Linux Review (and why I chose Mint over Ubuntu)

–Installation Experience, abridged–

After a rather tiring and worrisome 8 hours that spanned for several days, I now have dual boot Windows 8.1 and Linux Mint on my Lenovo machine.

I might put some kind of tutorial or post up here later for the details, but it was quite the rollercoaster that involved changing a lot of BIOS settings, a lot of restarting, a lot of partitioning, a lot of reformatting, and a lot of tutorial reading and watching.

The 4th time was the charm in this experience, and now I can calmly choose between Windows and Linux everytime I boot up my machine. It’s quite lovely.

In previous classes, the trend has been to install a Virtual Machine using VirtualBox. This has been quite handy for a while, but personally I hate how the Virtual Machine gets laggy after a while, which tended to happen often, especially with larger projects. I wanted to have a Linux house, not a Linux room.

The frustration and effort I put into this campaign was well worth it. I have to say that I’m in love with Linux already.

–My Mint Setup and Experience–

I got the default Mint 17.1 configurations, which includes the Windows-esque Cinnamon desktop (beautiful) the Nemo file manager (I love Finding Nemo references) and so much good software preinstalled (VLC player and Firefox, anyone?). Everything runs so fast…and shuts down so fast at my command. It’s really easy customizing my workspace; with a few well-chosen keystrokes I can open windows and move them to any side or corner in seconds. There’s a lovely installed pdf reader that has none of Adobe Reader’s clutter and twice its speed.

The terminal is one of my favorite parts. In Windows, I am resigned to use PowerShell, which is the closest to Unix scripting I’ll probably ever get in that OS. PowerShell has enough features for me thus far, but I’ve coveted my friends’ true Unix shells for quite a while. Finally, finally I have my own bash shell. It installs things so fast, and I can open anything from it. I love how it looks with its default color scheme (a cool lime green with whites and grays).

I’ve already spent an afternoon installing all of my essentials, including sublime and vim. I also installed emacs for good measure. It’s so easy to install things in Linux, and instead of random .exe or .msi things floating around, the package manager allows you to download in a more direct fashion, eliminating all the clutter.

So far, the UI has been very intuitive. I had to adjust some mouse settings, and it was done in a jiffy by simply clicking the Menu icon and typing in “mouse”. I have yet to browse Linux’s equivalent of an App Store; I anticipate that that will also be a fun afternoon this upcoming weekend.

–Why Not Ubuntu?–

No solid reasons, beside the fact I didn’t like the Unity desktop, which usually comes with Ubuntu, and I like how Mint looks, and the default programs it comes preinstalled with. None of these points are a clear deal-breaker, but Unity alone was enough for me to look for alternatives. I’m a big fan of horizontal taskbars. (Unity has a vertical taskbar)

Both Ubuntu and Mint are very well supported (Ubuntu probably more so) so I am not doing myself a disfavor by choosing what may be the less popular distribution. I think Mint is a solid choice and has its own flair for those who want an alternative for Unity and a beautiful interface. Also, it seems that Mint has its own world of extreme customization and its own set of advanced features, which I found to be a good investment months and years down the road, when I become much more capable in Linux and will tend to explore even more.

I honestly don’t care what distribution people get at this point. Just get Linux in general, it’s great!


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