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Linux Mint 11 review

Graphical Administrative Applications: All the graphical administrative applications are accessible from Menu > Administration, Menu > Preferences, and Menu > System Tools. Most are well known applications, but a few may be new to some readers. Like the Nepomuk Backup application for instance. It is accessible from Menu > System Tools > Nepomuk Backup. This application is supposed to backup your data every time it is run. The image below shows the error message generated when I tried to launch it. Attempting to start it from the command line generated the same error. Perhaps the Nepomuk server needed to be started first.

An attempt to start the (Nepomuk) server gave an indication of what the problem might be.

sun@HUman ~ $ sudo nepomukserver
Error: "/tmp/kde-sun" is owned by uid 1000 instead of uid 0.
Error: "/tmp/kde-sun" is owned by uid 1000 instead of uid 0.
Error: "/tmp/ksocket-sun" is owned by uid 1000 instead of uid 0.
Error: "/tmp/kde-sun" is owned by uid 1000 instead of uid 0.
kdeinit4: Shutting down running client.
Connecting to deprecated signal QDBusConnectionInterface::serviceOwnerChanged(QString,QString,QString)
Error: "/tmp/ksocket-sun" is owned by uid 1000 instead of uid 0.
Error: "/tmp/kde-sun" is owned by uid 1000 instead of uid 0.

I decided to install the Nepomuk Controller, a system tray applet used to suspend and resume the Nepomuk file indexer, and also perform other Nepomuk-related tasks. Attempting to start it gave a similar error message as above. Despite the error, the applet appeared in the system tray.

sun@HUman ~ $ sudo nepomukcontroller
Error: "/var/tmp/kdecache-sun" is owned by uid 1000 instead of uid 0.
QSystemTrayIcon::setVisible: No Icon set

By clicking or right-clicking the Nepomuk applet, I could choose to “Suspend File Indexing” or “Configure File Indexing.” “Configure File Indexing” launched the window shown below. From the Backup tab, you could configure automatic backup of your data, and restore it, if needed. You can also backup manually.

Another administrative application that I find very useful, and I think you will too, is the Startup Manager. It offers several options, but the most important is the one that makes it possible to change the default OS in a dual-boot setting.

Security: A new installation of Linux Mint 11 has three open ports – 139 (netbios-ssn), 445 (microsoft-ds), and 631 (ipp), all listening on the local network. If you use Banshee, and you will because it is the default audio player, be aware that its DAAP extension listens on tcp port 8089. So, the moment you start Banshee, you will have one more open port. DAAP (Digital Audio Access Protocol) not only enables streaming of “audio from one computer to another, but also to list the host’s playlists so that they can be accessed remotely.” Without a firewall protection, the service could be accessible from any remote host.

It is always a good idea to keep an open eye on ports listening on your computer. The easiest method to do that is to install Nmap (sudo apt-get install nmap), and run sudo nmap localhost soon after installation. That should tell you what ports are open out of the box. Run Nmap often and if you see a new entry in the list of open ports that you are not familiar with, try to access it from a browser (localhost:XYZ, where XYZ is the port number). If that does not tell you anything useful, consult Wikipedia’s List of TCP and UDP port numbers. And if you cannot make sense of anything that you find there, ask.

Linux Mint 11 does come with a firewall, but the graphical application for configuring it is not installed. It is, however, in the list of Featured applications in the Software Manager. A handy guide for setting it up is available here. Apparmor, SELinux and Tomoyo are three possible mandatory access control applications that you may use to provide an additional layer of security for your computer. The userland utilities for all three are in the repository, with Apparmor being the one usually used on Ubuntu-based distributions. Unfortunately, it is not configured by default on Linux Mint 11 (it is in Ubuntu 11.04). A future article will provide a guide on how to enhance the security posture of Linux Mint 11 using tools readily available from the Software Manager or via Synaptic.

Final Thoughts: From personal experience, the April release of Ubuntu, and, therefore, of Linux Mint, tends to be less stable than the October release. And Linux Mint 11 feels decided less stable than Linux Mint 10. If the trend holds, Linux Mint 12 will be a lot more stable than this release.

Having said that, Linux Mint is, from an end-user’s perspective, one of the best desktop Linux distributions available today. It lacks certain features that I always like to configure on my (Linux) computer’s, but for users who have no need for LVM and disk encryption, this is a good desktop distribution I just wish the developers give adequate time for testing and bug reporting between a release candidate and the stable version.

Resources: Torrent and direct download Live CD and DVD installation ISO images for 32- and 64-bit platforms are available for download here. Support questions may be posted in Questions & Answers and here.

Screenshots: View a few more screenshots from test installations of Linux Mint 11.

Main window of the Synaptic Package Manager, the second graphical package manager installed. This is the application you want to use if you need to install a bunch of applications, and do not want to type your password for each one.
synaptic pacakge manager

Sub-category of games on the Software Manager.

The position of the overlay scrollbar when a window is not in full screen mode.
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