I gave this info to emphasize that it was not easy for me to think about moving from Mandriva to any other distro, specially a GNOME centric Mint. Here goes the story :
My wife's vaio completed 1 year and ran out of official warranty. Hence she allowed me to dual boot it with Mandriva and Vista. She was already comfortable with Mandriva, so it was supposed to be a smooth move. The problem started right after the first install.
- The boot was fast but DKE would come up with plenty fo Akonadi errors. We tried searching for solution, but nothing on net/forums. As this was not causing any usage error so this was low priority.
- Keyboard would hang. Yeah, while working all of a sudden keyboard would stop responding. We had to kill X-Server and restart for keyboard to be functional again. This was a big issue and evry frustrating.
- The webcam worked with r5u870 drivers, but the inbuilt mic would not agree to work. Now I am using Linux since 5 years and am fairly conversant with Mandriva. Still I could not make it work.
- Hibernation sucks. This is the first time I tried Mandriva on Laptop and I must say hibernation is great even in Vista. When I simply close the lid, the system does not go into hybernation. Though this was resolved quickly with some tips from Ubuntu forums, but it should work by default. More troubling is that comming up from hybernation is nto guranteed. Yuck !!! Strange but true. Many times even after clicking hibernate ( and not merely closing lid) the system would not resume. I would see some activity in battery and hard disk lights and some flicker on screen, but thats all. Even command line would not come up. CTRL+ ALT+ BKSP also does not work. My wife was so used to of closing the lid in Vista that she said its better to use Vista itself.
- Plasma would crash and cause the X-Server to restart. Now I have seen plasma crashes in Desktop, but restarting X-Server means loosing all the unsaved work. This was unacceptable.
I wanted to stick to Linux, but Mandriva was causing lots of issues. We started looking for more options. My first choice was Arch Linux, which I use on my main desktop, however, my wife wanted something easy to administer with all GUI controls. We went to distrowathc and started looking at distributions as per Page hit ranks. She kind of liked Ubuntu looks, but was floored by Mint screenshots. She said this amazing and she would be happy to use it. Actually despite being a GNOME Desktop Mint 8 looks evry good. Also, due to known Plasma crashes, we were ok to try GNOME.
Now Mint is a pure delight once it boots, the LIVE CD takes a huge time to boot. The looks were as impressive as in the screenshots and operation evry smooth. The webcam mic worked in the LVIE CD itself and even after 24 hours of use there was no crash/ hang. Satisfied with LIVE D test, we went ahead with the install. Here are my thoughts :
- All regular hardware works out of box. Things like Wireless, Bluetooth and USB Scanner/Printer require no config at all. Webcam worked fine with r5u870 drivers and Mic was functional with little tweaking.
- Despite being GNOME, it looks and feels like KDE and hardly any difference while working.
- Huge list of applications in repos, though I would use only a couple which are readily availble in alomst all distros. Package management is a breeze through Synaptic.
- Skype download page has a version for Ubuntu and it works perfectly with Mint.
- All media formats work out of Box. Youtube, flash, mp3 you name it and it works in Mint.
- System config is centralized. Now this is one of the best feature in Mandriva, I was relieved to finid similar one in Mint. Though I must say Mandriav is much more exhaustive and refined.
- Hibernation works with little tweaking, though I must say VISTA still outclasses it by leaps and bounds.
- Stablity. No crashes even in LIVE CD mode. Installed version looks more promissing.
- Speed. I can bet tha Mandriva is anyday faster. Right from bootup to application open time, Mandriva is much faster. However, Mint is not very slow as compared. Though I can feel the slowness, it is not a Black Mark. I will not use this on my main system, which is accustomed to speeds offered by Arch Linux.
- Look and Feel. The more you say the less it is. In its default form it just impressed us too much. Compiz bring more eye candy. The transparent Titlebar, translucent windows when dragging, the inactive windows all make you feel wow. I think the implementation is as good as Win 7.
Mint is not just one of the best looking distribution I have come across, its also one of the most easier to use. 90% of things work out of box and for the remaining there is Mint and Ubuntu Forums ;). Its an eye candy, which is eaqually easy to administer and at the same time very stable. Long time KDE users like me would be at ease with Mint's GNOME implementation.
Its a distribution which I can easily give to my Windows friends to try and be assured that they will atleast use it often as a LIVE CD if not install it on hard disk. The menu and options are evry intutive to a Windows Guy and would make the transition easy. The GUI is as good looking as Win 7 and would appeal to all.
Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world. Even Mint has some issues. If the devs can improve the speed and make hibernation less painfull, Mint has all the possibilities to become the default option for Home users.