Ebb and flow of Linux distros...
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Visits (1963)
The other day I was commenting on an article question where I pointed them to distrowatch.com, my favorite site for keeping up with the latest in Linux distributions. I noticed that the top-listed distribution and continuing to grow rapidly is Mint. I was intrigued. As someone who has used Ubuntu for the last several years I was curious as to what might be different about Mint, and why the sudden growth?
Essentially, Mint is a based on Ubuntu, which is, in turn, based on Debian. Apparently, their goal is to overcome some of the issues that people have with an out-of-the-box Ubuntu installation with codecs for playing DVDs and other media. It's all compatible with Ubuntu repositories, so able to reap the benefits of software that is already set up that way. Why is it suddenly so popular? Some say that it's because of Ubuntu's Unity, and their push to change the desktop experience-- whether you want it changed or not.
(skip this paragraph if you already know all about Linux and desktop choices)
When I updated my Ubuntu to 11, it replaced my desktop with Unity. It's designed to work more like a smart-phone or tablet environment and I couldn't stand it. If I wanted to be running a tablet I would use a tablet. I use a laptop or desktop machine for a reason. Fortunately, I found an article which told me "How to replace Ubuntu 11.10's Unity desktop with good ol' GNOME". That got me working again and was a testament to the flexibility that I enjoy about Linux... but it was still a pain. Ubuntu has apparently made this move to help attract people to their distribution, using the same logic to sell Mac or Windows. This is probably sound marketing and good business for bringing new customers. It has the side affect of angering the existing technical customer base who have grown to enjoy and trust the Ubuntu environment. (I guess I can't speak for the whole base, just me and a few friends.)
So, what do you do when your distribution starts to tear away from the things that made you choose it in the first place? In the Linux and Open Source world, someone creates a fork from that path to the pit of despair that continues to embrace what you like and maybe adds a little more. In this case, that's Mint. I have downloaded it and will do some tests to see if my IBM software will still run. If it does, there is a good chance that I will join the thousands who are moving from Ubuntu to Mint. I've got nothing against Ubuntu. I still support it... they've just started to leave me behind as a customer. I hope they figure that out.
To me, this is a good story. It reinforces that flexibility that makes the open source world so interesting to me. Linux has always been about choice and access to technology. That is constant. I'll let you know what I think of Mint. If you try it first, let me know.