Why we chose Linux Mint

Linux is an amazingly flexible, secure and stable OS, however one issue it does have is too much choice! If you're new to Linux you'll probably be blindsided by a myriad of distributions, versions, desktops and processor options. While it's great to have choice, sometimes it can be overwhelming. On this page I'll document the current Linux desktop I provide for customers and the reasons for the choices given.

This is what the final desktop looks like with Rivendell running (click for a larger image):
Linux Desktop Screenshot

Key requirements for a professional Linux desktop:

1. Ease of use. In practice this means a "look and feel" similar to Windows. This is the desktop design most users are familiar with and there's no point re-inventing the wheel. Linux gives you lots of choice in this respect, but the default desktop on most distributions (Gnome) is as far as I'm concerned, an unusable mess. In order to resolve this, the Linux community has created several high quality alternatives, some of which are Mate (which is really just a fork of the previous Gnome version), Cinnamon and KDE. However, after much testing I've found XFCE to offer the best combination of speed, configurability and compatibility while simultaneously providing an interface that most users will find easy to use.

2. Some Linux distributions have a perfectly valid design philosophy to exclude support for any hardware without open source drivers. However as that would exclude much of the hardware we want to use for broadcasting, we can't do that. This eliminates some distributions (such as Debian) from our list (but not Debian derivatives such as Ubuntu).

3. The two most common commercially supported variants of Linux appear to be Redhat and Ubuntu. If we were building a server with no desktop I would choose CentOS, as this is a free of charge version of Redhat and has an extremely long support cycle. However Redhat has rather poor XFCE and multimedia support without using third party repositories which can end up breaking certain configurations. This leaves us with Ubuntu. Ubuntu LTS (Long Term Support) versions have a five year support cycle from release (since writing this has now been extended to ten years which is fantastic news - see here for details - meaning official commercial support for this version lasts until 2028), so we need the latest one of those.

4. As mentioned above, we have now refined our choices to the XFCE desktop on Ubuntu. Ubuntu provide XFCE as standard in the Xubuntu variant, however this version lacks some usability and polish in some places (for example the default desktop configuration, login and unlock screens in particular). Linux Mint 19 is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (with the same support cycle and updates) and is available in an XFCE variant without those issues and requires less reconfiguration after installation (though it still needs some tweaks).

5. Ubuntu has some of the best Linux hardware support, so this box is now ticked.

6. Ubuntu and Mint include third party audio and video CODECs as standard.

As a result, Linux Mint with XFCE was chosen as the most appropriate and stable choice.