Addressing FUD
by clem 90

About FUD within the Linux community

I find it really despicable to see developers, maintainers and communities from competing projects create and spread FUD about Linux Mint in an effort to promote their own distribution.

At this cost, getting more users is futile. Of course, a project needs a large audience to succeed, but what matters the most is how happy your users are. If you want your project to work, make it great. If you want to promote it, highlight your own work and efforts.

At the time when Ubuntu was dominant in the Linux market, it continuously received a huge amount of FUD. It was unfair, it was stupid and frankly, it was embarrassing for the entire Linux community. It still is and it has gotten worse for us because we’re now receiving a significant chunk of that FUD, some of it coming from the very same project who already suffered so much from it.

Doubt is at its highest level when it comes from a respected figure. You can only imagine how many people fled Ubuntu when Richard Stallman himself accused Canonical of using malware to advance their own commercial agenda. I know this first hand because their first destination was Linux Mint. If you don’t think too much about it, you could interpret this as something we benefited from. There are three problems with that though…

First, from a moral standpoint, it’s disgusting to feed on vulnerability, especially when you know the attacks are unfair. Although the presence of Amazon in Ubuntu’s application menu was clumsy and generated money, there were absolutely no grounds to accuse Canonical of spying on its users or selling their personal data.When people believe these stories and join the Linux Mint community, they don’t just arrive, they arrive with these stories. Our first job is to debunk them. I don’t often speak about Jono Bacon but I’ve a huge amount of respect for him. He highlighted the importance of building a community. I really think you have to show the behavior you expect from other people. It’s not OK to spread unverified facts, accusations and FUD like that. It’s never been OK. Whether it was about Mono, Canonical and more recently about Systemd. We’re pragmatic and when something is wrong we don’t hesitate to take action, but if accusations are being spread, they need justifications. We’ve been making distributions for a while now (Mint is 10 years old, and Ubuntu is 12) and this hasn’t changed. If we want solid communities where people enjoy interacting with one another, we need strong moral values.

Second, what is there to gain from people who want something you’re not? When people leave Ubuntu because of “malware”, they don’t want Linux Mint, they want Ubuntu “without malware”. That’s a very different thing. I don’t expect everybody to be an expert, but when you read “Mint = Ubuntu + codecs”, “Mint = Ubuntu + green background”, “Mint = Ubuntu + Cinnamon”, it’s time to think about getting better news elsewhere. You don’t have to be an expert in Formula 1 to understand that Force India isn’t Mercedes with a different coat of paint. Of course you’ll find more differences in other teams, where the engine and parts are completely different, but you’re already looking at two very different teams, with different people, different policies, different philosophies and ways of working. Before you even start to compare the technical differences, you’re using the product of two very different projects. So, to go back to why it’s not a good thing for us to see people leave Ubuntu because of FUD and join Linux Mint as a result of it.. it’s quite simple really, we want to attract people who love Mint. We want people to love Mint for what it is, not for what it’s not. We don’t succeed because Ubuntu sucks, and we’re not “Ubuntu done right”. We succeed because there’s nobody better than us at making Linux Mint, and part of why Linux Mint is so great, is because one its main components Ubuntu, is great too.

To smart people, FUD looks amateurish and people who spread it or believe it look extremely stupid. In a heated discussion where accusations fly, 3rd parties immediately feel uncomfortable and it only takes one false point to cause a negative reaction. How do you think it looks to Windows and Mac users when leading Linux distributions  are the target of FUD campaigns? It looks petty. I destroys all the enthusiasm one could have about venturing into that wonderful thing that is Linux and joining Free Software communities. It really makes us sound like a bunch of idiots whose distributions are of questionable quality. “Their biggest distro”, Ubuntu, is unstable, and full of malware, “even Linux” people agree. If you think that’s benefiting anyone in the Linux community, think again.

What kind of people are you?

When it comes to projects, we’re talking about the work of groups of developers. That work is possible thanks to the passion and enjoyment these developers and their users have for it.

There’s no reason to harm that. What kind of people are you when you do?

I’d like to welcome everyone, and particularly within our own community, into thinking more about their role within FUD campaigns. Criticism is the fuel for innovations and improvements, it’s extremely valuable to us. FUD on the other hand is extremely destructive. When you read criticism, please confront its key arguments, please question it, please verify it. Is it precise? Is it unbiased? Is it justified? Does it pinpoint something that can be improved? Is it hear-say or the result of thorough analysis? Basically, is it criticism or FUD? Is it valuable or detrimental to us? Is it here to help or to harm? Is it something that should get all the way to our development team as feedback they can exploit to improve Linux Mint? Or is it not?

Everything is free, everything is shared. Not only software, but help and welcome. Joining Linux can and should be an amazing adventure for anyone who hasn’t already done so. I remember my first experience with Linux. It wasn’t just about the OS, it was about the people. Sharing with passionate people who loved it as a hobby; that was really exciting. We’re constantly working on new things, improving this and that, coming up with new ideas. Criticism can be very constructive and very positive and when it is, it makes that whole experience even better, because we’re not just developers with ideas, we also implement and fix what you highlight to us.

When criticism isn’t constructive but accusatory it destroys all that.

Let’s take Systemd as an example. I know people eased up a bit on Mono lately and Systemd seems to be the main target within our own Linux Mint community. If you have an opinion on Systemd, that’s great, I’m not asking you not to have one. If that opinion is negative, then please try to ask yourself “why”. Is it because your heard negative things about it? Is it because a person you admire or whose title/label/occupation you respect said negative things about it? If you think about it in your own words and based on your own experience, are you looking at doubt, uncertainty… or areas of improvements? See, that’s the difference between FUD and constructive criticism.

I have my own uncertainty about aspects of Systemd. You don’t hear them though, because that’s all they are, uncertainties (in case you’re wondering, and you shouldn’t be, these are minor). I also have my own personal experience, using it, developing around it, and I think it’s great.

If a user comes to me and asks if we could stop using Systemd in Linux Mint, it triggers curiosity in me, because he might have found something we can improve in Systemd, or a better alternative to Systemd. Either way, he might have put his finger on something valuable to us and which we can use to make Linux Mint better. So far that happened a lot though, we’ve received many complaints about Systemd and unfortunately they didn’t help at all.

We should respect the work of other people and do our best to support it. In the case of Systemd, not only it’s unfair to see how much FUD is being spread on it, but it’s also worth noting that you’re looking at one of the components of our operating system. Just like Ubuntu, Linux Mint is also great because and thanks to Systemd. Will it continue? I don’t know. Are all the accusations unfair? I don’t know, but I’m yet to hear a fair one.

Common FUD

I’m not really sure how to address the content of FUD itself. In an ideal world everyone would be smart enough to detect it and people who spread it would be ridiculed to the point where their only option is silence. Sadly, that’s not how the Internet works though.

I could make a long list of all the ridiculous things I hear and detract them with quick simple facts. I’m not sure whether to restrict that to FUD targeting Mint or also to expand it to FUD targeting other projects (Ubuntu, Mono and Systemd come primarily to mind here). Maybe we can do this like we’ve always done… you simply tell us and we use your feedback. Let me say this though, this post is about stopping that FUD, not reviving it. So please make sure to be constructive in your comments, ask questions, mention facts, go easy on opinions.

Wikimedia stats

On our own Linux Mint Wikipedia page (which we do not write and which is full of similar mistakes), one can read: “In June 2015, Wikimedia Traffic Analysis Report shows 6.4 million hits for Linux Mint while the highest-placed Linux distribution, Ubuntu, had 1.2 billion hits”. It’s quite common for Wikimedia stats to be mentioned and when people do, it’s hard to argue with them, right?

Wrong. All you have to do is to look at your user agent. If you run Linux Mint, what does it tell you? That’s right, you’re counted as “Ubuntu”.

This has been the case since the days of Firefox 4, so the number of “Linux Mint” users you’re seeing there on Wikimedia, isn’t the number of “Linux Mint” users, but the number of “people running Linux Mint 10 or older”.

This is a perfect case of FUD. The argument looks justified, it’s technical by nature and backed by important names in the industry (ZDNet, Ars Technica). It looks very professional until you actually check it.

You would think journalists would check their sources? Well, most of the time they do. That doesn’t mean they’re useless news source and you should remove them from your bookmarks immediately. It means you should read everything with a pinch of salt and not blindly trust information just because it comes from so-called “experts” or “journalists”.

This fake truth is relayed by people on Wikipedia and forums all the over the web right now, and it’s backed by the big names I mentioned above.

Distrowatch stats

I’ve seen Distrowatch statistics used both as a way to promote and deny the idea that Linux Mint is popular. Let me shine in here.

The main ranking on Distrowatch is a “page hit ranking”. It has nothing to do with how many users a distribution has, but how many unique visitors click on a given distribution page. As such, the fact that Linux Mint topped the Distrowatch ranking for years doesn’t mean it’s the most widely used. It means it’s the one people are the most interested in when they visit Distrowatch.

We do no encourage people to go and click on Mint in Distrowatch, we never did and we never will. I can’t imagine who would be sad enough to go and do that on a daily basis, and I really hope nobody does. If you do, it goes without saying, please stop.

Distrowatch also maintains traffic stats. Of course you don’t see “Linux Mint” there (I’m not sure whether that’s because people who browse Distrowatch are less likely than people who browse Wikipedia to run an obsolete version such as Mint 10 or older, or whether the DW team merged the Mint and Ubuntu stats together there). Just as Wikimedia stats, we’re unable to get “Linux Mint” stats, because our user-agent is the same as Ubuntu.

In 2011, when our user agent was unique, we were able to use these stats to assess that, within the people who visited Distrowatch, there were four times more Ubuntu users than Linux Mint users, and four time more Linux Mint users than users of the third most popular distribution (which was Fedora at the time if I remember well). What happened since? We can only guess but we can’t measure.

More to come

We’ll address more misconceptions and post them here for everyone to see. As you can imagine it’s not very pleasant for us to have to do that and it takes time to word things clearly, with justification and without losing our cool. If you would like us to cover a particular point, please mention it in the comments below.

