out set of applications. One of my complaints about Linux Mint 13 KDE was that it didn't install/update all that smoothly, as there were some ambiguities dealing with multiple display managers that could lead to freeze ups. I didn't see any of that in this new release. If you are looking for a top shelf KDE distro then you really should give Linux Mint 14 KDE a spin. It sure caught my eye!

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    1. Very good points! Actually I installed LM 13 KDE on my Asus netbook, 1101HA, 1.38 Ghz Intel Atom with 1 GB RAM, earlier this year. LM 13 KDE barely used to run and was quite slow. However, on the same netbook, to my surprise, LM 14 KDE runs blazing fast, offers stability and supports multi-tasking. Some serious improvements have gone on resource usage for LM 14 KDE, for sure. In my article on best KDE distro of 2012, I saw Linux Mint to score within top two on various parameters like aesthetics, resource usage, applications, etc. Definitely one of the best KDE spins of 2012.

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  7. Booted up Linux Mint KDE and while the function of the distro seems to be non-problematic I wish they had taken more time developing their default desktop theme. It seems too washed out to me. At least it's not butt ugly green. :) It's a very nice distro and I'll be using it as my KDE distro of choice. I'll use Ubuntu Unity along with Gnome-shell as my gtk distro of choice. I just don't believe that Cinnamon is quite polished enough to give up Unity. As far as the person who stated that Linux Mint 14 KDE shouldn't be blue like Kubuntu, blue is the basic color of KDE and is not a Kubuntu only color. I still think that Linux Mint 5 KDE was their best but I'm sure it wasn't.

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    1. I am pretty satisfied with LM 14 KDE, it is a marked improvement (esp in performance) over LM 13 KDE. Aesthetics are pleasant, if not attractive. Anyway, KDE is really customizable and one can spice up the looks a bit using simple themes and some cool wallpapers. Definitely LM 14 KDE is within top 2 KDE distros released in 2012.

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  8. Thanks for your review.
    I did replace a Pinguy OS 12.04 installation with Linux Mint 14 Kde on my Samsung 900X1B.
    I'm quite happy with that : I installed radiotray (you need to have option gui_engine set to systray in config.xml), clementine (I'm not fond of Amarok's interface), imported my conky set-up, moved the panel to the top (took sometime as I'm not familiar with KDE), fixed the firefox font issue ( http://community.linuxmint.com/tutorial/view/1107 )
    I find it quite responsive. I didn't think I would move from Gnome to KDE after so many years. I was quite disapointed with KDE long time ago (konqueror & kde instabilities) .. now it seems to be quite stable. Linux Mint KDE could appeal more Gnome 2/3 users with a good theme/customization.

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    1. Agree. Even performance of KDE 4.9 is a lot better than Cinnamon or Gnome 3. On the same machine, I found KDE 4.9 to use 20% less RAM for running the same application. KDE 4.9 actually made me switch from Gnome to KDE - earlier Gnome 2 used to be my fav desktop!

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  9. on my acer emachine e732z (2.13 dual core processor and 4GB DDR3 RAM), Performance was awesome I also tried mint cinnamon edition but KDE is miles away.

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  10. Nice review, I'm new to linux but I found that mint is really easy to use , since I'm a windows user also, I have a question what application did you use to make a live usb, I've been trying to use unetbootin, pendrive linux but no luck with those apps, I can't boot my usb stick loaded with mint 14 kde in it, I'm an eeepc user also just like you, I wonder what application did you use to make your live usb worked just fine.
    Thanks in advance, I found your blog really interesting

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    1. I use unetbootin primarily. For Asus EeePC, you have to make some setting adjustment to boot a live usb. Here are the steps:
      First insert the bootable pen drive to you Eee PC (Essential, make sure you do it before booting, otherwise it won't appear on the bios settings).

      Now enter the Bios setup by pressing Del (or F2 depending on your BIOS)

      Navigate to Boot device priority and make "USB Devices/External Device" your primary boot device.

      Save and Exit.

      Reboot.

      This will possibly solve the issues you are facing. Please let me know.

      Thanks,
      Arindam

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  11. Arindam, I also have an asus 1101HA running Mint 14 Cinnamon. My son would like to run Minecraft on it. I have not had any luck getting it to run. I have 2 GB RAM in the machine. Did you ever try Minecraft on your 1101HA? If so, can you share some of your results?

