Disappointing experiences installing Linux Mint 19.2 and 19.1

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migoliv
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Disappointing experiences installing Linux Mint 19.2 and 19.1

Post by migoliv » Fri Aug 16, 2019 8:16 am

Longer than 12 years ago, when I was trying to install Linux in the same hard drive as Windows (dual boot) I got in a situation where windows was not booting anymore and got confronted with a GRUB command line prompt.
Since that time I decided never again to dual boot Linux and Windows from the same drive.

Long time ago I could remove the windows hard drive and replace it with a new hard disk 100% dedicated to Linux, but nowadays with hard disks “sealed” inside laptops that option is gone.

My only option then was to be able to fully install Linux on a USB device, an option that Ubuntu made possible (when installing, taking the option “something else” as an alternative to installing on the same drive as Windows). When Ubuntu many years ago unwisely went the way of the Unity UI, I discovered Linux Mint which offered the same “something else” install option.

Nowadays you can buy USB sticks and micro sdxc cards with capacities of 64GB, 128 GB and 256GB for very reasonable prices, an ideal option to have a Linux distro boot from the same laptop where you have Windows installed in the hard drive.

About a month ago I decided to do a full install of Linux Mint 19.1 Cinnamon on a 128GB sdxc card, enclosed in a micro USB reader. I have never had such a horrible experience. After the installation I decided to do the updates. There was a very long list of updates. Updating killed the installation! As the updating took a long time to realize, and I left the laptop unattended, I saw to my astonishment that the automatic log off after a certain amount of time – because nobody was using the laptop – would disturb the update process, leading to an avalanche of errors in the updater. After some update retrials the GRUB got messed about and the boot process resulted in a GRUB command prompt! As I do not have GRUB expertise I had no alternative but to reformat the 128GB disk to exFat from Windows and try again, this time using 64GB cards instead of the 128GB.

Every time I tried the update, I got the same mess. But even worse, after reformatting the cards and trying to install Linux Mint again, at the end of the installation process I would get the ultimate error: The installer was unable to install the boot record on the very same card where previously it had installed the boot record without any problems!

When I think about these troubles with the updater, I see the difference between the update process in Windows and in Mint. In Windows when Windows is being updated, the user cannot use the computer simultaneously. In Mint he can but that can lead to that interference.

Then I discovered that Linux Mint 19.2 had been just released and tried everything again. But, I got the same experience: At the end of the installation process, I got the same error: The installer was unable to install the boot record, unless the card was “new”, that is, it had not yet been used previously for a Linux Mint install.

When I concluded that I could not use Linux Mint 19.2, I made an experiment: In 2017 I had installed Linux Mint 18.1 in a Samsung external 256GB SSD drive, but that installation had been done on a Lenovo laptop that I do not use anymore. I connected that SSD drive to an ASUS laptop and to my astonishment the ASUS worked perfectly with the Linux Mint 18.1 installation.

Then I decided to experiment some more: I installed the old Linux Mint 18.1 Cinnamon distro to the very same 64GB cards where Linux Mint 19.2 was not able to install the boot record and to my amazement there was no problem! Linux Mint 19.2 is unable to install the boot record on a 64GB card, but old Linux Mint 18.1 has not such hurdle.
My conclusion: see how a new version of software instead of enhancing a system, worsens it!

For me, the only option now, is to use an old version of Mint!

But, shall I use it daily? Should I step over definitively from Windows to Linux as many Linux aficionado's propagate? I am a software developer. I like to build software using modern GUI frameworks, not to learn how to resolve GRUB problems using the command line. Being able to “hibernate” the laptop at the end of the day in order to be able to continue the next day exactly where I was, is a feature that I take for granted. I could not leave without it. And even under Windows, I do not like the “suspend” feature, (which functions under Mint, but with disturbances), because if I suspend, Windows will try to update Windows from “suspend” mode, in that way closing the applications that I have been using. When I see that under Ubuntu and Mint the hibernation option is disabled by default and that if you try to activate it following several guides available about the subject, this can lead to a mess up with GRUB, leading to a GRUB prompt on the next reboot, I (as a non-expert on GRUB rescuing) will stay away from such experiments.

I hope that this feedback will be an alert for the Mint developers, to concentrate less on cosmetic enhancements and more on stability and fundamental working features, like hibernation.

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karlchen
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Re: Disappointing experiences installing Linux Mint 19.2 and 19.1

Post by karlchen » Fri Aug 16, 2019 9:46 am

Hello, migoliv.

Welcome to the Linux Mint forum. :)

I do understand your frustration and disappointment, because installing Mint 19.1 and Mint 19.2 in the end failed, because the grub-installer failed to install Grub in the MBR of the sdxc card.
I admit I do not understand why.
I have installed 2 different Ubuntu releases on the same sdxc card (USB 3.0). The Grub installer has never failed to install Grub correctly for me.
Without the precise message which the grub-installer must have written to some logfile during installation, it is next to impossible to tell what went wrong and why.
Sorry.

