Linux Mint Debian Edition Makes Me Believe It’s Finally the Year of the Linux Desktop
Stable, beautiful, intuitive, and not littered with bloatware, Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) improves on the popular Ubuntu version.
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It wasn't long ago that I decided to ditch my Ubuntu-based distros for openSUSE, finding LEAP 15 to be a steadier, more rock-solid flavor of Linux for my daily driver. The trouble is, I hadn't yet been introduced to Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE), and that sound you hear is my heels clicking with joy.
LMDE 6 with the Cinnamon desktop.
Allow me to explain.
While I've been a long-time fan of Ubuntu, in recent years, it's the addition of
snaps (rather than system packages) and other Ubuntu-only features started to wear on me. I wanted straightforward networking, support for older hardware, and a desktop that didn't get in the way of my work. For years, Ubuntu provided that, and I installed it on everything from old netbooks, laptops, towers, and IoT devices.
More recently, though, I decided to move to Debian, the upstream Linux distro on which Ubuntu (and derivatives like Linux Mint and others) are built. Unlike Ubuntu, Debian holds fast to a truly solid, stable, non-proprietary mindset — and I can still use the
apt package manager I've grown accustomed to. That is, every bit of automation I use (Chef and Ansible mostly) works the same on Debian and Ubuntu.
I spent some years switching back and forth between the standard Ubuntu long-term releases and Linux Mint, a truly great Ubuntu-derived desktop Linux. Of course, there are many Debian-based distributions, but I stumbled across LMDE version 6, based on Debian GNU/Linux 12 "Bookworm" and known as Faye, and knew I was onto something truly special.
As with the Ubuntu version, LMDE comes with different desktop environments, including the robust Cinnamon, which provides a familiar environment for any Linux, Windows, or macOS user. It's intuitive, chock full of great features (like a multi-function taskbar), and it supports a wide range of customizations. However, it includes no snaps or other Ubuntuisms, and it is amazingly stable. That is, I've not had a single freeze-up or odd glitch, even when pushing it hard with Kdenlive video editing, KVM virtual machines, and Docker containers.
According to the folks at Linux Mint, "LMDE is also one of our development targets, as such it guarantees the software we develop is compatible outside of Ubuntu." That means if you're a traditional Linux Mint user, you'll find all the familiar capabilities and features in LMDE. After nearly six months of daily use, that's proven true.
As someone who likes to hang on to old hardware, LMDE extended its value to me by supporting both 64- and 32-bit systems. I've since installed it on a 2008 Macbook (32-bit), old ThinkPads, old Dell netbooks, and even a Toshiba Chromebook. Though most of these boxes have less than 3 gigabytes of RAM, LMDE performs well. Cinnamon isn't the lightest desktop around, but it runs smoothly on everything I have.
The running joke in the Linux world is that "next year" will be the year the Linux desktop becomes a true Windows and macOS replacement. With Debian Bookworm-powered LMDE, I humbly suggest next year is now.
To be fair, on some of my oldest hardware, I've opted for Bunsen. It, too, is a Debian derivative with 64- and 32-bit versions, and I'm using the BunsenLabs Linux Boron version, which uses the Openbox window manager and sips resources: about 400 megabytes of RAM and low CPU usage. With Debian at its core, it's stable and glitch-free.
Since deploying LMDE, I've also begun to migrate my virtual machines and containers to Debian 12. Bookworm is amazingly robust and works well on IoT devices, LXCs, and more. Since it, too, has long-term support, I feel confident about its stability — and security — over time.
If you're a fan of Ubuntu and Linux Mint, you owe it to yourself to give LMDE a try. As a daily driver, it's truly hard to beat.
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