Betsy and I…
by clem 39

Betsy’s giving me a really hard time and she’s taking all my focus lately. I’m weeks behind the team in development, I hear the devs talking about cool stuff.. dalcde landed his multi-panel implementation, mtwebster is pushing for maintenance releases on Cinnamon 2.4 and I’m ranting about some critical bugs of my own… This is the time in the release cycle when I feel the most  lonely and depressed to be quite honest. From experience I know it’s only temporary.. I guess it wouldn’t be fun if it was easy. Right now though I can’t wait to look back at all that, get these bugs fixed and get Betsy out the door :)

Things started great, as time went on she was getting prettier and prettier, leaner and leaner and bugs were vanishing by the dozens. The QA process killed most of the remaining bugs but also revealed how different Betsy was than Rebecca.

The bases for Linux Mint started in 2006 and the recent move to LTS since version 17 meant we could focus on improving things without having to fix anything that would break in between. Once it’s out, Betsy will give us that base for LMDE, but as it is now it’s a brand new distribution and so what had been taken for granted in Linux Mint requires attention in LMDE.

Our release cycle for LMDE is extremely flexible so we’re able to postpone features in order to focus on critical issues and get Betsy out. So far we postponed the following things:

  • Installer: Home directory encryption
  • Installer: Localization of the slideshow
  • Live media: Eject media at live session shutdow
  • MATE: Compiz integration
  • Caja: Dies on its very first run before being automatically launched again by mate-session, the user can see the desktop icons disappear for a second before they appear again (seems to only happen in Virtualbox)

These will be implemented at some stage, but we’ll release Betsy without them, they’ll become available as upgrades or as updated ISO images.

Many bugs were fixed and we’re down to just a few.. some of them are quite critical though and a few of them are also very hard to fix (I spent my entire Tuesday on libpam-systemd and I still don’t have a complete fix… and my entire Wednesday on libpam-gnome-keyring which I’m hoping but not sure to be able to fix today):

  • Critical: Fstab sometimes incorrect post-installation
  • Critical: Libpam-systemd runtime dir collisions
  • Critical: Adding missing libpam-gnome-keyring results in being unable to login https://github.com/linuxmint/mdm/issues/92
  • Gtk apply 17.x sauce
  • Gtk filechooser dialogs, too much vertical space between elements in the sidebar
  • Missing plymouth-text theme
  • Mintlocale doesn’t show flags

Earlier this week we fixed a critical bug with plymouth (on many computers, the OS would not boot without removing “quiet splash”). In what’s left the first three bugs are very important to fix. The fstab issue should be relatively easy to address. The libpam-systemd issue makes applications crash or freeze when applications are being run with elevated privileges. It’s one of the worst bugs I’ve seen since I work with Linux, it affects all distributions, was fixed in Mint, partially fixed in LMDE 1 and it was fixed upstream in systemd… yet we’re still getting collisions, so it’s not good enough. The issue with gnome-keyring is quite simple.. it makes it impossible for you to log in (it can’t get much more critical than that) :)

Of course we’ll get all of this fixed and hopefully it won’t take too long. If you want to follow our progress, keep an eye on the LMDE section of https://github.com/linuxmint/Roadmap

Also don’t hesitate to join #linuxmint-dev on irc.spotchat.org, whenever I need to vent or rant about some issue, ask a question, or proudly share some progress I made.. that’s where it happens.

39 thoughts on “Betsy and I…

  1. Andrea B. Mar 5,2015 09:06

    Stay strong Clem! We all really appreciate what you and the team are doing!
    Thanks for keeping us updated

  2. Pjotr Mar 5,2015 09:32

    Your efforts are greatly appreciated! Thanks for that. :-)

    I’m not an LMDE user myself, but even for the main edition of Mint it has some importance, as it provides a “backup” codebase in case the Ubuntu upstream would ever become unavailable.

    • clem Mar 5,2015 14:15

      Yes definitely. It’s also beneficial for Mint 18, most of what we fix in Betsy will need similar fixes when we jump to the next LTS.

