Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Sidux vs. Mint: Can You Live the Pure Open Source Life?

Filed under
Linux
-s

There are valid and compelling reasons why one might want to use only Open Source Software. Avoids any patent or IP legal issues, better security, and encourages innovation are just a few. However, on the other side of the argument there are justifiable reasons for the inclusion of multimedia codecs, proprietary drivers, and closed software in modern Linux distributions. Neither side is wrong. It's a matter of personal tastes and values. But many, like myself, would like to be completely Open Source if it didn't mean losing too much functionality. Can your computer environment be entirely Open Source? What might we give up if we chose that path? To find out I tested two similar distributions, one adherent to the strict Open Source philosophy and one at the other end of spectrum that strives to provide a complete computing experience out-of-the-box.

Sidux and Linux Mint are similar in some fundamental ways. Primarily, they are both Debian derivations, although technically one is based on Ubuntu Linux. Both are delivered as one ~700 MB liveCD image. Both have hard drive installers, proprietary graphic driver installers, and a well rounded selection of starter applications. However, they are different in some significant ways as well.


Sidux 2007-02 (Tartaros)

Sidux is a new Linux distribution based on Debian Sid that hopes to release three or four times a year. The initial release came in the form of a preview in January 2007 and has since included two finals, with Sidux 2007-02 being the second. Its developers believe in a strict Open Source policy for the reasons stated above.

Sidux booted my laptop to a 1024x768 KDE 3.5.7 desktop. Sound, usb, and the mouse devices worked. The menu contains all the common KDE applications as well as many extra KDE and non-KDE specific apps. It features OpenOffice.org 2.2.1, Iceweasel 2.0.0.3, and Gimp 2.2.15. Under the hood we find a preemptive Linux 2.6.21.3, Xorg 7.2.0, and GCC 4.1.3. The liveCD contains an extraordinarily complete local user's manual that unfortunately isn't carried over to the hard drive install.

All my hardware worked upon boot and the screen resolution was easily adjusted by a manual configuration file edit. I had no problems with stability or functionality of the system or applications. The desktop appearance was moderately attractive with its customized wallpaper and unusual color scheme. The font rendering was a bit below average in comparison to today's current offerings, but they weren't unacceptable. I found that my Ndiswrapper dependent wireless connection worked well even with WPA when configured and started from the commandline. The graphical internet connection utilities did work properly here.

The harddrive installer worked wonderfully. It was a user-friendly tabbed application that asked just enough configuration questions to complete the job. All desired results were delivered including my choice of how to handle the boot loader. It features apt-get with pre-configured software repositories for package management and a commandline proprietary graphic drivers installer. The NVIDIA driver installation didn't work here.

All in all, Sidux is a solid desktop system that could very well meet the needs of anyone wishing for a fairly complete but purely open source solution. I found Sidux to be very stable with well above average performance.


Linux Mint 3.0 (Cassandra)

Linux Mint is another new comer to the Linux distribution line-up. Introduced in November 2006, it is now on its fourth release. 3.0 is its second round number version. The developers of Linux Mint are trying to provide users with a "comfortable GNU/Linux desktop" which may include proprietary or binary-only software.

Linux Mint booted into a 1280x800 Gnome 2.18 desktop with sound, usb, and mice working as desired. It contains a select number of applications such as OpenOffice 2.2.0, Firefox 2.0.0.3, Thunderbird 1.5.0.10, Pidgin 2.0, and Gimp 2.2.13. The foundation is formed by Linux 2.16.20.15, Xorg 7.2.0 and GCC 4.1.2. The liveCD and harddrive install contain links to online documentation and user help facilities when one opens the default webbrowser.

Hardware configuration for my laptop was excellent and including the extra keyboard volume adjustment and mute keys. In fact, Linux Mint includes an on-screen graphic to show the increasing or decreasing volume when the keys are used. This is only the second Linux distribution to feature this extra. The desktop is very attractive with its abstract pastel background and customized Gnome menu. Font rendering was above average even for my laptop LCD screen. Despite problems in the past with this distro, my wireless connection worked with WPA at the commandline. Again as with Sidux, I didn't have much luck with the graphical utilities for this. Linux Mint includes their own control panel for hardware and system configuration and it handled most other tasks very well.

