Linux Mint without desktop environment?

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rbenic
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Linux Mint without desktop environment?

Postby rbenic » Tue Sep 15, 2015 3:36 pm

Hello community,

thank you so much for the help I got from you so far. I can tell you that I got used to Mint and I like it best of all the Linux distros now.

Anyway, here is another thing I want to know: I got hold of several 2006 AMD Opteron machines which have quite good RAM and hard drives, but their GPUs are weak and the processors are just single-core. Although they CAN install Mint from a Live CD, it boots extremely slowly and the desktops have quite bad GPU performance, so I would like to remove the preinstalled desktop environment and use them for some light work with just a plain window manager, such as Openbox. So the thing is, how can I uninstall the Mint desktop environment (does not matter which one) so that it would boot faster and conserve HDD space? And if possible, can you use a simpler login screen because the standard one is itself quite slow?

Any ideas are appreciated.

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ofb
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Re: Linux Mint without desktop environment?

Postby ofb » Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:36 pm

Wrong approach. Instead use a distro that is already intended for old hardware, like AntiX
http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=antix

I see that distrowatch's section for old hardware includes Lubuntu. This is Ubuntu based, like Mint is. So perhaps this is one you want to try out.
http://distrowatch.com/search.php?categ ... +Computers

TIP: If you use a decent USB stick for your LiveISO, then the Live session will operate at a speed similar to a HDD install. (Must be a decent USB stick. A rare few are absurdly slow, so can act even slower than using a CD.)
http://usbspeed.nirsoft.net/

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richyrich
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Re: Linux Mint without desktop environment?

Postby richyrich » Tue Sep 15, 2015 5:09 pm

Try using Mint 17 Xfce Edition. Once installed you can turn off Window compositing from the Window Manager Tweaks program. You can also change the login screen from MDM to GDM using the Login Window program.

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ofb
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Re: Linux Mint without desktop environment?

Postby ofb » Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:01 pm

richyrich wrote:Try using Mint 17 Xfce Edition.

Should be pointed out there is no particular advantage to XFCE.
viewtopic.php?f=151&t=196777&start=20#p1041144

Once installed you can turn off Window compositing from the Window Manager Tweaks program. You can also change the login screen from MDM to GDM using the Login Window program.

Good advice. In MATE it's Menu > Control Centre > Windows to disable the software compositing window manager. Though at the end of the day this isn't going to do all that much for Opterons with weak GPU. The performance will only be 'slightly less slow'.

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Re: Linux Mint without desktop environment?

Postby MtnDewManiac » Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:32 pm

I've always found that the best "solution" for a slow-booting system is the same solution I use for not having issues with the length of time it takes me to walk upstairs to the bathroom - I don't wait until I absolutely, positively, have to be standing in front of the porcelain / sitting in front of a completely loaded desktop RIGHT now... before deciding to initiate the process.

Works every time.

I've found that with my strategy, I wasn't stepping/sitting on any cats in my rush, either :lol: .

BtW, removing everything that is not necessary for your particular needs is probably the best way to ensure your system boots/operates as fast as it can. In extremes, that could even mean compiling your own kernel, lol, but there is a lot you can do short of that. I thought my "at rest" memory usage was pretty low... until I read a thread last year from someone with the same version of Mint and Xfce (the DE I use) in which he mentioned all the things that he'd removed from his running system. IIRC, his setup was using just over half what mine (pretty much default at that time) was using. And what graphic card do those old computers use? Are they desktops or laptops?

Someone once told me that the single thing he did to all of his computers which caused the most marked improvement (in terms of "wait times") to his several old computers was to put SSDs in all of them. I guess that costs money, but if you recently got "several" of these computers, maybe you can sell one for money to upgrade the others? And I searched last year for someone and discovered that new (but years-old) CPUs are cheap. Unless the ones that you have are the absolute best that the motherboards can support, you ought to be able to get anywhere from "some" to "substantial" improvement for not a lot of money. Even if what you have are laptops, many of them are hardware-upgradeable. You probably won't be able to go from a single-core to, say, a dual-core CPU (but you never know - check your motherboards specifications), but if your CPU is operating at 1.792 gHz and you can spend a few bucks (okay, probably $20-$30 at a guess, not knowing your specific CPU models and what is available in the marketplace) to get one that operates at 2.8 gHz, well... Speaking of motherboards, occasionally there are updates. They're released to deal with specific issues, of course, but if one of those issues happens to be something that is affecting your system speed/responsiveness, well (again)...

