[SOLVED] What is the best Linux Mint option for me?

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[SOLVED] What is the best Linux Mint option for me?

Postby powerhouse on Tue May 15, 2012 4:25 pm

I use Linux Mint for years now.

Recently LMDE 12 was released and I liked the idea of a rolling distribution - no upgrades anymore!

BUT, is that really the best way to go?

I want a stable system with minimum maintenance - no playing around trying new desktops and stuff. Just something that works and doesn't need to be touched.

Again BUT: I'm a "power user". The setup I'm trying to get to looks as follows:

- LMDE 12
- Xen kernel
- Nvidia proprietary driver for the Xen kernel
- Windows 7 in a domU (virtual machine) with VGA passthrough

Preferably everything installed on LVM partitions (well, all except /boot).

My hardware is pretty nice - i7 3930K, PNY Quadro 600 GPU (Nvidia), 32 Gig RAM, 120 Gig SSD, a couple of HD for data.

Would the regular Linux Mint install be a better choice than LMDE?

Any thoughts or suggestions?
Last edited by powerhouse on Sun Sep 16, 2012 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the best Linux Mint option for me?

Postby xenopeek on Tue May 15, 2012 4:41 pm

[Moved here by moderator]

I think you mean LMDE 201204 ... or linux Mint 12 ... halp! You are confusing me :)

Anyway, if you have to pick I'd choose between Linux Mint 13 and LMDE. Linux Mint 13 is a long term support (LTS) release, with support (security updates, bugfixes) for 5 years. So that also is install once, though in the later years it may have older versions of applications than with LMDE (Firefox stays actual as part of the security updates though). It may be more stable than LMDE for that. Normal releases, like Linux Mint 12, only have support for 1.5 years.

Linux Mint 13 is currently in release candidate stage; should move to final release within a few weeks.
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Re: What is the best Linux Mint option for me?

Postby powerhouse on Tue May 15, 2012 5:23 pm

Thanks Vincent!

I'm currently running an LTS release on my old PC. The thing is that I want to install some very new applications such as the latest Gimp. I was hoping that LMDE 201204 would give me both stability and continuous updates and upgrades (of stable software releases). Am I wrong?
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Re: What is the best Linux Mint option for me?

Postby xenopeek on Tue May 15, 2012 5:36 pm

I think for both Linux Mint main edition and LMDE you need to do something if you want the absolutely latest version of an application.

For the main edition this usually means adding a PPA (personal package archive), where a developer or maintainer has made a newer version available that available in the default repositories. For example for Gimp, Google on "ppa gimp" leads me to this short howto which will work on Linux Mint 13 LTS as well: http://www.unixmen.com/gimp-2-8-is-out-ppa-ubuntu/

For LMDE you should understand that it is by default using the Debian Testing repository (though buffered so the LMDE testing team tests updates before you get them). To get the latest version of an application, you would probably have to add the Debian Unstable or Experimental repositories (which may not lead you to a working application, hence the names :wink:). Learn some more about LMDE from the FAQ, here: viewtopic.php?f=197&t=91405

To understand the different repositories available on Debian, have a look here (Linux Mint adds a Latest and Incoming repository, both connected to Debian Testing as explained in the faq):

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Re: What is the best Linux Mint option for me?

Postby powerhouse on Tue May 15, 2012 11:29 pm

Thanks for the detailed explanation, Vincent!

I usually do not take the latest or experimental stuff, or only in exceptional cases.

About LMDE, is there a way to choose packages from "non-experimental" repositories? I like the idea of a rolling distribution that doesn't need a reinstall / upgrade every couple of years. I usually run a distribution for 4-5 years, but after around 2 years the packages are often quite old. I like to prevent having to do upgrades as they can break the system. A new installation would be possible, but in my case (trying to get Xen with VGA passthrough running on LVM) the installation itself is a bit challenging.
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Re: What is the best Linux Mint option for me?

Postby wayne128 on Wed May 16, 2012 12:55 am

powerhouse wrote:
About LMDE, is there a way to choose packages from "non-experimental" repositories? I like the idea of a rolling distribution that doesn't need a reinstall / upgrade every couple of years. I usually run a distribution for 4-5 years, but after around 2 years the packages are often quite old. I like to prevent having to do upgrades as they can break the system. A new installation would be possible, but in my case (trying to get Xen with VGA passthrough running on LVM) the installation itself is a bit challenging.



If you really want rolling release, then use Debian SID. It is rolling fast and you can get new stuff too.
Some people ran it for more than 5 years without a reinstall.
MY Debian Sid is quite young since feb2011, no reinstall since then. I would like to see how far it can get dist-upgrade, as long as the hard disk and this hardware last.

If you install using Debian installer you should not have much problem to deal with LVM.
However if you want to do it with LMDE..hmm, some works.. I read from a few forumers who were successful on that and they posted a lenghty procedure in the forum.
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Re: What is the best Linux Mint option for me?

