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Linux Mint 13 Maya (LTS) Mate with latest updates
I've always preferred stable distros with a long term support than shiny, disposable ones you need to reinstall every 6 months. For this reason (and many others against Debian/Ubuntu/Mint LMDE, etc.) I use Mint Maya on my workstation.
Unfortunately Mint team doesn't update the released ISOs. This is not a problem with the non LTS versions because they are intended to last only 6 months whereas it really is a problem with the LTS one because it is intended for lasting years and a fresh installation today takes more than 500MB of files download/substitution… that's almost a new distro from scratch! .
Looking around I found some other people complaining this “problem”. http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=128277
For this reason I spent some time to remaster a new updated DVD before starting the installation on my workstation and finally I shared my work to help others.
You can find the result of my work here: http://www.riksoft.it/gratis.php
I initially made only the 64 bit but now 3 versions are available: Mate 32bit, Mate 64bit and Xfce 32 bit.
I update these ISOs more or less every 6 months.
Before installing, I tested and compared it with some other distros to check ram consumption, responsiveness, features, and so on. Escaping from Ubuntu because Unity really sucks a lot on computers (if I wanted a tablet I would have bought a tablet not an I7 workstation! I don't want to transform a big computer in a stupid small tablet!), Mint 13 seems the best choice because it is still Ubuntu based with a good compromise between lightness and power.
I was tempted by Lubuntu and Xubuntu but Lubuntu has not an LTS version (Sept. 2014: now it has) and Xubuntu is not very appealing to me: XFCE is great but Xubuntu has not a really good theme (Lubuntu look very better than that), it has advertising inside, etc.
To say the truth I initially took a look at Debian. Unfortunately I don't like the latest Debian too: Gnome seems to follow the Mac/Win/Ubuntu trend instead of promoting usability. Moreover Debian had some problems on my hardware and I didn't want to spend much time solving it.
Rolling release vs Standard release
The Rolling Release philosophy at first sounds very good since it theoretically means you'll never have to change version. But the reality is not so good because it also involves accidents and rolling back.
Debian vs Mint LMDE (Debian based)
There are many different rolling models. Mint LMDE and Debian don't use the same model.
When Debian testing reaches the stable state it stops using the rolling release.
On the contrary, Mint LMDE goes ahead indefinitely remaining on the latest Debian testing available. (Update 2015-07 Mint LMDE is no more a rolling release: http://segfault.linuxmint.com/2015/02/about-betsy/ )
Furthermore, Mint LMDE uses the cyclical rolling, which means the Debian testing rolling updates are “quantized” trying to reduce problems (e.g. rolling back). So LMDE works more like “Update Packs” which are tested snapshots of Debian Testing.
So Debian rolling always comes to an end where you need to reinstall the new versions, while Mint LMDE theoretically last forever (the reality is that in this universe nothing last forever and the entropy is going to destroy your distro exactly the same as all the other things, planets and stars included!).
For the above reasons, I finally chose Mint 13 + Mate (Not the LMDE and not Cinnamon DE). There are tons of good distros but my choice was based on
- Good Stability. The Mint 13 is bases on Ubuntu LTS so it's quite stable (and no rolling release, at least for now because there are rumors that Ubuntu could adopt that model in the future).
- Long time support: it ends on April 2017
- Lightness. Mate is pretty light despite it looks great and modern.
- DE. I hate almost any new GUI because the trend forces the producers to release weird and unnatural interfaces just to be cool and catch any noob of the solar system. So we end up with loads of OSs noob-ready, and few ones suitable for professionals. Luckily some are out of this crazy trend and thanks to them we still have interfaces for the real world/work instead of idiot interfaces for noobs who just need reading emails and twitting !
- Popularity. I prefer to stick with distros with a decent audience because it serves two purposes
- More users = more debug = less problems (this law doesn't apply to Windows )
- More users = on average more people ready to help
- As much free/open as possibile but not at the expense of functionality. Maybe Debian would be the best on this regard, but
- an LTS distro Ubuntu based (that actually is Debian based) is a good distro too,
- it's more stable because it doesn't use a rolling model
- and being only Ubuntu based but not a real Ubuntu, it's not subject to Canonical tracking systems, advertising, and so on (That's why I also hate Chrome).
- But it is also important that freedom be balanced with fuctionality: I have to work on two monitors so I need to install NVidia driver or I can't use the maximun resolution of my 24“ monitors, nor I could use the twinview. I cannot avoid browsing sites with flash proprietary technology so I need flash onboard. On the contrary I deleted Mono from Mint because it has no real purpose, it stinks of microzozz, and there is really no reason to have it installed. (PS: I'm not Stallman but I agree with him on many things about software, and more than 100% on problems about privacy: Google, Chrome, social networks, Microsoft, cloud computing, etc.).