Why Linux Reviews Don't Really Matter

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 11, 2013

Once upon a time I wrote distribution reviews for a living. That's all I did. Now I ain't saying I was the best, in fact, I'm sure barely competent describes my work and knowledge. Nevertheless, I did learn one important truth when it comes to writing Linux reviews and, case in point, Jack Germain's LinuxInsider article titled "Many Minor Glitches Make Mint 15 More Work Than It's Worth."

Germain states his thesis right off the bat saying, "The latest release of Linux Mint 15, nicknamed "Olivia," tries really hard to reach new design goals but is marred by a series of petty flaws." He outlined some of the issues in his summary:

* a flawed installation process

* recurring sound problems

* outdated application software

* Backup Tool failed

I did experience a weird sound issue where I had to install alsamixer to unmute a particular channel - you'd think there'd be a better way, but it worked. However, nothing has reoccurred. It continues to work as do all the other areas where sound is enabled. He says Mint 15 always fails to recognize his sound hardware upon boot and he has to reboot to let it try again. This can be annoying I know, but this contrast in experiences makes my point.

A user's experience depends on his hardware. I learned many years ago, a distro that works perfectly for me may drive you to pitching monitors out the window. In fact, I used to commonly qualify my remarks on Linux distribution functionality or performance with a "on my hardware."

Additionally, he complains that GNOME Media Player has been downgraded to version 0.1.3, and again, the loss of functionality he describes is a valid point as is his query as to why the backslide. But I'd never have the occasion to use GNOME Media Player enough to grow accustomed to the button layout. I use KDE and its associated applications mostly. I'd probably never notice the issue causing him such distress. Again, point being, individual usage. I did have an issue with playing audio CDs in Mint, but it turns out it was some glitch upstream with the codecs that a lot of distributions are having (I would have paid closer attention had I known I was gonna write about it). I ended up just ripping the CDs and everything played those resulting files. See, individual usage is the variable here.

To me Germain's points are quite valid, but my guard was up due to his previous Linux outing "Debian 7: A So-So Distro Not Worth Switching For" in which he said Debian was unappealing with an ugly name (Wheezy) that limited choice and is only stable because it's software is so old. LinuxInsider doesn't feature reader comments, but I had several comments on my normally silent site about it. Folks were not happy with Jack. Funnily enough though, not a word was said on my site about his Mint review, despite my hunkering down in anticipation.

So, the point of all this is, no matter what a reviewer says (good or bad), your experience could be completely different. It all depends on you. It depends on your hardware combination, preferences, habits, frame of reference, expertise, other operating systems, and expectations. You're just going to have to install the Linux in question and see how it works for you. Don't get mad, get installing.

For me, Linux Mint 15 has been chugging along unobtrusively in the background while I carry on with my daily work and play. I'm settled in and plan to use it for a while. ...but I haven't had time to install and test Steam yet, a task that killed Sabayon 13 for me.

My Mint 15 desktop still working hard, including a working weather desklet!