Saturday, March 23, 2013

Linux Mint 201303 "Debian" Cinnamon Review: Debian simplified and offers impressive performance!

One thing I really like about Linux Mint is the refinement and completeness they render to each and every release. I have been using Linux Mint since 2009 and except for the repetitive art-work, I have never been disappointed so far. Normally Linux Mint releases mimic Ubuntu and mostly require fresh installation. I tried upgrading a few but with no luck and hence, had to do a fresh installation to make things work. However, in 2012, Linux Mint deviated from convention and brought a semi-rolling release LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition). LMDE is based on Debian testing and doesn't require ever to re-install the OS. I tried the Mate version in 2012 and was highly impressed with aesthetics as well as performance.


From Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
This time with the release of 201303 LMDE update, I thought of trying out the Cinnamon version. LMDE is available in both 32 and 64 bit versions - I downloaded the 1.3 GB 32-bit version. Those who are using LMDE Cinnamon already, need to just update and upgrade the system to 201303 and need not to do a fresh installation. The 201303 update comes with Cinnamon 1.6, Linux kernel 3.2.0, and Gnome shell 3.4.2. Nemo 1.1.2, forked from Nautilus, is the default file manager. Both Cinnamon and Nemo being lighter than Gnome 3, render a sense of lightness to the overall feel of the distro. For this testing, I used my Asus K54C laptop with 2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor and 2 GB RAM.



From Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Aesthetically, LMDE resembles typical Linux Mint Cinnamon desktop with black panel and light ash colored Linux Mint wallpaper. As always, Linux Mint is refined and looks extremely professional, starting from the system font to integration of applications to the overall system theme. LMDE also has the usual, more colorful, Linux Mint 14 wallpapers, if you decide for a more playful interface. 
From Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Further, Cinnamon is a bit more customizable than Gnome 3 and I could create a Mac-ish interface with a top panel and docky. There are some good-looking themes available as well for Cinnamon to break the monotony of looking at the same desktop day after day! I installed the Elementary theme here.

From Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Hardware detection
I found hardware detection to be good with wifi, sound, display and touchpad detected appropriately. Of course, by default touchpad is not enabled and the touchpad settings require minor manual inputs to enable things like single-double tap, horizontal/vertical scroll, etc. Mostly LMDE works out of the box.


From Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Applications
App list is very much complete with most of the commonly used applications present. But, it is kind of a mixed bag for me. It has some recent apps like GIMP 2.8.2 but some really old ones like LibreOffice 3.5. Possibly this is due to the freeze in Debian wheezy repo as there is an expected release in March or April 2013.
  • Office: LibreOffice 3.5.4.2 Base, Calc, Draw, Impress and Writer; Document viewer
  • Internet: Firefox 19, Thunderbird 19, Pidgin chat, Transmission, XChat IRC, Desktop sharing
  • Graphics: GIMP 2.8.2, gthumb, ImageMagick, Simple Scan
  • Multimedia: Banshee, Brasero CD/DVD writer, Totem Movie Player 3.0.1, Sound recorder
  • Accessories: Archive manager, Calculator, gedit, Root terminal, Screenshot, Terminal, Tomboy notes, USB Image Writer
Adobe flashplugin is by default as well as multimedia codecs. So, I could play my favorite music/movie and watch live movies even in live boot.

From Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
If I compare to the 2012 LMDE release, app list looks more or less the same with some like GIMP updated. Possibly the next update will have some latest apps to showcase (once the repo freeze is over for Debian).
From Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Installation
LMDE installation achieves two things in my opinion:
  • Easier installation than Debian
  • Quicker installation than Ubuntu - it takes about 10-15 minutes of time.
Installation requires steps like language, location, keyboard language and type and user ID creation. Only difficult step (for a Linux newbie) might be creation of root and linux-swap partitions. However, it won't be an issue with moderately experienced users who have used gparted before.


From Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Repository
LMDE sources applications from Debian testing repository. There are provisions to add the backport and remeo repositories as well. Applications can be downloaded using the default Linux Mint Software Center as well as using Synaptic package manager. About 38K packages are available in LMDE repo and I could locate most of my commonly required apps like Chromium, Midori, VLC, conky, docky, etc. I checked for Nvidia drivers as well in the repository and they are available, except bumblebee. For bumblebee, you need to add the bumblebee ppa. If you need details, please refer to the post here.


From Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
However, I faced certain issues as well. For example, though I could download conky but I couldn't run it well on LMDE. It may be because of Cinnamon/Gnome 3. Further, the deb files meant for Ubuntu Precise/Quantal may not work well with LMDE. I didn't find compiz settings manager in the Debian repo and so I tried installing Compiz from Ubuntu repo but without any luck. I added Nadia ppa's as well but to install compiz too many dependencies required to be resolved and I gave up after sometime. So, no desktop cube or attractive conkies for me in LMDE!

