Porting Linux Mint tools to Arch (formerly Mint Arch Edit.)

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Porting Linux Mint tools to Arch (formerly Mint Arch Edit.)

Postby Sloshy on Wed Apr 14, 2010 3:16 pm

EDIT: This post was originally about porting the standard Linux Mint style to Arch Linux. This has been personally decided against and the project is no longer specifically Mint-related. I will continue porting Mint packages to Arch Linux as I was before, but for a slightly different reason. To read the original post, look at the bottom of this message. Here's the new description of the project:

I really enjoy Linux Mint's easy simplicity as well as its tools. I've also recently tried Arch Linux as a "learning experience" and I have to say it's great as well, but for different reasons. I have decided to use Arch as my main Linux OS, but in doing so I'm missing many of the Mint tools that I had while using Linux Mint. I've decided to try and port Mint's packages to Arch Linux. The reason I like Arch is mostly because the desktop is almost completely "vanilla", meaning un-patched/unchanged from the official programs themselves. Since Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu (which patches their packages) which is based on Debian (which might do some patching occasionally), it carries a lot of things that it shouldn't, like the Indicator Applet and applications such as Transmission, Rhythmbox, or Pidgin being pre-patched by the Ubuntu packagers to have features removed/added to support their customizations.

If we got a working Linux Mint desktop on Arch Linux or another slightly more "vanilla" distribution, Mint would be much more unique and wouldn't have to be based on Ubuntu any longer. I'm not planning on completely forking Mint. Rather, I just want to be able to create an equivalent desktop on another system easily.

Here's my original post, which I've since decided to do differently:
Code: Select all
Ever since the infamous "Ubuntu buttons issue", I decided to switch to other Linux distributions to try them out. The first one I tried, Linux Mint, was fantastic and fit my needs perfectly. However, over spring break, I decided to have a "learning experience" and install Arch Linux. Arch, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is a distribution that focuses on simplicity and transparency (from a developer's point of view, not a user's) as well as giving you "vanilla" packages. I find this to be very important considering how Ubuntu patches application to remove or add certain features or functionalities to better fit within its own distribution, messing up distributions that are only coincidentally based on Ubuntu. For example, Ubuntu is patching programs to remove the "minimize to notification area/tray" option in programs such as Transmission, Rhythmbox, Pidgin, etc. so people will be forced to use the Messaging Menu/Indicator Applet instead, which is very unfair for Mint users.

Arch is also a "Rolling Release" distribution, meaning that there aren't "releases" in the traditional Debian/Ubuntu/Fedora/etc. sense, and whenever there is a new version of a package, it becomes available immediately. "Releases" of Arch are just "snapshots" of the current packages. Unlike Ubuntu, Arch is very flexible. With a standard Arch installation, you only have the bare minimum required packages to set up your own system. You can install GNOME, KDE, XFCE, LXDE, Fluxbox, Openbox, Enlightenment, ROX, Ratpoison, or anything else you'd like to use. If we based Linux Mint on Arch Linux, we would remove a lot of unnecessary complexity that is normally present by basing it on Ubuntu.

I intend this to be only a "test", to see how Linux Mint would work when based on something unrelated to Debian. My first full release will be GNOME only, but editions based on other desktop environments may follow if there's enough demand for them (at least two people :wink: ). Here's a list of what to expect:

***
i686 and x86_64 editions
CD and USB images (plus a post-install script that will let you customize your system starting from a base Arch Linux install)
Using Mint software and artwork (with permission) where appropriate (mintUpdate and some features of the mintMenu can't be carried over at the moment)
GNOME-based
Most packages will be "vanilla", aka unpatched
Some Arch-specific tweaks
***

Since this is i686 instead of i386-based, you may notice that some programs start up much faster than before (at the cost of not working on many older computers properly). You can expect the first testing release (pre-alpha) by the end of either April or May.
Last edited by Sloshy on Tue May 25, 2010 1:38 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Linux Mint Arch Edition

Postby FedoraRefugee on Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:40 pm

In principle it is a great idea!

But the reality...

The thing is, the things that attract most of us to Arch will deter the type of user that Mint traditionally attracts. They are at complete different ends of the spectrum.

That said, if you can make all the decisions for the user using Arch as the base...You may have something good cooking. Just keep in mind that it will have to be as simple and idiot-proof as possible. Just take a peek at a few of the threads I have been participating in lately to back that up. :shock: :roll:

I love the idea. I had brought up a "mintized" Fedora spin in their forum in the past. I would have gone beyond just adding the Mint tools, you really need to think along the lines of creating a whole new distro. Arch would prove a great base for this too.

