Relative noob updating Mint KDE

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Relative noob updating Mint KDE

Postby Stilez on Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:59 pm

Hi,

I can't find a thread or tutorial that clearly answers my question so maybe someone kind will help if I ask it here.

I'm a relative Linux noob (I know what console is, I can use google and/or RTFM if easy, and I've used KDE and like it). I have a huge worry about updates and it's all that's holding me back. Even if I don't update every release, eventually one will come out with compelling changes that make a real difference and I will want to update to it. At that time, I'll have a bunch of installed apps, perhaps system stuff that I downloaded at odd times to fix some issue or whatever, and a load of KDE, system and application settings. So before I get myself in a corner, or commit to using Mint unwisely, I should check how people who aren't Linux "geeks" but are serious users, can upgrade their main desktop system.

Most threads are pretty unhelpful. The update advice is usually either:
  • Don't update (becomes impractical/stultifying long term ~ 3-5 years, unlikely in longer run, if compelling features arive)
  • Reinstall (good luck trying to recreate what you customised on it; every cache or application data in use so apps resume correctly on the new version, your system or .rc or app settings that matter, your dozens of IU choices and installed software you need to reinstate your system somewhat similar to how it was, and working as it did)
  • Do an update via apt which might work, but could have subtle serious issues you can't figure, or be less stable, and breaks it outright 20% of the time according to some threads (the fixes are said to be often easy if you know what you're doing, but that sounds a doubtfully safe assumption)
  • Find some kind of system-wide backup/restore that doesn't just back up applications, but tries to identify how the system is set up (or has tracked relevant changes during the system's lifetime), and tries to intelligently backup apps, data and settings systemwide, then reinstate them onto the new clean install.

As a serious desktop user, who also isn't Linux l33t, I need to have some clue how I'll update when I need to, to use Mint, and that I have a good chance of succeeding. The described state of update handling has me concerned. Yes you'll need some level of skill and "hands dirty" for any kind of Linux, and I'm fine with that, but this seems like far more - an open ended requirement to have serious coding and system skills, as a prerequisite for any inevitable update, or else redo it from scratch.

So... is Linux Mint as a long-term proposition suited only to casual users who will just reinstall and set up again, users who won't keep a setup long term, and coders with sysadmin skills? Is there any package for handling the transition around updates that restores settings and apps and system changes "quite well"? I'd like to try Mint more, but this part is daunting and I'm apprehensive of the inevitable future.

Without a clear path to update, serious use feels a bit like investing time and resources into a car without thinking whether, if parts need updating in a year or so, you'll be able to take it to the auto shop or some other "it just works", or you'll have to teach yourself a multi-year workshop course to take the engine apart and service it yourself.

I'd really love some more positive knowledge to offset my ignorant concerns :mrgreen: :) please/thank you!
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Re: Relative noob updating Mint KDE

Postby thunder422 on Wed Apr 16, 2014 9:56 pm

I can certainly understand your concerns. I hate to upgrade because of all the work that was done to get things just right. First I recommend sticking with the LTS releases, which are now supported for 5 years (I'm still on Mint 13 KDE on my computers for this very reason, though I did add the kubuntu backports to get the latest KDE on one of them) as this will lengthen the time between installs (upgrading for every 6 month release is ridiculous). Next, I suggest keeping a notebook and record things you do or figure out to the system. This is what I do and it saves a lot of time.

For instance, I had a problem with VLC (media player) where once a video is to paused, when resumed, the sound would be gone. Nothing brought the sound back, so I had to close it and restart it. Then I found that installing the vlc-plugin-pulse package resolved this issue for me. A lot of Internet searching turned up this solution (along with a lot of solutions that didn't work). I made note of this in my notebook. A while later I installed Mint 13 on my wife's computer. At one point she mentioned about this no sound on pause problem. (She actually discovered a work around where by wiggling the progress bar enough, she could get the sound back). I said I have a solution for this problem, searched my notebook and installed the package.

