Hands-on with Linux Mint Debian Edition 201403 release candidate

The last "rollup" release, with the latest Update Pack (UP6 at that time) included in the ISO images, was a year ago, LMDE 201303.
I am particularly pleased to see this release, and I have been been waiting for it anxiously, because there have been two major Update Packs (UP7 and UP8) since the last release, and it has gotten increasingly difficult to install LMDE from scratch and then add the latest updates.
The release notes for UP7 and UP8 each included several cautions about individual package updates which might break the Update Pack installation, and thus had to be installed separately first. So it is really nice to have a clean set of ISO images that can just be installed to get the latest version.
Of course, at this point it is only a 'release candidate', so unless you are desperate or adventurous, it is probably best to wait another week or two for the final release.
There is a lot of good news with this release, and one of the best things is that it is finally UEFI compatible.
Not only that - the news just keeps getting better - the Linux Mint developers have fixed the UEFI installation problem that appeared in the Mint 16 release, where it installed its EFI boot files in a directory named ubuntu, which meant that it was difficult to install Mint and Ubuntu on the same system. With this release they install again to a directory named linuxmint, so there is no conflict with Ubuntu.

Linux Mint Debian Edition Cinnamon Desktop

 The release announcement gives a very brief overview and includes the download links to mirrors all over the world.
This release is available with either the Cinnamon or MATE desktop, in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. There is good news for those who are concerned about compatibility with non-PAE CPUs: the 32-bit version of this release comes with a 486-compatible kernel by default. However, this has a negative impact for those who want to use 32-bit multi-core CPUs. The situation is described in detail in the Known Problems document.
This release comes with Linux Kernel 3.11.8 and of course the latest release of the two desktops, Cinnamon 2.0 and MATE 1.6, X.Org Server 1.14.3, Firefox 27.0, Thunderbird 24.3 and LibreOffice
So far I have loaded it on four systems, two UEFI and two Legacy/BIOS/MBR:
- Acer Aspire One 725 (UEFI)
- HP Pavilion dm1-4310ez (UEFI)
- Lenovo T400 (BIOS/MBR)
- Samsung N150 Plus (BIOS/MBR)
The installation was absolutely routine with the exception of the well-known difficulty with UEFI firmware configuration on the HP Pavilion.There was even good news on that system, though, because the very difficult wi-fi adapter (Ralink 3290) seems to work just fine.
Every bit of hardware on every one of these four systems was supported, with drivers loaded automatically and everything working as it should. Graphic display and screen support was also good, ranging from the 10" (1024x600) display on the Samsung netbook to the dual monitors (1280x768 laptop and 1920x1080 external) on the Lenovo.