Linux Mint Debian (LMDE) Software Manager

Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) 201403 review

Linux Mint Debian Edition 201403 review presents a review of the latest release of Linux Mint Debian, a distribution from the developers of Linux Mint.

As its name suggests, Linux Mint Debian is based on Debian (Testing), so it’s not compatible with Linux Mint, which is based on Ubuntu Desktop.

Only the Cinnamon and MATE editions of Linux Mint Debian Edition 201403 were released. If there’s going to be a KDE edition, it probably will be released in about a month. Prominent features of this release are support (in the installer) for computers with UEFI firmware and for GPT partitions. But the installer, as you will read in the next section, is the weakest part of this distribution, a problem it shares with most distributions that are based on Debian. And the cause of that weakness is that it does not use the Debian Installer. Rather, the installer is a custom application that does not belong on a modern desktop operating system.

In the next section, I’ll point out the weaknesses of the Linux Mint Debian 201403 installer.

The Linux Mint Debian 201403 installer has a graphical interface, but user-friendly is not a term I can use to describe it, because it is anything but that.

This screenshot is of one of the slides in the slideshow at the tail end of the installation process. The last item in the list proclaims that “Linux Mint can detect other operating systems and install itself beside them.” Not true! Not the installer of Linux Mint Debian 201403. The slide must have been reused from the one used on Linux Mint.
Linux Mint Debian (LMDE) slide

For sure, the installer can detect a hard disk, but that’s just about it. It cannot install itself beside other operating systems on the target hard disk, because to be able to do that, it will need to have a completely automated disk partitioning mode – a feature it lacks. This screenshot, which was taken during an installation attempt on a virtual system with an installation of Linux Mint 16 on the target disk, shows what’s supposed to be the Installation type step of the installer. There are no options like you’ll find on the installer of Linux Mint.
Linux Mint Debian (LMDE) HDD

This screenshot is the next step after clicking the Forward button in the step shown in the image above. The installer didn’t even attempt to partition the disk. so manual intervention is called for here.
LMDE partitions

If there are no other operating system on the target disk, it will actually partition it (the disk) automatically, but is unable to assign what’s supposed to be the root partition a mount point. That means the task of assigning the partition a mount point becomes your responsibility. It’s a very simple thing to do, but it just goes to show that the installer of Linux Mint Debian 201403 can “detect other operating systems” on a hard disk, but is unable to “install itself beside them” automatically.
LMDE manual disk partition

This screenshot shows the message the installer throws if you attempt to proceed with the installation process without first identifying which partition should be the root partition.
Linux Mint Debian (LMDE)

And this one shows the available filesystem options.
Linux Mint Debian (LMDE) filesystems

If you examine the second screenshot (counting from the top) of this article, you’ll notice that there’s a Manually mount partitions (ADVANCED USERS ONLY) option at the bottom section of the image. You’d think that selecting that option and clicking the Forward button will take you to the manual disk partitioning tool. But you’d be wrong. It just brings up the information window shown in this screenshot.
Linux Mint Debian (LMDE)

And clicking the Forward button will bring up this window. In other words, it does not open the manual disk partitioning tool. Maybe it is not supposed to, but that makes installing Linux Mint debian even harder for new users.
Linux Mint Debian (LMDE) error

As with most Linux distributions, the application used to create partitions (manually) is GParted. In Linux Mint Debian 201403, it can only be accessed by clicking the Edit Partitions button. (See the 3rd, 4th, and 5th images in this article – counting from the top.)
Linux Mint Debian (LMDE) GParted

If you manage to get past the installer and install a copy of Linux Mint Debian 201403 successfully, you will actually have a good desktop operating system that, for the most part, just works. And it will just work because most of the applications you’ll need for your daily computing tasks, including proprietary multimedia codecs, are installed by default. The only set of applications not installed, are games. Not a single game application is installed, but that seems to be the tradition with both lines of Linux Mint distributions.

Unlike other Debian-based distributions which tend to use IceWeasel as the default Web browser, Linux Mint Debian 201403 gives you the real thing – Mozilla Firefox (IceWeasel is a fork of Firefox). And the very latest too (Firefox 27). And unlike on Manjaro, a desktop distribution based on Arch Linux, both desktop flavors of Linux Mint Debian 201403 released (Cinnamon and MATE) have similar applications. The welcome or greeter application, for example, is the same on both desktop flavors. Same with the installed graphical package managers and other installed system management applications that are not specific to a particular desktop environment. So if you switch from the Cinnamon to the MATE edition, the primary system management applications you will be using that are not specific to each desktop environment will likely be the same.

For those new to Linux Mint Debian (and Linux Mint), the screenshot below shows the main interface of Software Manager, the main graphical package manager installed on both flavors of Linux Mint Debian Edition 201403. A much older graphical package manager called Synaptic Package Manager is also installed.
Linux Mint Debian (LMDE) Software Manager

The next sections present screenshots from test installations of Linux Mint Debian Cinnamon and Linux Mint Debian MATE.

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