  3. Rufus Mar 5,2015 10:16

    Thank you Clem, always interesting to read what is going on behind the stage. I look forward to Betsy, give LMDE another try, and see if it fits better to my needs than traditional Mint 17. I already shoveled away old stuff on the hard disk to free up space for Betsy. :-)

  4. NDAS Mar 5,2015 13:19

    While we don’t specifically recommend Linux OSes on our site, we do feature FOSS applications in our resources section. And when anyone asks which “distro” try for the first time, we always have Linux Mint at the top. The “Cinnamon” edition is favor most around our virtual office. When I coverted to Linux fulltime six months ago, that distro is one I just kept coming back to and settled on as my new home.

    Efforts by you and your team are appreciated, though perhaps you do not hear that enough. Take heart, and we will always be patient, because we know that when a new edition comes out, it will be dependable. After many years of dealing with Windows and then OSX, for the first time I do not sit down at my machine in a state of loathing. You gave me back some contentment.

    J.C. Hendee
    Author and Proprietor at NDAS

    • clem Mar 5,2015 14:14

      I do. There are very few projects out there with a community as supportive as ours. I feel very lucky and privileged about this. We get more than 300 donations a month and hundreds of emails/messages of thanks and encouragements. This week is particularly tough and I’m complaining.. but don’t be mistaken, I really enjoy what I do. After a week looking at critical bugs I just need to vent a little. I know there’s also people waiting for Betsy who want to know about our progress and aren’t necessarily aware of what’s holding its release, so I’m happy to step away from the code for a minute and share the info :)

  5. Emerson Prado Mar 5,2015 14:32

    Great Bob as always, Clem! I use LMDE at home and at work, almost flawlessly. It’s a certain choice of rock solid and friendly distro.
    Just onde concer of mine: will The upgrade be sleak?

    • clem Mar 5,2015 15:01

      To be brutally honest Emerson, I’ve no idea yet. I can’t say until we test the upgrade path and it also depends on how we fix the remaining bugs. Changing APT sources and dist-upgrading would do most of it of course, but you might not end up with the same packages, you might also end up with systemd by default (whereas our ISO is set for sysvinit by default) and you might go a bit too far on pinned packages (we downgraded a few, most of them are posterior to LMDE 1 but not all of them… gnome-terminal for instance was downgraded to 2.30, whereas it’s at 3.x in LMDE 1) :)

  6. alv Mar 5,2015 15:09

    > I feel the most lonely
    That’s not it.
    In the world there are many people who are mentally with you
    You do for them is very necessary work, and they will sincerely grateful.
    But you’re in the poet’s soul.
    I am also a little …
    So I made a translation of your last message to the Russian – http://alv.me/?p=8638.
    translation fictional – therefore reverse translation does not make sense.

    I beg your pardon, or to express its appreciation could not.

  7. Emerson Prado Mar 5,2015 15:47

    Great job as always, Clem! I use LMDE at home and at work, almost flawlessly. It’s a certain choice of rock solid and friendly distro.
    Just onde concern of mine: will The upgrade be sleak?

  8. Alex Mar 5,2015 16:11

    I use LMDE as my main OS. The switch to stable was very good news. But I use it with XFCE. Will XFCE 4.12 be available in the software center in LMDE 2? Thanks and keep up the great work.

    • clem Mar 5,2015 20:11

      Hi Alex,

      It’s not in the scope, i.e. we’re only maintaining MATE and Cinnamon within LMDE. If there’s something we can do to help (fix a bug or quickly backport something in particular) we will. 3rd party sources might package Xfce 4.12 for Jessie, these packages would then be fully compatible with Betsy.

    • Monsta Mar 6,2015 12:27

      I think it’s better to ask SolydXK developers. That distro is like LMDE’s cousin, with KDE and Xfce instead of MATE and Cinnamon. SolydXK will also be based on Debian Stable from now on (i.e. it’s Jessie currently). They’ve switched to it some time after us. :)

      http://solydxk.com/the-future-of-solydxk/

  9. Crewp Mar 5,2015 18:38

    Hang in there Clem, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    We LMDE user’s are very grateful for you, and the teams hard work.