There’s nothing better than reading how much you enjoyed something we developed, how much you look forward to something we previewed. It is the best job in the world, and it’s done with wonderful people and amazing teams. I love working with them, every single day is a treat, and that unfortunately gets in the way. I can’t think of any reason why you shouldn’t use Linux Mint, I know you can certainly hear some on the Internet, we’ve nothing to hide, and we’re happy to talk.

I hope that will help some of you clear doubts you might have and I can’t wait for us to move on to more exciting topics. Thank you to all of you and don’t let the FUD bugs bite.

90 thoughts on “Addressing FUD

  1. aj Sep 28,2016 13:31

    Clem and the Linux Mint team and the upstream projects and all of the contributors and donors at every level, I’d like to thank you for all you do. I don’t personally use Linux Mint (for reasons that are completely irrelevant to this post) but I quite regularly recommend it to people. It’s a solid, beautiful, easy to use distro with a great, stable base and amazing package availability. The major roles you’ve played in bringing about some of the best desktop environments also can’t be ignored and I am a big fan of the XApps initiative. Thanks again and keep up the good work!

    • clem Sep 28,2016 14:39

      Thanks for your comment. We receive a lot from other projects, so we’re very excited to see our work benefit the entire community. Some distributions (Fedora, Arch and Debian in particular to name a few) help with the development, whether it’s in cross-DE projects such as Cinnamon, or the Xapps, or even in Mint specificities which were ported to other distributions (mintMenu in Fedora for instance). I’ve a lot to say about the XApps. We worked on some really cool new features in Xed and Xplayer and I can’t wait to get to that.. :)

  2. Paul Sep 28,2016 16:09

    I swapped across to Mint from Ubuntu due to the change in the interface in Ubuntu which I didn’t like. The Amazon issue wasn’t an issue to me as a quick search told you how to disable it.

    Systemd has been a headache for me – /etc/init.d files which are ignored below a certain line (with zero comments – wasted a few hours trying to debug a customised init.d script when first moved to a systemd system), configuration files which are completely ignored as they are migrated to systemd – WITH ZERO COMMENTS in the configuration files! How about the Mint team putting a few comments in them – where the new configuration is held in systemd, what commands to run, but no, usually nothing at all. This is what is pissing people off when they first encounter systemd, its complexity (what was wrong with doing one thing well and the KISS methodology). Systemd also nearly lost me data too – umount file system to grow a it, edit partition table with parted and systemd sees the parted access to the device and mounts the file system again (WTF!).

    Personally I hate systemd, but I will probably have to get used to it. Please take my statement about putting comments in the legacy configuration files seriously – I think it would really help people.

    • Mani Victorious Sep 28,2016 19:47

      Well, I think most of the FUD around systemd is that most people don’t understand that they have to distinguish between systemd the init system (whitch is absolutely awesome by the way) and systemd the project to unify the linux plumbers layer, which is a great project in the sense of code deduplication and security enhancement.

      In fact systemd is much more in line with the UNIX principles than the old sys-V init and many core programs.

      For further reading I recommend
      http://0pointer.de/blog/projects/the-biggest-myths.html

  3. Dan Sep 28,2016 16:16

    For those of us who use Mint but are out of the loop, what drove this article on FUD, or is it just random/in response to pressures that built up over time?

    • clem Sep 28,2016 17:04

      Hi Dan,

      Nothing happened recently to trigger it. It’s just an accumulation over time which eventually grants a reaction. After we catalog most of the misconceptions, it becomes much easier to just link to here rather than to try and convince people over and over again. Note also that we do not get involved in FUD. You won’t see me reply to that kind of content directly. People do though, on various forums and places on the Internet. Whether or not they use or like the project being attacked, you usually see a response from people who dislike what is being said or the manner in which it is being said. They don’t necessarily have the facts to back what they say and I’m sure this will help.

      Here’s a recent illustration of FUD used to promote a switch from Linux Mint to Ubuntu: “you’d be better off going to a better distro. mint is known to be unstable, run by incompetent devs and be by idiots, for idiots. you should definitly try ubuntu, and i assure you it will work” in response to https://steamcommunity.com/app/221410/discussions/0/350542683200011540/. As you can see, people jump in and call out the FUD. It’s not easy and it takes time. In the meantime, following the advice, the OP wiped his entire OS, installed Ubuntu GNOME and go to exact same problem he already had. Hopefully he’ll get some help at some stage when people are finished turning his topic into a distro war.

      • calexil Sep 29,2016 20:54

        lol, over at the subreddit we have to deal with a little FUD from time to time, usually people complaining about the wordpress and forum hacks, and taking umbrage to the default security settings… but the community usually irons it out with calm, definitive explanations

        • clem Sep 29,2016 22:47

          There are no default security settings, you can’t use the Update Manager without choosing the one that’s right for you. That’s the main advantage of our updater, it provides information. There’s also a long page of text to read for people who happen to press the Help button.

          The hacks weren’t caused by wordpress. They used it, but they didn’t happen because of wordpress. What these hacks highlighted was that we we had become a target, and we weren’t ready in terms of securing our website. WordPress wasn’t really an issue. Server isolation, proxies, php settings, monitoring were at play here and these were the real issues. We learnt the hard way and it made a lot of noise. If we had to do it again I’m not sure we’d be as transparent, the information and reports we gave certainly helped some people criticize us even more. If you compare this with the two times the Ubuntu forums were hacked (the second time occurring after our hack) you can see they handled communication much better by not giving details and being very brief about what happened. I’m disappointed in this, not in Ubuntu, but in people’s reaction to how we handled it. I know some people liked it, but it also harmed us. Sony, which is a much bigger target, and which security is probably top notch, gets hacked regularly also. I’m careful about which information I host with them, but it’s not something I think about when looking at their TVs or gaming consoles.

          Our security is miles ahead of what it was prior to the attacks. We can still get hacked though. If people manage to hack Sony, government facilities and so on, we can’t fool ourselves with that. After studying the attacks, security in general and working with Sucuri, we’ve plugged every single hole we could think of. Yet we’re still extremely vulnerable, all of us, and that includes all distributions. I’ll only give you one frightening example (there are many) because I don’t want to give people too many ideas. Anyone can start a PPA and put something people want in it (Cinnamon in Ubuntu for instance, Plasma 5.7 in Mint … etc etc.. the list is long with things people crave for). The owner of that PPA owns all the machines using it. The packages he provides can place files anywhere in the filesystem, and run any commands with root privileges. It’s scary isn’t it? That PPA could be safe and without malware for entire months, building momentum and a large audience, until one day, boom. Of course, you’d be foolish to install a PPA maintained by somebody you don’t know, right? … right? That’s just one example.

          My point here is that we’re all vulnerable. We’re not all prepared as well as each others. We’re much better prepared than we were. And I bet you Ubuntu now is as well. Next time we get hacked (I’m realistic here, I honestly don’t know how we can secure it more) we’ll be shocked again and we’ll be wondering how. And when we find out, again, we’ll be even better prepared. Hackers keep getting better and so do security guys. It’s a motivation race, and it’s not our core business.

          People who point the finger and switch distribution because we got hacked don’t see the big picture. It’s hard for anyone to know how prepared you are. The best guarantee you have is to switch to a tiny distribution. It’s probably not ready at all, but at least it’s much less likely to be a target.

          By the way, while we’re talking about security, I want to thank somebody special at Red Hat (he’ll recognize himself) and also WordPress (they weren’t the cause in these attacks and they were part of the solution).

  4. Lucky W Donegan C.I.S. Ph.D. Sep 28,2016 16:31

    Clem;
    I too agree with you. Teamwork is where ALL contribute to the central theme and promote betterment of a product that benefits one and all users. As a individual computer scientist in NW Montana trying to help the end user that is what I DO. I promote Linux Mint as the best product for the individual to use NOT some variant that really should have been just a minor project to help the whole of all users.

    Respectfully
    Lucky D.

  5. Anand Sep 28,2016 16:51

    Wonderful read, Clem. Thanks for taking your time on this. One thing (FUD) which I see constantly is Mint’s Update Policy and am so glad you spent so much efforts in the past to make it very clear and transparent. Just thinking aloud, can we have a FAQ page to address common misconceptions around distro. Especially, as a new user few years back, I was clueless on the choice of DE. A simple guide to recommend based on a set of questions?

    • clem Sep 28,2016 17:06

      Yes. I’d like that as well.

      • Anand Sep 28,2016 17:43

        BTW, last couple of days I am visiting this blog just to see if we have a post on Cinnamon updates.
        On a lighter note, half the hatred may vanish once we have vertical panels update. (LOL). I remember it as most vibrant thread on GitHub :P
        Honestly, I love the way you have handled criticism all across, keeping it civil and focused on issues. And that is one key reason for success of project. The USP of Mint, I feel, isb the way feedback loops into delivery. I remember that I once suggested here to be able to preview sound notifications in Cinnamon and it was immediately implemented. Same goes for previewing MDM themes. As a user, I feel empowered. :)

        • clem Sep 28,2016 17:56

          Vertical panels are in. They’re already implemented so I can tell you with absolute certitude they will be there in Cinnamon 3.2. I’ve got a lot to cover in my next announcements (Xapps mostly) but I’ll try to cover some of the cool things coming in the next Cinnamon too (there’s plenty of things to be excited about) :)

  6. plata Sep 28,2016 17:04

    I totally agree to the value of a nice community.

    As for “Mint = Ubuntu + codecs”, “Mint = Ubuntu + green background”, “Mint = Ubuntu + Cinnamon”, I would say that Linux Mint has to take part of the blame. I would love to see a page on linuxmint.com containing something like “Our Vision”. This should explain what shall be achieved by Linux Mint and how Linux Mint thinks Linux should be (including a community which makes you feel at home etc.).
    I know that there is an “About Us”, but to be honest it’s not really distinctive (you could write more or less the same about any other modern Linux distribution – including Ubuntu which might explain “Mint = Ubuntu + codecs”). Moreover it’s hidden somewhere in a menu. “Our Vision” should be on the front page at the most visible position. After all this is what Linux Mint is all about, so it’s a lot more important than e.g. news.

