I don't heap high praise on a Linux Distribution very often. In fact, I have taken aim at various camps' Distros with regularity to the point of seeming rather harsh.
But, that criticism isn't undeserved. No, too often I see 'me too', 'me too', 'me too' cookie cutter mania.
When one of the major Linux Distributions goes into general release there is an ensuing outbreak 'like a bad rash' of clones which surface within hours of the announcement on Distrowatch.com.
You've seen it and often enough to realize that okay 'maybe' some of them might have some redeeming value, but many are just being 'copy cats'. FOSS activists will argue for variety. I argue that too many Distros 'confuse' and send a negative message in terms of perceived quality and consistency. I have written about standardization here and elsewhere, so you know where I stand on that count.
Yesterday, I was curious about Ubuntu's impending release of 13.10 Saucy Salamander enough to download the Lubuntu 13.10 final beta2 derivative release for a quick evaluation.
It was driven primarily by my interest to see how the newest kernel 3.11.x performs. Much to my disappointment I found directly after install that Chrome stable flash video was laggy. I had just reinstalled over the top of Lubuntu 13.04 which has garnered a lot of my respect as being a very lightweight but complete Distribution quite suitable for Netbooks such as my Acer Aspire One D260 with 2GB of ram. So, I was 'miffed' at the discovery of this.
Okay, this is the final beta2. I realize that -- don't go firing off a comment filled with invectives just yet. Hear me out.
With 'Axel' installed, I quickly downloaded the Xubuntu 13.10 beta2, 'dd' copied it to my SanDisk 16GB pen drive, booted up and installed, again over the top.
A half hour later I was up on Xubuntu 13.10 beta2. I dispatched directly to the Chrome stable flash test with the same website's youtube video. (Sigh)
Same laggy video. I check my chrome://gpu settings and see 'all green':
So, I know hardware gpu assisted graphic acceleration is working fine with the supported Intel GMA3150.
What now? Taps fingers....Okay, I am the proverbial glutton for punishment. One more time, I went to the Kubuntu website, downloaded their 13.10 beta2 iso, slapped it on the pen drive and installed. A half hour later, I was on-line with the same Chrome version, same flash youtube video. Verdict: Video was laggy.
That's another two hours of my life I'll never get back again, I thought.
That's really odd even if these are beta Distros. My instincts tell me now to find another Distro using the same (approximately) kernel as Lubuntu 13.04 that has been in production for some time.
So, I go to Distrowatch.com and stare at the trending list, noting the usual stack of top 10 contenders, and there at the top is Mint. It occurred to me that I really hadn't tried Mint in quite a while and realized that they have an Xfce edition in their line-up which I directly downloaded, again putting on the pen drive, and proceeded to perform a clean install of Linux Mint 15 "Olivia" Xfce edition.
Linux Mint 15, released in July 2013, includes a 3.8.x kernel. Again I tested with Chrome stable the same youtube video -- this time no laggy video. Huh.
Is this a kernel regression I thought? Sure seems like it.
So, that really isn't the point here. My serendipity led me back to a Distro which has always been in the top 5 on Distrowatch for a long time. And I am most impressed with what Clem and the Linux Mint Developer Team have done. Clearly, Mint is at the top of today's list for good reason.
The level of professionalism, fit, finish is evident from the moment you boot to login to Desktop presentation. The Mint line-up of Distributions are arguably a 'cut above' the rest.
Linux Mint 15 "Olivia" Xfce Desktop with Mint-Minimal Icon Theme by +Paulo Silva
The Xfce edition is as complete a Distribution as anyone can expect yet still has a level of conservative lightweight memory use going in its favor.
This isn't a Distribution review -- it's a commentary on what I see across the landscape and how truly only a small handful of Distros are worth their salt. You only need spend ten minutes with it to realize how well executed and how well meshed everything in this Distro works. It is a joy to use.
If you don't need Ubuntu, but would like to stay in the Ubuntu repo and remain lean, yet have a 'Windows-like' experience, then I would suggest you consider giving Linux Mint 15 Xfce a test drive.
I have spent enough time now with Mint 15 Xfce to say that it approaches perfection.