Is Linux Mint 18 the best desktop operating system?

Also in today's open source roundup: Ubuntu's Unity desktop runs natively in Windows 10, and how to install Windows 10 in a virtual machine in Linux

Is Linux Mint 18 the best desktop operating system?

Linux Mint 18 has been out for a little while now, and so far it’s getting mostly positive reviews. But one writer at ZDNet thinks that it’s the best desktop operating system available right now.

Is he right? Or is there a better option for users?

SJVN reports for ZDNet:

I’ve been using Linux desktops since the leading desktop front-end was Bash. Things have changed in those 25 years. Today, the best Linux desktop is the latest version of Linux Mint: Linux Mint 18 Sarah with the Cinnamon 3.0 interface.

Indeed, from where I sit, it’s not only the best Linux desktop, it’s the best desktop operating system – period.

Many of you, for example, are struggling with the question of whether to “upgrade” to Windows 10. Many of you feel – with some reason – you’re being forced to move from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Others are now realizing that Microsoft seems to be changing Windows from a purchase model to a subscription model.

If you really want to “own” your operating system, you’re going to need to move from Apple’s macOS, Google Android/Chrome OS, or Windows 10 to Linux. All the other “desktop” operating systems are moving to subscription and cloud models.

That said, what’s great about this latest version of Mint is that it’s a solid, up-to-date Linux desktop where you, and nobody but you, gets to decide what you run.

More at ZDNet

As you might imagine, SJVN’s post drew some passionate responses in the comment section:

5735guy: “This article could have far more engaging if it were not for the utterly absurd title. My only conclusion SJVN is you have been smoking the weed with AKH.”

Thewhitedog: “As for whether Linux Mint 18 is the best Desktop OS, period, that’s a matter of opinion, as the comments below make clear. It may, indeed, be the best Linux desktop. But it’s still a fact that Linux remains a system primarily for propeller-heads. While people may argue about the relative merits of Windows, OS X and Chrome, they are all far easier for the “average” use to work with than Linux is or ever will be.

Yes, there are issues with the Windows 10 upgrade, as there always have been with new versions of Windows—and OS X, for that matter. That’s more or less a given. Every new OS version has issues of one kind or another with backwards compatibility. In the same vein it takes time for third-party developers to catch up with changes that affect their software. This is not new, and it’s not news. And it’s not as if Linux doesn’t have the same kind of problems. You don’t have to be a Linux expert to understand this. All you have to do is read the comments below to see the truth of it.

Every major operating system has its fans. But it’s not a zero sum game. They can, and do, coexist more or less successfully. That said, Linux fans, like Vaughan-Nichols, tend to have an especially pronounced inferiority complex. They trumpet every known issue with competing operating systems, both real and imagined, while ignoring or over-simplifying the rather obvious complications and limitations of Linux. Linux is improving, but it’s not keeping up. Not even close. Vaughan-Nichols compares Mint 18 to Windows XP. How pathetic is that? Perhaps he does so because most of the available software, like Libre Office, is stuck in a Windows XP world with Windows XP interfaces. Naturally he is trying to make a virtue of necessity, but doing so he’s as lame as a three legged dog.”

Seglertx: “I’ve been using Mint since Ubuntu switched from Gnome to the Unity desktop. If I’m using a keyboard and mouse I don’t want a desktop designed for touchscreens and vice versa. Mint is very close to the desktop layout of Windows XP and 7 so it’s an easy transition.

With all the problems with Windows over the past year, I’ve installed Mint on most of my computers. I have one video editing program I can’t find a Linux equivalent for but most of the software I use is cross-platform. I have some old games that I have bought Steam versions of that will only play in Windows but I can stream them to a Linux computer. I now run Linux most of the time and boot into Windows once a week if there are updates to install.”

Jprz: “I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to install the latest, “best ever” Linux distro on Dell and HP desktop computers that ran Windows flawlessly. Over and over the installs would fail. I would never even get to a login screen. Most of the errors were beyond cryptic, and usually were due to hardware conflicts. And No, I am not going to write my own drivers. I eventually just gave up trying to install Linux from scratch on a computer not specifically designed for Linux. Linux is still far too limited hardware and software wise.”

Toddhilehoffer: “Can I ask, why is it the best? I have WIndows 10 on my desktop. I run OneDrive on my iPhone. When I turn on my PC, all my photos and videos are there. I just cut and paste them to my portable hard drives and bam, Cloud storage is freed up and I have multiple copies on my two external drives. How do I do the same on Linux? Also, can I stream PS4 and Xbox One games on Linux? Really, what is so compelling Linux over W10? W10 is pretty slick and I didn’t pay anything for it. My computer came with windows 8.1 and the upgrade was free and simple. Why is Mint with Cinnamon better?”

Phil Boettge: “It has been “the year of Linux” since 1998. Linux remains a tiny splinter of the personal desktop market. There is a really big reason for that. After 18 years of trying, one would think that some people would finally understand the public’s answer.”

Jonathan Weckerle: “It would have been nice if the author had mentioned the small detail that most of the top software in most fields (music, videos, images, games, office etc. - coding or server stuff are the exception) is simply not available on Linux. Oh, but I guess GIMP is “the best image editing software – period”.”

Nkazi: “I never really understood why Linux Mint is number one distro of all time because in beauty I’ll always go with Ubuntu, maybe it’s because of its out-off-box experience maybe because its a little bit ah… similar to windows?”

More at ZDNet

Ubuntu’s Unity desktop runs natively in Windows 10

Windows 10 is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about running Ubuntu. But now it has become possible to run Ubuntu’s Unity desktop natively in Windows 10.

Ian Paul reports for PCWorld:

When Microsoft introduced the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) the common refrain was that you could use it to run Linux’s beloved Bash tool but full Linux desktops were out.

Turns out that wasn’t exactly true.

It didn’t take long for people to note you could run an X server for windowed Linux applications. From there, it was only a short hop to running the Linux desktop on Windows without using a virtual machine.

GitHub user Guerra24 recently posted a screenshot online showing Ubuntu with the Unity desktop running natively inside Windows 10, as first reported by OMG Ubuntu. The GitHub user also tested the Xfce24 desktop on Ubuntu (on Windows 10).

More at PCWorld

How to install Windows 10 in a virtual machine in Linux

While some users choose Linux to totally get away from Windows, others still like to keep Windows handy in case they need it. TechRepublic has a helpful article that will teach you how to run Windows 10 in a virtual machine in Linux.

James Sanders reports for TechRepublic:

For Linux users, making a clean break from the Microsoft ecosystem is often a rather challenging task. Even in 2016, the possibility of needing Windows to perform some task still exists—perhaps as part of an employer requirement, a dependency on legacy technology such as ActiveX, or to interact with legacy hardware which has no Linux driver.

The long arm of Microsoft’s embrace is similarly difficult to escape. While it is simple to build your own PC (or simply use an Intel NUC), laptops and all-in-one systems are typically impossible to build in the same way. As such, unless you are buying a System76 computer, or a Dell developer laptop, you are already paying the “Windows Tax” for your device.

Considering that the license has already been paid for, it is likely a worthwhile endeavor to install Windows 10 in a virtual machine, rather than dual booting. After all, this is Windows—using a fresh ISO direct from Microsoft eliminates OEM-bundled bloatware which typically accompanies a new computer. Additionally, using a VM for Windows also prevents any future Windows update from interfering with your computer’s boot partition, which may render either or both operating systems unbootable.

More at TechRepublic

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