    I wouldn’t care so much about the distrowatch and wikipedia statistics. Can be helpful to have that info in a FAQ where you can just point people to. Other from that: There’s a reason why musicians/artists/actors do not read all the articles about them… In the end you will get your part of the FUD as soon as you’re famous enough.

    Personally I switched from Linux Mint Cinnamon to Kubuntu 16.04 some time ago. I did so simply because I really like Plasma 5 and Mint didn’t ship that at that time. Maybe I will come back to Mint at some time but at the moment I don’t really see a reason to do so (would love to hear a good one from you, though).

    • clem Sep 28,2016 17:39

      The website could certainly do with some changes, the goals and philosophy could be described, I completely agree with you. I like what you said about the community and that feeling of being at home too, I think that’s extremely important.

      About Kubuntu, you don’t need to hear arguments telling you you should prefer A or B. It’s not my role to compare Linux Mint with other distributions. That’s one of the points I developed in this post. You’ll hear me talk about what we do, how excited I am about the work we produce and the ideas we implement. This is the role of communication. We promote ourselves by talking about ourselves. Other projects have no place in this. It goes without saying that we learn from them and that if something cool is implemented elsewhere we consider adding it as well. But our job isn’t to criticize other distributions or even to compare them to our own products. You do not promote something by belittling the competition. If you trust in what you do, there’s really no need for that.

      • plata Sep 28,2016 18:22

        It’s not about belittling the competition. As you state, you are implementing ideas. After all those ideas are what distinguish Linux Mint from Ubuntu. Therefore I believe that you cannot explain those ideas or what Linux Mint means to you without (maybe indirectly) comparing Linux Mint to other distributions.

        For example: Let’s say an idea you are implementing is an easy to understand update policy selection (stable vs. risky/bleeding edge). If this would exist already, implementing it would be pointless and just a waste of time. So by implementing it, you directly state that it does not exist. As a conclusion this compares Linux Mint (which has this idea implemented) to other distributions (which do not have it).

        So for Kubuntu: There must be a reason why there is a Linux Mint KDE edition. This very reason is what I would like to know as a user deciding between distributions. This does not mean that you tell me I should prefer A or B but rather provide the information which empowers me to take that decision.

        • clem Sep 28,2016 19:53

          But that’s what I do, every time I talk about a new feature or an improvement, I give people reasons to enjoy Linux Mint. We’ll soon talk about new XApps and Cinnamon features here, you’re going to be able to blank other monitors when playing a movie, you’ll see an improved search bar in your text editor, you’ll see vertical panels, libinput and accelerometer support, smoother background handling and a much improved screensaver. It’s going to be very exciting and there won’t be any need to mention any other projects. Does it matter if accelerometer support is in GNOME but not in MATE? No, it’s not about that, it’s about the fact that it’s coming to Cinnamon. Does it matter if you can blank monitors in VLC already? No. We’re focused on improving what we do. We don’t need to mention the fact that other projects don’t have something when announcing we’re adding it. The fact that they lack something we have doesn’t make us better. It makes people choose us, but it doesn’t make us better. It’s an important distinction. It is not our role to compare competing projects. I really think we don’t have to and I certainly think we shouldn’t.

          To go back to your idea, I’d be lying if I didn’t think our update manager was better. Indeed, I think it is much better. Its function isn’t to be better than Ubuntu though, it has nothing to do with other projects. Every time we find a way to improve it, we do so and we announce how it got better. Better than it was before. That’s what is the most relevant and that’s what we communicate about.

          We can certainly discuss other ideas and implementations seen elsewhere, and compare them in a design discussion in order to consider whether to get inspiration from them. But when it comes to promotion and public image, I really don’t think it’s our role to mention other projects or to compare ourselves to them.

          In a way you’re asking me to replace the “Mint=Ubuntu+Codecs”, with my own version of a “Mint=Ubuntu+?” equation. It’s not how I see Mint. We use Ubuntu as a base, it’s a building block for us, probably the most important of all the components which make Mint. As a project though, we’ve got nothing to do with it. It doesn’t really make sense to think of it that way. I could agree with it from a technical point of view, looking at the packages and implementation layers, but that’s very reductive.

          LMDE has its own following, but in a way it’s also a proof of concept. It shows you a Mint which is very much like Mint and without any Ubuntu. I hope you see what I mean here, it’s very hard to describe. From a technical point of view, you could almost say “Mint=Ubuntu” (and if you pushed that a little, even Debian), yet we also make Mint without Ubuntu, and that’s what LMDE is: no Ubuntu, and it’s still very much Linux Mint.

          • peter e Sep 28,2016 20:42

            ya! LMDE Mate rocks

          • Anand Sep 29,2016 03:54

            Clem, I feel plata’s question is valid. Especially for KDE and given that Plasma is brand new, I suppose , there is less of Mint’s flavor. Earlier, at least, you can say it used MDM for instance and such differences. Not sure KDE uses X-Apps since KDE has its own suite of applications. Also, since Mint 18 KDE is the first one with new Plasma guess there is less scope to change / adapt to Mint’s way of working? But most of this info is available in KDE release page already, I hope.

          • clem Sep 29,2016 08:51

            Yes, that’s absolutely true. We’re less involved with KDE, and our development affects it much less (as you said MDM and Xapps are not shipped with it). All that info is available in the release announcements and the features page for this edition.

  7. ZANDAK Sep 28,2016 17:43

    I have been running Mint exclusively since Ubuntu implemented the unity desktop(I formerly ran Ubuntu). I simply do not like the Unity desktop and when a friend showed me Mint I fell in love with it. I first ran the Mate desktop(for two years), then I saw Cinnamon and I liked the features Cinnamon offered better than Mate. Both Ubuntu and Mint are the Distros that I frequently recommend to others, especially those who I convert from Windows.And I just want to thank you for such a great OS. FUD has no place in Linux.

  8. peter e Sep 28,2016 17:50

    Clem: Thanks for opening the issue up to discussion. It is important.

    I place no blame, it is part of human nature.

    off topic, but common theme: http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/linux-reading-comprehension.html

  9. Jacques Sep 28,2016 18:02

    Great article, Clem.

    On this topic, I recently watched a Linux podcast where the developers of three “currently trending” and very mainline distro’s made some bad comments about Mint, especially regarding security issues. Anyone watching that, would be completely put off by Mint, especially newcomers to Linux.

    Sadly the security “issue” is never going to leave Mint. It has been there for ages and probably will be for many more to come.

    I also try to promote Mint whenever I can, because it is easy to use, it simply works and you don’t have to re-install every six months.

    All the best to you and the team. Us Mint users truly appreciate all that you do.

    • clem Sep 28,2016 19:13

      I watched it. I wouldn’t say they spread FUD, I think questions asked led to that, but it certainly helps them and so they welcome it. They’re in direct competition with Mint, it’s a pity they can’t promote themselves without doing that. They’re still very small though, so it’s probably just a question of positioning for now. I don’t think Martin can afford to say Mint is great, or even that our vision is great. He even struggled to mention that Ubuntu was great when asked why he used it as a base or to point at another MATE distribution when asked for an alternative (you would expect that from a MATE core developer, and no, we don’t have to work together, we just work together, these little things, which we don’t really talk about btw, do not help). Within the dev team, I was talking to monsta today (Vlad Orlov) and telling him his name was on the https://ubuntu-mate.org/team/ page. He didn’t know. As you can see he’s not a Mint developer there, for obvious reasons he cannot be. And he’s on the same page as Glaubitz… few people created more FUD about Mint than him. So there’s that. You feel some malice here? Maybe there’s a little bit. Ubuntu MATE is great by the way, it’s MATE on top of Ubuntu with most of the Mint tools forked by Martin and a few cool innovations here and there (some of which I think are really cool and which we’ll add to Mint).

      I can’t remember how Mint grew at the beginning. It surely struggled to gain the kind of momentum it has nowadays and it did need to feed on similar segments as Ubuntu at the time. I don’t remember promoting Mint by implying that Ubuntu sucked though. I certainly hope I didn’t.

      Now, with all that said, I’d like to mention Daniel from ElementaryOS. I didn’t see him do that kind of things. I thought he came up very well and I really liked what he said. I’m in his debt also because he mentioned Slack in this interview. We checked it out, gave it a try, and two of our teams are now using it and are very happy with it. So Dan, if you read this, thank you :)

      • Jacques Sep 29,2016 09:57

        I thought we weren’t supposed to name people/distro’s? But, yes, you are correct. Daniel was polite and civil throughout. Hats off to him. He came across as a gentleman.

        I noticed a while back already about monsta and thought it was strange that he was active on both projects at the same time. Then again, I am just a user and don’t know what goes on “behind the scenes.”

  10. Neb Radojkovic Sep 28,2016 18:46

    I will be brief, I hope. We all tend to forget from time to time how we came about to have Linux mint or Ubuntu or Linux in general.Younger people probably have a feeling that Linux was there always and that it’s rightfully there for anybody to explore and use. however, us older “customers” are well aware of the agonizing era of being without much choice and paying through our teeth to be able to use an OS on our computers etc.
    Being critical without any suggestion is equal to childish. FUD has its place in almost any area of existence where something is gaining momentum and is widespread. It is just a nature of the animal. Where I come from people say: only after a god horse appears a big cloud of dust.
    I started using Linux Mint from version 2, Betsy and I can honestly say that it was the best decision I ever made. And it has to be a decision. One should not expect a miracle to fall into one’s lap. You have to give it a fair chance and effort and it will grant you some pretty amazing time.
    I am so thankful for having a chance to use Linux Mint and to show it to my friends and family. I thank Clam and Mint team and all the people who are devoting their own time to make this distro so great for over a decade. One thing to remember – there will always be a few who will run their mouth against anything that is good and right.

    • clem Sep 28,2016 20:24

      Hi Neb, you’re right it’s everywhere. The Linux community is a very nice community though. It gathers people around beautiful concepts, the idea of sharing, of helping each others, of participating in the development of what you’re using etc etc.. So it makes sense to be demanding and to have high expectations. Those horrible comments on Youtube only affect the author himself, you can read new ones everyday, there’s nothing else to harm there. It’s different in our community, we have something precious, the ambiance that reigns here and the enjoyment developers get from working on their project is directly related to how FOSS develops.

