Hmmm, it seems I am already at Linux Mint 19.x on my main PC, I just didn't remember it. :) Or, I thought this announcement meant that just now the new 19 release got out, but is has been out for some time already.
I thought the upgrade to minor versions happens automatically, whenever you run apt-get update? I don't quite recall the versioning scheme on different distros, at work I deal mostly with Ubuntu and CentOS (server versions), occasionally Oracle and RHEL.
But that would have dire consequences for users like me. I've tried pure Debian in the past, and mostly been confused. Fantastic for customisation, but I simply struggled with it and went back to Mint.
Yesterday I first read up on what are the main differences between Debian and Ubuntu, and I got a feeling that:
- They suggested that Debian may be more confusing for a beginner to install (more on that later).
- Debian is more gung-ho about offering only open source stuff on its repositories, limiting what stuff you can get through that. Whether that is a real problem, maybe not, but I don't mind using non-open source stuff as well, as long as it works.
- Ubuntu (and Mint) uses more system resources than Debian? Not sure why.
- Debian stable branch is stable... but also quite old, ie. you don't have the latest or even semi-latest stuff on it. This might a problem to a desktop user if you get only some ancient version of apps and shit through Debian repositories. Some pages suggested desktop Debian users should possibly use the test branch instead, as it is updated more often (and still fairly stable?).
Anyways, I went on to install both vanilla Debian (XFCE) and Mint Debian on VirtualBox. Findings:
- I have no idea what the complaints of Debian being hard(er) to install were. To me it seemed pretty much the same as installing e.g. Ubuntu or CentOS. It asks pretty much the same questions, most of the time selecting just the default values are fine etc. What is confusing about it, that part where you can select which desktop environment to use (I chose XFCE because I like its simplicity and low overhead)?
The only comment for the installation was that by default it suggested partitioning the hard disk(s) without LVM. I don't recall if Ubuntu and CentOS do the same (ie. you have to specifically tell them to use LVM if you want it), but... to this day and age, is there any reason NOT to use LVM on desktop and server systems? Maybe it is not needed on Rasperry Pi and embedded systems, but whatever... I just chose LVM as I felt it may make life easier if I later want to expand partitions/volumes etc. At least at work we always use LVM for this very reason.
- Using the Debian vanilla system, nothing uncommon, I felt right at home. Ok it didn't have VLC installed by default but it had some other media player, but that was easily fixed with "sudo apt install vlc".
- Mint Debian seemed to get stuck at the end of the installation from the live CD media, I just gave the virtual machine a power off at that point. Not sure what that was about, I haven't checked yet whether that system comes up again or whether I have to reinstall it.
- The Mint Debian page suggested that this is merely some kind of "test version" from them to see how much work it would be for them to switch to Debian as the base, if they had to abandon Ubuntu. So I am unsure how supported the Mint Debian is, or whether one should go straight to vanilla Debian, if so inclined.