Episode 1 Show Notes

Show Notes for Episode 1

Of Distrohoppers’ Digest


<Moss>Distro-hopping: The idea that Linux is fun, and the myriad of ways people put distros together should be reviewed often. Welcome to Distro hopper’s Digest, Episode 1, recorded on April 24, 2019. My name is Moss. I live in eastern Tennessee.

<Tony> And my name is Tony. I live in northwest England.

<Moss>Welcome to Distro Hoppers’ Digest.

[Could be recorded in advance, to use in future episodes]

<Moss>We love checking distros out — new distros, new versions of older distros and maybe even some old distros we’ve missed. I have my preferences, and Tony has his. Perhaps together we can find some common ground to share with you.

<Tony>The idea of this podcast is that we will each install a new distro to our chosen hardware for 3-4 weeks and use it as much as possible, perhaps even as our daily driver. We record all our trials, tribulations, fixes, what we like and what we don’t.

<Moss>I like to find distros which would be kind to a new user, especially one who is hoping to move over from another operating system, such as Windoze or MachOS. We intend to give as much information as possible on each distro, and will also divulge what hardware we are using and how we think the hardware may have affected the rating.

For our first show, we decided on Linux Mint Debian Edition 3 “Cindy” (LMDE3), what Linux Mint might look like if there were no Ubuntu, and a completely self-spun distro, Solus OS 4 “Fortitude”. We’d like to hear from you what you’d like to see us take on — be it Debian, Red Hat, Arch, Suse, Mandriva, Slackware or Gentoo based distros.

<Moss> On to this month’s distro, Linux Mint Debian Edition 3.


<Moss>Talk to me, Tony.


<Tony> The first thing to say is that as we are distro hopping that the installation was done as a dual boot with the main Mint 19.1 mate installation on my Dell E7250 ultrabook. This created my first issue as the installer required the SSD to be manually partitioned to allow the Dual Boot despite only one other OS being currently installed. This resulted in me accidentally balking the drive and having to reinstall Mint 19.1 before I could continue with the install, if this had been my daily driver I would have lost all my Data, as it was I wasn’t best pleased as I’d not long set up this PC when I bought it a few weeks ago.

Once the SSD had been partitioned into 2 main partitions for Mint 19.1 and LMDE 3 the installer is fairly intuitive for an experienced Linux user who has lots of install experience and understands what the root partition is, and where to put the grub boot loader so multiple installs can be accessed at boot. During the install you set up location, keyboard layout, username and password, then the install continues. On this hardware the actual install once commenced went quickly less than 15 minutes, despite me not having a large bandwidth for WiFi available in the venue I did this in. On reboot I was presented with the grub bootloader with the first choice of LMDE and 19.1 being the second choice.


Tony – On this first install the first thing I noticed with the hardware was that the trackpad on this laptop while working at a basic level as a mouse to point the cursor and scroll pages, double clicking on the pad did not work as the left mouse key which when your used to having this facility is frustrating, these issues do not present in Mint 19.1 Maté which is the other installed OS so LMDE had not detected all the hardware during install for some reason, however on a reinstall the hardware worked perfectly second time around. I subsequently installed LMDE on my Z30 as it has a slightly larger screen and is lighter to use and carry around and while testing the distro on other hardware the majority of the test was conducted on the Toshiba Z30 laptop.


The first thing is that on first install you are presented with the Cinnamon DTE which being an old Gnome 2 stickin the mud is not retro enough for me so I went and found the Maté DTE in the software Manager and installed it, I logged out and before logging back in I was able to choose Maté in the login screen Now on login I was presented the familiar Maté DTE. For clarity Boot time on the two laptops I installed on was around the 25s mark and with the Cinnamon DTE about 820Mb of RAM is in use at start, if you install and use the Maté DTE this is about 200Mb less.

I now went in the search of the software I use regularly, web browsing is not a problem as Firefox is installed out of the box as you would expect and as I have a separate home partition on the laptop It picked up all my Firefox settings on first start apart from the home page which was a simple fix.