    • Stringent Oct 3,2016 23:54

      Neb, where you (we) come from, they also say: Dva losa ubise Milosa :), which is sort of opposite of the good horse point.
      I personally experienced one particular situation at Ubuntu MATE forum (only time I paid a visit to it), where I posed a question rg xapps as I wanted to understand how ‘they’ feel about it and, upon asking an innocent question rg possible benefits for all, received back something that could roughly be described as: 1) phase 1: oh no forget it, 2) phase 2: why on Earth do you need that?, 3) phase 3: something along the line of above ‘they are idiots’, i.e. MATE are real people, Mint write Mickey Mouse code, inferior overall…

      wtf?

      Do I have to mention that Im in no way related to either Mint or anyone else in Linux world or IT generally?

      My point is-: I have a feeling that for a clash to happen it is enough for one out of two sides to be detrmined for a clash.

      Take any other point you like from above

      • clem Oct 4,2016 09:59

        The core team in MATE is composed more or less of 5 people, 2 of which come from Mint. Many of the tools present in Ubuntu MATE are forks of the Linux Mint tools. So there’s a lot of “Mickey Mouse code” written by us in there. I really wish Martin Wimpress discouraged that kind of behavior.

        When it comes to the XApps, we’ll see. My opinion is that we’ll eventually see them in Ubuntu MATE. A few years ago Ubuntu didn’t understand why we supported MATE, it didn’t make sense to them[1]. It didn’t matter to me whether they did or not, we just needed it. Eventually Debian and Ubuntu users wanted MATE outside of Mint and so it got in their repositories and now you even see an Ubuntu variant dedicated to it. That’s progress and it takes time. It’s natural for people to doubt initially, it’s a normal reaction. We need the XApps, we know that and they’re already helping us improve Linux Mint. We’ve got the team to make them awesome, there’s no doubt in my mind you’ll see them spread outside of Mint, especially and in particular towards distributions which occupy the same segment as us, where users have the same tastes and the same needs.

        When the time comes will Ubuntu MATE fork the XApps or simply adopt them? Will it happen? It’s only my opinion, but yes, I’m pretty sure it will. If we’re portrayed as “idiots” in this community and this idea isn’t debunked at the top it will make it more and more difficult for Ubuntu MATE to work with us or to rely on us. Technicalities can be put forward of course to reuse what we do, but that will favor yet another series of forks.

        Martin won’t act against his interest. The largest potential of growth for Ubuntu MATE (outside of Ubuntu itself) is our own community. He’s very nice to work with and to talk to, he’s objective and pragmatic but the best way for his distribution to grow right now is to position itself against ours. I don’t think it’s in his interest to debunk this kind of behavior. It might change in the future, I hope it does. It doesn’t prevent us from working together, we can overcome that of course, but the position of Ubuntu MATE as a direct competitor of Linux Mint which somehow does what we do “the right way”, certainly doesn’t help and it will limit his options going forward if that positioning becomes too rigid.

        [1] People often say Unity was developed in response to GNOME Shell just like MATE and Cinnamon were. I think it’s only partly true, I really think Ubuntu saw an opportunity to do better, to implement that convergence they believe in across multiple platforms and so they went their own way and started that adventure (and whether you enjoy Unity or not, you’ve got to admit it is a pretty cool project). I don’t think they identified the need for GNOME 2 to continue or at least they didn’t think it was important at the time. Although Ubuntu didn’t see the point in MATE, I want to stress the fact that I’ve never ever seen them criticize it or encourage its criticism.

        • Stringent Oct 4,2016 16:03

          Interesting..
          Another thing I remember from the conversation that I described was the claim that MATE was not initiated by Mint at all; rather that Mint was just a distro that helped popularize MATE.
          Now, if I understand correctly the above, MATE definitely IS a Mint’s child, which is what I thought until that point in time.

          • clem Oct 4,2016 17:11

            No, neither are completely true. MATE wasn’t started by Mint but Mint isn’t just “a” distro in the history of MATE. If GNOME 2 hadn’t been forked by Perberos, it would have been forked by us. It would probably have a different name right now and I’m not sure Cinnamon would have existed. Here’s the long story.

            When it turned out we could no longer ship with GNOME 2 (because GNOME 3 used the same namespace and basically made it obsolete) we had a huge problem on our hands. As crazy as it might sound, other distros really didn’t seem to care, they simply started to ship with GNOME 3. We couldn’t do that and we had to react fast. I don’t know if you remember what happened with Mint 12, we basically had to stop all projects, all development, and put all our efforts into getting back to shipping GNOME 2.

            On one side, there was a developer called Perberos who had started a massive fork of GNOME 2, with all its libs, all its backend, all its apps. It was frightening, quite unstable, but it worked! On the other side, there was GNOME 3, built on GTK3 but lacking most of the features we needed (no real panel, no window list, no menu, no systray…etc). I want to stress how desperate we were at getting back to a mature desktop here because it’s very important to understand how Cinnamon and MATE came to be.

            We joined MATE and boosted it to make sure it succeeded. We developed it, we funded it, we promoted it and it got its own edition. You’re not the only one who thinks MATE was started by Mint. It’s wrong though. It was supported by Mint very early in its history and without the help of any other distribution for quite a while. I think that’s why people think that, because they didn’t see MATE anywhere else, and so they assumed it was specific to our distribution. It’s leadership was with Perberos though, then with Stefano, and now with the core team I mentioned.

            Now, why Cinnamon? At the very start and to fulfill the desperate needs of Linux Mint 12, we can’t put all our eggs into MATE. It just had started, we had never worked with Perberos before, would it be ready in time, would it be stable? It turned out we could get empowered on this project, Perberos welcomed the help and us getting involved, but we couldn’t rely on MATE only. Not at the time. So in parallel to supporting MATE, we also had eggs in another basket where we worked on extending the functionality of GNOME Shell. In Linux Mint 12, these were called MGSE (Mint Gnome Shell Extensions), they saved us.. because I can’t imagine how we would have shipped without them, but they were far from meeting our expectations.

            After that you need to think of that development cycle, which was a little less than 6 months, in preparation for Mint 13. 6 months is a HUGE amount of time when you only have 1 problem and when that problem is more important than anything else. So in these 6 months, we doubled our efforts into stabilizing MATE on one side, and turning the clunky MGSEs into a new shell called Cinnamon.

            If I had to name my favorite release, it would be Mint 13, because of that. Because past Mint 13, we have happy users again, the loss of GNOME 2 is behind us, we have two very promising DEs to rely on, and we can start focusing on other issues again.

          • clem Oct 4,2016 17:50

            ^^ I mentioned Stefano briefly; that’s Stefano Karapetsas. I think he deserves a mention whenever we talk about the history of MATE. He was absolutely central to its development from the early stage all the way until the recent era. When Perberos left it was clear to me he needed to step up and take on MATE’s leadership. He’s been an amazing leader and an extremely active developer for MATE. If you look at it from a Debian/Ubuntu user’s point of view, you also have him to thank for getting MATE into Debian. Unfortunately, he’s a busy project manager nowadays so you don’t see him online very often anymore.

  11. Rathernott Sep 28,2016 20:08

    On the /r/Linux subreddit, a Debian developer by the name of cbmuser has been perpetuating repeatedly on every single Mint related article, that Linux Mint is a FrankenDebain by mixing Debian Binary repositories with Ubuntu Binaries.

    This was apparently only true for the now deprecated first edition of LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition), but cbmuser continues to state this affects all versions of Mint up to this day.

    Can you help finally put this myth to death once and for all, Clem? :)

    • clem Sep 28,2016 20:33

      Yes, I’ll add that to the article. It’s ironic for a Debian developer not to understand packaging. That’s very easy to debunk because it’s complete rubbish (and for the record, no, it wasn’t true for LMDE 1 either).

  12. wander Sep 28,2016 20:17

    Yes, facts are important and also help preventing a lot of FUD in the first place. So I’ve been wondering for quite some time now where are the facts about this statement coming from?

    “Linux Mint is the most popular desktop Linux distribution and the 3rd most widely used home operating system behind Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS.”

    Source: https://www.linuxmint.com/about.php

    Where did you get the numbers from? And according to your numbers how many users does Linux Mint have and what about Ubuntu, Chrome OS, Debian, Fedora, Arch Linux, etc.?

    • clem Sep 28,2016 20:47

      This is actually neither true nor false, we just don’t know for sure. We’re pretty sure Ubuntu and Linux Mint are in a league of their own (this is largely based on user-agent statistics and that could fall apart also if it turned out say Arch or Debian, who we know to be very active in the community, didn’t have their own UA) but it’s really hard to distinguish between them due to the user agents being the same.

      In doubt, and in spite of growing and multipying in size over the years (we can’t measure our user base, but we know how to measure our own growth very precisely), we played second fiddle to Ubuntu for years and portrayed ourselves as the 4th most widely used desktop OS. After all, even if we boomed, we couldn’t measure how Ubuntu grew (and it did look like they did as well, and significantly), and we were 4 times smaller than they were in 2011, when this was measurable. I know, that’s before Unity and all, but still. So, in doubt, the safe call was to portray ourselves as 4th (you might have noticed that in the installer, where it is still visible: https://translations.launchpad.net/linuxmint/latest/+pots/slideshow-mint/fr/+translate?batch=10&show=all&search=4th).

      In its communication Ubuntu largely promoted the fact that they were leading the desktop market. They did that many times and they even communicated numbers. You could read the size of their user base even though it is not measurable. Eventually it was decided to assume the same marketing speech and place ourselves in 3rd position. It’s pure marketing and I can understand why it annoys some people.

      Don’t justify FUD with that though. People would be right to criticize Mint and Ubuntu for communicating numbers and positions they can’t verify. This would not be FUD though.

      You make a valid point. We should rephrase that and expect the same from Canonical. It’s easy to do and I’ll make sure it happens.

