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Introduction to Linux - A Hands on Guide
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Don't forget Linux Mint Debian Edition which is not based on Debian derived Ubuntu but on Debian Testing itself. Greatest advantage is full compatibility with Debian Testing as rolling distro, which means that updates become continuously available.
In the future, unfortunately (possibly) LMDE will (mostly) be rolling only to the extent of only rolling when stable is updated with testing.
i.e. not very often.
It's a user-friendly Ubuntu derivative with all [most] of the hideous crap removed, and in my experience improved stability and reliability.
Sadly I had a different experience with Katya Mint 11 back in 2011. The Gnome desktop dragged on my old laptop for the six months I had it running. I still had to use the terminal from time to time to fix some issues such as the broadcom wireless card. Even had to compile my own kernel to get processor frequency scaling to work. The main thing I noticed is that it is a bit easier to use but harder to make changes such as replacing the desktop to something else. After six months of use something started restricting access to files on the system and made it unusable eventually. I couldn't get any help on the issue and just ended backing it up before it became unusable. I moved back to Slackware after that running XFCE as my desktop. I examined my backed up Mint under Slackware and the only thing I could see that might have caused the problem was that Selinux, Apparmor, and Tomoyo were all built into the kernel with out their tools being installed. And apparently one of them started running amok. When I built my own kernel, I only changed the processor scaler only. Otherwise the config file was the same as when the Mint team had built the kernel. Why they were building that stuff into the kernel, I don't know. They say it is not in by default.