Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Linux Wants to be Your Friend (Part II)

Wow. Linux Mint...I was really, really impressed. Of all the "user-friendly" Linux systems I've messed with, this one is hands down one of the most solid and truly user-friendly.

Installation was, as expected, a breeze. It took maybe 10 minutes total, and like most modern, desktop-based Linux distros allowed you to explore the LiveCD at your leisure while the partitioning and file-copying and whatnot was being done.

The full installation naturally has the essentials: the excellent Synaptic package management system, Firefox, Pidgin, and a nifty little update program that allows you to update the entire system with a few mouse clicks. The aspect I enjoy most about the update program is it resides in the toolbar along the bottom, very unobtrusively indicating, with nothing more than a slight change in the button, that there are new updates available.

The best part: all internet plug-ins are installed right away, as promised. I was still having issues with applets (they weren't aknowledging keyboard input, very odd...), but there was no need for me to do any manual installs of...well...anything. Probably the easiest Linux install I've ever had to be quite honest.

The only minor issue I had with this distro is it doesn't do root like I normally expect it to do root. You have the *option* of setting a root password, although it's recommended you don't. The first time I did set the root password, just out of habit, and after multiple failed attempts to start up a device manager, I realized that the desktop was, like Mac OS X, asking only for the user's password. sudo asks for the user's password, and, to my horror, the user can even modify important root-level files (for example, the grub boot menu file) just by sudo-ing. Depending on the environment in which this distro is installed, this could be unforgiveable or just cringe-worth.

Outside of this I would highly recommend this system to any Linux n00b who just wants a working system set up quickly and painlessly. This distro will be remaining on this desktop until the techs find out and become engraged at the lack of Vista.


Micah said...

I'm quite new to linux, but not sure that sudo is much a security risk. Sudoers lists everyone that can run it, visudo will edit that list. So it seems simple to shut out some users who should not be given access.

HappyCodeMonkey said...

Thanks, this is a very good point I definitely did not think of. I haven't messed much with sudo simply because I don't feel like setting it up on my computers that are exclusively owned and administrated by me, but what little I did learn about it recently seems to indicate that it's very flexible in what you allow the sudoers to do. With a system set up for total Linux novices, having an easy sudo option is probably the best way to allow a small amount of security without preventing the users from actually getting administrative tasks done.