      • clem Sep 28,2016 22:08

        Can you think of a way to rephrase the sentences on the website and in the installer? We should be able to describe our position without implying it’s more or less popular than Ubuntu. If we can come up with something good we can change that pretty quickly (when it comes to the installer, translations can be updated in a matter of days).

        • Anand Sep 29,2016 03:41

          Can we not go by count of Forums or Community members and capture their Distro and DE in user profile? And just say Mint is used by these many users. Not sure how that plays out in marketing perspective.

          Or use an existing survey results or conduct a simple survey? (results need not be published).

          P.S. I am personally keen to know split of Cinnamon, MATE, KDE and XFCE.

          • clem Sep 29,2016 08:49

            We can do many things and get an idea about things but we can’t measure our user base.

            Regarding the split between editions, we have a way to estimate it though. We look at the ratio of the traffic hitting a page which is unique per edition and only available to users of this edition. It doesn’t tell us “how many” people us them, but it tells us how they compare with one another.

        • Cosmo. Sep 29,2016 10:19

          Suggestion:

          Linux Mint is one of the most popular Linux distributions. Its strength is the user orientation and the most ergonomic design. Linux Mint provides the highest rate of usability.

          Reasoning:
          IMHO the ranking in popularity or installation numbers does not give any reasoning for or against any OS. Users who want just the mostly used OS have no choice: This is Windows, Windows 7 especially. By arguing like “I am the greatest” or “I have the longest” you can only loose. Linux users – regardless, which distro they choose – have obviously other aspects for their decision.

          Further more arguing with superlatives leads inevitably to contradiction. Which user of any other OS is expected to say, that he uses an OS with knowing, that it is not the best for himself?

          Comparing statistical values does not really give the answer, if a product is great or not. Perhaps it tells, if the majority of users believe(!), that it is great, but even that is unsure. An OS is great if it has a leading place in usability. The promotion of a product should make the reader curious: “Is it true, what they say? Shall I try it myself?” Surely not every person will judge it the same, but those also cannot get convinced with something like number 3 or number 4. But those who get curious enough to try it, get automatically potential Mint users – and at the end this is what we all want to achieve.

          • Cosmo. Sep 29,2016 10:32

            I forgot to mention at the end of the first paragraph:
            … and stability.

      • wander Sep 29,2016 09:26

        Well, I think statements like these have an effect – positive and negative. Some people with less critical thinking and a more positive attitude towards Linux Mint might be impressed by this, others who tend to be more sceptical might read this as bragging and then start to search for actual numbers which might bring them to the Wikimedia stats. And not everyone is able to interpret those accurately.

        So if you ask me how to phrase that instead, I’d get rid of the ranking and just use something like “Linux Mint is one of the most popular desktop Linux distributions and used by millions of people.” (assuming you have more than a million user). But I’m not a big fan of marketing speech, so I’m probably not a good advisor. ;)

        • clem Sep 29,2016 10:32

          No, it’s good. Many thanks for helping with that. I’ll get this changed right away.

          • Mintulix Sep 29,2016 16:06

            Hi Clem, you changed the “about” text, but it’s still in the FAQ “Linux Mint is the most popular Linux distribution and positions itself as the 3rd most popular desktop operating system in the World.” May be this should be changed also.

          • clem Sep 29,2016 16:13

            Ah thanks for spotting that. It’s changed now.

  13. larjan Sep 28,2016 22:32

    I have run mint on my machine for about six years. before that, I ran ubuntu as well as short times with a few others. Myself, unless someone can backup their claims or I have experienced the same issue, I don’t pay much attention no matter how special they think they are. I can say I have never had a security or invasion related problem of any kind with mint or ubuntu. I have had things break due to updates in ubuntu, that are easy to avoid in mint. When I ran windows, I could not say the same. I like that you work with the community to develop and improve mint. Cinnamon has developed at an amazing rate, and is by far my favorite desktop.I say the FUD is just that, Keep up the great work that you and the rest of the mint team do, and know it is very much appreciated.

  14. Fernando Correia Sep 29,2016 01:25

    I’m a Linux Mint enthusiast. I recently upgraded from v. 17 to v. 18, enabled the Mint-Y theme, and honestly I’ve never been happier with any other OS. I enjoy it even more than I enjoyed Windows 7 when it was launched.

    Some of my teammates got machines with Ubuntu pre-installed and I shared with them my great experience with Mint; a couple of them even made the switch. But I found that I had a bit of difficulty explaining what exactly I like on Mint over Ubuntu. Yes, it’s Cinnamon, but you can have Cinnamon on Ubuntu. Yes, it’s the updater. But that’s not a show-stopper. Ultimately I think it’s a number of different things that make a superb whole.

    My point is that the “About” page didn’t really help me communicate why I thought they would benefit from switching. I suggest that you regularly review that page to make sure it’s up-to-date and communicating the biggest advantages in relation to other Linux distros — or at least, what is the “target market”.

    Incidentally, one of my teammates tried to upgrade its Intel video card driver on a new Lenovo, and the driver installer bailed because the distro was not recognized as “Ubuntu”. I’ve seen other installers that look at /etc/*release when installing, and often Linux Mint is not recognized. To save grief he just rolled back to the path of least resistance — Ubuntu.

    • clem Sep 29,2016 08:25

      Thanks Fernando, you’re right about the page, and you’re right about the Intel drivers. They’re fully compatible, but the installer itself checks /etc/lsb_release to see whether you’re running Ubuntu or Fedora. I’m not in touch with the drivers team but we work with Intel on the NUC, I’ll try to get in touch with them.

      You can use Cinnamon in Ubuntu, but stick to the version they provide (in Xenial that means 2.8). Do not use glebihan’s PPA, it’s meant for testing. It provides unstable daily builds of our git master branch, therefore broken translations, and if anyone of us breaks something in a commit, you see that first-hand. It also uses our own packaging. Debian introduced deviations there. They don’t affect Debian, they don’t affect Mint, but they sure affect Ubuntu users installing Cinnamon and upgrading it to our own packages via PPA. Make sure your PPA provider handles that and make sure it provides stable packages.

      Among others, Fedora, Arch and Debian are actively involved in supporting Cinnamon. They’re quick to find bugs, to fix them and they even participate in its development.

      Within Ubuntu I would definitely recommend Unity. The entire release, testing and development process is targeting that DE. This is the desktop environment which runs the best in Ubuntu.

  15. Robin Sep 29,2016 02:12

    I first used linux mint openbox, i think about version 9.04 something.
    Then swithed to mint gnome2.
    Then mint kde.
    For me mint was always the ubuntu without the bugs.
    Now i use arch, but for family i still install mint.
    Also my media server runs mint for its stability.
    Clem, thank you for all the good work that you have done, and it was thanks to linux mint that i started using linux.

    • clem Sep 29,2016 08:34

      It has less bugs obviously, since we fix some of them and anything we fix is something that was still broken when Ubuntu released (usually a month after that actually). That said this isn’t very important. First, because critical bugs aren’t that common (the last critical bug I know that affected an Ubuntu release is the runtime directory collision, it’s more than 2 years old now). Second, because Ubuntu is very good at fixing things post-release, so with updates and especially now on a long LTS base, early bugs don’t make that much of a difference.

  16. Wade Sep 29,2016 05:40

    I love Linux Mint. My primary non Windows PC is Mint and I use it almost more than the windows machine. I recommend Mint as often as I can, especially when they voice dissatisfaction with Windows. It is by far the easiest switch. I find other Linux distros a little hard to make the transition (maybe I’m just dumb?). I also have Qubes installed and I really like the philosophy behind it…but i also find it clunky compared to Mint. so…Mint Qubes variant would be nice :)

  17. Steve Swatman Sep 29,2016 07:02

    I am just a user, LMDE, 18 cinnamon and mate, and I am not at all concerned about what runs behind the gui, I am concerned only that it all works, and mint works well imho.

    I must admit though that the “fan boys” who complain, confuse, put down and ridicule other distro’s because they are “purists” “experts” and just plain old “arrogant twats” should understand that every negative comments sticks in the subconscious of new/potential users and leaves a nagging doubt in their minds about the whole Linux concept.

    • clem Sep 29,2016 08:55

      Absolutely. When a Debian Developer attacks Linux Mint, he primarily harms Debian and Linux Mint, but it also has an affect on Linux overall. The more this happens, and not only to us, or to distributions, but also to projects, the less serious and solid the Linux community looks to the outside world.

  18. Bobby Sep 29,2016 10:11

    Well, I strongly agree with the basic statement of this post.
    The Linux community is definitely prone to negative circle jerk reactions, which often are based on clear misconceptions or myths. Yet they may literally last years, which says something about the environment where that’s possible. You’re also spot on with your assessment of how so-called journalists often do a piss-poor job of debunking misconceptions and propaganda, or often even add fuel to the flames.
    That’s because a large amount of tech-writers today simply post their ‘articles’ after reading through Hacker-News or reddit posts for a few minutes, treating random and anonymous comments as facts. It doesn’t help that most of them have to cover way more topics than they’re really familiar with and that clicks = $.
    I can’t even tell you how often I’ve seen Adrian’s _comment_ on lwn.net about Mint being a Franken-Debian used as a _source_ in magazines and tech websites, even though it’s full of undeniably wrong statements which could be debunked within *minutes*.

    That being said, I disagree with most of your examples of allegedly “FUD” mentioned in your article. In my opinion, most subjects you mentioned are either honest mistakes, common misconceptions or legit discussions, which simply isn’t the same as “FUD” at all. I don’t see much intention to hurt somebody in any of those points. Sure, you always have some idiots who bring an irrational level to every discussion but that doesn’t make the discussion itself FUD.

    Stallman gave his opinion, which always is rather extreme. But why would he have the intention to hurt Canonical as a business or project? He’s no competitor. You simply disagree with his assessment of the situation but that’s not FUD.