About the failed software update on your initial Mint 19.1 system on the sdxc card (first installation):
You mention that
the automatic log off after a certain amount of time
interfered with the ongoing software update and finally caused the software update to fail with a lot of errors.
This must be a misunderstanding.
There is no automatic logoff after a certain amount of time. What happens instead is this: After a certain amount of time (configurable by you) without user activity, the desktop will be locked. This, however, does not mean that you are logged off. No way.
The keyboard and the mouse get locked and the screen will be blanked. But in the background your session will still be there, only not accessible without unlocking the computer first.
In order to use your computer again you have to unlock it. You will be presented what looks exactly like the login screen, where you enter your password. Provided you do so, you will return to your still ongoing desktop session.

While the computer is locked, any ongoing software update will proceed normally. No interference of any kind.
I leave my system unattended frequently while Update Manager is doing its update job.
When I come back the screen is locked frequently and I have to unlock it.

In no case the locked screen had had any negative impact on the ongoing software update operation.

In brief words:
If this software update got borked, it would have got borked, too, in case you had been sitting in front of the screen all the time and moved your mouse frequently enough to prevent the locking mechanism from kicking in.

As you do not mention what precisely were the errors, which were displayed, when that software update in question failed or got stuck, I cannot judge whether those errors would have been repairable or not.

Summary:
Your post is pretty verbose. Nonetheless the way how you describe the issues, which you have encountered, are sufficiently unprecise and lacking the relevant details. As a consequence, it is hard to tell whether you have really been hit by application bugs or by the pebcak bug rather.

Suggestion:
Next time that you come across a problem, report it in this forum, giving the precise steps which you had done and the precise error messages, which you had to read. Then it is not totally impossible that the forum users will succeed in helping you identify the root cause of the experienced problem and find a solution.

Best regards,
Karl
--
P.S.: Just for the files and for completeness' sake: I have installed Mint 19.1 xfce on two different computers and Mint 19.2 xfce on a third computer and encountered precisely 0 issues during the installation process. All 3 systems still exist and work as expected.
Image
Linux Mint 19.2 32-bit xfce Desktop, Total Commander 9.22a 32-bit
Linux Mint 18.1 64-bit Cinnamon Desktop, Total Commander 9.22a 64-bit
Windows? - 1 window in every room

migoliv
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Re: Disappointing experiences installing Linux Mint 19.2 and 19.1

Post by migoliv » Fri Aug 16, 2019 12:44 pm

Hello karlchen,
Thanks for your reply.
I apologize. I was imprecise when mentioning "automatic logoff". I really meant "screen lock", as you described in your reply. I must say I have configured some parts of the UI to much longer time outs, in order to prevent the interference with the updater, but there was always some other time out value that I had not configured that interfered. I even spent a lot of time moving the mouse around every minute of so, in order to prevent the interference. I must have made some 7 or more installs using 2 64GB cards and the mentioned 128GB, every time configuring things around (like energy savings) before starting the updates.

I must say I have taken a lot of pictures of the screens with diverse stages of the installation process, including a lot of the displayed errors. I have thus documented a lot of the troubles.

If you wish, I can upload many of the photo's, for your information. I believe that you have had no issues in the same way as I hope you believe I have had the described issues. If you do not believe it, I can upload several of the photo's. Seeing is believing.

What I will not do is spend a lot more hours trying again and again this and that suggestion to work around the troubles. My perception is that if I find a work around for bug 1, I will bump later into bug 2, and bug 3 and so on..

Just another example. I am a fun of a twin-panel file manager like Total Commander. Krusader is a good alternative under Linux. Under Linux Mint 18.1 Krusader works well and I can call Krusader ROOT mode from a standard Krusader non-root window. Under Mint 19.1 and 19.2 the installation misses the Kate editor (I have to install it separately) and the launching of Krusader ROOT mode app from within the standard Krusader window fails. I had to create a separate launcher that would call sudo and then launch Krusader in order to get a Krusader ROOT window. Another twin panel file manager is Gnome Commander. Pressing the SMB button produces always an error window asking if Samba has been installed. I found out that that bug has already been recognized as a bug some 6 years ago ans has never been corrected...

I can spend my time better using an operating system that - not withstanding a lot of of things I do not like - has been functioning reasonably well, is stable, functional (think about hibernation), even has work-spaces like Linux (a very nice feature) instead of having to fight this bug and that bug of the Mint 19.2 OS in order to be able to use my applications and develop software.

Best regards.

ColdBootII
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Re: Disappointing experiences installing Linux Mint 19.2 and 19.1

Post by ColdBootII » Sat Aug 17, 2019 9:01 am

migoliv wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 12:44 pm

I can spend my time better using an operating system that - not withstanding a lot of of things I do not like - has been functioning reasonably well, is stable, functional (think about hibernation), even has work-spaces like Linux (a very nice feature) instead of having to fight this bug and that bug of the Mint 19.2 OS in order to be able to use my applications and develop software.
Yeah, it's true, and that comes about because you get many refreshment hours from every (unsuccessful) windows system update, during which you can do nothing better with your time but chill. Many people don't appreciate that benefit, so glad that you do. :mrgreen:

migoliv
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Re: Disappointing experiences installing Linux Mint 19.2 and 19.1