Performance
Performance is the best part of LMDE - it is really really smooth and shows very little instability or whatever the Linux Mint blog cautions of. Applications open and close faster than Ubuntu based Linux Mint and it is absolutely pleasure to use, even on old hardware. At steady state with system monitor running, LMDE takes about 160 MB RAM and 1-10% CPU usage. If I compare it to other Linux Mint Cinnamon desktops, LMDE requires 50% less resources under similar conditions. A tabular view is presented below:


Parameters Base Desktop Linux kernel CPU Usage RAM usage
Mint 201303 Cinnamon Debian Cinnamon 1.6 3.2.0 1-10% 162 MB
Mint 13 Cinnamon Ubuntu Cinnamon 1.4 3.2.0 1-10% 200 MB
Mint 14 Cinnamon Ubuntu Cinnamon 1.6.7 3.5.0 1-10% 221 MB
Snowlinux 3 White CInnamon Ubuntu Cinnamon 1.6.7 3.5.0 1-10% 260 MB

Overall
There were talks in between of a rolling release Ubuntu. I am not sure if Canonical is going to do it or not; till I have Linux Mint Debian Edition, I am not worried. If you are more comfortable with Debian/Ubuntu distros and looking for a really long term solution and are not concerned about eye-popping desktop effects, then LMDE is the best distro for you. 

LMDE Cinnamon uses lower resources than most of the Cinnamon distros and even some of the prominent XFCE distros available. Additionally, it comes with the usual refineness of Linux Mint. I really liked the release and during my usage I didn't note any instability - things work as they are expected to work, though Linux Mint blog warns about possible instability while updating.

Definitely LMDE is easier to install than Debian and gives comparable performance. So, users who want to test out Debian but are afraid to do so, may be better off using LMDE. Or at least use it as a stepping stone before actually getting their hands dirty with Debian! LMDE just works out of the box!

Personally, I am very impressed with LMDE but is of the opinion that Ubuntu based Linux Mint gives more flexibility and wider application base. I may be wrong here but that is the impression I got after a few days of usage. However in overall, LMDE offers better performance than any Ubuntu-Cinnamon combo I have used. It is very fast and smooth to use. It is capable of working on machines where other Cinnamon distros (except Cinnarch may be, I haven't tried it yet) run very slow. LMDE is indeed a good distro to look at if you are thinking of a long term solution. 

You can download the 32 and 64-bit versions from here.

24 comments:

  1. Where did you get that fabulous purple wallpaper?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can get it from wallsave.com http://www.wallsave.com/wallpapers/2560x1600/violet/293308/violet-shine-desktop-293308.jpg

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    2. Thank you so much. I've downloaded it and just love it. Keep up the wonderful reviews.

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  2. I've used LMDE for a while on my backup PC & it's been fairly decent, but it might not be my first choice for my main machine. I've see instability roll in with a kernel update, which is some kind of kernel panic anytime I try to boot kernel 3.2.0-4. After everything starts loading the screen goes black, the keyboard blinks, & nothing happens. The workaround is to simply select kernel 3.2.0-3 or earlier in GRUB, which is effective if inconvenient. I've also been unable to load Cinnamon, but that's probably just the old hardware on my machine. I'd definitely take the stability warnings seriously, even if there are some systems that work really well on LMDE.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, it may be due to old hardware. I was using 3.2.0-4 in my use and it seemed fairly stable.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Dude... you should not use ubuntu deb packages on debian/debian based distros... there are plenty of 3rd party debian repos you can find extra packages without messing around being dodgy

    here... http://pastebin.com/yTdjBeF8

    And why the heck would you want to install compiz on lmde cinnamon? You can't have compiz and cinnamon on the same install... (unless you run it in MATE... dunno if that is what you was attempting to do or not)

    apart from that... nice article

    kaddy
    www.youtube.com/Linux4UnMe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hmmm ... got your point. I am trying to understand why Cinnamon and compiz can't work. In Ultimate Edition, I have used Compiz with Cinnamon and desktop cube and other effects.

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  5. Today we use modern hardware atleast 1GB of RAM and duar core processor 2ghz ...
    so if take 166MB or 60MB it doesn't mean its fast, really fastness is Linux Mint debain ..how to utilize resources at speed, I have tried distro that took 150MB RAM to 350MB but not faster
    , I have also used distros that uses 400MB to 1GB RAM that are more faster and responsive. Thanks for your review, Now am ready to try Mint Debain cinnemon Edition

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    Replies
    1. LMDE is really fast - at least faster than most of the Ubuntu derived distros I have used. And I have used quite a few :).

