Reviewed: Linux Mint 9 KDE


Ubuntu is dominating the mindshare for desktop distros, but there’s still a place for rivals – even those built on the Ubuntu foundation – to take things in different directions. Mint attempts to create a more polished desktop with a focus on usability and elegance. The core version, like Ubuntu, is based on Gnome, but is accompanied by packages based on other environments – in this case, KDE. But the big question is, can a KDE flavoured Mint do better than Kubuntu? Read on to find out.

Part of the project’s ethos is to have all your hardware work out-of-the-box with no configuration. In most cases, that’s what happens. We had some installation issues, but a search of the web didn’t find anyone else having the same trouble, so we think this was an isolated problem.

The basic theme in Mint is very clean, making it easy to deal with a screen full of applications and utilities. The theme covers apps as well as the main system.

The basic theme in Mint is very clean, making it easy to deal with a screen full of applications and utilities. The theme covers apps as well as the main system.

The KDE desktop is clean, blue-green and minimal, with just the desktop folder Plasmoid displayed, and a single panel at the base of the screen. Additional Plasmoids and panels can be added using the icon in the top-right.

It’s all very smart and the theme’s carried across other apps, including Firefox, ensuring consistency. There is, of course, the myriad options for customisation that KDE offers as well.

Mint isn’t just about elegant looks. It includes applications that make day-to-day tasks such as backup and software management a smoother experience.

In the main, these are good choices, especially the Backup Tool, which can deal with both files and applications (including their settings), so upgrading is less traumatic. We liked the idea of backporting the tool to previous versions to enable simple upgrades to version 9. While useful, the Backup Tool demands a little too much attention and could do with automation and scheduling options to be truly effective.

Similarly, the software manager gives access to a mass of software, but its reliance on breadcrumbs for navigation makes it less intuitive than Ubuntu’s Software Centre and Synaptic combination. There’s also a serious lack of screenshots on the app install screens, even for common ones such as AbiWord and KWrite.

Portable distro

A useful tool enables you to mirror your system, complete with applications and files, on to a bootable USB drive, making it a great alternative to lugging around a laptop for access to a familiar desktop.

In addition to the standard documentation, the Mint community has written tutorials on Mint-specific options. These are a great place to pick up tips on the daily use of the software.

Mint is a smart and sleek desktop that puts powerful tools at your fingertips. The default system is usable from the start and looks great. Having such an active community developing and using the system means help’s never far away, though we’d appreciate integrated help in Minted applications, even just links to relevant web assets.

However, our main issues are the well-rehearsed arguments about KDE’s complexity. Launching software involves too much menu navigation, defining screen-edge panels is confusing and the tools that pop up everywhere under the mouse are annoying.

Despite this, Mint is up there with Kubuntu as a coherent KDE desktop. If you’ve used Gnome Mint, but fancy lots of apps with a capitalised K in the name, this is the logical choice.

Our verdict: A good alternative to Kubuntu, but those seeking a simple life may prefer the Gnome version of Mint. 6/10

Features at a glance

<strong>Software Manager:</strong> The software manager gives quick access to lots of apps, but is less intuitive than Ubuntu's.

Software Manager: The software manager gives quick access to lots of apps, but is less intuitive than Ubuntu's.

<strong>Easy backups:</strong> Use Mint's Backup Tool to protect your programs and data from potential upgrade problems.

Easy backups: Use Mint's Backup Tool to protect your programs and data from potential upgrade problems.

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Your comments

It's double size with

It's double size with 1.3GB!, what was put on?



Bad mixture!

Mint and KDE is just a really bad combination. Although Im not sure I would mix KDE with any distro.

Mandriva and Opensuse seem to be the only distros that KDE seems ok-ish with.

They have added Frostwire,

They have added Frostwire, Miro, VLC, Gimp, Wine...the first two are bugy versions so yes i would say a bad mixture. Still don't see much point in KDE start menu it's like a WinVista Alpha something.

Please review Pinguy OS

Please review Pinguy OS

>can a KDE flavoured Mint do

>can a KDE flavoured Mint do better than Kubuntu?

This line should have been a warning sign....

>Despite this, Mint is up there with Kubuntu as a coherent >KDE desktop.