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    1. Mine is actually less powered than yours - it has only 1 GB RAM and even Cinnamon runs pretty slow on it. I haven't tried Minecraft on it, unfortunately.

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    2. I have noticed that there is some lag on my 1101HA running cinnamon. Which version of linux do you think ran the best so far on your 1101HA? Also, are you running any special driver for the GMA500 Intel chip set or using any special Bios (lastest asus bios 0323)?

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    3. I am running Fuduntu right now on my 1101HA and it works really well without any lag (because of Gnome 2 desktop). Actually I am a bit of a distro hopper and get easily bored after using a distro for 2-3 months. Based on my past experience, these distros actually ran well on my 1101HA:
      1. Bodhi Linux 2.2.0 - fast, really fast with E17 desktop
      2. Linux Mint 14 KDE - reasonably good performance but not as fast as a Bodhi or a Fuduntu
      3. Linux Lite: Fast but has some bugs - a new distro and it will take a bit of time to mature.
      4. Xubuntu 12.04.1/12.10 - both ran really well
      5. Linux Mint XFCE 13/14 - performance similar to Xubuntu
      6. Fedora 18 XFCE: very smooth and ran well.

      I have put a comprehensive list here. If you are a Gnome fan, please try out Funduntu - it has a rolling release and is much better than Cinnamon or Mate distros.

      All these distros have drivers for GMA500 Intel chipset and you won't encounter any display or hardware problem for sure. I am using the same bios as provided by default with Asus 1101HA. And I have replaced the WinXP that came with it.

      Regards,
      Arindam

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    4. Thanks for all the valuable information. I will try Fuduntu and see how that serves me. I really appreciate people like you who dive into these things and then provide all the key information. Thanks again.

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  12. I have asus eeepc1201ha with gma500 and Linux Mint 14 KDE is the best for it IMHO
    HINT: use kwin_gles (kdewindowmanager_gles) and switch off all desktop effects.
    I also install audacious for playing music and gnome-mplayer for video.
    It refuses to play fullscreen but is very smooth.
    Youtube playback is good only in small window not fullscreen.
    Google chrome is smooth and pdf scroll in chrome and in okular is perfect.

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    1. I agree. Linux Mint 13 or 14 KDE really works well on Asus EeePC with desktop effects switched off. Not many KDE distros actually work well even with desktop effects switched off on that machine.

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  13. how different was the battery life wiith lm xfce and lm kde 14

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    1. LM XFCE of course is more resource efficient and gives a better battery life. But, LM KDE 14 is also decent but may not be as efficient as LM XFCE 14/13.

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  14. Hi, I would like to install mint 14 kde on my asus eee-pc actually running cinnamon version.
    Cinnamon takes very few ram (50-60mb), and that's very good for my 1GB ram eee-pc. I've got 2 questions for you:
    Do you ever go out of ram with kde?
    How much swap do I need to run mint 14 kde?

    Thanks a lot,
    B.

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    1. Hi Benny:

      As far my experience goes, Cinnamon takes a bit higher RAM than what you mentioned - it is around 200 MB and your Asus Eee-PC won't support it. My Asus 1101HA didn't support it at all. However, LM KDE is really good but it ran a tad bit slow on my Asus 1101HA with 1 GB RAM. Hence, I replaced it with LM 13 XFCE which runs quite well.

      Please try to choose lightweight DEs like XFCE, LXDE, Openbox, or Gnome 2 for your EeePC.

      On Swap space, I allow LM to automatically choose how much space it wants to allot for swap - generally it varies from 2-4 GB.

      Thanks,
      Arindam

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  15. I do not trust KDE, it is never stable. I tried everything and I think that nothing beats MATE in terms of stability, flexibility and lightwight desktop

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    1. It was earlier. But the 4.9.* releases are very good and performs well. Mate is of course, lighter.

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  16. I am a longtime CentOS user both home(server) and work. Was looking for a replacement to XP for several users here at home and have been completely satisfied with Mint 14 Nadia/KDE.

