2012-08-10

Long-Term Review: Linux Mint 13 LTS "Maya" KDE

I recently reviewed Linux Mint 13 LTS "Maya" KDE, and I was quite pleased with it. My long-term review of the Xfce edition just ended, so this one will go for another 8 days. This will be the last such long-term review of the summer, because after this I am going home and won't be back until just before the semester starts, at which point I probably will not be able to continue this.

Day 0

Given that I recently reviewed this, I won't go over all those details again. There were a few additional things that I tried in the live USB session, though. The main thing was to see if my newly-acquired external hard drive (which I will be using solely for storage and not for OS testing, in case anyone might be wondering, because I do need all that space) as well as my slightly older Flip video camera would be recognized. Both of them were. I also tried the same things on the live USB session of the Xfce edition, just to be sure, and those worked there too. While the following statement is completely unrelated to software and is purely a hardware issue, I have to say that I'm a bit annoyed with the placement of USB ports on the sides of my personal laptop. Given that most USB devices and cables do take up a little more horizontal space than the plug itself to provide plastic shells and grips for easy handling, the two on the left side of my ASUS U30JC are way too closely spaced for both to be usable at the same time. Plus, the one closer to the headphone jack is too close, so I have to be very careful when plugging in a USB device when I have my headphones in (which is essentially all the time, because I prefer my headphones to the rather cheap, tinny-sounding integrated laptop speakers). There is an additional USB port on the right side next to the ethernet port, but I almost always use my USB mouse there (because I can't stand laptop touchpads).

The other thing I tested was video playback. I kept thinking to myself that there was another video player that I have seen in KDE that is quite lightweight and minimalistic but that is not included in Kubuntu or Linux Mint. I remembered that this was Bangarang, and it is included in Chakra; I installed and tried it in the Linux Mint live USB session, and while it was indeed as minimalistic as I remembered, it was able to play even fewer of the videos on my laptop than even Dragon Player, and that is less than what Kaffeine and VLC have been able to do.
Additionally, at this time, I happened to see a forum post about the same audio playback issue I had with VLC in the KDE edition. Apparently the solution is to install the "vlc-plugin-pulse" package (or something like that). Afterwards, all of the videos that worked in VLC in the Xfce edition worked equally well in VLC in the KDE edition, which is quite promising. In fact, with this quick fix in hand, I could potentially see myself using the KDE edition on my personal laptop. Hopefully the long-term test experiences will keep that as true.

Finally, on a related note, I wanted to see if one other thing would work on the Xfce edition: I wanted to see if the Marlin file manager would work, because it and Nautilus are the only file managers that support Gloobus-Preview. Surprisingly, after installing Marlin, Nautilus, Gloobus-Preview, GNOME Sushi, GConf-Editor, and DConf-Editor, setting Marlin as the default file manager in the Xfce settings worked almost flawlessly (I say "almost" because opening the trash folder in Xfce outside of a given file manager opens it in Thunar). This is much better than in MATE, where I had to use some ugly, unreliable, and inconsistent hacks to get Marlin to be the default. Here, by contrast, Marlin opened not just from other applications but also from desktop icons and from entries in the Linux Mint Menu; it seems like Xfce seems to respect alternative file managers much more than GNOME does. Furthermore, after entering the appropriate setting into DConf-Editor, Gloobus-Preview worked like a charm from within Marlin. The only things it couldn't open were the files that I tried that also didn't open properly in the GNOME media player Totem; I am kind of hoping that those work when I install the system and copy the files back over into the new home partition. Just for fun, I decided to do the same thing with Nautilus and GNOME Sushi. Lo and behold, Nautilus worked just as well in replacing Thunar as Marlin did, though I personally prefer the lighter weight and less bloated interface in Marlin compared to Nautilus; furthermore, GNOME Sushi didn't preview files quite as reliably as Gloobus-Preview did. Now I finally have my old desktop back!

Day 1

I proceeded with the installation. There isn't much to discuss here because it's essentially the same as what happened the last two times. After installation, I customized the desktop (Redshift included) in essentially the same manner as with Kubuntu. Unfortunately, there were two major problems that I came up against during my use of the desktop.