Ok, let me guess.... you ONLY ever used KDE with Kubuntu, right?
C;mon... lets see if you can compare Mint to Kubuntu one more time.

>If you’ve used Gnome Mint, but fancy lots of apps with a >capitalised K in the name, this is the logical choice.

Yes, because names starting with K is idiotic but names starting with G is somehow less kitshy or stupid.

I can see how these names are neither: Gparted, gbrainy, Gcaltool, gCompris, gDesklets, GStreamer, gthumb, GDM, gConf, gedit, gevice, Gget, Gwget, Gnac, glabels, Glom, Gnumeric, GOBm Gossip, Galeon, Guppi, Gtranslator,

Obviously, the results of supreme intellects, not a bunch of drooling, poo slinging apes...

>Our verdict: A good alternative to Kubuntu, but those >seeking a simple life may prefer the Gnome version of >Mint. 6/10

How the hell is GNOME simpler?

We ask people at our LUG to try out desktops to see which they feel more comfortable with and guess which gets chosen 3/4 of the times?
My brother has installed Mandriva, PCLinuxOS, OpensSuse, and Mint on the computers of family and relatives who are over 74yrs old over the past year and I help him with some remote stuff when I can. 8 seniors including 4 that never used a computer before. I dont simplicity of use has entered the equation.

I think most distro reviews are total BS since most distros are the same. They use the same apps and fiddle with some icons and wallpapers and people get allexcited over small differences. Ask a non-Linux user to compare two distros that use the same DE, they'll look at you like youre a retard and tell you its the same effing thing.
The only KDE distro which Ive noticed that has a substantial difference is Mandriva's control center which PCLinuxOS and some others also use (I am a Mepis KDE user but PCLinuxOS is the distro Ive been installing for friends since 2007 and its been flawless since). Other than that, I cant really tell you what differentiates distros.
OOOOhhh look a shiny object!! Ooooh, look a wallpaper that looks like a unicorn!!!
And please, ENOUGH with the new software managers. Ive used dozens of them it seems and people still want to reinvent the wheel (the same way as the previous guys)

Some users complain that Kubuntu is 'horrible' when its nothing more than a vanilla KDE install. Ive been using Kubuntu for a week (im building a PC for a friend and have been using it. he insisted on having a Buntu Linux since he hears about it but he hated 'that Mac look' they have.) and its bland. Not bad but nothing stands out.
its not as bad as some make it seem but it is also not a top 3 KDE distro in terms of individuality.
Mint does an ok job giving life to Kubuntu but PCLinuxOS does a much better job and they are starting from a distro, Mandriva, which is better, IMHO, than Kubuntu.
Then again, at no point this week have I stopped working and cursed Kubuntu. Hell, Ive forgotten its Kubuntu Im using.

Desktops choices are the real decision, like deciding what brand of car you want to buy.
Distro choice is like deciding which colour wouldnt clash with your clothes.

All KDEs are not the same

> It's double size with 1.3GB!, what was put on?
In addition to the GNOME-based tools with the GTk libs, there is also the KDE desktop and apps, with their libraries. If it was pure KDE it could be much smaller, but that would remove the Mint tools.

I like Mint KDE and I disagree that all of KDE is the same or that Kubuntu is a vanilla KDE. Debian is a much more vanilla KDE; compare the two and get back to us. But I do agree with much of the rest of your post; I've never tried PCLOS since I tend to avoid RPMs, but Mepis is certainly great.

An explanation...

Yes, because names starting with K is idiotic but names starting with G is somehow less kitshy or stupid.

I can see how these names are neither: Gparted, gbrainy, Gcaltool, gCompris, gDesklets, GStreamer, gthumb, GDM, gConf, gedit, gevice, Gget, Gwget, Gnac, glabels, Glom, Gnumeric, GOBm Gossip, Galeon, Guppi, Gtranslator,

Good job on researching all those names... must have taken quite a while. Try excluding system software for a start. (the software that the average user doesn't see) The only thing that counts is app names. Now most of what you mentioned using your research are apps which the majority of Gnome users do not use.

The only apps which have G in it on my PC is gcalctool (which is called Calculator in the menu), Gcolor and gedit. Wow only 3 apps... I would love to compare that to the average KDE apps. I think you will find that KDE users have much, much more K apps than Gnome has G apps!

