OK another tech post. About 7 weeks ago, I embarked on a mission to find a windows replacement desktop, one the works straight out of the box. A operating system that is easy to set-up and doesn't require a computing degree or to use command prompts.
For Linux editions this has pretty much been impossible. I have tried most of the standard offering such as Ubuntu, Fedora, PC-BSD, etc and had issues with sound, printing, Skype and flash to mention a few. Ubuntu has always been a strong contender, especially in the Kubuntu derivative.
Now my PC is no monster with lots of specialist drivers required, I use a standard ASUS motherboard and an AMD CPU. You would expect that most of the offerings would cope adequately with what I have but that is not the case.
Linux still has to pull its finger out and get the basics right before they go redesigning the desktop, it seems stupid to me to get a user to use a new desktop when not everything works out of the box. Its also not good enough to expect people with no IT training to go to a command line to install software, or even worse to remove it. These things have to be fundamentally addressed so people have a real alternative.
Out of the current bunch I ended up installing Linux Mint Cinnamon. Look I gotta say this I was sceptical about this being a real alternative, especially since in the last edition it had a bad habit of crashing and not being recoverable. The Cinnamon desktop is not going to get any awards for being originality, but you know what ? Its clean simple and works straight away. The alsa sound system works and swapping between usb headset and PC speakers is really easy and just works.
The update manager is something that people using windows will be used to, it notifies you when it needs to be run, and operates smoothly in the background once running. The program manager is good simple and again works. So does everything that I have installed using this method. The printing system is good and found my network printer with little effort and automatically installed the correct drivers. This is a big thing, on other distro's I was left struggling to get the printer to work.
There is a great list of products available for free and that work very well with the desktop. Its reliability has been awesome, I have not had a crash since it was installed, and I am a heavy user, even a power outage didn't phase it.
Importantly though anyone could install it, the default values during the install are smart and will be enough for most people, I think this is a reall winner and if this is what the guys at Linux Mint can do now, I cant wait to see what they have in store for us with the next release. Do yourself a favour download the live edition and have a look, I can assure you, you wont be disappointed.