EDIT: It just occurred to me that one shouldn't have to somehow modify their distro to be without any DE just to add a different DE and be able to boot to it (and make it the default choice, for that matter). There might be certain issues in specific situations, but generally... no.

Regards,
MDM
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If guns kill people, then pencils misspell words, cars make people drive drunk, and spoons made Rosie O'Donnell fat.

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Re: Linux Mint without desktop environment?

Postby GeneBenson » Wed Sep 16, 2015 3:00 am

Hi rbenic,

You might also want to have a look at LXDE. It's in the repositories. :D

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Re: Linux Mint without desktop environment?

Postby rbenic » Wed Sep 16, 2015 5:39 pm

Thanks everyone for the replies, but I still did not get the answer to the question: how to UNINSTALL the preinstalled Mint desktop environment (and if possible use a faster login screen, but that ain't such a big deal). Please stay on topic.

ofb wrote:Wrong approach. Instead use a distro that is already intended for old hardware, like AntiX
http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=antix

I see that distrowatch's section for old hardware includes Lubuntu. This is Ubuntu based, like Mint is. So perhaps this is one you want to try out.
http://distrowatch.com/search.php?categ ... +Computers

TIP: If you use a decent USB stick for your LiveISO, then the Live session will operate at a speed similar to a HDD install. (Must be a decent USB stick. A rare few are absurdly slow, so can act even slower than using a CD.)
http://usbspeed.nirsoft.net/

I want to stay with Mint for the reason of having them in sync with my other systems. They have different desktop environments but the libraries and programs are all the same. Different distros have different package names and/or versions, which would require using different scripts for the appropriate programs on each distro.

richyrich wrote:Try using Mint 17 Xfce Edition. Once installed you can turn off Window compositing from the Window Manager Tweaks program. You can also change the login screen from MDM to GDM using the Login Window program.

Just as ofb said, I tried Xfce among others and it does not help very much. All the desktops have about the same performance. Maybe an advantage of Xfce is using less disk space, but it is still slow. Good advice for the login screen though, I'll try it when I come home tomorrow.

MtnDewManiac wrote:I've always found that the best "solution" for a slow-booting system is the same solution I use for not having issues with the length of time it takes me to walk upstairs to the bathroom - I don't wait until I absolutely, positively, have to be standing in front of the porcelain / sitting in front of a completely loaded desktop RIGHT now... before deciding to initiate the process.

Works every time.

I've found that with my strategy, I wasn't stepping/sitting on any cats in my rush, either :lol: .

BtW, removing everything that is not necessary for your particular needs is probably the best way to ensure your system boots/operates as fast as it can. In extremes, that could even mean compiling your own kernel, lol, but there is a lot you can do short of that. I thought my "at rest" memory usage was pretty low... until I read a thread last year from someone with the same version of Mint and Xfce (the DE I use) in which he mentioned all the things that he'd removed from his running system. IIRC, his setup was using just over half what mine (pretty much default at that time) was using. And what graphic card do those old computers use? Are they desktops or laptops?

Someone once told me that the single thing he did to all of his computers which caused the most marked improvement (in terms of "wait times") to his several old computers was to put SSDs in all of them. I guess that costs money, but if you recently got "several" of these computers, maybe you can sell one for money to upgrade the others? And I searched last year for someone and discovered that new (but years-old) CPUs are cheap. Unless the ones that you have are the absolute best that the motherboards can support, you ought to be able to get anywhere from "some" to "substantial" improvement for not a lot of money. Even if what you have are laptops, many of them are hardware-upgradeable. You probably won't be able to go from a single-core to, say, a dual-core CPU (but you never know - check your motherboards specifications), but if your CPU is operating at 1.792 gHz and you can spend a few bucks (okay, probably $20-$30 at a guess, not knowing your specific CPU models and what is available in the marketplace) to get one that operates at 2.8 gHz, well... Speaking of motherboards, occasionally there are updates. They're released to deal with specific issues, of course, but if one of those issues happens to be something that is affecting your system speed/responsiveness, well (again)...