  10. Miati Mar 5,2015 18:55

    I hear the devs talking about cool stuff.. dalcde landed his multi-panel implementation, mtwebster is pushing for maintenance releases on Cinnamon 2.4 and I’m ranting about some critical bugs of my own… This is the time in the release cycle when I feel the most lonely and depressed to be quite honest. From experience I know it’s only temporary.. I guess it wouldn’t be fun if it was easy.

    Features are always more fun and more cool then fixing bugs and stability stuff.
    However fixing core stuff is without a doubt the most important work to be done.

    The entire enviroment has changed from “New to linux? Use Ubuntu.” to “New to linux? Use Linux Mint.”
    That’s pretty awesome. I like LM’s philosphy and agree with many of it’s choices and logic. The fact dev’s are frequently in contact about bugs and it’s open nature in communication is really nice.

    In any case, make sure to take time off too. Burning yourself (or any of the team) out benefits no-one.

    • clem Mar 5,2015 20:18

      Ubuntu is 2 years older than us so they had a head-start :) Things change. Prior to Ubuntu the go-to distro was Mandrake, it was a pretty good distribution too. At some stage another distro will take the lead away from us. That’s ok though, we’ll continue to do what we do. As long as we’re having fun and we’re proud of the result and each release is better than its predecessor, that’s ok with me. When we moved to LTS we knew we might lose some users but we also knew our activity would make more sense and we’d focus more on what matters to us. It was the right choice for us.

  11. Mrman Mar 5,2015 19:37

    Miati makes an exellent and slightly scary point.

    Mint is the Linux desktop as far as newcomers are concerned and with Linux gaming taking off there are thousands of newcomers weekly looking for the most recommended platform to work and play on. Maybe when the wave of SteamOS hits there may be hundreds of thousands..

    Ubuntu as great as it has been could see canoical taking a direction people dont like, will they be so open and supportive going forward? Not only that their choices are your choices.. a premier distribution like mint can’t ride on the tails of others anymore.

    I hope Mint moves soley to Debian and can be the flag bearer for a Solid, Stable and easy to ( install ) use desktop for all those who require a proper desktop experience without restrictions.

    Thanks for all the work Mint Team.

    Looking forward to more cinnamon developments and KDE5 Mint 19 Debian :P

    • clem Mar 5,2015 20:36

      It’s much more complicated than that. Choices made upstream from us do not dictate our choices, they influence them. It’s important to understand that we can decide anything we want and go against any decision made by Ubuntu, Debian, GNOME, or any upstream project. That’s the beauty of Free Software. We can do what we want as long as we can pay for how much our decisions cost.

      The cost here is valued in time. It takes time to do everything of course, but it takes a lot more time to go against the current and to decide to replace upstream solutions with in-house development.

      Typical examples of this are the Mint tools, the Cinnamon DE, MDM..etc.

      In practice and because of the costs involved we focus on what makes a difference among what we can afford. It goes without saying we don’t have enough time to go and try to fix all areas involved and react to all the feedback we’re getting.

      LMDE illustrates the fact that we’re not that dependent on Ubuntu decisions (many of them relate to the DE layers and we’re using different ones). We’re actually much more dependent on real-upstream decisions.. systemd, gtk, glib..etc.

      You’ll see in Betsy how for the first time we said OK to CSD apps. That’s us putting water in our wine and recognizing the fact that we’re not willing to fork the GNOME suite of applications (and they’re decided to implement Alan proposals on UI layouts). Of course we downgrade or freeze what’s not acceptable (totem 3.10, gedit 2.30), but for many apps we simply left them as they are and adapted the OS around them. Mint-X now makes CSD look native, Muffin 2.4 got a maintenance release specifically to add WM features to CSD titlebars in Betsy, the MATE edition enabled compositing by default..etc etc..

      You also touched on the subject of gaming. It’s quite interesting because it’s an area that needs to work (thus requires stability at lower levels of the OS) but which is also close to the hardware level. I’m interested to see which direction Steam takes. I think Linus was spot on when he looked at them to solve the problem of “shipping for Linux”. They’ll probably need to figure out a way to get the best of both worlds.. a very stable OS with very stable APIs, but applications you can just install and run even when they need particular versions of libs wether that means newer or older stacks. I think GNOME is looking at something similar as well. That’s the next big thing in Linux becoming mainstream anyway.