Postby xenopeek on Wed May 16, 2012 2:24 am

You can selectively install applications not from Linux Mint Latest (based on Debian Testing), but from Debian Unstable or Debian Experimental. So if you need a newer version of some application than is available in Linux Mint Latest, you can find it possibly there. Eventually, as this is a rolling release, newer application version do get installed to your system. So if you can't wait, there are options :wink:

I'd say have a read through zerozero's LMDE FAQ: viewtopic.php?f=197&t=91405 Especially the parts "Q3- Why are my applications not the latest possible version?" and "AptPinning". An example of how to add additional repositories and use apt pinning is given here: http://community.linuxmint.com/tutorial/view/250.
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Re: What is the best Linux Mint option for me?

Postby powerhouse on Wed May 16, 2012 5:18 pm

@wayne: Thanks for the advice re Debian SID. I actually never tried plain Debian. Could be a good option, since I know form others that they have succeeded to get Xen and VGA passthrough working.
The reason I'm trying to make it work with Linux Mint is that I simply love it. It looks great, it works great, it's usually all I need, except now for the LVM support at the installation, and later down the installation the support of Xen side by side with proprietary Nvidia kernel driver.

@Vincent: Thanks for your explanation and the links - will look it up.
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Re: What is the best Linux Mint option for me?

Postby wayne128 on Thu May 17, 2012 4:10 am

It is quite easy to use smxi/sgfxi to install nVidia as well as liquorix kernel.

if you really want to install LMDE with lvm, this thread should help

viewtopic.php?f=197&t=71159
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Re: What is the best Linux Mint option for me?

Postby powerhouse on Fri May 18, 2012 5:59 pm

Hello Wayne,

Thanks for the help. I will look into smxi/sgfxi to see what it can do.

I did follow the instructions in the link you posted on how to install LMDE on LVM (with or without encryption), but got stuck at changing the config file under gmd3, which wasn't present in my installation (Mate / Cinnamon). I later learned that mdm replaces gmd3 and I could have edited the mdm config file.

Since I don't care for encryption, I don't really see why the plain old cp command, when issued from within a live system, can't accomplish the job of copying a / and /home folder to their new LVM2 partitions.

The regular install from live USB stick onto non-LVM partitions went smooth and gave me a fully installed system in one installation process. Copying that to LVM partitions later on looks like an easier process. I will report on it once I've done it.
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Re: What is the best Linux Mint option for me?

Postby powerhouse on Sat May 19, 2012 8:27 am

Ok, here is where I am now:

I had some problems with my current LMDE 201204 installation, where update-apt-xapian-index would freeze my PC every time I started synaptic. At a reboot I suddenly had an fsck error and needed to run fsck manually to fix errors. There were some 20 errors on drive /dev/sda2, which is my / on an SSD. Could be a hardware problem, which I hope it isn't.

In fact, I'm now quite discouraged. I can't have things breaking, and my understanding is that using LMDE may not be the best way.

I'm now downloading Linux Mint 13 RC.

I've done so many installs in the past 2 weeks I can't count them anymore (mainly trying to get Fedora work - which didn't).

I hope the Linux Mint guys give me an LVM option in the LM 13 installer - that would really make things easier! Download of LM 13 should be done in a couple of minutes.
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Re: What is the best Linux Mint option for me?

Postby craig10x on Sat May 19, 2012 9:16 am

Mint 13 (main edition) should work out much better for you...it is much more "relaxing" to use main edition (ubuntu based version) :wink:

LMDE is really more for the "tinkerers" that don't mind playing with their system a lot and fix breakages when the occur....
I tried it twice and both times ended up coming back to the main edition... :)
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Re: What is the best Linux Mint option for me?

Postby powerhouse on Mon May 21, 2012 5:30 pm

Thanks craig10x!

I'm now in the process of installing Linux Mint 13 Mate on my PC. I'm attempting to do it both UEFI style (no MBR but GPT with UEFI) and using LVM2 for / and /home from a live USB stick.

After quite a few attempts I managed to get a UEFI bootable life USB stick. I partitioned the SSD to:

/dev/sda1 500M vfat 32 efi partition as /boot/efi
/dev/sda2 500M ext2 as /boot
/dev/sda3 as LVM partition with a VG vol1 and LV /dev/mapper/vol1_root 15G and /dev/mapper/vol1_home 20G

The good news: UEFI works and detects the UEFI live USB and UEFI boot loader and I get to the grub2 menu for the kernels (regular and save mode)

The bad news: Even before the grub menu is displayed, I get an error (which appears to short to really comprehend) and when I select a kernel it goes to a blank screen with blinking keyboard LEDs :-(

I did install LVM2 and grub-efi while chmod to the installed OS. It seems to be a grub problem. Checking the grub.cfg I found an entry at the beginning specifying a UUID that I couldn't see with blkid. I don't know where the hell it got it from. All partitions where mounted, that is /boot/efi, /boot, /, and /home while I ran update-grub and grub-install.