    While systemd is DEFINITELY the target of a lot of FUD, there’s obviously also a legit discussion, like you said yourself. It’s a good example of how the overall situation is a bit more complicated and demonstrates that a lot of negativity probably doesn’t stem from pure malice, which would be the premise of a FUD problem. You talk about people building their own opinion but realistically that’s not possible for most users. It’s low-level system software, pure user experience isn’t enough to pass judgment. When it comes to security concerns, code quality or software design, the average user can’t really assess that himself. Yet, it’s in his interests to have some form of evaluation of those things. There’s no other possibility than to trust the verdict of people with more expertise. The real problem is that 6 years after the release of systemd, authors of famous website or professional sysadmins still spread misconceptions which where debunked and explained literally months after systemd’s release. Most people crying in forums are on the lower end of that food chain. They have no idea what they’re talking about and never will have. They’re not trying to harm anybody, neither systemd nor Mint, they’re just ill-informed, plain and simple. There’s not really some sort of political dimension in what you hear 90% of the people say.

    When it comes to negativity towards Mint, my honest opinion is that you could do a better job at taking away any base for a lot of speculations. For such a popular distro with such a large user base, a lot of things in Mint are largely undocumented and not exactly transparent. I see that as the biggest disadvantage of Linux Mint as a product. Some things in Mint are done rather ‘hackish’, which isn’t necessarily a problem on itself, I mean it’s Linux.
    But when those things are done undocumented, it sort of moves away from hackish and comes dangerously close to amateurish. Which isn’t meant as an insult, it’s a community distro after all, but it’s an unnecessary base for speculations and problems. Recently I found out that Mint ‘overrides’ /usr/bin/apt by putting a script in /usr/local/bin, while /usr/bin/apt is still rolled out.
    At least in Mint < 18 it was partly incompatible to /usr/bin/apt.
    Now, if you know you're actually running a Mint script, it's not much of a problem.
    If you don't, you might think (and tell other people!) that 'even apt doesn't work on Mint'. Same goes for things like code changes in Synaptic to make it fit better in the Mint environment. Not a big deal, but it'd be good to _know_ about those things.

    Have a nice day and keep up the good work,
    Bobby

    • clem Sep 29,2016 11:17

      Hi Bobby,

      You make a lot of very good points. I’m not sure where to start or how to reply to them all. I’ll pick two if that’s ok, RMS and apt.

      I’ve got a lot of admiration for RMS, who wouldn’t? I can’t think of anybody more honest and more idealistic. His contributions and ideas were central, especially in the 90s. We all adored him at some stage and I’m no exception to that. I think you’re spot on when you say that the origin isn’t always meant to create FUD. And you’re right, until it’s spread with malice by 3rd parties, and actually becomes FUD, it’s isn’t, at that stage it’s a public opinion. We can’t ignore the fact that anything we say carries weight though and that the projects we’re associated with are represented somewhat when we give a public opinion. I know his goal wasn’t to hurt Canonical (I really don’t think he cares about that) but to speak and protect users from what he feels is rather important. And yes, we disagree on that. I don’t see malice in what Canonical did. I agree with some of RMS points, yet if the result of that is for people to stop using Ubuntu.. I don’t think it’s fair.

      Regarding APT, I think you’re looking at it from a Debian point of view maybe. New features are never introduced between releases. Every single release is announced along with its release notes and a detailed account of all the significant changes and new features. There’s no guess work at play. We introduced the apt command in 2007, in Linux Mint 3.1. Between 2007 and 2014, this is a command which only exists in Linux Mint. The reason it was placed in /usr/local/bin is precisely because of its name and because it made sense for Debian to eventually do the same. This happened in 2014. So Mint 17 had both apt (the one we’ve always used) and the new /usr/bin/apt, which didn’t change anything on our side but it was important nonetheless to boost compatibility between them (primarily because of tutorials and books referring to them). This was done in Mint 18: https://linuxmint.com/rel_sarah_cinnamon_whatsnew.php.

      We also ship commands such as search or highlight in /usr/local/bin. These commands are extremely handy and they’ve existed for years. They do not exist upstream, and the reason they’re in /usr/local/bin is the same as for apt, it’s to leave room for upstream to implement them (Debian has a policy against /usr/local/bin, so this guarantees the absence of future collisions, it’s important considering how generic the name of these commands are). All of that is announced and explained when introduced but you are supposed to read the release announcements and new features pages.

      Hopefully we’ll get uptream from Debian itself and move these kinds of features which are specific to us, into upstream projects which get into Debian. Xapps-common comes to mind here. Once packaged and present in Debian, it can use /usr/bin rather than /usr/local/bin.

  19. UltraViolet Sep 29,2016 12:17

    i’m probably THe most non-technical user commenting here, but, i would just like to say thank you for doing Mint, i swapped from windows as i wanted more user control over my OS and i love it!

    thanks again

    [now if only i could fix my ‘bootstrap’ Steam error on my AMD Mint 18 system…]

  20. Dwayne Newton Sep 29,2016 16:28

    When Windows 10 beta was released I begin the process of looking carefully at what is offered in the Linux community. After considering other user-friendly distros I decided on linux Mint. I’m not about to suggest that this issue is not an issue, but I would like to describe what my initial impression was.

    1. The Linux community is about choice. This thought comes across loud and clear as you look at the sheer number of Linux distros available. My experience from the outside looking in was that some are popular for certain things while others are popular for other things. What is your objective? There’s a distro that helps meet that particular need. An example is, if I were using audio-video software everyday I would use a distro like AV Linux. I was looking for an everyday workhorse that makes it easy to leave Windows behind and that is why Mint appealed to me. The point is, There are plenty of choices in Linux and one distro isn’t better than another, only different, and better for certain uses. Overwhelmingly, the response to the question, “Which Linux distro should I use?”, was answered with, “Whichever one you like the most. That alone was enough to draw me in because with Windows you are not given a choice on so many things. As it turns out, Windows 10 users have less choice, less control than ever and I intuitively know that was going to happen.

    2. The other thing that got my attention was the Linux ecosystem is very focused on security. Part of what makes Linux secure is the people who develop and use Linux tend to understand that keeping the ecosystem secure benefits everyone. I know that other people have my back because it is to their benefit and it’s not driven by greed. Windows and Apple have a vested interest in security to the extent that it affects the bottom line. This is understandable but is also the peril of software for profit. I haven’t figured out the mechanics involved but somehow Linux has managed to be very secure and also very open at the same time.

    As far as the Linux Mint community is concerned, people have been very helpful and overwhelmingly positive. This has just been my experience. Before the official release of Windows 10 I had Mint installed and the only time I have needed windows in over a year was to update the maps on a Garmin GPS. As an added bonus, I feel that I am more aware of how software is supposed to work and more adept since Linux kind of forces you to take responsibility for your own actions and bad habits. I can’t possible foresee going back to Windows unless they become far more open and secure. As a side note, I can see why Windows is locked down in the way it is. Some people should not be allowed to even turn on a computer and Windows has planned for the worst user scenario. For the rest of us, there’s Linux.

    • clem Sep 29,2016 16:56

      I understand your point, but I think it’s like that everywhere.

      I bought a car last year and I found it very hard to choose one because of the sheer number of available brands and models. Of course I knew some of them weren’t suited for my needs, but once I calculated the number of seats and the features I needed I was still left with many of them. When looking for something and when overwhelmed with choice, you get lost and what you’re looking for are people to decide for you. Of course there’s another problem with that. All manufacturers talk greatly about their cars, but they don’t compare it with others. When some of them do, it doesn’t help, it has the opposite effect. The more the Volkswagen guy dissed the other brands the less I wanted to get a Volkswagen for instance. Ideally, you get opinions for unbiased users who have similar needs to you.

      I’m hoping to get a better racing bike soon, same thing.. my biggest problem is the amount of choice. Wouldn’t it be perfect if there was only one brand? :)

      About Windows, I see it as a much smaller OS than Linux. It doesn’t ship its own drivers, it doesn’t maintain its own software, almost everything but the core is 3rd party. Of course, it makes this system extremely flexible and that’s a key in its success. That’s something we struggle with (although I see Steam, Gnome and Ubuntu recently came up with promising techs to improve this). But in terms of security, it also makes it much more fragile. It’s uncommon for a Linux user to venture outside the repositories and to run a binary from a website he doesn’t really trust. It’s much more normal for a Windows users to download .exe files.

      If you compare this with Linux Mint. We’re a much smaller project than Windows obviously, but we rely on Debian to provide software (they package a mind boggling 60k packages on our architectures) and on Ubuntu to provide security updates. Thanks to that, you rarely need to go and download software manually, it’s already there in the repositories, and when a security issue is found, you’re an update away from having it applied and it’s not specific to the software it relates to.

      Some of these bikes look French, others look American, but most of their components come from Asia. If they weren’t they wouldn’t be as good because that’s where the best components come from. It’s not just a question of cost. Even after knowing that, it’s still really hard to choose a bike.

      I hope I didn’t deviate too much with my examples.

      • Dwayne Newton Sep 29,2016 18:03

        I agree that choice can make it harder to make a decision, but I prefer having to do my homework to figure out what I want and need rather than not having a choice. The more specific you are about what you want, the more that narrows down your available choices. In my case with choosing Mint. I decided I wanted something other than Windows, I decided I didn’t want to pay Apples insane prices, I decided I wanted something that was already somewhat familiar, and I decided I wanted something that would let me hit the ground running and learn as I go, as opposed to learning it before I could even use it. Then when I found out some distros don’t allow for in place upgrades I wasn’t crazy about doing it all over again in 2-3 years. All that was left when I was through deciding was Mint. Obviously, not everyone is that deliberate. I don’t know squat about code and the other stuff that goes on under the hood but I can tell you one thing, I know what I like when I see it. I actually did try out 2-3 other distros and keep coming back to this. I’m not trying to flatter you but when you narrow down the options in the way that I’ve described there just isn’t much left to choose from. So no, I don’t think there are too many choices yet. Please allow a poor minister to thank you and your team for a job well done. I really appreciate the ethic you are trying to emphasize in this post.

        • clem Sep 29,2016 22:15

          Hi Dwayne,

          I actually really enjoy the time before a purchase. It’s very long for me, I use spreadsheets, I look at reviews everywhere. In the end, it’s usually totally pointless and I often end up buying what I liked on first sight, but still… it’s an exciting exercise and when I finally get to buying the thing, it really feels like it’s mine, it’s the one I chose, the one I looked at for so long, and I enjoy it a lot then.

