Linux Mint and Steam. Reviving the dead.

As many of the regular readers may know, I am one of those people who doesn’t really like spending money. I approach almost all of my projects with the aim of “the most acceptable outcome for the lowest possible outlay.” That way I can spend more on other projects and goodies. So for example, if I could buy a PC for X price, but actually hand build an equivalent or maybe slightly lower spec machine for half the price, I’d much rather do that. It’s all about value for money. Next to this, I’m also a fan of recycling and re purposing old hardware and bits. Recently I was brought an oldish laptop and an even older PC to have a play with in order to see if I could get them up to a reasonable running spec for nearly nothing. I wasn’t sure I could pull if off but I figured with nothing to lose I may as well give it a try, which leads us onto the main of the article.
Recently I have switched Linux distros again. This is probably now my 8th-9th different “flavour” of Linux and I have to say that Mint has really impressed me. It probably the easiest and most user friendly version of Linux that I have tried and surpasses the “Linux for Humans” Ubuntu by a long shot for me, and those that I have introduced it to. It appears that this isn’t only my own opinion as Mint is currently rated highest for hits at Distrowatch by a significant number. Linux seems to scare a lot of people as it’s different and not what they’re used to but it really isn’t all that bad. In just a couple of hours I had a clean install of Mint 16 finished with the basic additional packages such as Skype etc. It boots up quick and shuts down even quicker and runs incredibly smoothly even on a 32bit single core with just 1GB RAM. To this end the laptop was a sucess. It could barely run XP with the specs it had and was slow and sluggish even with a clean install but with Mint its quick, fresh and fully functional. It does all those thing you need from a laptop, maybe even more. As for the desktop this was all just as easy. The hardware level is similar with an old 64 Sempron and an old radeon card all went just as fast and it runs just as smoothly. As all had gone so well, I thought I’d push the hardware a little hardware to see what I could really do.

I grabbed the latest steam client (Now natively available and installable from the package manager) and tried out a few games in the little time I had left with the machines. Again, it was another success. I only tried some older games as so far Valve has only ported a few titles across. I thought I’d try it with the old classic Half-Life and some of its heavier online MODs. It worked a treat and the games felt a lot quicker and smoother than they ever did on Windows rigs even in big online server with alot of action.

All in all, the jobs were a success, two older machines have been re-purposed and are once again back in use. Granted these will never been solid gaming rigs, but they work perfectly fine with the titles Valve have released through steam at this point and for less than a tenner as well. Thats a win all round. I’ve since properly switched to the full Mint on my own higher spec machine and again it feels much better. There just seems seems to be something about the way Mint handles itself to streamline user experience.

In conclusion, for those of you considering Linux, ignore Ubuntu and go straight onto Mint, you’ll get the same packages and simple user interface but you’ll find that the usability and experience is so much better.