A person sitting at a table employing a laptop: Developer watching one among his computer monitors with tense expression

Developer watching one among his computer monitors with tense expression

I regularly read the Linux Mint Blog, not only because it’s useful to stay up with what’s happening with the Linux Mint distribution but also because it occasionally gives very interesting insights into the event and maintenance of a Linux distribution generally , and therefore the Linux Mint distribution(s) especially.


To be honest, i used to be disappointed some years ago when Clem (Clement Lefebvre) discontinued his Segfault blog, because it always contained good technical information and interesting insights.

Anyway, two recent posts to the Mint Blog are excellent samples of the type of thing i’m talking about. The first, titled Update Your Computer!, may be a discussion of the importance of putting in updates, but in my opinion it’s one among the simplest posts I even have read in quite a while , because it’s not just the standard “security updates are important/easy/safe” sermon, it also includes examples and statistics taken from the Mint distribution itself, and it examines a number of the problems around running end-of-life versions that generally aren’t getting any updates in the least .


The Linux Mint Update utility is one among the simplest available in my opinion, and it’s obvious that the Mint developers have put tons of effort into it over a few years , continuously improving and increasing it. It not only does the essential job of downloading and installing updates, it puts tons of effort into making the update process clear and easier to know and manage, and monitoring various aspects of the system to undertake to assist with effective and secure administration. i’m old and stubborn, and that i still tend to use CLI utilities for updates on most systems (apt on Debian and derivatives, dnf on Fedora, pacman on Arch and derivatives), but i noticed quite a while ago that Mint Update did a far better job overall than I could do manually.

I strongly recommend reading this blog post, and not just for those that actually run or manage Linux Mint systems. there’s tons of food for thought – and reasons for action – in it.

The other Mint Blog post was the regular Monthly News – February 2021. It discusses a number of the upcoming improvements within the Mint Update Manager, again including not only the “what” but also the “why” behind them. It also goes into more detail about a number of the foremost recent bug fixes, with tons more information about the cause and effect of a couple of of them. for instance , i discussed the UsrMerge update in my recent post about Linux Mint 20.1; this blog post explains a rather nasty bug, which is caused by that concerning reproducible builds.

Reading those blog posts, and brooding about the problems that they carry up and therefore the actions they need produced, got me brooding about Linux distributions generally . Mint is predicated on Ubuntu (I know, don’t be concerned about LMDE for this discussion), which successively is itself supported Debian GNU/Linux.

That means tons of the low-level stuff, like the package base, the repositories, and most of the mixing and compilation issues, are handled by those “upstream” distributions. The Mint developers consider integration of other packages from other sources that aren’t included within the upstream base distribution, like non-FOSS or other third-party packages, and therefore the Mint development team actually produces significant new portions of the distribution, like the Cinnamon desktop, the Mint Update Manager, and XApps to call just a couple of . that needs tons of human resources – just take a glance at the Linux Mint Teams page, where it lists five teams liable for various aspects of the distribution.

While other distributions, which are derived from larger upstream distributions, like the various Ubuntu derivatives, or Arch Linux derivatives, or maybe others derived directly from Debian, generally do tons less original development, they’re still ready to concentrate their efforts on things like desktop integration, artwork, and third-party package integration while building on the solid and (hopefully) stable foundation of their upstream distribution.

On the opposite hand, my last few posts were about “independent” Linux distributions (such as Solus and KaOS), which aren’t supported or derived from the other distribution.

They combat the responsibility of making the whole distribution from scratch – compiling, packaging, integrating, creating and maintaining repositories and far more. There are decisions to be made about package format, software update mechanisms, desktop(s) to be supported, and on and on. That in itself requires tons of labor , and tons of technical expertise and knowledge .

So what does all of this mean to someone who is trying to make a decision on a Linux distribution to use, or a minimum of to undertake out?

Well, at one end of the size the massive, established distributions like Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE and their major derivatives, like Linux Mint, offer stability, predictability and really extensive testing before release (note that I omitted Ubuntu here, because in my opinion they lose out on predictability thanks to their very serious ‘not invented here’ syndrome, and their tendency over the years to unnecessarily reinvent things and go wandering off on an extended tangent before suddenly deciding to scrap it and jump back onto the mainstream path after all). End-user support from these distributions is probably going to be good, but rather slow-moving from the user perspective.

At the opposite end of the size, the independent distributions like Solus, KaOS and PCLinuxOS are generally more focused on their original concept, which could be a selected desktop/development environment, or a selected audience or application. If that focus matches your interest, then you’re likely to feel much closer to the developers, instead of feeling such as you are “just one among the doubtless sizable amount of users”. due to the smaller size of the development/maintenance team, independent distributions are likely to be more “agile”, getting updates and new developments integrated and released faster, and end-user support is usually more responsive and sometimes more personal.

In closing, i might say that i like tons of the people at both ends of this scale. It takes an excellent deal of talent, knowledge, dedication and plain old diligence to supply an honest Linux distribution.

Clem, especially , has been one among my heroes for a really while (since about release 2.something), and Adam W. since the Mandriva days. those that have established and maintained independent distributions for years are deserving of even as much credit and appreciation, but they often aren’t getting it.

honour to them.