My introduction to Linux Mint – Debian Edition

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My introduction to Linux Mint – Debian Edition

Post by iainrs » Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:40 pm

[this should possibly go under the Newbies section but it is specifically about LMDE. Sorry if it's a bit rambling but thought my experience might(?) be interesting. I've moved from first look at Mint to fully installed in 4 days – hope I don't regret it <grin>]

As a retired programmer/analyst I 'played' with Linux for some years before committing myself to Ubuntu Gutsy (7.10) in 2008. I soon found that I my Windows XP system was being used less and less and by the start of 2010 I was fully committed. A new i5 box was acquired - dual-booting with Windows 7 alongside 9.10. This was upgraded through 10.04 and 10.10 – all upgrades going smoothly – even with 11.04 - after a short play with Unity, I reverted to Classic Gnome. I suppose that at my age and after (too) many years with older equipment I like my computers to behave like computers, with recognisable structure and menus, not like mobile phones.

Last week after looking at the lack of options with 11.10, I decided to try Mint, ran the 'live' versions and liked what I saw. The choice was between Mint 11 and LMDE. Using the Ubuntu based version might be safer but would involve more frequent upgrades and maybe more changes to the way I run things. The rolling-release of the Debian version would make it easier to keep up to date with the software I used more intensively and would, as somebody said, 'cut out the middle man!'.

When changing boxes nearly 2 years ago the policy of keeping '/home' separate from 'root' paid off and by making a simple two-partition installation I was able to update the 'home' partition with all my 'stuff' including configuration details of email, browsing, programming etc. By copying over folders such as .mozilla, .nautilus I avoided the necessity of reconfiguration.

This time, having plenty of disk space, I decided to do the same again, created two new partitions, installed LMDE (in 'new_root' and 'newhome') and got it working very easily and quickly.

I created a copy of my (200gb) Ubuntu 'home' partition with 'gparted' and copied over the 'newhome' data to it (as 'mint_home') and used it to create replacement '.gnome2, .gconf, .gconfd' etc. folders.

Updating /etc/fstab for my new '/home' partition and rebooting I had Linux Mint with my old Desktop, directory structure and environmental variables. It was then a matter of installing those packages that I needed and checking that they worked – and nearly all did.

I then wanted to check some stuff on my old Ubuntu system, rebooted and wondered why it looked strange. It had all my new Mint settings. I had discovered that when 'gparted' copies a partition it keeps the existing UUID and both systems were using the same '/home' area. After a bit of googling I found a way of changing UUIDs (tune2fs -U random /dev/sdxx *note parameter order). updated fstab and had Ubuntu back (if I needed it).

Other things I noted were :
- take care when installing python 2.7 – the mint utilities stopped working
- with 2 monitors it is convenient to put a 2nd gnome panel on the right hand screen – with menu buttons on each.
- some programs don't seem to work(emelFM2 – 2 pane file manager) or require extra attention (wcd – wherever change directory)

The main thing I have to do now is to get my virtual XP machine working for those things that don't work on Linux – weather station, sat-nav etc. I was using vmWorkstation but am now trying to get VirtualBox going – will have to 'rtfm'!

All things considered I'm quite pleased with the conversion, started on Friday, more or less complete by Sunday. I probably didn't plan enough, but I never do.

I enjoyed the depth of the Ubuntu community but I'm impressed with what I've seen of the Mint support network. I listened to the mintCast on Saturday while tidying things up. I'll be glad when the Community Site is back up as I feel I'll get a lot of information by browsing there.

Thanks to Clem and all the other workers – a donation will be on the way.


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Re: My introduction to Linux Mint – Debian Edition

Post by Anakinholland » Sat Nov 19, 2011 12:04 pm

Nice read, have fun on your journey! :)
Thanks to Clem and all the other workers – a donation will be on the way.
That's the spirit!
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