How the hell is GNOME simpler?

It doesn't provide you with so many options to make peoples brain explode. Also its the reason why 90% of Linux users would rather use Gnome.

Whether you like it or not KDE is a minority desktop environment. Im not saying that to be offensive but it is a fact.


It doesn't provide you with so many options to make peoples brain explode. Also its the reason why 90% of Linux users would rather use Gnome.

I lol'd...
KDE gets more popular by the day. I think your blog reader must be stuck in 2007-8 with KDE 4.0 posts. :)

Whether you like it or not KDE is a minority desktop environment. Im not saying that to be offensive but it is a fact.
>> Oh I see. But I completely disagree. Why then did OpenSUSE change to KDE as the default desktop then? You can think what you want, but KDE is still growing and evolving and Gnome still looks like Win 98 except with worse system colors...

RE: Hmmmm?

KDE gets more popular by the day.

So does Gnome and id imagine for every new KDE user Gnome gets 5.

Why then did OpenSUSE change to KDE as the default desktop then? You can think what you want, but KDE is still growing and evolving and Gnome still looks like Win 98 except with worse system colors...

Just because OpenSUSE changed to KDE does not mean its a popular desktop environment. The very simple fact is Ubuntu is the most popular distro in the world!! That means Gnome is also the most widely used desktop environment!

Also taking a look at the top 3 in distrowatch:

1.Ubuntu - Gnome!
2.Fedora - Gnome!
3.Mint - Gnome!

Now I see you put in a cheap insult towards Gnome but there is no point in trying to argue that one shade of grey is nicer than another. KDE and Gnome are both grey!!

I know you use KDE, you like it and I respect that... its really not all that bad. Dont get me wrong, im not attempting to bash KDE. However... there is no point in disagreeing with fact. The fact is Gnome is much more widely used than KDE. (but I might have went a bit far saying its a minority desktop)


It's all a bit childish is it not?

Gnome is better because.....

KDE is better due to.....

Good grief, listen to yourselves. You do no-one any favours, and make Linux in general seem petty and trite.

Pick what you feel comfortable with, and use it. They are all good, be it Gnome, KDE, XFCE...

For the record I use FreeBSD with Fluxbox.

Still needs some polish

Regarding disc size it is worth to mention that they install dansguardian and clamav by default. Regarding the first one, there is very minimal interface to it (mintNany) which do not show to which users content filtering applies.
So you may be blocked, and have no idea why.
I noticed that most of their distro tools are written in python and do not use KDE libs, so are poorly integrated with the desktop. E.g. I installed Mint9KDE in environment where I connect to internet thru proxy. I had to type in proxy data at least 4 times in different places and still could not get everything working. mintInstall e.g. do not seem having any place to enter proxy data, so it not worked (even if I setup proxy in mintUpdate!). Worse - it did not signal any error when I tried to install program.
So it is rather not for me, and is certainly less integrated than Kubuntu which tries to use KDE native tools whereever possible.
And why the hell they install Thunderbird aside with KMail?

To be fair, some of their ideas like backup tool and especially backup of installed software list tool are great and worth other distros attention.


I was merely stating the fact that Gnome is more popular than KDE. I never said it was better!

I don't see any real

I don't see any real analysis here. There's nothing about the installation except for a mention, without any details, of installation issues, nothing about performance, nothing about stability, nothing about choice of software in the distro, nothing about ...well, pretty much anything. Not even the question posed at the start about how Mint KDE compares with Kubuntu is answered, nor are the two compared in any meaningful way.

The heading, saying "Reviewed: Linux Mint 9 KDE" seems inaccurate to me. In fact, I can't see any detail at all to justify posting this "review."

i liked mint, till i found

i liked mint, till i found out you can't do a release upgrade without it going tits up due to it being completely unsupported. requiring me to backup and reinstall the new version is just not acceptable.

more Kde vs Gnome & more RPM vs DEB

Well both KDE & Gnome gots it merits, the same goes for RPM vs DEB. It is childish to jump on the bandwagon like a 2 year old proclaiming your favourite distro is better. In some instances & hardware certain distoes work better than others. I just happen to use Mandriva with KDE because I am more comfortible with it. Every time I try another distro, I keep on bumping in to new tools or the lack of functionality, so I always go back to what I know and feel comfortible with. To make a statement that Ubuntu is more popular than __?____ because it is better, proofs as much as admitting that Windows is better because it is more popular than Ubuntu.


