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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Linux Mint 9 or Windows 7?

I'm sure most of my readers have noticed that I enjoy several things; My wife, my car, movies, PS3 and freeware. Well by far the best piece of freeware out there is Linux. One of the best things about Linux is that it comes in so many shapes and sizes. There is literally a Linux for everyone in the family. My personal favorite distribution of Linux is Mint. I upgraded from Mint 7 to 8 manually a while back and it was a rocky but rewarding venture. Yesterday I attempted to manually upgrade from Mint 8 to 9 and things went bad. So bad in fact that I was forced to format and reinstall. It sounds like this review is going in an ugly direction but rest assured, the positive is yet to come.

I used our laptop to download the Linux Mint 9 Live DVD and I installed Mint 9 completely from scratch. Once it was installed, I started rapidly installing my favorite software and restoring my backed up files. Right from the moment I started the process I noticed big changes from Mint 8! I love the new Software Manager. It lets you get real reviews on software and sorts them in a more user friendly layout. I also like to be able to right click menu items to edit their properties as well. There are a lot of small changes that seem to really show the level of commitment the Mint production team has.

I have to point out a significant feature of Linux as a whole. Now I'm not very familiar with all of the other distributions but I know that Ubuntu and Mint offer amazing hardware support right out of the box. Pretty much any hardware you have, it can handle as a plug-n-play device. I've got a bluetooth dongle, photo printer, camera, scanner, external drives and various mp3 players to name a few... and it connects to them all without the need for software installation or special drivers.

I think the real crutch for Linux is the fault of major product monopolization. Linux is an amazing OS and can do so much for anyone, but it lacks in outside company support. We need more big name games ported over and some Iphone/touch support.Now I understand that Wine and Cedega can emulate the hell out of almost any game but with such a clean package as Mint, you shouldn't need to spend hours playing with config files to get your game to load only to find that the sound doesn't work or that you get 10fps. As far as the Apple support, I really don't care but I would like the option of plugging in the wifes Ipod Touch to sync up a movie. If these functions are critical to you then perhaps you should stick with the MS brand.

Overall Linux Mint is absolutely the best at what it does! Which is everything except for support of specific software titles and high end gaming. If you are like most of the average computer users out there who only check email, download music, chat, browse Facebook (or other unholy parts of the web) then I bet Linux Mint would give your current operating system a run for it's money. It looks good, runs fast and they've made it so user friendly that you'd be happy to switch to Mint for free over paying $100+ for Windows 7.

UPDATE - 2010/07/23 - I was browsing today and noticed that Mint 9 does have Ipod Touch and Iphone support right out of the box. I'm not sure if Mint 8 did or not but I can tell you that my wifes Ipod Touch 1G syncs on Mint 9!

IaN

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