With Linux Mint Xfce 18.1 “Serena” due to be released any day now, we decided it was too late for a full review of Mint Xfce 18.0 “Sarah,” and opted instead for this down-and-dirty “nonreview.”
The FOSS Force
Oh, drat. I’ve done gone and procrastinated too much again.
Shortly after Clem Lefebvre and his buddies released the Xfce edition of Mint 18 — that’s “Sarah” for those who prefer names to numbers — I installed it on one of the laptops I keep at the office so I could write a review. I even took the laptop with me to All Things Open in late October to give it a good workout — which I did writing my coverage of the conference for “another website.”
I never did get around to writing the review, but it’s always been on the back burner. I’d get it written before the next version of Mint is released, I figured.
I never planned to use Mint 18 on a daily basis. That hasn’t worked out either. It was originally just going to go on a laptop for a review and that would be it. The office desktop where I do the majority of my work was running Mint 17.0, which would be supported until long after the lifetime the old 32 bit desktop which was already obsolete when it came into our possession.
It turned out that was more correct than I’d realized. After a 15-second power failure crippled the machine this summer — it still worked but only kinda sorta — about a month back I finally bit-the-bullet and ordered a new-to-us refurbished Optiplex 780 from Amazon, which was delivered almost as soon as I clicked the “buy now” button. When Amazon gets the drone-delivery thing down, I figure they’ll have your order at the door before you’re finished entering your payment info.
Anyway, I popped Sarah onto the “new” machine, retired the old HP that had been limping along since the power failure, and have been using Sarah for all my daily work since.
Still no review got written, however. No need to rush.
Until the week before last, when going through the FOSS Force News Wire I saw that Mint 18.1 “Serena” had been released. Still no cause for concern. It was certain to be one of those supported-for-a-year short-term release things, meaning Sarah would still be the latest and greatest LTS for a while. Well, as you know, it turns out that Serena is a gal that Clem wants to keep around for a while. It’s an LTS that’ll be supported until 2021, or so say the *buntu fanboyz and grrlz over at OMG! Ubuntu!
That’s okay, I’m still not late. Not quite yet. What Clem & Company have released is Cinnamon and MATE versions of 18.1, meaning the KDE and Xfce versions won’t be released until the end of the year, which means I still have up to five days left.
Wait a minute. Five days? That’s like tomorrow.
Here’s my review. Or nonreview — it’s a little late for an official review of a distro scheduled to be replaced by week’s end: It’s great.
So great, in fact, that I no longer get to feel superior to Windows and Mac users because I know how to use Linux and they don’t. I can no longer feel smug because I can get the sound running, and knowing how to get a Winmodem to work…well, that’s a little bit of useless knowledge these day, isn’t it.
That’s the problem with modern all-purpose self-rising flavors of Linux, and has been since about the middle of last decade. They work as advertised out-of-the-box. No special skills required.
So far, Mint 18 Xfce has carried on that tradition. In fact, I haven’t found a single noteworthy bug since I’ve been using it. Nothing crashes or freezes whenever I forget and do this or that. There’s been no running to the forums, except to remember how to get rid of the Keyring nag screen. As expected, both on the laptop and on the desktop, Mint found all the hardware just fine, without me having to so much as touch a configuration file — which is great, because I’m not sure I even remember what a configuration file is anymore.
Some Linux users turn up their noses at Mint, either due to its derivation from Ubuntu or because of its status as an easy-to-use distro — which some seem to think makes it only suitable for newbs. While the former may have some merit, given some of Canonical’s questionable business practices, I think the later is unfounded. Easy to use it is. Although I tend to spend some time in a terminal each day, I can’t think of a single instance with Mint 18 when I was forced to use the command line because it was the only option.
In other words, wet behind the ears and fresh from Windows or Mac users will do just fine and will never have to face the dreaded command line until they’re ready, but for the rest of us, it’s still Linux under the hood. Ease of use doesn’t diminish the power and capabilities of any all-purpose self-rising Linux distro. The only thing I can’t do that I’d like to do is go to a real runlevel 3, but nothing related to Debian does that.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about some things to do after installing Mint Xfce — just in case there are any newbs out there ready to take the plunge.