          Talking about Apple, one of those things was the Macbook Pro. It’s a wonderful laptop. The choice was also driven by my work in Mint. I needed to check Mac OS first-hand at the time (it’s not for me, but it is very polished and also full of good ideas) and also many people have a Macbook, so we really needed one of these. Myself and mtwebster purchased the two laptops which provided HiDPI displays at the time, he’s got the Samsung, and we could work on improving HiDPI support in Mint and Cinnamon then. That Macbook also gave me the opportunity to work on multi-finger support and to improve it in MATE and Cinnamon. As you can see, I had plenty of work-related excuses to get that beautiful gadget :)

          • Dwayne Newton Nov 1,2016 18:11

            On the subject of choices and some of the wonderful new hardware out there, I have a suggestion. This may not be the best place to bring it up but I’ll risk the minor annoyance it may cause. I noticed some things work better and some things don’t work as well in Mint 18 when compared to 17.3. Just as an example, I have 2 older dell laptops that I have used both versions of Mint on. Blueberry doesn’t work for my hardware but Blueman does work quite well. It occurred to me that some people like myself, who appreciate being given choices, might like to have the ability to configure defaults during installation, rather than uninstalling one package and replacing it with another. Having an advanced option in the installation utility could really be quite useful. Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking and not very practical in the real world. Having the ability to choose from a menu during installation similar to the software manager has the potential to save some people a lot of time. I wonder if it’s just a pipe dream on the development side? The main point to this being that people need choices simply because of the variety of hardware out there and software works, or doesn’t work, differently on different hardware. Again, thanks for a product that’s a joy to use.

  21. Herisson Sep 30,2016 18:44

    Good and balanced post. Nothing to add !
    Thanks for all

  22. lestcape Oct 1,2016 20:21

    We are humans and FUD is just one more of our nature. No one can live without his human condition. We need to live with that.

    As an a personal example: I don’t like how works the packages updates in Mint. I never said anything about this, before now if i remember correctly, but really i can speak of my personal doubts if i want, ¿or why not? I understand that also this is a personal misunderstanding of the utility, maybe because the utility does anything to my personal workflow, just stop it or put it in the opposite direction of what I hope.

    This mean my personal criteria have to be the same of most users. Not really and the proof is right here in these more than 50 messages. Then, this mean that i can not speak of my personal criteria? So, yes i think i can, just people that read my comments need to know they are always personal criteria and not the pure true.

    Again, go against the current of the river, just only creates wear. Please choose another path if in the end you do not want to get wet.

    • clem Oct 2,2016 10:14

      That’s a really cool quote Lestcape. Is it a saying in Spanish?

      I think you’re spot on about opinions. We all have our own. We’re not entitled to impose them as truth though.

      Our update manager is as it is because it addresses a serious issue, one we can observe within our user base, the fact that novice users are exposed to regressions, sometimes on critical OS components, which they don’t know how to revert. Even with the filtering and the information in that tool, people still get stuck. I had to explain to a user how to downgrade his kernel today (his scanners are no longer recognized), this happens often. It’s unpleasant for me to go against the stream and I’m not even trying to promote the idea in other distributions, I’m just trying to implement it in Linux Mint because it’s needed. That job is hard. If I didn’t care about this issue, mintUpdate would be long gone. To tell you the truth, there’s so much criticism on this solution and so much ignorance on the issue, if this didn’t make a significant difference for novice users, it would have been removed by now, at users’ expense, just to stop the controversy.

      • Dwayne Newton Oct 2,2016 20:13

        The way Mint handles updates is one of its best features, in my opinion, because of the very fact that it offers a choice and puts control in the hands of the novice user. I remember the frustration with the constant pestering for updates in Windows. The way distros like Ubuntu update everything without offering an obvious choice to start with doesn’t really appeal to me either. Both ways seem a little heavy-handed. I don’t want to be told I have to do it a certain way. I want a choice. I also want to be informed about the consequences of the choices I make and even have the opportunity to learn from my mistakes. Truth be told, If you give me options and allow me to make an informed decision I will probably do it the way you would have suggested in the first place. Anyone who is considering any Linux distro on a full time basis probably has enough intelligence to figure it out.

      • lestcape Oct 3,2016 00:59

        Thanks for the explanation about the update manager, but that’s not the point. The update manager target apparently it’s not for user who know how take care and want to take care of his system (It could be seen as a hindrance to them?). I really know that the intention of this thread is help to a better compression between linux communities. Thank for this, but I don’t see in other linux communities many similar intentions. So, this also will not resolve the conflict. We are not expert in all thing, but we need to interact with several thing that we don’t know the importance or the objective… We are all different people with different priorities, different concepts and customs. I think is not wrong, if we speak about our interpretation or concepts, also nor would it, if we are wrong or there are not representing the real true, because this create diversities of criteria, answers questions others may have and because this is the way of how the things are. If this will be different, will be conscious and not natural.

        The human brain organized the things by categories, so to be possible create categories, you need to compare one thing to another and evaluate the concordance. So we really can not speak about benefits of a thing without a base to be compared. There without doubts people that speak with wickedly and the intention to cause a damage, but they can not be convinced, because they know what they are doing.

        Finally, i don’t think keep our silence will be good, just because we do not know or because we might be doing something wrong.

        As another cuban quote, “If it’s bad to have no friends, is worse not to have enemies, for those who have no enemy, it is a sign that has nothing important to others, nothing special or different”. Luckily, Mint has enemies.

  23. ARcturo Oct 2,2016 13:50

    One of the ironies of life is that being a target of FUD is an honor; people use FUD only on people whose success frightens them. Seymour Cray made this plain when he coined the term to name a sales technique that some IBM people used to try to dissuade customers from buying Cray’s mainframes instead of IBM’s. Being a target of FUD means that you are doing well, just as arrows in your back identify you as a pioneer.

    Another irony is that the microcomputer nearly destroyed the market for both mainframes and mini-computers, making the IBM vs. Cray conflict essentially moot. Life marches on.

  24. Sl4v3n Oct 2,2016 19:53

    Just continue Your great work and never forget that You built something You can be proud of. You guys made really great distro with great cinnamon DE and that is what counts. I’ll just keep enjoying my Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon and laugh off FUD idiots.

  25. Nicholas Bodley Oct 2,2016 20:39

    This seems to be a good place and time to thank Clem and the Linux Mint community for a distro that runs well on oddball and old hardware. My current machine, originally intended only to be a backup machine, is obscure (Wintergreen) and limited. It has a 1 GHz Sempron, and 1 GB of RAM. Graphics is SiS 630, which does OK with static tasks, but renders video at maybe one frame roughly very 5 seconds.

    It still has Mint 15, but I need to back up my goodies and say ‘bye to that.

    Am currently running 17.x, maybe 17.1(?), and it tends to ask me for username or password repeatedly on startup.

    I downloaded and burned a DVD of 18, (Sarah, iirc) and the disc checked perfect.
    Although I know something of how data is put onto the disc, with lots of error-reducing details, I’m still amazed that such a volume of data can be bit-perfect.
    Need to save the fewer goodies from 17 and install 18, which ran live sluggishly (understandable; be patient!) but just fine. I’m 80, and LTS has a rather special meaning. No idea when I’ll part company with the physical world.

    The Mint community spirit reminds me of a good Linux distro of years ago, which had an amazingly friendly and helpful community. It was developed by one man, with his son present, but not interested by much. It was tragic when the developer died with little or no notice. His son decided to go to Israel, and the distro was left in limbo.
    Off-topic, more or less:

    Long time passing :), I downloaded Xdenu, one of the earliest distros, which iirc fitted on two floppies, and had no graphics at all. Ran it an on HP 386/16N. Have been aware ever since; last Windows I ran was XP, and stopped using it years ago.

    Claim to fame(?) is that I was a midnight hacker in 1960, with full permission of NORAD. Computer was ready to go many days before BMEWS went operational. Got to know the BMEWS DIP rather well… One lighted pushbutton for almost every bit in every register; was designed to be quick to repair. 19-bit word length, all-NAND logic, two phase clock.

  26. Pjotr Oct 2,2016 22:33

    Please don’t ever remove Update Manager…. I regard its protective level system as the “crown jewel” of Linux Mint.

    I’ve been a fulltime desktop Linux user for more than 10 years, and for me, Update Manager was the number one reason to switch to Mint. It’s a blessing both for simple users and for system administrators.

    That said, have you ever considered simplifying the levels a bit? I think that levels 1-3 could perhaps be combined into one “safe” level, which would reduce the number of levels from five to three. The simpler the level system is, the easier it’ll be to comprehend for beginners.

    Let me conclude by thanking you for creating what’s currently probably the finest desktop Linux distro in the world!

    Merci beaucoup pour votre effort et pour le panache de créer et maintenir une chose merveilleuse. Pour citer un empereur fameux: l’audace, toujours l’audace!

    Salut, Pjotr.

    • clem Oct 3,2016 08:49

      Hi Pjotr,

      It’s a good idea.

      • Anand Oct 3,2016 14:37

        Also, would request for a usability feature to select only a certain level for applying updates. That is, say Select All – (Level #).
        For example, if I want to apply Level 1 alone should be able to select all packages with Level 1 – since I am on a limited Internet plan.

        (I am aware one can also achieve that via Edit – Preferences – Level as a policy but what I am asking is more of a choice during application of updates based on my Internet usage that month.)

    • Fred Barclay Oct 12,2016 04:42

      Yes – combining levels 1-3 (or at least 1-2) would be a great idea IMHO!

  27. Theo Oct 8,2016 03:44

    Clem, I just donated a little again, not because of this post, but because Mint is simply the most comfortable distro I’ve used in its default state. It’s the distro, I find, where after installation, I can get down to doing work without having to spend a lot of time configuring various things both visible, and in the background, that to me make sense. Every time, I try out a new version, it feels more comfortable. Is it perfect? No, of course not, but that’s ok. In my daily life I administer Macs and Windows machines and they are quite a bit less perfect than they could be given how much money and effort is spent on developing them.