Next job was to install Audacity and Mumble as these are essential to the podcast workflow for both this, mintCast and the HPR (Hacker Public Radio) shows I record. The first thing to note is that all the software available is several versions behind, LMDE 3 being based on Debian stable so unless an update is required for security reasons such as with Firefox. Audacity is still on 2.1.3 which while it will still do the job, doesn’t look as slick or have some of the feachers of the latest 2.3.1, not a major issue and as both of these are available podcast workflow is assured in LMDE. Offline word processing and office is provided by Libreoffice which again is a little old being on the 5.2 branch, again it does the job so no problem there. Virtualbox was a different matter and I am still trying to get that working as it currently does not have all the kernel drivers needed to work out of the box.

One big issue with LMDE is that Debian does not support the addition of PPA’s (or may never have for all I know). You can add .deb repositories both in synaptic and via the command line where they are available for the software you are wishing to install and other software may be available as Flatpaks or Snaps.

This is an example for adding Virtualbox 6

tony@user:~$ sudo add-apt-repository “deb http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/debian stretch contrib”


tony@user:~$ wget -q https://www.virtualbox.org/download/oracle_vbox_2016.asc -O- | sudo apt-key add –


tony@user:~$ sudo add-apt-repository “deb http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/debian stretch contrib”

I was also able to install a working version of one of my most used tools, get-iplayer, after installing Snap.D and picking up the snap package for this CLI utility.

This mitigates the issue of not being able to use straight PPA’s but may not resolve all issues.

Another thing myself and most users will need to do at some time is to print documents, this was not a problem with LMDE picking up my printer the moment it was connected and turned on, so that is not an issue. However I should point out my printer is several years old and CUPS may have problems in finding drivers for newer printers particularly those with flatbed Scanners/copiers integrated into them.


Both Cinnamon and Maté are not the lightest of DTE’s but considering I was using equipment with 16 Gig of RAM nether was a major issue. If you have 4 Gig or less I would suggest Maté or another lower resource hungry DTE to conserve a little RAM as at 820Mb Cinnamon is not the lightest on resources out of the box.


With a bit of Googling and and the use of Man pages I was able to get some help with a couple of issues, and as usual the MAN pages can be very useful tool.

Mint has a great set of Community Forums for asking about all things Linux Mint and the community rules are quite explicit about not being rude to newcomers, while I didn’t have to use them on this occasion it is good to know they are there if needed.


As I said earlier LMDE unlike the main Linux Mint does not allow a straightforward Dual Boot option to install alongside the current OS, it may have recognised Windows but my other system was Mint 19.1. So before I could install alongside this I had to manually create a partition for LMDE to reside in, This is not very new user friendly, However once I figured out how to do the custom install all went well and GRUB was able to pick up both installs at boot. I might have been better looking for install instructions on the net but I was testing to see how user friendly the installer was and on the main Linux Mint I find this is quite intuitive, not LMDE.


Rock solid.



Ease of Installation new user friendly install scores 2/10

experienced Linux users 7/10

Hardware Issues 8/10

Ease of Finding Help (Community, Web) 10/10

Ease of Use 7/10

Plays Nice With Others 7/10

Stability 10/10

Similar Distros To Check Out


MX Linux

New users should probably just use Linux Mint.

So now, let’s speed on over to our other distro review this month.

***DISTRO #2*** Transition Music

SolusOS 4 “Fortitude”


I had no issues getting it up and running. Adding additional software is not an issue IF it is in the repo or can be added as a Snap; sadly, this did not include my preferred VPN or my preferred office suite. Easy as pie, and a beautiful desktop it is (Budgie).


My printer was not on the list of those available, and could not be set up, despite being Linux-friendly and easily set up on a variety of other systems using .deb or .rpm packages; Solus uses eopkg. Check your printer before installing Solus, or be prepared to buy one or live without. This list of approved printers *is* larger than is standard for CUPS, but does not yet include all Linux-friendly printers.