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  6. To reiterate a point made, deb packages made for Ubuntu are not compatible with Debian, although you could get lucky, but is generally not recommended. They should work on the corresponding LM Ubuntu based release, but of course here we are talking LM Debian edition. Are you sure conky is not in the Debian Testing repos? Why would you try and install a buntu deb file here?

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    Replies
    1. I downloaded conky from Debian repo but it did not work with Cinnamon. For compiz, I was referring to Ubuntu .deb files which incidentally showed so many unmet dependencies that I refrained from installing them :).

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    2. I changed that part of the article. I guess now it is clear. Thanks for pointing it out.

      Delete
  7. Very nice and comprehensive review. I used LMDE 2012 for a while, and I really liked it, however I eventually moved to debian testing because despite the fact that LMDE is really stable, it only receives updates and bug patches every 3-4 months (only a few apps like firefox, cinnamon and mint tools get updated more often). I find this update policy really insecure and a too risky for my liking

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    Replies
    1. Yes, LMDE is a bit slow to receive updates. Even I noted the same thing. I agree with you.

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    2. But hold on...isn't LMDE built on Debian Wheezy, the testing repos? So won't LMDE update like Wheezy does?

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  8. Does exist repositories we could put with nano /etc/apt/sources.list for an existing installation of Debian on a distant and dedicaced server ?
    (For more noobies as me: In this case, this coult be used with a PC online as remote PC... ;-)... )

    (I already put TightViewer on my local PC
    ( http://programmaticponderings.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/installing-tightvnc-on-the-raspberry-pi/ ) and VNC on the server ( http://www.trustonme.net/didactels/185.html ) and this seems to run well (y)...

    A second question, if sources existe and apt-get update and apt/get upgrade will really install LMDE 201303 Cinnamon, what is the line command to run it ?

    And perhaps it will run well...

    Thanks to The Pro you are perhaps if you answer this points ...

    And sorry for my bad english, i'm french... Lol !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Aadminli:

      Yes, you can update remotely /etc/apt/sources.list if you know the username and password. I am not sure I understood the second question. General way to install any application is apt-get install appname as root. Please let me know if it answers your question.

      Thanks,
      Arindam

      Delete
  9. Hello,

    I experienced a problem while installing the Nvidia programme. When I restarted the computer and logged in LMDE 201303, cinnamon crashed. How could I correct this setback?

    Thanks a lot

    Ced

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi,

      May be the nvidia drivers are not installed appropriately. Can you please check if you followed this:

      For the driver related issue;

      "The solution lies in the bumblebee configure file. For anyone else with this problem, here's my process:

      Make sure that nvidia-current-updates and nvidia-settings-updates are uninstalled and nvidia-current and nvidia-settings are installed (sudo apt-get remove nvidia-current-updates nvidia-settings-updates sudo apt-get install nvidia-current nvidia-settings.

      Run sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bumblebee/stable, sudo apt-get update, and sudo apt-get install bumblebee bumblebee-nvidia.

      Change line 22 in /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf to say "Driver=nvidia" and line 47 to say "KernelDriver=nvidia".

      Run sudo bumblebeed restart.

      Run optirun glxgears and admire the pretty graphics.

      Line 22 in /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf is originally "Driver=nvidia-current" which is not the name of the nvidia module."

      Taken from this thread ---> http://askubuntu.com/questions/180104/accelerated-graphics-with-an-nvidia-card

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    2. Hi

      thanks for your quick answer.
      I began the processus as described, but it seems that:
      - sudo apt-get remove nvidia-current-updates nvidia-settings-updates: only one of those was installed
      - sudo apt-get install nvidia-current nvidia-settings: doesn't work because one of the packages is not found.

      Ced

      Delete
    3. Hi Ced,

      Sorry, my mistake - I was thinking from Ubuntu perspective. Normally it works with Linux Mint (Ubuntu derivative). Given this is Debian derivative, the below link (from Debian wiki) should work for you. I have tried it and it worked for me.
      http://wiki.debian.org/NvidiaGraphicsDrivers

      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
    4. Hi Arindam

      Sorry to bother you again. I tried today to install again the LMDE Cinammon CD 201303, but at one step of the package updates (it had downloaded all the updates and started to clean what was to be cleaned and install the rest), it stopped because of an error. When I tried to launch again the updater, it asked me to remove the boken packages. But I don't know where to go to do so. I tried to log out and log in again, but now, I can only go in safe mode.

      I want to know if there is a mean to recover from where I am stuck.

      Thanks a lot

      Cedric

      Delete
  10. Hi, nice review Arindam! I like your blog. I have LMDE Mate x64 running in my main desktop pc aside with windows 7.
    Good distro, stable with excellent performance. But has few updates and some glitches to install or tweak things (for example, I could not install wine).

    ReplyDelete