One last thought, you might want to be careful about the inclusion of the Mint name. You would have to contact Clem to see what he would allow.
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Re: Linux Mint Arch Edition

Postby Sloshy on Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:57 pm

Yeah, I can't exactly say it's official without his permission. And yes, I'm planning this to be at least a little bit different than regular Mint. For example, using gtkPacman instead of Synaptic, yaourt (a pacman extension that can automatically download and compile packages for you) and maybe something extra. The main reason for me wanting to do this is because I love the "vanilla" nature of Arch, and I don't want the heavily-patched nature of Ubuntu infecting Mint :wink:. Currently, mintMenu is available from the Arch User Repositories as a patched version made to integrate with pacman (the version I will be using, of course) and that menu is really popular over here. If this ever gets the "okay" to become an official community distribution (probably won't happen until I at least make a beta, which won't happen for another couple months or so at least) then an official Mint pacman repository would be wonderful!

So, my status so far: reading documentation on the many methods to get this job done. I'll begin making test ISOs soon :D!
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Re: Linux Mint Arch Edition (unofficial)

Postby bolle on Wed Apr 14, 2010 10:17 pm

I like the idea,
I really like pacman with the little experience i had with arch linux, and arch was fast, light and was just great overall!
I must say, i really dont like ubuntu, i know its linux, and i support it for that, but i just cant stand it :P

Arch + Mint = WIN

If you need any help, PM me !
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Re: Linux Mint Arch Edition (unofficial)

Postby Kendall on Wed Apr 14, 2010 10:23 pm

I'd love to see what you come up with, and I very much look forward to trying it. I do have to reiterate that you should be very cautious of including any Mint branding without the explicit permission of Clem. Good luck, and please post your progress.
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Re: Linux Mint Arch Edition (unofficial)

Postby Sloshy on Thu Apr 15, 2010 5:37 pm

I finally completed porting a Mint application to Arch Linux! I tried to do mintUpload first, but I'm having a weird problem, so until I fix that, I'll focus on porting the other mint packages. This one is mintBackup, so people can more easily migrate their settings from Mint to Arch or vice versa. If anyone here is running Arch and wants to test this out, you can download the package from AUR:

mintBackup on AUR

After I port a couple more applications, I'll look into making a LiveCD. After that, I'll find a way for it to be installable. If you find anything I should change, please tell me!

*edited*: I updated my package to have a post-install script to auto-update mimetypes for mintBackup.
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Re: Linux Mint Arch Edition (unofficial)

Postby Sloshy on Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:37 am

ikey wrote:Seems good so far.
Have a look at the mint packages, you'll notice a few depend on mint-common, perhaps
it was this that was the issue?

It's possible, but unlikely since mint-common doesn't have much in it. I could try compiling it and seeing if that makes a difference. Here's the forum thread on the Arch Forums where I'm asking about my problem: http://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=95381
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Re: Linux Mint Arch Edition (unofficial)

Postby Biker on Wed Apr 21, 2010 11:22 am

Sloshy wrote:I find this to be very important considering how Ubuntu patches application to remove or add certain features or functionalities to better fit within its own distribution, messing up distributions that are only coincidentally based on Ubuntu. For example, Ubuntu is patching programs to remove the "minimize to notification area/tray" option in programs such as Transmission, Rhythmbox, Pidgin, etc. so people will be forced to use the Messaging Menu instead, which is very unfair for Mint users.


Being a new Mint user, I was scratching my head about these issues over the past couple of days. Glad to see I'm not totally senile and certain features/behaviors were actually changed from what I'm used to seeing.

My primary distro has been Vector Linux for many years. I first tried SUSE, but on an old PIII/450 MHz machine with less than 200MB of RAM, it was a painful experience. Found Vector Linux and never looked back, although I'm always playing with other distributions to learn more and see what else is out there. I've since upgraded to a newer notebook which allows me to play more with what's out there.

Because of the quoted behavior as well as a lack of support for older proprietary ATI drivers, I've decided that Mint most likely will not stay on the drive much longer. However, a 64-bit Arch edition sounds intriguing. Although I'm not too sure about Gnome yet. Perhaps I need to use it more. But as it stands right now, I prefer KDE over Gnome. (Hint Hint) :mrgreen:
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Re: Linux Mint Arch Edition (unofficial)

Postby Sloshy on Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:34 pm

Biker wrote:Because of the quoted behavior as well as a lack of support for older proprietary ATI drivers, I've decided that Mint most likely will not stay on the drive much longer. However, a 64-bit Arch edition sounds intriguing. Although I'm not too sure about Gnome yet. Perhaps I need to use it more. But as it stands right now, I prefer KDE over Gnome. (Hint Hint) :mrgreen:

I'd love to support KDE, but I'm a "noob" when it comes to it. I don't know any of the best programs/widgets for it, good ways it could be configured, etc. I guess I could try making a KDE one, but expect it to be very "vanilla" and un-mint-like. I'm open to suggestions, though :D!
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Re: Linux Mint Arch Edition (unofficial)

