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The Linux Mint team announced the release of Linux Mint 8 “Helena” LXDE Community Edition RC1 a few days ago. I built a virtualbox machine to test it and here is what I found.

The LXDE Community Edition is based on Linux Mint 8 Main Edition, Linux 2.6.31, Openbox, PCManFM 0.5.2, and Xorg 7.4.  Linux Mint 8 LXDE Edition features a complete and familiar desktop experience while being low on resource usage and is suitable for a good variety of older hardware.

After downloading the ISO image, I created a new machine in virtualBox and booted on the ISO image.  The ISO file is a bootable Desktop image that allows one to burn a bootable CD.  Booting on this CD allows one to run Linux Mint LXDE on a PC without modifying the PC in any way.  Hence the full features of Linux Mint can be experienced without installing it.  Of course, since the system is running on a CD the performance is hindered due to the speed of the CD drive.  Using virtualBox, I am also able to directly mount the ISO image as if it were a CD.

Installation of LXDE is the same as all of the other versions of Linux Mint... or any of the versions of Ubuntu for that matter (see below pictures).  It is very straight forward and simple. After the installation I booted it up and played with it a little.   LXDE uses the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment.  Any Windows user would find it very familiar if they have used the Classic Start Menu.  As with all versions of Linux Mint, this version is fully loaded with a wide range of applications.  If an application you need is not installed, just open up either the Mint Software Manager or the Synaptic Package Manager and do a search.  More than likely you will find something that will meet your needs.

The whole purpose of this exercise was to try out a different Desktop Environment.  When I started using Ubuntu years ago I didn't really like Gnome so I switched to KDE.  When I started using Linux Mint I was back to Gnome but it is different than Ubuntu and I like it.  I run it on my main PC as well as my netbook.  I guess I didn't realize there were other options until Linux Mint kept coming out with different versions incorporating different desktop environments.  The first version to be released was Linux Mint Universal Edition which uses the Gnome desktop followed by KDE.  I found KDE to use a lot of resources and I really don't need all of the eye candy.  Then Linux Mint Fluxbox came out.  (I thought I wrote a review on Fluxbox but I guess I didn't.  I'll have to correct that oversight.)  The Fluxbox desktop is also advertised as a lightweight fully funcional environment.  I also loaded it into a virtual machine and tried it out.  I'm not going to say anything else on it as I'll write an article on my opinion of it.

Different desktop environments mean different installed applications.  For example, LXDE uses the PCManFM file manager, Fluxbox uses the Thunar file manager, the Linux Mint Universial version uses Natlius and the KDE version uses Dolphin.  They all pretty much do the same thing and the great thing about Linux is if you don't care for a particular application, it is very easy to install something else.

So, my opinion of LXDE?  I think I am going to install it on my netbook.  There is nothing wrong with the Linux Mint Universal that is currently installed on it.  But LXDE might squeeze out a little more performance.  It's a GEEK thing....

As an RC (Release Candidate) this release is targeted at developers and beta-testers who want to help Linux Mint find and correct bugs before the stable release. Please do not use this release as your main desktop.

Here are the installation screen shots:


The above screen show shows the system booted on the Live CD.  Here you can try out all of the features of LXDE without actually installing it.  To install, double click on the Install LInux Mint 8 icon on the desktop.

This is the first screen after starting the install.  Just choose your language and click on the Forward button.

Next choose your time zone and click Forward.

What kind of keyboard layout are your using.  It will probably identify the correct one.  To check it type some text in the text box.  Then press Forward.

Here we are starting out with a fresh hard drive.  If you already have an operating system on the drive it will display it and give you some more options to choose from.  Choose wisely as you could wipe out your existing operating system.

Now define your login and the name of your computer.  Then click on Forward.

Here is your last chance to check everything before it performs the install.  When ready, click Install and sit back and watch or go get a snack.

When it is done it will let you know.  Click Restart Now to check out your new installation.

After reboot you will get this login screen.  Enter your username, press Enter, then enter your password, and press Enter.  If you want to bypass the login, check out the SLiM Autologin application found under Preferences.

Welcome to Linux Mint.  You an actually download a user guide which is well written and very helpful if you are newbie.  By the way, the little padlock icon in the lower right hand corner displays the status of system updates.  If the padlock is open click on it to run the upate manager.

And this is what the menu looks like.  I always prefered the Classic Start Menu in Windows XP.  I like the look of this menu as well.

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