My notebook is filled with things like this. When it does come time to upgrade (I started with Mint 10 KDE, went to Mint12 KDE then to Mint 13 KDE and finally to Mint 13 KDE on an SSD), I make a list of all the packages that I had installed (this is a command to do this), plus all the software I installed (not many of these since most were installed from the package manager). I also keep my old home folder (in fact, so far I just install on a new partition), so that everything is available. One of the first things I do is setup the /etc/fstab so I can access the old partition. For things like Firefox and Thunderbird, I simply copy my profiles over to my new home directory. I don't just copy over the whole folder because old versions of KDE didn't like this (KDE would become unstable). I don't know if they fixed this or not. I know others just use the same home folder. Also, by installing on a separate partition, I can still boot into the old install if I want to check something.
Mint 13 KDE: AMD FX-6300, 16GB RAM, GTX 660Ti (2GB), Gigabyte 990FXA-UD5
(with Windows XP and Windows 8.1 VMs on VmWare Player)
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Re: Relative noob updating Mint KDE

Postby xerion567 on Wed Apr 16, 2014 11:39 pm

I know it isn't a full solution, but it'll make your life at the very least a little bit easier. Mint comes with a handy backup program (shows up as "backup tool" in the menu). It'll give you some options to back up (and restore) your personal files, as well as back up (and restore) a list of installed software packages. I reckon you could probably do an easy backup and restore with a decently sized flash drive using this method.
Of course it won't save your settings, which is unfortunate if you had spent a lot of time customizing your stuff or fixing problems. But on the bright side, there's a good chance some of the issues you had to fix before have been fixed permanently in the new version. I'll admit I'm no expert when it comes to this sort of thing myself, perhaps someone knows about some software which can further help your migration along.
Last thing to mention: In a short time there is going to be a new release (Mint 17), which will be supported for 5 years. It is expected to be heavily polished to make it a stable platform for the years to come, so you may wish to wait on doing upgrades until it is released.
All work and no play makes Linux a dull OS,
All work and no play makes Linux a dull OS,
All work and no play makes Linux...viewtopic.php?f=58&t=164690
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Re: Relative noob updating Mint KDE

Postby thunder422 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:52 am

You are correct, some issues I researched and corrected in Mint 10 were not necessary in Mint 12, and also from Mint 12 to 13. For example, I could never get the email message indicator in the system tray to work in Mint 10 with Thunderbird, but it just worked in Mint 12. Unfortunately, it doesn't work consistantly under Mint 13 (sometimes it works, sometimes comes on when there is no new message, sometimes doesn't go off when I read email, and sometimes it doesn't come on when there is a new message).

Yes, I'm aware of Mint 17 an LTS, which I've been waiting for as it (it's kernel version) is suppose to handle SSD better and provide support for Nvidia's laptop Optimus hardware. I still have one computer on Mint 10 and one on Mint 12 that will be upgraded first. Since Mint 13 is also LTS, I'll probably keep my wife's computer at 13 so as to not disrupt her and it's still supported for another 3 years. Unfortunatetly, even though Ubunutu 14.04 will be out shortly, Mint 17 KDE probably won't be out until June/July.

I'll look into the backup tool, but I don't think this is really necessary for me. I have multiple hard drives with multiple partitions (some are even still NTFS, left over from when Win XP was the main OS). My backup scheme is to copy important files to different hard drives (along with to flash drives of course). I've started to set up some cron jobs to do this automatically, but need to expand this. (I'm gotten a little disorganized with all the different OS installs with data everywhere - this computer dates back to 2006, though most components have been upgraded along the way since then.)
Mint 13 KDE: AMD FX-6300, 16GB RAM, GTX 660Ti (2GB), Gigabyte 990FXA-UD5
(with Windows XP and Windows 8.1 VMs on VmWare Player)
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Re: Relative noob updating Mint KDE

Postby skywolfblue on Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:45 pm

Reinstall (good luck trying to recreate what you customised on it; every cache or application data in use so apps resume correctly on the new version, your system or .rc or app settings that matter, your dozens of IU choices and installed software you need to reinstate your system somewhat similar to how it was, and working as it did)


That really is the safest bet in the long run. Upgrades can sometimes introduce instabilities. LTS releases only need to be upgraded every 3 years, that's not really bad.

I write down a checklist of most of the important things.

One thing to consider, do you have HD space for a another OS installation?
Right now what I do is have 3 HD partitions.
- Data
- Linux Mint KDE 16
- Linux Mint KDE 15

That gives me more time to port and correct any settings in the new installation, without wiping everything from the old one.
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