EDIT: It just occurred to me that one shouldn't have to somehow modify their distro to be without any DE just to add a different DE and be able to boot to it (and make it the default choice, for that matter). There might be certain issues in specific situations, but generally... no.

Regards,
MDM

Those PCs are custom built desktops with some 1.6 GHz Opterons (don't know the model number), 1 GB RAM and Radeon 9250 graphics. For what I want hardware upgrades are second to useless and quite hard to find (at least in Croatia, where I live), so I'm not going to spend money on them. If there is no way to go with Mint, I'll take a different distro, but I was just thinking to replace the desktop environment and the fancy login screen with something faster, like Openbox, IceWM or maybe LXDE. So my question is, how to uninstall the Mint desktop from the system?

GeneBenson wrote:Hi rbenic,

You might also want to have a look at LXDE. It's in the repositories. :D

Thanks for the note, but my question is how to remove the installed desktop environment, not about installing other ones. Besides, I'm not sure if it would be fast enough either...

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MtnDewManiac
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Re: Linux Mint without desktop environment?

Postby MtnDewManiac » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:29 pm

I'm afraid that this post isn't answering your question either. But I have a question of my own:

Does uninstalling a DE on a system where one is using a different DE even make that different DE run faster? I can see where it would save (a little) disk space. But if I have both KDE (a heavy DE) and Xfce on my computer, how would the mere existence of KDE be slowing down my Xfce experience?

I would guess that the first step to removing whatever the default DE is would be to install its replacement. Otherwise, you might end up with a non-booting computer or, at best, a terminal prompt.

I can understand wanting to keep all computers on the same base - I first got into Mint because it was the only .ISO I had on hand when I had to put linux on a person's laptop and that person was not at all a "computer guy," so I installed in in place of the distro I was using at the time so I'd be able to see what he was talking about during the inevitable support phone calls. But I suspect that, when dealing with old (relatively, in today's terms) low-performance computers, which you refuse to upgrade the hardware on... this strategy is the computer-equivalent to shooting yourself in the foot. While some of us have been known to run Mint on older hardware, I would guess that Clem assumes that whatever we run it on will be capable of doing so, lol, and that may well be in regards to the base as well as whatever DE happens to be on each flavor.

I am guessing that, in light of that, it might make much more sense to install your potential DE first, to see if you then attain the performance level that you're looking for and then worry about removing the default one. Maybe that's why you've gotten replies about how to install a new DE - most folks consider that the first step on the road to removing an existing one (well... Most folks would just leave the old one alone and boot into the new one, but still...).

I don't think anyone who suggests that you should try using a distro that is built for the purpose of running on older hardware is trying to run you off, lol - they're most likely trying to save you hassle and frustration on a journey that'll probably take you there eventually in any event.

Regards,
MDM
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Re: Linux Mint without desktop environment?

Postby GeneBenson » Thu Sep 17, 2015 1:51 am

Hi rbenic,

I have to agree with MtnDewManiac's last comments. Having said that you can remove a DE using the "nuclear" approach with:
sudo apt-get purge XXXX-/* where XXXX is your DE.

Or you could run a simulation first with:
sudo apt-get -s purge XXXX-/* where XXXX is your DE.

Or you could use Synaptic Package Manager and remove packages there.

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Re: Linux Mint without desktop environment?

Postby rbenic » Thu Sep 24, 2015 10:33 pm

After some searching around the web I found an unofficial Mint 17.1 LXDE release, which is not really a specialized distro for legacy hardware but uses quite low resources and uses the same codebase as official Mint 17.1. I shall probably stick with that one, but the topic is still open for suggestions.

Link: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ulmlxde/

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Re: Linux Mint without desktop environment?

