Why I downgraded to Linux Mint 8.

It’s not just because of this awesome wallpaper...

I suspect this post will yield a lot of angry or dismissive comments — I’m prepared for that, but I’d much prefer to hear suggestions for fixes to the issues that I’m about to describe.

I’ve been using Linux Mint 9 Isadora since about June 1st on my main desktop computer. I didn’t even consider downgrading until I read this review on Dedoimedo:

Overall, the operating system is all good and well, but the extra edge of wow that was always there is gone… Given the choice between Ubuntu and Mint, this time it’s a tie, which means Linux Mint lost.

For me it was the sum of smaller issues that ultimately made me roll back to Linux 8 Helena over the weekend.


The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was that I found myself unable to make my monthly backup to optical media using Mint’s default disc-burning app.

I’m well aware that there are plenty of other solutions just a few clicks away, but I’d never experienced such issues with Brasero before. No less than three times it spun up a blank disc to record, only to spit it out with an error a few seconds later. I knew something was amiss when Brasero informed me that my 8.5GB DVD+R DL would have over 4GB of free space after recording 7.8GB of data… That didn’t sound right.


This was a big one. For whatever reason the latest version of my favourite microblogging app would decide to stop working in Isadora after running for a few hours. Even worse, nothing less than a full reboot of my system could get it to run properly again.

As I share noteworthy links throughout the day on this site’s Twitter and Identi.ca accounts this was supremely annoying.

Aesthetic Issues

There’s some kind of bug with Plymouth that mucked up my Isadora boot screen. There’s also apparently an easy fix for that, but it’s one of those things that IMHO should have really worked “out of the box”, as it’s the first thing a new user sees after installing Mint on their computer.

There’s also an issue where I found myself unable to change the default wallpaper on my log-in screen. I’m a big fan of Zwopper’s wallpapers so I chose his latest as my desktop background, but I could never get the changes to stick across my system.

Taken separately these are minor issues, but together they make Isadora seem lacking in the polish that made the previous Linux Mint so slick.

So now, over to you. If you’ve any suggestions for fixing Gwibber or warnings about security issues with the older Linux kernel, I’m all ears. Thanks in advance. 😎


  1. Most of the issue you mention seem to plague Ubuntu as well, particularly the Gwibber madness. I know Linus Torvalds always said “release often” so that your users could help you find and fix the issues; however, with distros becoming more mainstream and being used by average Joe and Jane, these quirks that could easily turn off a new user completely. If only distributors took their time rather than rush to release something over an imaginary timeline, we’d all enjoy better software.

    But I rant and rave.

  2. Re: Gwibber, it seems to be more reliable with the latest version of Easy Peasy (a spin on Ubuntu Lucid) on my netbook. Of course, I don’t have Gwibber running on it all day like I do with my desktop computer.

  3. Sorry for your woe. But look at the bright side. At lease you had a choice. On the proprietary side of the fence many times once you go forward you can’t go back.

  4. Yup, a lesson I learned the hard way jumping through all the hoops required to liberate my legally-purchased iTunes music before jumping to Linux full-time last quarter…

  5. I have also noticed these kind of issues with ubuntu 10.04 LTS – all kinds of boot issues with the screen being blank. Prior versions worked fine. When I turned in a bug report all I received were arrogant replies of instructions to fix the blank screen that did not work. I was forced to fix them by trial and error.

    Yes, brasero does have a problem… I didn’t even bother to turn in a bug report on this – getting real tired of the negative responses.

    At this point it seems that linux in general is moving backwards!

  6. It’s a known fact that the “must release, come hell or high water” attitude is taking its toll on Ubuntu’s quality. Looks as though this problem is leaking into Mint, as well.

    Clem, are you listening? Clem, are you going to do anything about this mind-set?

  7. @JohnMc

    There is no “bright side” side to this. These small idiotic issues cause mass market (or less patient poeple) to reject Linux.

    Here is a simple use-case scenario on my main laptop (Linux Mint 8 x64):

    My wife asked me to make a copy of Audio CD. Here is what happened:

    Try 1:

    I poped the CD in, it was properly mounted as Audio CD. So far so good. A prompt asked which application I’d like to use. I picked “Brasero”. It asked if I wanted to make a copy of the CD or save image on my PC. I picked “Make a Copy”. Brasero made a temp copy (this took several minutes) and promted to me to eject original CD and replace it with a blank. So far so good, except that when I inserted a blank CD nothing happened. FAIL.

    Try 2: (after test-playing the source CD with Rhythmbox)

    I followed the same scenario. This time I told Brasero to make a copy of the image and saved it on my harddrive. The image was saved then burnt onto a blank CD with a success message from Brasero (this took much longer than Try 1). The newly burnt CD was not readable by any of audio CD players nor by any of my PC’s. Another FAIL.

    Try 3:

    This time I opened the same audio CD with Rhythmbox and saved the tracks to the “Library”. I gave Brasero another chance. I started an new Audio CD project, picked all the Ogg files from the “Library” and … This time there was the happy ending.

    Most likely I will go from Mint 8 to openSUSE 11.3 (different shade of green).

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