God damnit. The Linux MInt team has released a version of their OS based on Debian. So why does this anger me? Cause it’s freakin’ awesome, and I thought I finally was done shopping around for a distro. I have become a Lubuntu zealot, even going as far as installing it on random computers around the building. And I thought that was the end of it. Because I have tried Linux Mint before, but it wasn’t for me. Now, I think it’s a fantastic distro. When friends ask me which Linux OS should they begin with, I always say Mint LXDE. But for me, I like Lubuntu better. It just feels “tighter” if that makes sense. But like I said, Mint LXDE is great, and I have a lot of respect for it.
The reason I switched from Debian to Lubuntu is that I prefer distros that feel like they have someone in charge; that have direction. And as great as Debian is, the project seems to lack direction. And god damnit, I need my OS to have a clear vision. That’s why this pisses me off. The Mint project has great leadership and vision. So when you combine that with Debian, well fuck, that’s what I was looking for all along.
But, I do really like LXDE. Not that I hate GNOME (I do hate KDE however), but I prefer to use LXDE. And since Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) is GNOME only, maybe I will have a difficult time installing LXDE and gutting out the GNOME schwag? Nope. It’s not only really easy, it’s better than I had expected. To install LXDE, just add the “lxde-core” meta package from the repos and you have an LXDE session ready to roll. There’s no LXDM in the Debian repos yet, but I don’t get too bent out of shape over login-managers, gdm is fine for me. And removing the schwag? Also not hard. Just kill the main mono library, the main compiz library and the main pulseaudio library, and whatever GNOME utilities you don’t need, and it gets pretty lightweight pretty fast. I refuse to uninstall any package that removes a mint package, like I said, I like vision and I want to see where the team takes this project. And one way to monitor that is to see what apps they decide to include. All of this was expected.
What I didn’t expect, is how easy it was to overcome one of my main pet-peeves with Linux. For some reason, all of the gtk themes other than clearlooks annoy me. And nothing really seems to go with my favorite openbox theme onyx. But the mint team has made an openbox theme “Mint” and a gtk-theme “AuroraMint” that look fantastic together. Like I said, I know this is stupid, but when everything looks “themed” it just feels like a real distribution. I feel stupid typing that, but it’s the way I feel. Toss in some Mint wallpaper, and fuck, I have a really slick looking, fast as hell, LXDE/Debian desktop. Which would have been great, if I hadn’t already committed to Lubuntu.
But it gets even better. Much better. The first is, the Mint team made LMDE a live DVD. Works flawlessly. They also made an installer, a really easy to use one to boot. These are two of the biggest drawbacks to other Debian distros. But the Mint team fixed them both.
But it’s not perfect. One, it’s a live DVD, so it’s a bigger file. Kind of annoying, but by no means a deal breaker. And there’s no native LXDE version. Now, with about 30 min of work, you can have a really slick LXDE desktop, that’s about 95% of what an official Mint LXDE Debian desktop would be like (I guess, I have no idea really, but I can’t think of anything else I can do to make it more “LXDE-like”). But that’s it. Everything else is as expected.
So, LMDE is what you would guess: the Debian repos plus the ease of use and enjoyable design that is a Linux Mint distribution. I can see a lot of Linux Mint GNOME, Lubuntu, Crunchbang, Debian and Ubuntu users switiching to LMDE. Mint might soon become known as a “Debian derivative” as opposed to an “Ubuntu derivative”, LMDE is that good.