  12. Mark W Mar 5,2015 20:02

    Hi Clem,
    The prospect of what Betsy can become is incredible.
    A stable, functional and featureful Mint de-coupled from Ubuntu is a truely awesome achievement.
    Keep plugging away and give us the stability and reliability first, we can take the additional features a little later :)
    My hardest decision is which box to put it on when it gets here…I’m already spoiled by the quality of the Mint 17.1 editions I have running already !?!?!
    All the best to you and the team for the effort right now; it will be worth it so soon.

  13. Mrman Mar 5,2015 20:16

    forgot to ask.. will there be a push to make much more recent versions of AMD or Nvidia binary drivers on the driver manager ? Ubuntus drivers on offer ( and subsequently mints i assume ) are always about 6 months behind. Now with the speed at which they are improving & with the complextity of installing ( for a newbie ) Nvidias closed driver it would be good to keep upto date with the latest stable as an option.

    thanks

    • clem Mar 5,2015 20:46

      We can look into it. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us when there’s something you’d like to see backported. Whether that’s in Mint or LMDE. We don’t necessarily monitor all 3rd party drivers or applications, but if people ask for particular versions we’re happy to consider bringing them, especially if they explain what they fix or what they improve.

  14. Fred Barclay Mar 5,2015 20:53

    Hang in there, Clem. Thanks for all of your and the rest of the team’s work! :)
    If it weren’t for Mint…
    I’d still be stuck with Windows.

  15. Somefogerty Mar 6,2015 09:30

    Can someone help you out to fix these bugs?
    I’d like to ask any dev with free time to help you out

    thanks

  16. mrman Mar 6,2015 12:26

    I wont hog anymore air time, but thank you for all the detailed replies Clem, I and Im sure many others belive this helps makes us part of the Mint community. Your never alone :)

  17. Freñiçh Coördinator-WebMaster Mar 7,2015 06:56

    Keep one going Clem and co-developers your all doing a great job with innovative outcomes,it is highly appreciated by us.

  18. Freñiçh Coördinator-WebMaster Mar 7,2015 07:29

    Clem have you ever played with the idea to release a version of Mint based on the armhf/ARM architecture to be used on the Raspberry Pi.

    So Linux Mint will be an contender (like Raspbian,Pidora or Ubuntu) and also be available for the growing users group of the Raspberry Pi.

    • clem Mar 7,2015 20:47

      Hi,

      We received queries for it. I’d rather focus on what we already do though. We can do better and we want to do better. So going forward I don’t think we’ll see more editions and more architectures, if anything changes on that we might actually see less.

      I really like the idea of the raspberry pi myself (I wish I had more time to play with it too). I also like smartphones, tablets and the likes.. but there are people out there who specialize on these and do a great job already. Our goal isn’t to diversify and/or start something new. We already love what we do and we want to continue going forward.

  19. Roy Davies aka rsd45 Mar 7,2015 15:41

    Keep up the great work. I switched to LMDE following the launch of Mint 17, as my old laptop would not shut down or restart from menu. I still don’t know why. I am really looking forward to ‘Betsy’. The Linux Mint suite of distros is always the one to beat. They can only dream.

    • clem Mar 7,2015 20:48

      For many people that’s because of modem-manager. Removing that package usually fixes that.

  20. jesse5567 Mar 8,2015 06:29

    “anytime you feel the pain…refrain”

    .

    “The future is purchased by the present.”

    “A great estate is not gotten in a few hours.”

    “Better to wear out than rust out.”

    “Now I don’t know, but I been told it’s hard to run with the weight of gold,
    (Other hand I have heard it said, it’s just as hard with the weight of lead.)”

    <<>>

    “Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful!’ and sitting in the shade.”
    ― Rudyard Kipling

    “Patience. Vigilance.”
    ― Kang, Star Trek

    “Patience and Diligence, like faith, remove mountains.”
    ― William Penn

    Strive on with diligence.
    ― Buddha

    “If you are going through hell, keep going.”
    ― Winston Churchill

    “Keep Calm and Carry On”

    .