Postby hpmc13 » Thu Sep 24, 2015 10:57 pm

ofb wrote:Wrong approach. Instead use a distro that is already intended for old hardware, like AntiX
http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=antix


I completely understand your reasoning for wanting to stay with the same base, but you really might want to give AntiX a look, particularly the Symbiosis version. I'm running it on an old laptop with a 2G single core, 30G hard drive, not sure of the graphics but I know that it's slow, and 256 megs of ram. It hums merrily along. I don't ask a lot of it, but it all works.
Running LM 18 Cinnamon

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Re: Linux Mint without desktop environment?

Postby Flemur » Thu Sep 24, 2015 11:32 pm

so I would like to remove the preinstalled desktop environment and use them for some light work with just a plain window manager, such as Openbox. So the thing is, how can I uninstall the Mint desktop environment (does not matter which one) so that it would boot faster and conserve HDD space? And if possible, can you use a simpler login screen because the standard one is itself quite slow?


I use fluxbox. Almost all the boot time (22sec) is before fluxbox starts (which takes about 1 sec or less), and doesn't involve the login. Also, purging the DE won't help speed, but it'll save a little disk space.

But try this:
- install flxubox or openbox
- make it your default login
- reboot and make sure it works
- purge the DE you started with (probably Xfce).

You can also auto-login without using mdm or lightdm - saves a bit of time and mem, but not much - which is why I have done it in a while, but my (incomprehensible) note about it has

Code: Select all

ExecStart=-/sbin/agetty --autologin username --noclear %I 38400 linux

You change some tty1 files to include that...try google (rather than upstart, I'm mostly seeing systemd stuff, which is different).
Edit: I think it's /etc/init/tty1.conf , and replace "exec /sbin/getty -8 38400 tty1" with the above.

Then you have a ~/.dmrc file like:

Code: Select all

[Desktop]
Session=fluxbox


And a ~/.xinitrc file - IIRC, the dbus stuff is so you have "Trash" function. I have all this commented out right now cuz I'm doing it the easy way...the "echo" was so I could see what was happening:

Code: Select all

#######################
# auto-login without mdm/lightdm: (1 start)
# Start the window manager (=fluxbox):
#
# if [ -z "$DESKTOP_SESSION" -a -x /usr/bin/ck-launch-session ]; then
# echo "dbus-launch " > /home/username/a1
#   exec ck-launch-session dbus-launch --exit-with-session /usr/bin/startfluxbox
# else
# echo "NOT dbus-launch " > /home/username/a1
#   exec /usr/bin/startfluxbox
# fi
....

IIRC, you'll have to disable or remove mdm/lightdm first.
Mint 18.3 Xfce/fluxbox/pulse-less
Xubuntu 17.10/fluxbox/pulse-less
Please edit your original post title to include [SOLVED] if/when it is solved!
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Re: Linux Mint without desktop environment?

Postby rbenic » Fri Sep 25, 2015 8:26 pm

hpmc13 wrote:
ofb wrote:Wrong approach. Instead use a distro that is already intended for old hardware, like AntiX
http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=antix


I completely understand your reasoning for wanting to stay with the same base, but you really might want to give AntiX a look, particularly the Symbiosis version. I'm running it on an old laptop with a 2G single core, 30G hard drive, not sure of the graphics but I know that it's slow, and 256 megs of ram. It hums merrily along. I don't ask a lot of it, but it all works.

As I said already, I am not interested in other distros, and even if I were, that is not something I would discuss on the Mint forums.

Flemur wrote:
so I would like to remove the preinstalled desktop environment and use them for some light work with just a plain window manager, such as Openbox. So the thing is, how can I uninstall the Mint desktop environment (does not matter which one) so that it would boot faster and conserve HDD space? And if possible, can you use a simpler login screen because the standard one is itself quite slow?


I use fluxbox. Almost all the boot time (22sec) is before fluxbox starts (which takes about 1 sec or less), and doesn't involve the login. Also, purging the DE won't help speed, but it'll save a little disk space.

But try this:
- install flxubox or openbox
- make it your default login
- reboot and make sure it works
- purge the DE you started with (probably Xfce).

