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Albrecht Weinert

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blog... /linux-mint-for-development/   [de]
Albrecht Weinert

Linux Mint (14 e.g.) for development

This is about installing Linux Mint – 14 for example, as just actual as of this writing – for development purposes on several laptop and workstation platforms.

An actual, full and more elaborate version of this article is found at a-weinert.de/pub/Mint_for_Development.pdf.


„For Development“ in the cases reported means to have a SVN client also integrated in the actual explorer – whatever its current name is in respective distribution – and in Eclipse. It means to have an actual Oracle JRE / JDK, AVR-tools also integrated in Eclipse, Network analysers (Wire shark etc.), Logic analysers (like Logic) and much more.
For documentation compatible to other installations and platforms we want OpenOffice (not the enforced LibreOffice) and Windows compatible fonts.
And of course not to have browsers with the standard search engine, mail with calendar integration and multiple (imported) accounts and other every day usage tools would be a shame.
In some cases the whole thing must be used and often also installed behind an non-transparent proxy and a company firewall which just opens the well known port for http(s) and mail. FTP is open too, but may in configurations only not supported by all external FTP servers.


Having many quit differing experiences with many distribution/ platform combinations this article reports on just Mint (12..14 mate, 64bit) on

  • Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook E Series (2 Intel Core2, 2GHz, 2GB RAM, 125GB HDD),
  • Fujitsu Lifebook S782 (8 Intel Core i7, 2.1GHz, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD only),
  • Fujitsu Celsius W510 power (8 Intel Xeon, 3.4GHz, 8GB RAM, 500GB HDD).

Of course many of the tricks and experience reported can be transferred to other Linux distribution / platform cases, directly or with due modifications.

The summary – ex ante

For those not interested in the tips and details to follow (dynamically subjoined) but just in decision support I put the summary first. If you don’t like the “wrong” place read on from the next chapter and come back here from the end.

Considering the differences in age, type and configuration of the three platforms reported here (and some others too) one sees hardly any varieties in installation and handling – except speed and audio / video quality. This is a big plus for Mint’s flexibility, driver support and good hardware recognition. And the basic installation from the burned .iso DVD is strait and fast. The really hard part was always the location: behind a non-transparent proxy or not, and (almost impossible) dynamically change that in case of laptops.

Considering the distributions (12..14) 12 worked and installed well and 14 promises the same quality. 13 meant trouble, mostly, on the same platforms. I put it on the same list as 2000, ME, Vista … This seems a bit typical for Mint; the agile developers may neglect long term stability and robustness a bit too much for sake of their flexibility. Some symptoms point there.

Mint documentation flamingly warns of upgrade installations (12 to 13/14 e.g.). One may tend (I did) to hardly believe this as other distributions do this without troubles and partly automatically. Doing so with the standard recipe (apt-add-repository … sudo apt-get ….. upgrade …) ends almost reproducibly in an unusable system at the edge of total re-install or beyond. That’s one strong symptom for incompatibility between Mint versions. And besides leading to nowhere the upgrade installation takes ages.

Instead of taking some (Python related) errors out of the standard text editor – gedit – you get a new one – pluma – looking totally the same. This point / this incompatibility may seem to minor to mention. But this renaming and moving around of tools and configuration files, often undocumented and without conceivable reason or advantage, breaks scripts, recipes and know how. This is good for any amount of frustration, loss of time and anger.

Another Mint weakness is the otherwise nice menu, changing its content – after removing / installing software with apt-.. (see requirements above) – is not really supported with different deficiencies in different releases, to put it mildly. The once proven repair – apt-get alacarte – destroyed the system by installation alone.

So beware of the instabilities and inconsistencies – take no proven tool or recipe as given after updates or upgrades. In that respect Microsoft Windows is not worse at all. That said Mint is a nice, comfortable distribution and a good candidate to replace Windows on Laptop and Workstations.


Read (or download) the full paper at a-weinert.de/pub/Mint_for_Development.pdf.

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