    Did some post install which work well for my needs:
    (1) install ubuntu-restricted-extras
    (2) install VirtualBox, deluge, acroread, Thunderbird, Firestarter, Truecrypt, COMODO AV, Spotify
    (4) Change software sources for best download server
    (5) installed HP printer following - http://hplipopensource.com/hplip-web/install/install/index.html
    (6) uninstall Libre Office then install OpenOffice (personal preference)
    (7) ran into some challenges installing AMD Raedon HD 3850 but working correctly
    (8) install RealVNC so I can remote from my IPAD

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  17. Can anyone report or direct me to reports about KDE versus the Intel® Integrated Graphics Controller™ ?

    I have not seen any discussion or conversation about how well KDE operates with something other than the hottest graphics available. Integrated graphics are found on many laptops -- even better machines.

    Cheers,
    ~~~ 0;-Dan

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    1. Hi Dan:

      I am running a KDE 4.10.2 distro, Manjaro 0.8.5.2 KDE on a Pentium 4 antiquated machine with 1.5 GB RAM and 512 Kb graphic card memory. I don't get to use any special effects (which depends on OpenGL) there but KDE runs pretty decent on the antiquated hardware. Also, I tested Mageia 3 with KDE 4.10.2 on my Core i3 laptop with 128 MB Intel graphics and I could create all desktop cubes, cylinders and use almost every effect smoothly.

      In my use I found KDE 4.10.* series to be the best of KDE series so far in terms of aesthetics as well as performance. Hope it helps.

      Regards,
      Arindam

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  18. Hi Arindam,
    I started smelling Linux since 2005 (and tried somehow hard -for me- to integrate it in my digital life) but no success. Many little thinks stayed in my way of getting rid of my XP license. First of all I wanted to run on my 2007 r61 laptop. I did tens of installations and dealt with distros from SuSE to Gentoo, nothing had the appeal a of reliable replacement. Why? Because it was a lot of work, quite a lot. At the time it took me a day or two to make an XP fully featured. Linux installs were incomparable faster and with good repository but missing a centralized console, after-install issues or being buggy on permanent basis it was unusable for my family, especially because I had to make remote control adjustment on teamviewer, which was very buggy at time.
    Well, on any other year it looks that everything is going quite well and I would like to get on my family computers not for cleaning viruses and repair kids adventures in our XP but for small media codecs installs or some software here and there. I am not CLI fan at all (although I am Linux certified admin), I don't love it and its full featured reliability doesn't impressed me. I am looking through my family eyes and needs and find CLI unusable but for remote SSL. So what I want is a distro, not actually a specific GUI-I'll manage with that, but a distro for which I can coordinate my wife through a telephone or video conversation on a safe and easy installing and replacement of windows and to drive her installing Teamviewer in the easiest way possible, eventually to install it myself through SSL IF (and only IF) the Broadcom wifi would automatically connect to the router. Well, see, a lot of IF's and assumptions. When the XP gone wild, I have some friends that managed to put the pieces back but I can't rely on anyone around to do the same with a Linux, at least in that region. In conclusion, does anyone know such a good linux, with a fully featured linux kernel supporting the Broadcom, having no problem in dialing a pppoe with user and pass (as I found it buggy in Mint), making the GUI interaction at least as manageable as the XP's one?

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    1. Hi EmilT:

      I am using Linux full time for my personal requirements for last 3 years. Mostly it involves doing some data analysis using R, a statistical software or SAS (Statistical Analytical Software) - both of whom have a Unix/Linux version, Skype for video chat, Firefox/Chrome for blogging, Rhythmbox/Amarok for music & VLC for videos. Also, I have installed MS Office 2010 Excel/Word/Powerpoint for my documentation requirement in addition to LibreOffice and Adobe Dreamweaver & Photoshop suites for my requirements, using Wine. Everything work well and faster than XP or Win7. I use Ubuntu 12.04 LTS with Unity5 in one of my systems and Manjaro KDE in another.

      Possibly my requirements are not as niche as yours and I agree with you, help on Linux is not readily available as a MS Windows XP/7/8. This was my motivation when I started writing about Linux, to document and share things as I learn.

      On Teamviewer piece, I know that the application is available in Ubuntu repositories but I haven't used it at all and my suggestions may not be of any help. I did a short search on Teamviewer 7 & 8 in Ubuntu forums (http://ubuntuforums.org) and there seems to be some issues that users faced in 64 bit machines to run teamviewer properly and their possible solutions. Please search Teamviewer 7 or 8 in ubuntuforums and check if these responses are of any help to the issue you're facing.

      Regards,
      Arindam

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