You can also auto-login without using mdm or lightdm - saves a bit of time and mem, but not much - which is why I have done it in a while, but my (incomprehensible) note about it has

Code: Select all

ExecStart=-/sbin/agetty --autologin username --noclear %I 38400 linux

You change some tty1 files to include that...try google (rather than upstart, I'm mostly seeing systemd stuff, which is different).
Edit: I think it's /etc/init/tty1.conf , and replace "exec /sbin/getty -8 38400 tty1" with the above.

Then you have a ~/.dmrc file like:

Code: Select all

[Desktop]
Session=fluxbox


And a ~/.xinitrc file - IIRC, the dbus stuff is so you have "Trash" function. I have all this commented out right now cuz I'm doing it the easy way...the "echo" was so I could see what was happening:

Code: Select all

#######################
# auto-login without mdm/lightdm: (1 start)
# Start the window manager (=fluxbox):
#
# if [ -z "$DESKTOP_SESSION" -a -x /usr/bin/ck-launch-session ]; then
# echo "dbus-launch " > /home/username/a1
#   exec ck-launch-session dbus-launch --exit-with-session /usr/bin/startfluxbox
# else
# echo "NOT dbus-launch " > /home/username/a1
#   exec /usr/bin/startfluxbox
# fi
....

IIRC, you'll have to disable or remove mdm/lightdm first.

Now that is some helpful information, but can you please explain how to purge the installed DE, as you have mentioned?
Regarding the login screen, this might be a good boot optimization, but I definitely do not want the system user to log in without a password. Is there any simpler alternative to Mint's default login screen?

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Re: Linux Mint without desktop environment?

Postby Hoser Rob » Sat Sep 26, 2015 8:14 am

You have had a number of pretty knowledgeable users tell you that you would be better off with another distro rather than mint if you want a light setup using no DE. They're correct, because there is more to lightness and speed than the DE. Debian running a DE like xfce or mate is lighter than ubuntu/mate with the same DE. And others are lighter still.

Whether this is relevant to you is irrelevant, and telling users here to "stay on topic" is arrogant and unproductive. Rest assured this is the last time I'll be reading this thread. Who do you think you are?

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Re: Linux Mint without desktop environment?

Postby MikeF90000 » Sun Sep 27, 2015 8:15 pm

One approach that I don't think has been mentioned - start with the Ubuntu 'mini' iso installer.

After you have an operational 'command line system', add the Mint repos, run apt-get update and install the desktop environment of your choice. I would start with whatever DE or WM that you are comfortable with. I've done this often in a VM to avoid building a test system with a lot of 'cruft'.

HTH, Mike
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Re: Linux Mint without desktop environment?

Postby Fromax » Sat Oct 10, 2015 12:18 pm

MikeF90000 wrote: start with the Ubuntu 'mini' iso installer.
After you have an operational 'command line system', add the Mint repos, run apt-get update and install the desktop environment of your choice.
HTH, Mike


I like this approach. But I would start with a Debian base install and add the LMDE repos instead. LMDE is usually faster than Ubuntu-based LinuxMint...
Linux User #348237 | LMDE 2 | BunsenLabs | Linux Mint 18.2

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Re: Linux Mint without desktop environment?

Postby MtnDewManiac » Sat Oct 10, 2015 3:08 pm

Fromax wrote:I like this approach. But I would start with a Debian base install and add the LMDE repos instead. LMDE is usually faster than Ubuntu-based LinuxMint...


If you're going to go that route, you'd probably be ahead to add the LMDE2 ones, instead; LMDE reaches EoL on the first day of next year:
http://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=2832

Regards,
MDM
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Re: Linux Mint without desktop environment?

Postby Fromax » Sat Oct 10, 2015 3:34 pm

MtnDewManiac wrote:add the LMDE2 ones, instead; LMDE reaches EoL on the first day of next year:
http://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=2832


That's what I meant! Thanks for correcting me :?
Linux User #348237 | LMDE 2 | BunsenLabs | Linux Mint 18.2

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Re: Linux Mint without desktop environment?

Postby Jmthomas87 » Sun Apr 10, 2016 9:49 pm

I know this is an older thread, but another WM that I have used on older systems is JWM.

I know it looks like old Windows 95, but it can be themed a bit and it is pretty light on resources.


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