    “on the seventh day he rested”
    ― Genesis 2:2

    Hope these help. All the best.

  21. Jacques Mar 8,2015 10:13

    Dear Clem,

    Thank you for sharing with us. Sometimes it’s good to share your frustrations with complete strangers :-)

    I have one very important question please. Is nvidia-prime present in LMDE? I have found Bumblebee to be more and more unreliable nowadays and as a result I now completely avoid distros that does not offer nvidia-prime. It works great in Mint Cinnamon and I could not be happier, but I would have liked to try LMDE with a possible view of moving away completely from Ubuntu.

    Thank you and keep up the excellent work!

    • Monsta Mar 9,2015 10:39

      Unfortunately, nvidia-prime isn’t present in Debian repos. I guess it has some Ubuntu-specific stuff inside (but I can’t tell for sure – haven’t looked inside it).

      But bumblebee is available in Debian Jessie repos.

  22. Alexandre Jaguar Mar 8,2015 17:34

    I’m using Mint since Maya, always jumping around distros. However, I’m a heavy scientific user and need everything working keeping “hands clean” the highest possible. But even trying different distros, I always come back to Mint :) You guys make the best distro ever. Fast, clean, nice looking.
    Everything works how it should be! And when things do not work like we expect, we come here, chat a little and we see that Clem are not that dorky guy that we see leading another distros. You guys are lovely!
    I’m waiting for the new LMDE in order to get the one that I’m hoping to be the best distro around. Stable, solid as a rock and really fast,
    I have to say Clem, I know that your work can be a pain in the ass, but keep up with the good work. You and Mint staff are great! We are cheering hard on you dudes! Thanks so much for your hard work!

  23. Fayad Mar 9,2015 17:10

    Hi Clem,

    A big Hi 5 on LMDE’s come back. We were patiently waiting since the last snapshot release so be strong!

    To be honest, when LMDE was delayed at least some of us moved on to Debian testing and unstable. But closely watched LMDE’s progress and always hoped LMDE would come back. This is it. Linux Mint can be proud to be based on Debian again.

  24. Anand Mar 10,2015 08:35

    Hi Clem – “Betsy’s giving me a really hard time and she’s taking all my focus lately.” >> If someone who doesn’t much about Mint (LMDE) reads this , would think you’re talking about your wife / girlfriend. ;)

    Just a light-hearted comment to make you smile :D Hope you get to solve all the issues soon.

    Thanks for all your hard work.

  25. metrancya Mar 11,2015 20:48

    I first used 32bit LMDE one year ago for my Pentium M system from 2004 without PAE support at all (no chance with Mint but very good with LMDE). Ever since, I enjoyed LMDE – I really liked its speed and stability (even if LMDE was announced to have a few rough edges – I didn’t see them). I installed 64bit LMDE to two newer Laptops and was impressed about the speed gains. Now I am waiting for “Betsy” :-)

  26. CupidsHelper Mar 17,2015 03:27

    Hi Clem. Have a stiff upper lip. I know you have what it takes, to get Betsy into a wonderful state, of finish and polish. “This is the time in the release cycle when I feel the most lonely and depressed to be quite honest. From experience I know it’s only temporary”, Yep this too shall pass. :) I believe in you. Keep fighting the good fight. Cheers.

    CH

  27. peter e Dec 11,2016 04:06

    Just discovered this.
    LMDE2 installer hangs when using a M.2 SSD
    I tried msdos and gpt partition tables
    HP Elitebook 820 G1… currently running LMDE, installed before I purchased the M.2 drive.
    It hangs when I am in the dialog box for entering username and password… I press the Forward button, the USB blinks for maybe 3 seconds, then nothing more. strange. Live System still runs fine, but not able to install.
    Compatibility mode is the same… my ISO is good, etc.

    I also tried installing both Point Linux and Mint18, those installers work fine.

    I tried both Mate and Cinnmon, both hang at the same point.

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