Its harddrive installer is user-friendly and works well. Like Sidux, it asked just a few questions and finished here with no problems, including my choice in boot handling options. After install, Synaptic is available with pre-configured repositories to install additional applications. Linux Mint also includes Envy, which installs the proprietary graphic drivers for NVIDIA and ATI cards. That process completed as designed and even updated the necessary files for use upon reboot. One issue I had was that Beryl didn't function here.

Linux Mint is a worthy contender for your desktop operating system, although it does include some binary-only plugins and software to enhance the end-user experience. I had no problems with the applications or system except sometimes the sound mixer applet would crash upon login. Overall, it was stable and average in performance.






Findings

I tested each distro specificially for different file handling, internet experience, and overall functionality. I found that my user experience with each wasn't significantly different. There were some inconveniences when using Sidux, but not enough to characterize the system intolerable. Using my wireless ethernet chip rendered my system impure from the start, but below I have outlined the results of some common tasks and functionalities I want out-of-the-box. Not all are necessarily related to the open source argument, but might be of interest. After reviewing the following chart or in using your passed experience, please take time to answer our poll question: Can you Live with a Pure Open Source System?



    Sidux-2007-02     Linux Mint 3.0
Optimal Screen Resolution
no
yes
Auto Sound
yes
yes
Wireless Support/WPA
yes/yes
yes/yes
Suspend
not functional
yes
Hibernate
not functional
yes
CPU Scaling
yes
yes
Jpeg/png/gif
yes
yes
avi
yes
yes
mpeg
yes
yes
bin
no
yes
mov
no
yes
Real Media
no
yes
Windows Media
no
yes
mp4
yes
yes
mp3
yes
yes
Encrypted DVD
no
yes
Audio CD
yes
yes
Java/javascript
no/yes
yes/yes
Flash
no
yes
NTFS read/write
yes as root/no
yes/no
Office doc read/write
yes/yes
yes/yes
Office wps read/write
yes/no
yes/no
Office ppt read/write
yes/yes
yes/yes
PDF read/write
yes/yes
yes/yes
Auto-mount Removable media
yes
yes
Samba shares
yes
yes




StumbleUpon

More in Tux Machines

Games for GNU/Linux

  • Imperium Galactica II: Alliances released for Linux & SteamOS, seems native too
    Imperium Galactica II: Alliances [GOG, Steam] just released for Linux & SteamOS and it looks like it's a native version. Note: My friends at GOG sent over a copy, so big thanks to them. There's no sign of DOSBox or Wine and I had no idea this game had ever been ported to Linux. Pretty awesome really for a game like this to get a proper Linux build when it gets a new release.
  • Nearly five years after the Kickstarter, Carmageddon still isn’t on Linux despite the stretch goal being reached
    The problem here, for me, is that they later did a revamp of the title called Carmageddon: Max Damage. This was to fix some problems, boost sales again and port it to consoles. Carmageddon: Max Damage also never made it to Linux. Fun fact, they actually released a trailer where they just run over a ton of penguins, make from that what you will: Not saying this was trolling the entire Linux gaming community, but it sure felt like it after their previous trolling attempts directed at our official Twitter account.
  • Valve Rolls Out New Steam Client Stable Update with Promised Linux Changes, More
    Today Valve announced the availability of a new stable update of the Steam Client for all supported platforms, including the company's SteamOS operating system for Steam Machines, as well as GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows. Bringing all the new features during the Beta stages of development, the new Steam Client update improves the interaction between the Steam runtime and your GNU/Linux distribution's libraries. This is a huge and long-anticipated milestone for the Steam Client, which, unfortunately, did not work out-of-the-box on all Linux-based operating systems.

Robolinux 8.7.1 Linux OS Is Out and It's Based on Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 "Jessie"

The developers of the Robolinux GNU/Linux distribution have announced today, January 18, 2017, the release and immediate availability of a new stable update based on the latest Debian GNU/Linux 8 "Jessie" operating system series. Still offering a free installer, the Robolinux 8.7.1 "Raptor" edition is now available for download with the usual Cinnamon, MATE 3D, Xfce 3D, and LXDE flavors. It's based on the recently released Debian GNU/Linux 8.7.1 "Jessie" operating system, which means that it ships with its newest Linux 3.16 kernel and over 170 bug fixes and security patches. The GRUB bootloader and login screens have been refreshed too. Read more

Today in Techrights

today's leftovers