Anybody who uses Distrowatch rankings to argue a point about distro or desktop popularity (and yes, I'm looking at you, Dylan C) has lost the argument already.

Not really...

I don't see anything wrong with Dylan C using distrowatch stats to argue a point.

Even without posting distrowatch stats everyone knows that Gnome has much greater market share.

It doesn't look to me as if hes saying anything is better than another. He seems to say Gnome is more popular but thats it.

Analysis - disclaimer: I'm the author

It's difficult to do an in-depth analysis of a whole environment within a short review and so inevitably I had to concentrate on the new additions. Such as the Backup tool (which I said needed more automation to make it more useful day-to-day), the software center (which I suggested was slightly marred by unintuitive navigation), the community help (which I said was good but needed to be integrated into the desktop apps more), and the problems I perceive with KDE which is the Jurassic Park problem (often the developers don't worry about whether they should implement some change, but only whether they could).

Installation issues weren't mentioned much because I fear the problem may have occurred between chair and keyboard (POBCAK) and in searching out a solution I discovered that this particular issue was noted as solved in 2008. I also found, having asked around users and getting friends to install the software, that it could not be replicated - except on the three physical and two virtual machines I was using; and so I think it may have been something to do with either me doing something wrong; or an issue with the proxy system set up in my office.

And the only reason I said that Gnome was simpler, is because it is, and if you're aiming at a mass-market then massive complexity is a problem.

KDE 4.x is not usable

I tried to use KDE SC 4.5 this week and after having booted to the desktop, KDE's window manager crashed. So, now waiting for 4.6 ... I've tried every release since 4.0 and disappointed every time. Too much bugs and too much...everything. Gnome is simple and stable.

KDE 4.x stability

I have been using KDE 4.x for over 1 year on my Arch machine and it has been extremely stable after 4.2 in my experience. Try a KDE centric ditro for a better KDE experience. In particular the *buntus are terribly bug filled KDE experience because Canonical doesn't have any developers to handle integration.

Preference for KDE

I have installed Linux for several of my friends. Without exception they prefer KDE to GNOME when they are given a demo of each. So I disagree that GNOME is simpler to use. For most users coming from a windows experience KDE is a natural choice.

Re: Hmmmm?

>> Why then did OpenSUSE change to KDE as the default desktop then?

I imagine the reason OpenSUSE changed the default desktop to KDE is because that is what most SUSE users have traditionally gone for. Indeed, back in the days when the choice of distro came down to Slackware, Red Hat, Debian or S.u.S.E. - many SUSE users may have chosen it because of KDE. Certainly when Novell decided to make Gnome the default desktop, most SUSE users stuck with KDE and resented Novell for the making the change to their distro.

Why are we arguing???

Both Gnome and KDE are fantastic Desktops.... I use both quite exhaustively. KDE is more powerful and flexible, Gnome is more simple and to the point. I use KDE on my Main Desktop and Gnome on the go with my laptop. Regardless, of your preference, how can anyone really complain? Using Linux Desktops for the past 8 years, I've experienced flaws in both DE's, however, they've always been resolved quickly. The fact that people are fighting so hard to say their DE preference is better than the others goes to show that we have 2 amazing desktops. I'd say pick one and promote one with your preferences, but don't say the other one is horrible.

The fighting sounds like a Windows-Fan boy dissing Linux without properly giving it a chance. They negate it so fast because its so different from what they're used to and really don't spend enough time with it to fully realize its potential.

My suggestion to everyone (if they have time and/or patience), is try using your non-preferential DE for 3 months. I'm sure once you get used to it, you'll have positive things to say about both and in the end you'll stick to the one which is more inline with your DE philosophy.

Both are good!

Yes I wasn't arguing for one desktop or another but for me Gnome is my preference.

I did in fact give KDE a proper trial before dumping it. The one problem I had is the drastic changes and upgrades.