The first was Plasma. That's right: it crashed. I've become used to not seeing Plasma crashes, and Kubuntu never gave me anything like this, so to see this in the KDE edition of Linux Mint is rather disheartening. Furthermore, unlike other Plasma crashes which appear to have no actual consequence once the error messages are closed, this one scrambled the Plasma widgets on the desktop and in the panel and it changed the custom wallpaper back to the default. Thankfully, after I reorganized it to be the way I wanted, it didn't happen again for the rest of the day, but it was quite disconcerting.

The second was Mozilla Firefox. It didn't crash or anything like that, but generally, when I configure Mozilla Firefox on a computer that is for me to use for a specific, non-personal purpose, I customize it to be just like how I have it on my laptop (tabs on bottom, menu button to the right of the search box, rearrange main toolbar, remove bookmarks toolbar, add status toolbar, put progress bar in URL bar, turn off smooth scrolling, turn off new tab page, display URLs in full (i.e. don't trim "http://"/other prefix), turn off automatic completion of typing in URL bar, et cetera), but I also configure it to never save any browser history. That said, when I have done that, I am still able to go through the list of bookmarks in the URL bar, because those are saved even if other browsing history is not, and I am able to use the URL bar to switch between open tabs as has become normal. Unfortunately, I cannot do those two things in Mozilla Firefox in Linux Mint with KDE, and that is pretty bad because I do need those features on a day-to-day basis. Plus, given that this is the first time I have encountered such a problem, I am blaming Linux Mint 13 LTS "Maya" KDE for this.

Otherwise, UROP work went fine today. That said, given the problems that I have experienced, while I will certainly continue this long-term review, I am almost definitely going to install the Xfce edition of Linux Mint 13 LTS "Maya" rather than the KDE edition on my personal laptop.

Day 2

There were two more issues that I encountered today. The first was that Mozilla Firefox crashed; that hasn't happened in a long-term review since Chakra (and that instance was largely due to my own ineptitude), so this was a bit disconcerting. The second was that even though I have changed the icon theme from "Oxymentary" to "Oxygen", enlarging the icons in Dolphin beyond a certain point causes them to revert to "Oxymentary" instead of staying with "Oxygen" as they should. It's a minor inconsistency that I will rarely see because I don't need icons that big, but it still shouldn't be there. Otherwise, UROP work went as normal without a hitch.

Day 3

Things were generally normal today. Also, after installing the Xfce edition on my personal laptop, I found out that the issue with Mozilla Firefox is not the fault of Linux Mint but has been the result of me changing the wrong setting in "about:config": I was turning off "autocomplete" instead of "autofill", so switching that allowed me to access the drop-down suggestion menu in the URL bar without dealing with the rest of what I was typing being filled in automatically.

Day 4

Work went as normal today, and I didn't encounter any other glitches with the OS. Also, I was able to fix the issue I was having with Mozilla Firefox after identifying it last time. Finally, I was able to apply updates, and that went without a hitch as well.

Day 5

UROP work went as normal today, and the OS didn't do anything funny this time either. Also, I was able to apply updates again, and that went without a hitch once more.

Day 6

Work went fine today. Somehow there were even more updates to be applied, but that worked fine.

Day 7

Work went fine again today. I don't know how there have been this many days of updates in a row, but that went fine today as well.

Day 8

There was yet another round of updates to be applied again, and that worked fine. Otherwise, I was able to wrap up my UROP work for the summer without a hitch.

Conclusion

When I first reviewed Linux Mint 13 LTS "Maya" KDE, I was excited for its potential as a KDE distribution to which I could become accustomed more quickly. Unfortunately, that perception was shattered on the first day by a Plasma crash, which had not happened in my long-term review of Kubuntu 12.04 LTS "Precise Pangolin"; no similar crash had happened in my long-term review of Linux Mint 13 LTS "Maya" Xfce either. While that was thankfully the only such occurrence and while nothing else major popped up that I couldn't fix or that wasn't common to other distributions and DEs as well, there was nothing outstanding either about the KDE edition of Linux Mint to compensate for that crash. And because of that, I can't give this as high of a recommendation as I did to the previous two. (Also, there is no screenshot because I customized the desktop once again in the exact same way as I did for the previous two KDE distributions' desktops.)


There will probably be at least one more long-term review to come, but I don't know about any more beyond that, because after I come back from my break at the end of the summer, I'll be transitioning into the busy semester. Anyway, stay on the lookout for regular posts!

