Linux Mint Debian Edition, LMDE, is now my daily driver. I switched about a week ago.

I started to use Linux, try and explore, a few years ago. Slowly I have walked to migrate to Linux as my daily driver. I migrated from Microsoft Windows to Apple macOS in 2015 on a macMini model late 2014. This macMini runs on macOS 12 release which is still maintained, but latest macOS is currently on release 14. I expect my macMini will not run on a maintained release so much longer.

I had decided to use Linux Mint Cinnamon as my daily driver on my Lenovo Thinkpad T460p laptop, which I purchased refurbished in January 2022 with the intention to use as daily driver. It was manufactured in December 2016.

I had started to use this laptop for a couple of applications when I decided I instead wanted to try out LMDE as my first Linux daily driver. Prior to this decision, I have had LMDE installed on another machine to explore it. LMDE has the Cinnamon desktop. On the surface, LMDE and "standard" Linux Mint Cinnamon looks and feels incredible similar. Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, which is based on Debian unstable version. LMDE is based on Debian stable version without Ubuntu as intermediator. I like Debian, I have Debian installed on another machine for exploration. Both Linux Mint and LMDE are very stable and good, no doubt. Ubuntu is also very stable and widely used. I may have some concern about Ubuntu long term strategy for Snap packages versus deb packages, which is in some conflict to Linux Mint preference for Flatpak packages over Snap packages in addition to deb packages. LMDE has in my understanding become better and better, more and more similar to standard Linux Mint. Now when LMDE 6 was released, based on the recently released Debian 12, I became very tempted to go for LMDE. And so I did.

I started with migration of all my files. I copied all files on the macMini to an external drive, exFAT file system, and then copied them into T460p on ext4 file system. Then I continued with installation and configuration of some of the most important tools: 1Password password manager, Mullvad VPN client, Firefox browser and Thunderbird e-mail client. I have done some system configuration like moving the bar to the top, move window close buttons to the left and added a CPU temperature indicator from Cinnamon spices. I have connected a HP USB printer, it was found and configured automatically without any trouble. I have started to install and configure some other software. Many more to do, but I can use it as my daily driver. I have one software on macOS that I suspect will be difficult to run on Linux even via Wine/Crossover, but we'll see.

To some extent I have used Apple office suite, mostly Pages and Numbers. Not so much, but some. I have tested to open such files with LibreOffice already on macOS and saved saved a few in the open odt format. Because LibreOffice could manage Apple Office suite documents, I did not bother to export file formats in advance of migration. But I got a negative surprise after migration: some of the .pages document had not arrived as a single file on my T460p, but instead as a folder with files and subfolders, impossible to open as a document. Interestingly, the folder contains preview versions of the file in jpg format. However many .pages had arrived as normal files and could be opened. When I checked the external drive I used for migration in exFAT format, it was the same condition when I opened the file manager from T460p. But when I plugged the external drive again into the macMini, the folders are instead as normal files in the macOS file manager. I search all files in .pages (and .numbers) format, thankfully less than 100, and compared them to status on the T460p. Less than 20 had the odd file-folder behaviour. So, I opened Pages on macOS, exported those files to Word docx format, Pages does not support the free and open odt format... After the export I also saved those files again in Pages. After this, I migrated them again to my LMDE T460p. And now, both the .pages and the newly exported .docx can be opened with LibreOffice! My best guess is that this odd behaviour is related to different releases of Pages, with problem occurring on an older version. I have mostly used Pages on macOS, but to some extent also on iPhone iOS.

I have used OpenOffice for very many years, as a contiuation of the German StarOffice which Sun acquired and made free as a competitor to Microsoft Office. Many turns since then for OpenOffice, now free and open source, but last years the development of OpenOffice has slowed down and almost stopped. LibreOffice is a based on OpenOffice and is very actively developed and maintained. Maybe I will install OpenOffice as I have used it so much and used to it, but perhaps better to learn LibreOffice better. 

Although LMDE is very similar to Linux Mint, they are not identical. One difference is the lack of the Linux Mint Device manager. This laptop T460p has two graphic processors, an Intel and in addition one by Nvidia. With Linux Mint I could manage the Nvidia graphics from the Device Manager. But with LMDE, I am more at my own. Debian has a wiki page I believe will assist me. I have not tried yet, but I think I will be able if I want to to enable the Nvidia graphics.

My LMDE laptop works faster than my macMini. Beside the different operating systems, the specs are somewhat different. Another difference is that LMDE is freshly installed while macOS has been installed and updated since it was new. Some of the spec parameters:

Lenovo Thinkpad T460p:

  • Intel Core i7-6820HQ CPU @ 2.70 GHz, 4 cores, 8 logical processes
  • RAM 32 GB
  • SSD 1 TB
  • Grafic Nvidia GeForce 940MX + Intel HD Graphics 530

Apple Mac mini (late 2014):

  • 2,8 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5
  • RAM 8 GB
  • Macintosh HD 1,12 TB Fusion Drive (combo SDD and HDD)
  • Grafic Intel Iris 1536 MB

If I will introduce Linux to a friend, I will recommend the standard Linux Mint Cinnamon because it is even more user friendly. And maybe I will return to it. Soon Linux Mint 21.3 will arrive with new features and improvements, and I hope new features for example in Hypnotix will soon be available for LMDE as well. 21.3 will have support for secure boot, a useful security feature which actually already is available in LMDE 6, and I have it enabled. For now I am proud and happy with my migration to Linux Mint Debian Edition LMDE.

Henrik Hemrin

11 December 2023

19 December 2023: Added some words about OpenOffice, Mullvad and added links.

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