I was going to wait and do a 30 day review, but I found that Mint is just too good to not pass along.

I must admit that it has been just about 12 months since I had last tested a Linux distribution. During my past experiences, I normally uninstalled whatever distribution I tried, because I either had issues getting a wireless connection or was unable to print to my HP laser Jet via a print server. Either of these is a deal breaker for me. I also spent way too much time trying to configure either the wireless connection or printer and basically just gave up. I won’t bore you with the installation details, since you have one of three choices. You can install as a standalone OS, dual-boot [this was what I opted to do} , or run as a Live CD.

I choose the dual-boot option because I wanted to give Mint a fair shot at testing. Running any Linux version as a Live CD normally runs slow and you can not save settings nor install software for testing. I also wanted to be able to access Windows 7 during testing, because I intended to transfer my personal stuff over to Mint, where possible.

Here is the Mint 10 desktop at startup:

The desktop is simple and I actually liked the simple gray background. The logo is an M with a small 10 in the upper right corner. Nothing fancy but in a simple way it is elegant. What I really liked is the ‘Welcome To Linux Mint’ menu. The menu contain a help guide in .pdf format as well as a link to install all of the packages that come on the DVD.

Also located on the welcome menu are New Features, Known Problems, Tutorials, Forums, Chat and other useful information. add

Setting up my wireless to the Internet was a snap. Like most operating systems I have used, Windows XP, Vista, 7, the new Chrome and other Linux versions, I setup my wireless connection manually to my router. It rarely every shows up as one of the found connections, but once setup, works flawlessly. Mint was easy to set up but more importantly, instantly connects when I boot into Mint.

Next, I was able to set up my printer from a wireless print server, including the correct driver for my HP Laser Jet 1100. Printing is flawless and the pages come out perfect.

This was enough for me to start using Mint full-time.

The first thing I did was to install all of the add-ons that I used for Firefox on Windows 7. I next set up my blog add-ons and tweaked all of my settings. Everything ran perfectly. In fact what I immediately noticed was how fast Firefox ran, compared to Windows 7 install.

I setup Thunderbird to handle all three of my email accounts. I have my private email for personal use from my ISP, a Gmail account for Google alerts and mics. emails and a MSN – Hotmail account required by Microsoft as an MVP.

I also needed a program to replace Quickbooks Started Edition for some very minor accounting matters. I found GNUCash and setup two new accounts. Thus far GNUCash is meeting my needs.

I have also downloaded software, including PCLinuxOS. I used the software Brasero and burned the .iso image easily. I am also going to try dual-layer DVDs to see if I am able to rip video using K3b. Should be interesting to see what happens.

So why did I download PCLinuxOS? I wanted to see if PCLinuxOS had improved, but unfortunately, I couldn’t setup my wireless. Where Mint was simple to set up my wireless Internet and wireless print server, I just couldn’t get PCLinuxOS to play well with my hardware.

Mint also has a great video player named Totem. It worked great viewing video I tried and the streaming was extremely smooth. No problems what so ever.

Mint also has a very easy to use Software Manger that is broken down into categories. I downloaded some software just to try the manager and it works perfectly. I am impressed with the ease in using this. I am impressed with this feature and believe Mint has done and outstanding job.

I have installed Picasso, Google Earth, K3b, Google Chrome, plus additional software that was installed when I updated to the DVD edition.

So what isn’t working correctly or that I had issues with.?

Power options issues. I selected , when possible, to spin down the hard disk in power saving mode. When this happens and the laptop goes to sleep, I need to hit the power button to wake the machine back up. Once I disabled this feature, all was well. No biggie. More of an observation than a complaint. 🙂

Take a look at the Linux Mint Community site and see what you think.

Comments welcome.

Source – Mint

PS Stay tuned for part #2.