I upgraded from 4.4 to 4.5 and although I found 4.5 easier to use because they removed/reorganized items. What I also found is that they removed important options from 4.4.

4.5 does perform faster though. In my experience KDE still doesn't perform that well in comparison to Gnome. However KDE performance is always improving.

why I use Mint...

KDE, Gnome, Xfce aside, I've been using Mint for the past year - having moved from Ubuntu. The reason is simple; video and audio codex baked-in.

If you're going to hand the typical Windows user a LiveCD to test-drive Linux, it has to have at least the same utility as XP, Vista, or Win7. If you have to download extra stuff just to play an MP3, you've already lost in most people's eyes.

Of course, I couldn't recommend something without using it myself, so there you are. I do occasionally download and run the LiveCD from Ubuntu, Suse, Crunchbang, and Knoppix, but that's just to test the hardware and report back to their databases that "works/does not work on Acer Netbook, etc..."

Looking forward to the next podcast. Thanks.

why I dont use Mint...

Interesting reasons for using Mint!

I decided not to use it because I like all the built in codecs but I didn't really like all the extra "Mint" tools.

Thats why I prefer Ubuntu because its like a core OS which you can build and customize to your individual taste.

I understand how Mint suits alot of people though.

"The core version, like

"The core version, like Ubuntu, is based on Gnome, but is accompanied by packages based on other environments – in this case, KDE."

KDE has many fine applications that work as well as their Gnome counterparts so why bother to bolt KDE on top of a Gnome based distro?

It seems in this case the answer is "me too!"
Just because Ubuntu has Kubuntu, Mint feels the need to have KMint!

Thanks for the review

Thanks for the review.
Thanks to all who have commented.
The DE is just a tool like all the other apps.
I am leaning towards distos like Arch, this release cycle stuff is getting a bit old.
Repos and easy access to the apps is what is important.

Work on mint 10 has started.


Command Line.

Command Line is simple, more powerful and less bloated. Forget the pretty graphics, it's just an aid for the mentally disabled.

New linux user's view

I'm new to Linux, I would like to learn how to use it as an alternative to windows. My impression from reading this is what a bunch of bickering children, my desktop's better than yours and so on. Next it'll be scrapping behind the bike sheds. Grow up and act like adults, both kde and gnome seem to be popular and must both be at least reasonably reliable. Use which one you like and let others get on with using what they like. I use a PC but I don't spend my time telling people MACs are overpriced crap, if people are happy with their MAC then fine, it does what they want. Most computers use Windows so any type of Linux gives more choice, after all that's what Linux is about. Most distros are free so try it and if you don't like it then try another one untill you find one you like. I'm using Ubuntu and opensuse on virtualbox till I decide I like one more than the other.

Re: To "New Linux user's view"

Yes you're right. Comments after a distro review usually deteriorate rapidly. Welcome to Linux! ;-) No really, if you want to see reasonable conversations about using Linux the PCLinuxOS forum is top rate. Forums make a big difference in what distro I choose, after all those are the guys I go to for tech support. Funny thing is, after installing PCLinuxOS 2010, I havn't needed much of that help.

more silent k's than g's

A few words starting with silent letters!

aisle gnat gnome herbivore honour hour knee kneel knickers knife knight knob knot know knowledge llama mnemonic pneumatic pneumonia psalm pseudonym psychic pterodactyl tsunami wrestle wright write wrong

KDE of course extends the k-start list!

Mint KDE is better for Me

I am primarily a Windows user. I have tried Fedora (years ago) Ubuntu several times and now I duel boot with Mint 9 KDE. I find Gnome to be not as user friendly as KDE. KDE has more of the features I need and it just looks way better than a Gnome desktop. I have stuck with Mint 9 because of KDE far longer than I did in the past with other distros. I find myself only booting Windows for things that Mint cant do and to play the games that won't play on Mint even through Wine. Granted I haven't tried Kubuntu. Perhaps I will look at that in the future but going back to Ubuntu with Gnome is out of the question.