Post by migoliv » Sat Aug 17, 2019 3:29 pm

Hello ColdBootII,
Thanks for the reply.
You are right: I prefer waiting 2 or 3 minutes (that is my experience currently) for the update to complete and the laptop to reboot than to watch an update mess up with the installation because it is designed to allow interference from event handling processes. Up to now I have never had an update that failed in that "horrible" OS, but I am sure that others have had problems with the updates. No system is perfect. The important point in my opinion is how stable is the OS? When I see the version 18.1 gave me less problems than version 19.1 and 19.2 what should I conclude about stability?
I like to work on what I am busy with instead of having to solve problem after problem of the OS, but sure enough there are people that consider that a sport, which I obviously cannot criticize.

gm10
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Re: Disappointing experiences installing Linux Mint 19.2 and 19.1

Post by gm10 » Sat Aug 17, 2019 3:42 pm

Didn't read those walls of texts but yes, Cinnamon is prone to crashing on some systems apparently (both according to my own, rather dated, experience, but also judging from the threads about Cinnamon crashing we see here regularly). Personally I'm using MATE and I do not remember anybody ever claiming it had crashed. So there's your alternatively (and I doubt Xfce would crash, either).
Tune up your LM 19.x: ppa:gm10/linuxmint-tools

ColdBootII
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Re: Disappointing experiences installing Linux Mint 19.2 and 19.1

Post by ColdBootII » Sat Aug 17, 2019 4:25 pm

Hi gm,

The point here is that updates are supposedly "not working" in 19.x.

I've been using Mate 19.1/2 version for over 7 months now without a single update hiccup, had a system upgraded through your manager and yet again with nothing much to say but praise the team's work and yours too.

I think people complaining about Cinnamon are more often then not those who try to salvage very old machines. And about the way Standby works in Cinnamon I can only say I have a script I used that put my hardware to suspend after a defined period, then it would wake itself and myself up with some very loud music in the morning, very reliably, never letting me oversleep any workdays no matter how tired I was.

But a windows aficionado won't believe any of it anyways... :mrgreen:

Cheers :D

gm10
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Re: Disappointing experiences installing Linux Mint 19.2 and 19.1

Post by gm10 » Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:06 pm

ColdBootII wrote:
Sat Aug 17, 2019 4:25 pm
I think people complaining about Cinnamon are more often then not those who try to salvage very old machines.
Possible, but the thing crashing is a bug no matter what. I remember Cinnamon in 18.3 crashing all the time when I tried it on my (at the time) brand new laptop. I haven't touched it since, so I don't know how the current version performs, but I have seen several Cinnamon crash threads on here today alone. But just like how Nemo will crash if you have the side-panel in tree view and then right click it anywhere, bugs are still plentiful, so I don't doubt that Cinnamon has its share.

Speaking of which, the MATE team is currently hard at work adding Wayland display server compatibility, I'm sure we'll end up with a few bugs of our own in MATE once that releases. ;)
Tune up your LM 19.x: ppa:gm10/linuxmint-tools

ColdBootII
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Re: Disappointing experiences installing Linux Mint 19.2 and 19.1

Post by ColdBootII » Sun Aug 18, 2019 1:03 am

Fair point, I had a few things to tackle myself in Cinnamon. :mrgreen: Like not using the screensaver to avoid 100% CPU usage and finding the right kernel+X+Cinnamon combination that won't boot to a black screen every now and then. The thing is, once you know your way around a little, it becomes smooth sailing, not bug after bug after bug... as implied in this thread.

The only reason I switched to Mate is because I never did that before. Not because I was pulling my hair out due to Cinnamon.

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karlchen
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Re: Disappointing experiences installing Linux Mint 19.2 and 19.1

Post by karlchen » Sun Aug 18, 2019 8:47 am

<Off-topic>
gm10 wrote:
Sat Aug 17, 2019 3:42 pm
(and I doubt Xfce would crash, either).
It is all your fault, because you mentioned xfce. Now it has happened. The first xfce system in history has crashed! Look wot you dun!
</Off-topic>
Image
Linux Mint 19.2 32-bit xfce Desktop, Total Commander 9.22a 32-bit
Linux Mint 18.1 64-bit Cinnamon Desktop, Total Commander 9.22a 64-bit
Windows? - 1 window in every room

gm10
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Re: Disappointing experiences installing Linux Mint 19.2 and 19.1

Post by gm10 » Sun Aug 18, 2019 9:05 am

karlchen wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 8:47 am
<Off-topic>
gm10 wrote:
Sat Aug 17, 2019 3:42 pm
(and I doubt Xfce would crash, either).
It is all your fault, because you mentioned xfce. Now it has happened. The first xfce system in history has crashed! Look wot you dun!
</Off-topic>
Haha. To be fair, Xfmw4 was already crashing with that Mesa driver issue, so maybe my ringing endorsement was slightly exaggerated. There's apparently also a memory leak in Macro/Metacity so MATE isn't completely immune, either. Never experienced that one myself but it came up recently. :P
Tune up your LM 19.x: ppa:gm10/linuxmint-tools

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