    The FUD coming from various people is always a total pain, given the effects it can have on uncertain users. Systemd is perhaps the best example out there. There was a guy on Twitter recently making enormous rants about it with very little in the way of actual detail of where it supposedly didn’t work. Of course, Lennart is not exactly good at handling the FUD himself, which only makes things worse.

    So don’t worry, Clem. You’ve stood by us users for over a decade, and we’ll stand by you.

  28. SJM Oct 16,2016 08:51

    If a user comes to me and asks if we could stop using Systemd in Linux Mint, it triggers curiosity in me, because he might have found something we can improve in Systemd, or a better alternative to Systemd.

    Clem, there was never a “need” for Systemd in the first place. I have supported
    Linux Mint for YEARS… back when you were in the low single digits 8-] I did so
    for stability and security (I use for work…its a tool). I have been FORCED to move to MX-15 by the inclusion of vulnerabilities and unreliabilities inherent in the Systemd monoculture. Saying we must just “suck it up” when Antix and other
    disto’s have no problem avoiding this leaves many of us scratching our heads.
    I LOVE Linux Mint but I cannot afford to keep running a distro that is just
    a Linux clone of Windows.

    • clem Oct 16,2016 12:26

      You see, I don’t see how this helps. I understand this as a claim that “systemd is unsafe and unreliable” without any arguments or justifications to go with it. And then an assumption that running systemd makes us “a Windows clone” somehow? I don’t see any logic in this. If you want to criticize systemd, start by focusing on valid constructive arguments. Explain issues in details and propose solutions.

    • Pjotr Oct 19,2016 09:48

      @SJM: have you any idea how much extra efforts of the Mint developers would be needed, if Mint would discontinue systemd?

      Even Ubuntu, with its much larger amount of developers, didn’t dare to deviate from its Debian upstream:
      http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/1316

      Note that in its turn, Ubuntu is upstream for Mint. For efficiency’s sake, and efficiency is extremely important for a small organization, Mint needs to be very restrictive when it comes to deviating from upstream.

      From the technical point of view: while I understand the theoretical disadvantages of a monolithical structure, I judge systemd by its performance. So far, I’ve had no problems with it at all. It doesn’t perform better than its predecessor, but not worse either.

      systemd just gets the job done on my machines. So you don’t hear me complain. In fact I say: well done, developers!

  29. Spearmint2 Oct 19,2016 02:58

    OK, distrowatch may be subject to manipulation, much like google top links are, but what about osdisc dot com which consistently places Linux Mint at the top of it’s listing for sales. I doubt that’s based on page clicks, but more likely on sales.

    As for systemd I pay little attention to that talk, but I’d sure like to see some improvement in enabling USB ports to stay on constantly for things that for some reason don’t get enabled again after a sleep function.

    My biggest complaint in that area is a mechanical keyboard by EagleTec, which is great, until you try to set so it will wake up after sleep. I would think you are already aware of the many, many places that “power” and “wakeup” must be accessed in Linux Mint just to accomplish that. I’ve not yet figured why cheapie keyboard work when wakeup from sleep and the EagleTec won’t, nor why Logitech wireless will work after wakeup but not the keyboard.

    As for opinions, people have them, and their preferences, and when they recommend something to others, they are naturally going to recommend what they like to use. I personally don’t recommend Mint alone, but also mention others I approve of such as Ubuntu MATE, Zorin, Kubuntu.

    Unfortunately I think you are kicking at the rocks on this issue, just look at what’s passing for politics in today’s world, particularly in the US elections this year. There’s enough FUD there to fill Hell with it.

    If I were you, I’d not worry over it much, just concentrate on what you do best and let the eternal back biters crack their teeth over an ever improving product because most Mint users consider them as not worthy of much attention anyway.

    As for Ubuntu, and anyone who left it for Mint, it wasn’t because someone told them something bad about Ubuntu, they did it because they tried Mint and liked it. I left XP for Mint because after using it some and knowing XP would end support, I liked Mint better. XP was OK for when I had it, but it was time to move on. I think many former Ubuntu users considered it OK for a time, but then things changed, just like XP faced changes, and those users moved on.

    One thing I’ve noticed about most Linux users they have their own minds and make their own choices and nobody is really effectively using FUD on them. That may work for newbies looking for a distro, but I really believe that’s where it ends too!

    Spearmint2

    PS – reply has attributes above the posting box, but using them gets a rejection of the post.

  30. SJM Oct 21,2016 02:59

    “If you want to criticize systemd, start by focusing on valid constructive arguments. Explain issues in details and propose solutions.”

    Clem
    The dangers of adding monolithic Windows style Systemd between the kernel
    and the system have been well documented. its the accepting that has been
    the problem…8-) Systemd has not yet gotten enough hooks in the various
    applications as yet so folks are sailing on blissfully…like Pjotr. He
    has not started having the issues that some Debian users and system
    admins are facing. As Systemd becomes more complex, fragile and baroque
    the fun will start. Folks like me find having to move to a Potterware
    free distro a hassle but….I also am secure and reliable….and in
    control of my system….

  31. Alan Oct 21,2016 14:18

    As a novice user I’d like to make a couple of points about the update manager (which I like).
    Fistly, I agree there’s no point in separating level 1 & 2 updates. Presumably they are recommended for all to install. I install levels 1, 2 and 3 without much thought.
    Secondly, I do get confused by level 4 & 5 security updates. Coming from Windows, when I see the words “security update” it translates to “install immediately”. But wait! On Mint there are terrible warnings. And I get conflicted. If I install a level 4 or 5 update will my computer burst into flames? But if I don’t install a security update will my computer be taken over by 300 Russian hackers?
    I’d like a bit more information about what exactly “security updates” are (BTW the Help file doesn’t seem to reflect the layout of the update manager). If it means that your computer may be at risk, what are the risks, and is there some way to check for vulnerabilities? (I do feel vulnerable without any malware checkers.)
    If it doesn’t involve any risk, why call them security updates?

    • peter e Oct 22,2016 20:34

      Each Level is quite distinct from the others, I appreciate that. I do like to be fully informed, and be able to choose.
      Alan: go to update manager > Edit > preferences > Levels
      read the descriptions and the origin fields, does that explain better?
      also can click on each package and get a description of what it is and what is included.
      It is crystal clear to me (I think), but I am not a new user. It is really important the the novice also understands.
      I have moved to LMDE and only run Mate, but if I recall correctly the Update Manager is the same as Mainstream Mint and Cinnamon desktop.

    • peter e Oct 22,2016 20:43

      as an aside, one of my converts from Windows is more comfortable seeing a popup every couple hours saying a bunch of random stuff just got updated… and then asked how to get automatic updates :-)

      • Alan Oct 22,2016 22:49

        Peter, I have read the descriptions and can’t see any practical difference to me as a novice user between 1 and 2, and I often don’t understand the package descriptions anyway.

        The point I was trying to make is that if I (and probably other inexperienced users) see the words “security update” I’m going to install it regardless. But it worries and confuses me when it comes with a warning that it might be unsafe or even dangerous. How am I meant to know which is more dangerous, installing or not installing?

        I really am very confused with the repeated (and perhaps a little smug?) claims that Linux just doesn’t ever get malware and viruses – then seeing loads of security updates / suggestions to use a sandbox / etc, and references to things like “Dirty Cow” etc (and the Mint corrupted download).

        If security updates are actually what I’ve always understood security updates to be, then surely there must be vulnerabilities?

        • peter e Oct 23,2016 15:59

          Alan: absolutely there are vulnerabilities, and new ones will be discovered.
          .
          I will try to address your questions but hopefully Clem or other senior staff will step in and correct me. I am just a country boy in the autumn of my years.
          as I said I am more familiar with LMDE, based on Debian Jessie (Stable).
          Mint is based on Ubuntu, and it is Testing and Experimental (bleeding edge).
          I just now booted Mint 18 Mate, on a separate partition, that has not been run for several weeks or months.
          I see 124 updates available, 31 are tagged Security, 93 software.
          none of the Security updates are Level 1 (certified) as in Guaranteed. Those are created by Mint, and are Tested (Romeo is a testing repo)
          the rest are Level 2 and 3 (except a new Kernel and that is rightfully Level 5)
          Level 2 is also Tested and Recommended, but was created by some other group, not Mint. not being built internally there is less direct knowledge…
          Level 3 is probably “safe” (as in it probably will not bork your system)
          .
          My thought is if you are in the middle of a project you DO NOT want to run the chance of trashing your system and having to rebuild when you don’t have time to mess around… so great care is recommended (and a full backup of data ans settings).
          Example: If you are concerned about Chrome being vulnerable, then it is Important, but I never use it so no big deal for me.
          The Kernel on Level 5? LMDE is using 3.16 and Mint has 4.4 available. All of my hardware works perfectly and I know of no new features that would be wanted, so I don’t mess with that, it could Bork it all and cause a new unwanted chore.
          .
          I venture to guess that the vast majority of users have zip that is truly Mission Critical going on their computers, so no big deal just update.

  32. John Flynn Dec 20,2016 01:22

    Totally love the Formula 1 analogy you used to describe how some linux distros use each other’s parts! The only problem I have with Linux Mint is… once I install it on someone’s computer they never call me to fix their computer again… it just keeps running an everything works…

  33. james W Dec 25,2016 05:33

    Just read this discussion on an old but barely used Latitude, it was Vista, now Mint 18.1, and it runs like a new machine. Since a week ago when I installed it Mint has already made improvements. Just now started and am on an old but once top of the line PCX that I put Mint 18 on a weeks ago and will go to 18.1 tomorrow and I am ecstatic to have such an attractive and user friendly OS to play with, learn and enjoy for years to come. My perspective is from an old reasonably educated user meaning no complex knowledge but at the stage where I can repair and tweak just about any old corrupted Windows computer and make it run about as good as it is ever going to run. In the process I have become quite annoyed with Microsoft and Windows on many levels. Hate is too strong a word but not by much. Thanks a whole bunch for all the work that has been done!

  34. Ed DeWan Jan 5,2017 17:59

    I recently installed Ubuntu and Mint, and am seriously impressed by the beauty and ease of use of the Mint interface. Bye bye, Ubuntu!

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