Postby El_Tate on Fri Apr 23, 2010 10:49 pm

Hey, i like the idea, i know that Kahel OS is doing the same job, maybe we can use it as base or to take the best ideas?
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Re: Linux Mint Arch Edition (unofficial)

Postby Sloshy on Sat Apr 24, 2010 9:38 pm

Kahel OS, hmm... I just looked it up and it sounds very interesting. It's going in a slightly different direction than we are, though. This is simply meant as a test to see how Mint might work with a rolling release model. They're trying to build an OS based on GNOME and Arch with their own design. Thanks for the advice though; I might try that out sometime!
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Re: Linux Mint Arch Edition (unofficial)

Postby Sloshy on Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:08 am

Status update: I have now ported mint-common and mint-translations. It took only about 5 minutes, and some packages depend on it. You can get them in AUR here:

mint-common
mint-translations

They seem to work perfectly, but I have a problem with mintBackup. The package I have on AUR has recently been outdated, and when I tried using the new one, it asked for Apt in the source files. Why would mintBackup need Apt? Could it be easily replaceable with pacman? Should I not even bother to port the latest version and focus on doing the other things first? Any help would be appreciated! :D
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Re: Linux Mint Arch Edition (unofficial)

Postby Sloshy on Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:53 am

ikey wrote:@Sloshy: The latest mintBackup isn't just a data backup tool.
It backs up your software selections and is capable of restoring them.
This might present an issue on Arch, as Mint uses apt.
Ok I lied, it's a huge issue :P

Oh, so it's a bit like mintBackup (old) + APTOnCD? I guess we could live without it on Mint Arch for now. This is just a test anyways :P. Thanks!
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Re: Linux Mint Arch Edition (unofficial)

Postby Sloshy on Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:07 am

Another update: mintDesktop, one of my favorite "mint tools", is now on AUR!

mintDesktop

The only issue this package has is that when you click the "About" button, a file in mint-common calls for Apt and crashes posts a traceback. The Credits button works nice, though (Ikey, you helped write this?). Besides that, the program works great!

@ikey
I'm not so sure I could easily remove the Apt-ness in mintBackup. I'm only an amateur programmer. I could try though. (psst, anyone that would like to help port mintBackup to Arch/Pacman somehow, lend me a hand! ;))
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Re: Linux Mint Arch Edition (unofficial)

Postby Sloshy on Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:08 pm

ikey wrote:As for the apt-crash in mintdesktop, look at mintDesktop.py in /usr/lib/linuxmint/mintDesktop/ for this line
Code: Select all
version = commands.getoutput("/usr/lib/linuxmint/common/version.py mintdesktop")

That uses mint-common to fetch the version number from apt, pretty sure you could come up with a Arch
related replacement :)
(And yeah I helped with mintDesktop too :))

Fixed! After a lot of trial and error, I replaced your code with this:
Code: Select all
version = commands.getoutput("pacman -Q mintdesktop")

Works fantastic now! However, in the about window "mintDesktop" doesn't have the "desktop" part capitalized, but I'm sure that isn't a huge issue ;).
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Re: Linux Mint Arch Edition (unofficial)

Postby Sloshy on Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:23 pm

ikey wrote:Nice work Sloshy :)
I'm showing a capitalised D for mintDesktop about dialog?
Code: Select all
dlg.set_program_name("mintDesktop")   

Line 176 in my file, might differ in yours..

That's where I ran into a problem. If I had the program name set to mintDesktop like that, then when I queried pacman I'd get this in the about window,
Code: Select all
mintDesktop mintdesktop [version number]

which is rather redundant. So I blanked dlg.set_program_name so it only displays the pacman query and the program description. Would I have been better off replacing "version" with the version of the program instead of querying pacman?
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Re: Linux Mint Arch Edition (unofficial)

Postby Sloshy on Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:37 pm

Thank you very much for the documentation :)! I assume you think I should just tell it what the specific version is instead of querying?
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Re: Linux Mint Arch Edition (unofficial)

Postby Sloshy on Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:19 pm

I just updated the package on AUR to use a static version number instead of a pacman or apt query. Dang... re-packaging packages over and over making slight adjustments each time is a lot of work :P! I hope I did a decent job. Next I'll try to make a generic, non-installable LiveCD for personal testing. Speaking of, if I ever make LiveCDs and I wanted people to test/use them, where would I upload them?
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Re: Linux Mint Arch Edition (unofficial)

Postby Sloshy on Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:30 pm

Thanks for the helpful suggestion! Looks like a great place to upload it :)! I'll probably have the first very-very-alpha release within a week or two. By the way, maybe we should talk on IRC/XMPP or something instead of posting to this topic every 5 minutes ;). Which would you prefer?
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Re: Linux Mint Arch Edition (unofficial)

Postby Sloshy on Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:40 pm

I have an account on Freenode, but any server's fine. Where would you prefer?
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