Application issues: Cannot install Mullvad VPN, SoftMaker Office, or Brother MFC-J470DW printer.

The Solus Repo had the latest version of Audacity 2.3.1; has Falkon (Qt3) and Midori (webkit) browsers in repo, a plus for people fleeing chromium; Has Mumble and Discord in repo. Kodi is in the repo, but is still at 17.6. If you are into old, simple computer games, they have PySolFC in the repo, but no KDE games I run and no version of nethack.

Running issues: 4th night I after installed it, I ran updates and the update manager took hours to complete looking for updates. I let it run overnight, it finished up, and I got the suggested updates installed with no issue.

Fastest boot time of any distro except perhaps MX. I could boot Solus 3 times in less time than it takes to boot LinuxMint MATE on my machine.



After getting help from the user forum, I got SoftMaker Office installed; it took 4-5 days for the information I needed to be presented in a way I understood and could use.

After help from Tony H, I got snapd snap-store installed and enabled. I did this to get Wireguard installed, a step towards installing Mullvad VPN.

BUT, I could not get snap-store to run. Posted issue to Solus Forum 4/7/19 06.00. Got an answer within 6 minutes: Snap Store does not run in current version of Solus, but will “soon”. Go to https://snapcraft.io/store . Options to install using Software Center *IF* snaps are enabled (which I can’t find anywhere to enable them), or Terminal using supplied command. For Wireguard, it was sudo snap install wireguard-ammp

At this point, I have two users telling me to run a command to convert a file and install Mullvad. They are both calling me “stupid” and telling each other “He [I] must be a troll”, but neither one told me WHAT file to run that command on.

So bottom line is, use Solus if you like LibreOffice, or are a gamer. If you need a printer, make sure it’s on the currently-covered list. and if you need a VPN, better hope it’s one everyone likes. I should not have to change my preferred software (within Linux) to use a distro. I built these preferences over years. And I should not take abuse from the user forum, no matter how stupid I may be. I did thank each one who helped me, and I thought that would get them to see I was not a troll. But Solus users are not nice these days, and that is a big ZERO in the help department.


Grub-Customizer is available in the repo. I experienced no problems with Solus rewriting my Grub after setup.


I had zero problems with stability after that one update issue. Previous experience says it should be as solid as anything can be.

Similar Distros to Check Out

Manjaro maybe?


Ease of Installation 9/10

Hardware Issues 9/10

Ease of Finding Help (Community, Web) 2/10

Ease of Use 9/10

Plays Nice With Others 8/10

Stability 9/10



Our next show will be recorded on May 29th, 2019. Visit our website at http://distrohopdigest.com (as soon as we get it written) and follow us on MeWe, Discord and Telegram at our mintCast groups, and …..

If any of our listeners have suggestions for our music or transitions, or which distros you’d like to see us try, please contact us. We can be contacted at [email protected] .


mintCast listener Jackie Moore writes:

Everyone that is a mintCast listener is aware of Moss’s difficulties of late. I have started a go fund me to help Moss go to SELF http://southeastlinuxfest.org/ in Charlotte NC. To donate please go to Grow Moss at Southeast Linux Fest ! This can be our way of saying Thank You for doing mintCast and Distrohopper’s Digest!


We would like to thank all those who make this project possible, starting with Hacker Public Radio and their allowing us to use their Mumble Room;

Archive.org for storing and helping to distribute this program;

Audacity, which we use for recording and editing the show and all those individuals and those who work on a team which is creating, adapting, and maintaining all these Linux distros;

Thanks to Linux Torvalds for the Kernel, Richard Stallman for the GNU Toolkits, and all those who have worked behind the scenes on Free and Open Source/Libre Software;

And thanks to the rest of the mintCast team, for letting us use their channel for distribution of our first episode.

We shall be back next month. Thank all of you for listening and, hopefully, responding.

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