But I do have a long list of distros I’ve looked over, tweaked, punched, kicked and pondered, and even if I’m harsher on some days than others, I try — really, I do try — to be honest and fair. If I like it, I say so. If I don’t, I say so.
This, I really like.
I never was a Linux Mint fan. It won a few points recently in its LXDE rendition by pleasing a neighbor, so in a roundabout way it made me happy too.
And with the release of a Debian-based version, I figured it was time to pause, breathe deeply and take a closer look. So this morning I sloughed off my prejudices (like a snake shedding its skin), installed it and spent the day with it.
I expected no speed differences over the Ubuntu version, and no real super duper changes in the way things worked. I didn’t anticipate any usability issues or frustrations, given its history and reputation for making Ubuntu “even easier.”
In fact, the only expectation I had really, was an Arch Linux-style rolling release structure, and perhaps a few updates to make after installing.* So this was a shock:
A mere 110Mb, plus or minus, after a cold boot is amazing. I haven’t seen a full Gnome setup ride out a startup in under 110Mb since I put together a Gnome skeleton in Arch Linux. And that one was rather sparse.
So a full desktop, with bells and whistles and accoutrements looking at me from about 105Mb out of 3Gb is a bucket of cold water to the face. This is giving Arch a run for its money too.
And really, if anything, this is a complete and absolute vindication for any Debian fan who has ever suggested building a custom system from The Swirl and insisted it would be lighter and/or faster than Ubuntu.
Aye, there’s the rub: Ubuntu in its grotesque corpulence, tipping the scales at more than 300Mb just to show a startup screen, is suddenly in a very, very harsh light. Linux Mint Debian is doing as much with only a fraction of the resources.
Even worse, Mint Debian is matching what Lubuntu and its brethren need to get going. The term “lightweight” is suddenly relative.
For a lot of people, resource demand is immaterial; I acknowledge that. And for me, for this machine, it should be also: A core duo with 3Gb of PC2-5300 and a 7200rpm SATA3G drive is hardly a clunker (I hope ).
But I don’t do my best work on an L2300. I live at 120Mhz and use the fast machine for dull things like checking for spam and streaming audio. (Sue me for wasting resources. I enjoy the irony. )
So if you tell me that you have a distro that includes almost every heavyweight program available in the Linux software spectrum, to include Firefox with Flash, Java, Gnome, Compiz, MPlayer and VLC and codecs, plus the kitchen sink, and then tell me it’ll start up on less than 110Mb … I can’t help but be impressed.
And beyond that, I have no higher compliment. Ubuntu, look out: This one offers more, and eats up less. And Arch, look out, because this one can do much the same, with a lot less time spent setting up.
A gold smilie — no, better yet, a green smilie for the Linux Mint Debian crew:
*”A few,” by the way, was a drastic underestimate … I had to download about 300Mb in updates and the ISO was released what, 10 days ago? Be prepared.