Linux Mint 13 KDE Arrives, But Why?


Just hours ago, Linux Mint announced the delayed availability of Linux Mint 13 “KDE”.  This latest release offers KDE 4.8, artwork improvements, and finally sets your default homepage in Firefox to Yahoo.  This updated KDE release may be very welcome news to users of Linux Mint that have been waiting to join the ranks of their Cinnamon brothers for months.

An icy look at Mint 13 KDE.

Though, this release may prompt you to ask yourself, “why”?  Until recently, Linux Mint has always held a questionable space in the realm of Linux distributions.  Before, it was just another Ubuntu-based derivative of a derivative, allowing users to use things like Adobe Flash and MP3 decoding without too much hassle.  A novel idea for sure.

As time moved own, Linux Mint took the very serious road of differentiating itself.  Cinnamon is evidence of this, and is a great desktop environment with plenty of polish and pizzazz for users who like to interact with their computers in a traditional way.  They even make efforts to monetize the project, regardless of how damaging it is to the Mozilla project.  In short, they stay within the realm of legality, but taking the long-view suggests that their business model may not act in the best interests of the FOSS community.

That said, Cinnamon is really a real thing, and it is pretty good if you’re looking for a traditional and elegant way to interact with your system.  But what is this KDE version for?  KDE 4.8 has been available to Kubuntu users since January, and will be replaced by KDE 4.9 very soon.  Using Mint, you will be stranded on an old version of KDE, much like users of Android devices are usually left behind by manufacturers who use custom modifications on stock Android.  Moreover, the modifications to the upstream packages from Blue Systems are minimal.  You’ll get an icy-blue theme, a collection of wallpapers, and Firefox with Yahoo set as the default homepage.  Not to mention you will be spared the horrifying act of having to install the kubuntu-restricted-extras package.  All-in-all, this is not a very compelling affair.

So before you install, you might try playing a quick game of would you rather.  Would you rather stay up-to-date with plain-jane Kubuntu (which is also quite nice), or would you rather use Mint 13, which stands of the shoulders of upstream work from another project, and then monetizes it in a for-profit way.

I am not against profit and I believe that something like cinnamon should certainly be rewarded.  I also think that Linux Mint provides a nice little island for stubborn Gnome 2.x users to get stranded on.  But I cannot see any reason to use or support Linux Mint KDE.  Its existence is mystifying.

Source | Linux Mint Blog

About Dean Howell

Aside from being a huge Sega fan, Dean is an LPIC certified Linux professional with over a decade experience. In addition to spending his free time burning through the classics from Sega and evangelizing open source, he's also the editor-in-cheif of The Powerbase.
  • Beluga

    So basically it’s your opinion Mint should have dropped KDE the same way it dropped Fluxbox and LXDE?

    • Dean Howell

      Yes, they should. I don’t think it serves any porpose. There is no gain in a user installing this over Kubuntu, and the differences between the two are 1) a theme and 2) age of packages.

  • jon_downfromthetrees

    Why the attack on Mint for not funneling Google cash to Mozilla by enabling another search engine? Is there some sort of FOSS rule now that says I hafta help make that happen? That I’m supposed to use Firefox and Google?

    And why go out of your way to cast aspersions about legality? How is Mint even remotely doing anything illegal? Geez.

    How is Mint damaging FOSS? They make very popular releases. They create, support, and release very popular and unique FOSS software. Yes, they’re trying to find ways to fund themselves. So is every other distribution with a claim to professionality. Or, is your concept of FOSS something cobbled together by an adolescent in a basement?

    You need resources to create and support a product, even a FOSS product. It is sheer mean-spirited fantasy to accuse an organization of compromising FOSS standards in a way that verges on illegality because they need to pay the bills.

    Linux journalism just got a little worse. Thanks for the muck.

    • Deckard_Cain

      I endorse this reply. The attacks on Linux Mint are disgusting.

  • jmora

    I agree with a couple of the author’s points, mainly that between Linux Mint KDE & Kubuntu there may not be any major difference of UI (which I figured would’ve been the expectation so not sure why there’s a surprise there). To me, it depends on the need on which one I use. I’m a big fan of KDE personally, but I use Kubuntu primarily on my personal machines so I can load what I want (not load what I don’t want) and go from there. On the other hand, if I’m setting up a new install for family and going the KDE route, I’m using Linux Mint KDE since it will have all the codecs and restricted stuff ready to go from the start. Most of my family or friends I’ve switched to Linux could care less about being on the latest cutting edge version of KDE, they just care about being able to play media or pop-in a DVD movie and it just work. With Linux Mint as a KDE choice, it takes me less time to get them up and running for their needs out-of-the-box compared to what I’d need to make sure and remember to do/install if I start from Kubuntu.

    • Dean Howell

      Why can’t you just run sud apt-get install kubuntu-restricted-extras, use 12.04, and give them 5 years of supported updates without the confusion of the staged updater…

      • jmora

        I’d definitely fully agree if that’s all it took. In addition to the restricted extras, you’d then usually have to install “libdvdcss2” separately for encrypted DVD playback at a minimum unless you’d rather install the Medibuntu repositories and get the needed stuff that way. (I believe you also have to manually set region codes with the “sudo regionset” command).

        For my own machines, It’s definitely Kubuntu so I can install whatever additional packages I need for what my use is. For other situations where it’s nice to have it work out-of-box, LM KDE has been nice. Especially when I can tell someone “Hey, go download this ISO, boot from it, install, follow prompts, and you’re good!” I don’t have to send supplemental steps after the fact of how to install this package or open terminal to run that command, etc.

        • DrMcLaser

          But is that really worth a whole distro?
          If mints strongest selling point (At least for the KDE edition) is work out-of-box, then it really is lagging features or differentiation from kubuntu.