Install install install

Many comments were as expected, mine is bigger/better/faster/.... than yours.
One interesting idea that has not really been discussed is to seriously question the concept of a 6 monthly release cycle vs a rolling release (U/OS vs Arch/PCLOS, LM vs LMDE for example).
To me this is far more important if we want to see more users of Linux, as opposed to guys in dark rooms tinkering night after night to fine tune their latest and greatest.
As LM Clem said recently - LM offers a comfortable desktop environment for users who are not technogeeks, but just want to use their computer.
IMO it manages to offer a stable platform for the latter as well :=)
Yes I know U offers LTS releases and I use them on my server farm, but try selling last year's car model to the average buyer when it (car not buyer) sits on the showroom next to the very latest offering!
For the record, I have been playing with Linux since 1998 (Caldera/SuSE), currently we (wife and dogs) use LM Gnome on most of the systems at home, but I tinker a bit with PCLOS and OpenSuSE as well.

LinuxMint Julia KDE is great!

I use the latest offering of KDE via LinuxMint (4.6) and it is polished and fast. I've already customised it by exchanging the current Firefox with version 4.01 - and it is fast! I've also exchanged Open Office with Libre-Office and I'm pleased with that utility very much. All I'm waiting for now is the roll-out of the next upgrade to Katya - 11.0 Linux Mint as I feel that will make everything more permanent. I love KDE now where Kubuntu had a lot of problems when it changed its format from 3.5 to 4.0 They nearly lost me altogether from that system. Still, SUSE Gnome3 looks good (yes, I've tried Gnome3 - but I still prefer Linux Mint even though I began my excursions in Linux via SUSE 6.1 and SUSE 8.2 Professional!

Chalk and Cheese!

Most of the problems with KDE and Mint is aesthetic - I've been using Mint Julia since, well, when it came out and its not dropped a flaw anywhere - in my humble opinion - its perfect ;) and since I've been subscribed to Linux Format since issue 96, I guess that adds a bit of whacko - what say you?

Six Month Release - No!

Badwolf raised the thorny issue of release dates and i think six months is too soon - several time Ubuntu has had to hiccough and extend its date because they bit off more than they can chew. I think people should take a leaf out of Debian's notebook and release when its truly ready - mind you, after the long wait for "squeeze", I think their efforts were wasted since this release is not as good as their 4th release. So I guess waiting for a long time for a release might not be the only thing wrong - if the release is not 'really' ready for release - they should have doubled their time on Squeeze and taken their time to iron out its problems which are still there...

But back to early release questions - No! Longer is better if you want a stable, bleeding edge-distro that knocks the competition for six!

Windows or Linux?

Maybe this is not the place to discuss Windows...? However, if you are like me and need to have good (read professional) Photographs then the lure of Adobe Element9 is at the forefront - though I believe the Gnu Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is better - it certainly moved mountains in Hollywood rather than Adobe's private (paranoid) fears. Without the GIMP we would not have had Pirates of the Carribean, Shrek, Star Wars or many other films that depended on Gimp's mastery of the frame editing potential in their current form and at the price films currently are right now - Adobe's plan was to charge the Earth for anything that moved on Photoshop or wanted to alter the way they use the GIMP - with Adobe!

Linux Mint Works out of the Box!

Sigh... Linux Mint works out of the box - whether it is KDE or Gnome - that's a fact! I work with gnome and KDE on the same machine - but obviously differing edition (9/10 for instance) because it is a preference thing - nothing more. They both work equally well though KDE does appear to look more 'swish' it is still comes down to just a personal opinion. As a matter of fact I have OpenSUSE (with Gnome3 Libreoffice and Firefox 4.01) on another machine - because it aims to be good in a professional sense (such as in an office environment) though I've retired from all of that years ago! SUSE does have some things going for it - like its the best Distro to advance the cause of KDE since its implementation of that facility is the very best there is - also SUSE is very good when it comes to trying out Virtual Disks (my forte) and I have a soft spot for SUSE because I learned about Linux whilst it was still in Germany before Novell got its hands on it!

Command Line?

Yup nothing to add here - I use it all the time It's really Rad - honest!

I don't know

I honestly don't know if KDE on Mint will be better or worse than on Ubuntu. Having only switched from Gnome to KDE last week (thanks to Unity and Gnome 3 for that!), but I look forward to finding out.

I just hope they include a force quit button...

Same old thing. Coke,Pepsi.

Same old thing. Coke,Pepsi. Ford,Chevy. KDE,Gnome.

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