Which version of Linux Mint 8 Helena should I run?
There are several different editions of Linux Mint 8 Helena. I decided to try the 32-bit and 64-bit Gnome and KDE edition. The following are my opinion.
32bit vs. 64-bit Edition
Linux Mint 8 comes in 32-bit and 64-bit editions. In the old days, it was risky to run a 64-bit Linux because there would be no drivers available and flash wouldn’t work, and there weren’t that many 64-bit applications. Today, 64-bit Linux works pretty much out of the box and there is 64-bit flash. Is there a reason not to go with 64-bit?
- Can address over 3 Gb of memory (32-bit OS can address 4 Gb of memory, but part of it gets used up by the ROM and I/O so you only see 3 to 3.5 Gb).
- Some programs, particular rendering programs and compression program can run quite a bit faster.
- 64-bit program may take up more memory than 32-bit programs because of the larger pointer. Supposedly, the size increase is around 15 to 30% but will vary from program to program.
- WMAP encoded audio (used in some window audio and movies) doesn’t run on 64-bit. You can probably get around this by installing 32-bit player, but you can’t play WMAP audio out of the box.
I decided to stick with 32-bit Linux Mint. I only have 2 Gb on the laptop so I don’t need 64-bit to maximize my memory. With normal usage, I don’t think I’ll notice performance differences between the 32-bit and 64-bit. If I encode a lot, then may be 64-bit would be better, but not being able to play WMAP seemed like a loss of functionality even though WMAP audio isn’t all that common. If they ever fix the WMAP issue, I’ll go with 64-bit since give me the flexibility to run both 32-bit and 64-bit program, but there are currently no 64-bit program that I must use.
Gnome vs KDE
Gnome vs KDE has long been a religious issue. In a nutshell, KDE proponents tout KDE’s configuration flexibility, while Gnome proponent cite Gnome’s usability. Frankly, you should try out both to see which one you like. Since I tend to leave everything on its default settings, one would assume that I would pick Gnome. After using both, I decided that I like KDE better. The following are my brief observation of both:
- Mint KDE looks better than Mint Gnome, but that is of course purely subjective.
- I like the Mint KDE’s menu better than Mint Gnome. I find it navigating Gnome menu’s third level menu items.
- Gnome seemed slightly faster and more responsive, but then again this could be my imagination. They are fairly similar in performance and memory.
- Gnome is more stable. When I was using KDE, Dolphin would occasionally die and I would get these mysterious Plasmoid errors.
- I like Gnome’s resource monitor. KDE has several resource monitors but none seemed to display the information in a manner that I find useful. Actually, I find a lot of the KDE widget not to be all that useful. What does that bouncing ball do?
- Gnome’s mouse control has a touchpad control that allow you to turn off touchpad tapping. and disable touchpad during typing. I was unable to find a touchpad control in KDE. By editing some fdi files, I was able to disable touchpad during typing, but couldn’t figure out how to turn off touchpad tapping in KDE. In Linux Mint 5 / Ubuntu 8.04, you can do this by editing the xorg.conf, but there was no xorg.conf in Linux Mint 8.
- Mint Gnome doesn’t come with a graphical remote desktop client and I can’t find one in the mint portal or mint’s software manager. To install a graphical remote desktop client, I had to launch synaptics and install tsclient. KDE comes with krdc, which doesn’t work as well as TSClient, but at least it’s installed by default. You can probably install TSClient in KDE any way using synaptics.
I eventually settle on Gnome even though I like KDE better. While KDE 4.3 is vastly more stable than the first KDE 4 release, it still some stability issue. The KDE GUI is still changing. Even though I like KDE 4 more than KDE 3.5, I like to jump on the KDE train when it isn’t travelling so fast. Another factor is the touchpad tapping, which I really want to turn off.
Obviously, since your needs are different, your final choice will most likely be different than mines. I just wanted to give you something to think about.