Looking at the grub.cfg it also had the modprobe lvm part, so the LVM partitions (including /) should be OK. The lvm module is also under /boot/...

Somewhere at the Arch Linux site https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/GRUB2 they mention to modprobe dm-mod which I didn't load before upgrading and installing grub. I will try it.

So, I've successfully created an UEFI USB live system of Linux Mint 13 RC, but my LVM install doesn't boot yet. I"m optimistic, though. I'm documenting my installation to produce a how-to later on (if I succeed).

Bottom line: I'm now trying to get Linux Mint 13 RC to install on LVM partitions and later on get a Xen kernel with Linux Mint on dom0 and Windows 7 on a domU with VGA passthrough. Ideally the dom0 or Linux Mint 13 would use the Nvidia proprietary driver for my graphic card.
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Re: What is the best Linux Mint option for me?

Postby powerhouse on Fri May 25, 2012 7:56 pm

Just a short update. I tried to install LM13 but I got problems with grub. I've opened a new thread here http://forum.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=103037.

I get the error:
Error: efidisk read error

Before the grub menu appears. Booting the kernel after adding the set pagers=0 and set debug=all it runs until after the mmap EFI memory allocation when I get this:

lib/relocator.c:1222: min_addr = 0x0, max_addr = 0xffffffffffffffff, target = 0x88800
lib/relocator.c:433: trying to allocate in 0x0-0xfffffffffffffffff aligned 0x1 size 0x7800
lib/relocator.c:529: Blocking at 0xa786f000-0xde5b9000

Unless I find a boot loader that can handle UEFI as well as LVM I'm going to format the disk to MBR or GPT-BIOS. It's rediculous that grub can't handle UEFI based boot. Yet it's the default for many Linux distribution, including LM 13.
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Re: What is the best Linux Mint option for me?

Postby powerhouse on Sat Jun 02, 2012 5:23 pm

OK, several iterations later, including a trial with Ubuntu 12.04, I have flashed the SSD with the latest firmware and am currently running badblocks -v -s on it to see if I have an SSD problem. Some days ago I ran memtest86+ to see if my RAM is causing the problems - the test showed no errors.

I'm planing to install LM13 Maya using LVM for the root and /home directories, as well as the domUs once I got the Xen hypervisor installed.

So far I haven't managed to install any operating system that works reliably. Neither Fedora 17, nor Ubuntu 12.04, not LM13 Maya or LMDE 201204 worked. I managed to install all of them, but later on ran into CRC or disk error problems, or synaptic segfaulting. I'm not sure if it's because of the new Linux kernels or a hardware problem.

I could try and install Windows 7 Pro I've acquired and want to use in a domU environment. But installing Windows as my primary OS is about the last thing I want to do. However, I have a serious backlog of photos that I need to process and I need a working PC. Just to recap, my idea is to run a Linux Mint with Xen kernel as dom0 and Windows as a "virtual machine" on a domU with VGA passthrough to the graphics card. In simple words, I like my Windows virtual machine to have direct access to the graphics adapter so I can calibrate my screen. I want Linux for all the other stuff except photo editing (where the Linux option currently suck and commercial options only being available on Windows or Mac OS).
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Re: What is the best Linux Mint option for me?

Postby powerhouse on Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:04 am

Another update:

The badblocks command didn't show any errors. I went ahead and formatted the drive as follows using gdisk:

/dev/sda1 vfat (efi) 512MB as /boot/efi
/dev/sda2 ext4 1024MB as /boot
/dev/sda3 as LVM partition with 2 logical volumes: /dev/mapper/vol1-root as /, and /dev/mapper/vol1-home as /home

After that I installed LM13 via the installer (it listed my LVs too) and the installation seemed to go well.

I then mounted the disk file systems under /mnt, as well as mount --bind /dev /mnt/dev, and did a chroot /mnt, mounted the sysfs, proc etc. too.

In the chroot environment I tried to apt-get install lvm2 and got a segmentation fault - it wouldn't install. Nor would any other package install. I ran apt-get update and apt-get clean to no avail.

I have no idea why apt-get is segfaulting.It says something on the line that .../dpkg is segfaulting.

My next attempt will be to install LM13 without LVM. This has worked in previous attempts.
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Re: What is the best Linux Mint option for me?

Postby powerhouse on Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:04 am

I tried to install Win 7 Ultimate with the same results - it wouldn't boot. I even removed the SSD and installed Win7 on a clean hard disk, again it wouldn't boot. I returned the PC to the shop for diagnosis and repair.

Thanks for all your help.
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Re: What is the best Linux Mint option for me?

Postby powerhouse on Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:13 am

I made it. In other words, I installed Windows into a Xen domU with direct access to the graphics adapter and a USB host.

My PC runs Linux Mint 13 Mate 64 bit and Windows 7 Professional 64 bit concurrently, each having its on graphics card with native graphics acceleration using "VGA passthrough". It took me a long time to get it work, including hardware replacements and additions.

For those who want to give it a try, here is my how-to (currently work in progress): http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=112013
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