I really enjoyed using Mint Linux 11 and was pleased when mint 12 came out, but had not quite got round to installing it since it came out, partially due to the fact that mint uses the backup and restore method of upgrading (which I never seem to have time to do*) and partly due to the fact mint 11 works just right for me
Anyway with far to much work to do on a weekend I decided it was the perfect time to upgrade my laptop (sigh!) so off I went.
The ISO to boot disk went as normal even though mint now provide a hybrid ISO option (see here though this page may expire soon), I just used unetbootin.
The install and configuration was exceptionally easy and I was very gratified that the first things mint tried to do were install suitable hardware drivers (a quirk of linux) and install software updates and patches, exactly what I wanted to do, all things looked ok and all services seemed just fine, so on to restoring my personal settings.
This was also my first time using the full mint upgrade, in that you do a backup, wipe the disk for a fresh install then restore the backup which also installs any software you might have had on before.
You have 2 forms of backup/restore:
Software: This is just the list of software you have on your system fed to the package installer,so obviously it does not restore customs packages you have installed (such as vmware and other purchased products) it does however tell you which ones it has not been able to restore. this worked just perfectly.
User data: This backups/restores basically your home directory (which is everything in a Linux installation) now I have been backing up to a basic tar ball ( the lowest compression of the 3 archive “zip” formats the Mint backup utility supports) which backed up the 200Gb that is my home directory fairly quickly, but good grief who wrote the de-compression gui, I started it running in the evening and next day in was just 20% of the way though the files, I stopped it and did a Command line “tar” and it worked out about 10 to 15 times faster, now I know GUI’s add an over head, but really lads! ** , now part of this is my fault as the backup utility’s default setting is not to use any compression at all and just copies all the user data to a separate place, in hind sight I should have done that for this kind of thing.
Now to start with I thought that mint had gone back to the standard Gnome 2 bar layout as that was what I was looking at, but this turns out to be just what they have been forced back to during the movement away from Gnome 2, what they have up their sleeve is Cinnamon, which is a reurn to their single bar desktop (which I have now go used to) I am dreadfully torn on this new desktop, it has so much to offer and feels and looks so good but it is still very new and has the odd quirk, thankfully the mint guys let you swap which desktop you use at the login screen,
Now this swapping has turned out to be a must have feature, as Cinnamon is really really unhappy when faced with multiple monitors (powered by nvinda restricted drivers), no menu bars at all, no functionality, just a mouse pointer and hot keys, ICK!! (I suppose I should really register it as a bug, but in the mean time they have still included MATE so I swap back to that when I have 2 monitors on, even this has its ups and downs, you don’t need to do the script fix to get your menu bars back anymore but do need to screw about with your fonts as a load of the standard gnome 2 themes are missing,
I’m also having odd UI issues on all systems on this build, such as inconsistent mouse clicks near the screen edges/function hot zones Edit this turns out to be due to my habit of flicking my mouse cursor out the way when I enter a browser bar End Edit, repeat keys not working and some hardware buttons sulking, but frankly that is to be expected as its only just out, these people have done an amazing job and all in all I am very pleased, all applications work fine, it is beautiful and very very stable, so I have done my donation for my “licence” (as I see it), as I genuinely see mint as good solid usable distro and worth my support.
*yes yes I do use incremental backups using jungledisk
** For reference if the mint boys want to recreate the issue, im backed up to a external WD 2.5 inch USB3 hdd and my machine is a Thinkpad W510 with 2 x 500GB seagate hybrid drives and 16Gig of memeory running the PAE core