          In stead I would use some kind of remaster ISO tool, to make a custon Kubuntu ISO with the codecs installed and give that away to the new people.

          Or doesn’t the “install additional codecs/extras” option in the installer not provide you with dvd-playback?

  • Han Solo

    I liked Mint much better when they were going the direction of not just being another Ubuntu derivative but going back to being based on the core Debian instead.

    • Dean Howell

      There is a Debian edition, so I suppose they are trying to do both. Very nice and easy way to get into Debian.

  • Beluga

    Btw., Mint KDE is not based on Kubuntu, read this:

  • Aaron Wolf

    Thanks for the thoughts. Much appreciated!
    As I am running the KDE-based full install of KXStudio, which is based on Ubuntu 12.04, this convinces me that there is no reason to go back to Mint.

    What Mint is doing is ok for what it is, but it isn’t as strongly supporting the politics of FLOSS, nor do they claim otherwise. While Ubuntu still maintains an official philosophy favoring FLOSS and citing the FSF ideals, Mint has a stated philosophy of FLOSS vs proprietary being a non-issue for them. Mint’s only priority is fully-functioning easy use. I really appreciate that focus, but I respect Ubuntu more for still caring about FLOSS and promoting FLOSS explicitly.

    On the spectrum from dogmatic FLOSS-only systems to completely locked-down non-free systems, Ubuntu is the best compromise. Mint is ok, but is just a little toward the non-free side because they discourage people from caring about the issue.

    This difference is reflected in the funding issue with search engines. I don’t begrudge Mint from doing this for funding, but I don’t think they care as much as others about keeping the funding connected to the FLOSS community.

    • Dean Howell

      The problem is not that they monetize from a search engine, the problem is that Mozilla already uses Firefox to fund itself, not-for-profit. It’s legal theft.

  • paul4id

    Because the Mint guys know that the writing is on the wall and don’t want to get left behind. KDE is the window manager of the future. All the underlying code is there — all it needs is a bit of spit and polish and KDE will come out on top.

  • Black Red Flag

    Ubuntu really has no moral high ground against Mint. Perhaps Debian does (against both of them), but between Ubuntu and Mint, at least Clem and the Mint team listens to their users. Ubuntu team does not seem to care what users think, and if their forum mod choices are any evidence of their overall character I think I will go with Clem’s project just because I like his style better.

    If you want purity, go for Debian.

    And nobody is ‘hurting’ Mozilla. Mozilla does not get most of its profit from Linux anyway, at least not yet.

    Yahoo?….Yeah, kind of shady, but Ubuntu is more of a corporate project than Mint is. Mint got ahead with polish and innovation…..Ubuntu just took a big crap on its users by testing Unity which is really to be used for their OWN corporate projects like smart appliances and tablets and web-tv…..Yeah, innovative, but not really helpful to the traditional desktop users. It shows disrespect to us as users. Ubuntu has never put much polish into their KDE releases either.

    I also switch the homepage anyway. I use duckduckgo with SSL and no javascript, so NOBODY gets any money from me. Not mozilla, and certainly no yahoo.

    Mint releases almost always have more polish. Its just easier than trying to Polish Ubuntu yourself, which is fun at first, but gets OLD when you yourself get older and have more responsibilities. Mint is better ‘out of the box’, and Cinnamon is better than Unity, and Mate is better than Fallback, and their KDE has more polish than Kubuntu, and their XFCE supports Mint Menu which makes it superior to Xubuntu.

    Mint team rocks….yeah, they might be selling out a bit, but so long as I can re-customize that part to my own liking I hope they stay in business to provide a counter balance to Ubuntu.

    And a little competition is not a bad thing. The lack of competition from AMD is making Intel chips unaffordable at the high end, compared to the golden days of cheap CPUs when they were neck and neck, or when the underdog was actually ahead…..We should welcome this competition if it drives both to produce better stuff.

  • Black Red Flag

    On the FLOSS issue, I sometimes take some flak for this being an Anarcho-Socialist and all, but I believe that the strongest argument against closed source code is hidden security threats….but just because something is open source does not mean it isnt a security threat, as evidenced by Google Chrome (for a time) having built in spyware. Word around the block from my friends at Defcon is that the feds have a harder time hacking Opera than either Firefox or Chrome, while IE is always a horrible choice for security. Opera is not FLOSS, but the issue is where their loyalties are and what your threat model is. I am certain that Opera (and Google) will submit info if given papers from men in suits, but I am also sure that they will not divulge trade secrets without significant incentive to do so.

    As for the ‘ethics’ of FLOSS…I do not agree with Stallman. I do not think that Stallman is more ‘free’ just because he self limits himself to free software. Having a proprietary game does not actively stop me from playing a FLOSS one, unless it simply consumes my time because its better…..Hell, having a proprietary game does not even stop me from pirating it for my friends to be given for free, or hacking the code as I see fit despite any licensing issues…..not that I have time for that kind of stuff, but in theory I *could* regardless of what the license says.

    Being super strict about FLOSS just shows that you are a stickler for the law.

    If you REALLY supported freedom, you would snatch code from wherever you find it, to hell with license incompatibility, then release it to the Public domain as an anonymous user.

    Stallman still has one foot in supporting intellectual property with his support for copyright and trademark but not patents….I wonder how Stallman feels about people using the Disney trademarks ‘illegally’ in their protests against police brutality in Anaheim…He might support it actually because there are clauses for political protest and satire, but it really shouldnt matter if there were any or not, because all IP is garbage and needs to go.

    A total rejection of IP changes the parameters of the argument. Its the difference between a ‘pirate’ and a law abiding FLOSS supporter.

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