12 comments:

  1. I found Amorok as painfully bad working with Mint 13 KDE. So i uninstalled it and replaced it with much better working Banshee. Perhaps one of the reasons might have been my old cd/dvd device. However with Banshee in both Lubuntu, Mint 13 MATE and Mint 13 KDE it has worked very well.

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    1. Curious to know how you got Banshee to work in Mint 13 KDE. Tried it and 1st time it dissapeared. Restarted the app and it crashed again.
      I have a Sony Vaio VPCF234FD which reverts to HDMI audio at the slightest provocation and Amarok keep switching phonon to the HDMI audio (quite annoying),
      So for me it has been back to good 'ol Gmusicbrowser.
      Frankly I'd like to know your secret to make Banshee work in KDE.

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    2. I've become rather fond of Clementine of late. So much so that it's now my default music player in Windows 7 as well as my various Linux distros.
      As for Mint, I've tried all flavors of Maya and didn't find anything compelling enough for me to stick with it. I'm currently running Voyager 12.04 xfce, a Zorin 6 respin and BigLinux KDE.

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  2. I had a few crashes in Linux Mint 13 KDE too. I think it has better polish than Kubuntu also. But I upgraded Mint 13 KDE to KDE 4.9 and all the bad stuff stopped happening.

    sudo apt-add-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports -y
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

    Try it! Works good!

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  3. @Erno: Well, it's good that Banshee has worked for you.

    @Anonymous: It would certainly be helpful to know that!

    @crabdog: It's good that you've got those working for you even if Linux Mint with KDE doesn't do it.

    @Rudy Hartmann: I've tried KDE 4.9 elsewhere as well, and it does seem to work better than KDE 4.8. I may try that in Linux Mint too.

    Thanks for the comments!

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    1. Crabdog had mentioned Zorin respin, so I thought I direct you to an interesting "announcement" of A Zorin and the discussion going on Zorin Forums. A very strange announcement from A Zorin in http://www.zoringroup.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2490 and repeated again in another place and an additional reply too! http://www.zoringroup.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2549

      Someone is going to find out how Zorin hoodwinked his loyal users!

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    2. Morning Prashanth! Have a look;

      Re: Linux OS's

      Postby AZorin » Sat Aug 18, 2012 7:59 pm
      As we have made some modifications to the AWN dock in Zorin OS, uninstalling and re-installing AWN from the package manager will reset these modifications which will most likely make AWN less stable in Zorin OS.

      Is he admitting that he was hoodwinking his own users?

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    3. I've actually lately got into the habit of just removing docks from any distros I test - for me they just take up desktop space and increase RAM consumption.
      As for Zorin I haven't removed the AWN dock, I just disabled the startup in the AWN options.

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    4. Zorin had blocked the Awn dock to not to work as it should. And says that Zorin Look Changer would do "miracles" by getting the Win 7 look, XP look and the Gnome2 look. All you have to do is disable it, and you have a remixed Ubuntu 12.04...

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    5. @crabdog: I'm not a particular fan of docks myself. I would probably also disable the dock from startup if it wasn't possible to safely remove it entirely.

      @Ch: I think you're misinterpreting the intentions of the developers of Zorin OS. First of all, I have seen on the forums of other distributions based on Ubuntu as well that the NVidia issue is linked to Compiz and is not exclusive to Zorin OS. Second, I think the issue with AWN is linked to how tightly it is integrated with the DE in Zorin OS; while it certainly is an issue that it can't be safely re-enabled after being disabled once, is it so bad that it is there in the first place and that it is easy to safely disable? Seriously, if you're so unhappy with the decisions of Zorin OS, move to another distribution and knock yourself out. I don't see the point of bashing Zorin OS needlessly to that extent.

      Thanks for the comments!

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  4. Hi Prashanth,

    I was following a very interesting discussion going on in Zorin's forums. All the posts of a guy called bkotter was deleted yesterday, because he(or she) asked direct questions from A Zorin, who budged into the posts. When you have time, read A Zorin's replies to this bkotter. But, before bkotter's was deleted A Zorin had admitted that he (we?) had modified a well working Awn panel and the Gnomenu. Let's wait and see, what he'd bring out to give the "Win 8 look."

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    1. @Ch: I'd like to see the actual thread before passing further judgment. Thanks for the comment!

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