Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) Install Notes
for an Acer 11.6 inch Netbook
with AMD/ATI C60 'Fusion' chip
A few more notes or links may be added.
Also, another computer or two of mine may have
Linux Mint (or some other Debian-based 'distro') installed, in 2012-2013.
Notes on those installs, or links to those notes, may be added here
or on the parent page of this page (a Linux Mint Installs page).
< Go to Table of Contents, below. >
(i.e. Skip the Intro.)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIVE-CD test INSTALL to disk (esp. partitioning) WIRELESS non-issue MONITOR-RES non-issue
USER-INTERFACE issues ADDED APPS BOOT-to-BLACK LOUD-BEEPS ACCESSORIES NEXT-DISTRO SUMMARY
This page describes issues encountered (and their solutions) during installation of Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) --- the 2012 April release --- on an Acer 11.6" netbook computer with an AMD 'Fusion' chip which uses Radeon HD 6290 graphics.
Actually, I encountered relatively few issues compared to my install of Linux Mint 11 on another Acer 11.6" netbook as documented on the parent page of this page -- a Linux Mint Installs page.
In that previous 11.6" netbook install, I encountered an issue with getting a wireless Internet connection going via that netbook's Broadcom BCM4313 chip --- after installing the distro to disk, but NOT when testing the distro in 'live' mode. But I encountered no wireless problems with this install --- neither pre nor post install-to-disk.
And, in that previous 11.6" netbook install, I encountered issues in getting a proper screen resolution (1366x768), which I solved by installing the AMD 'fglrx' driver and the AMD CCC (Catalyst Control Center). But I did not encounter that problem in this install. The proper screen resolution was automatically established, both in 'live' mode and after installing the distro to disk.
On an Ubuntu Install Notes web page, I described my journey from using the MS Windows operating system to using Linux --- and I described how I came to choose Ubuntu Linux when I migrated my main computers from MS-Windows to Linux.
That page describes the eventual installation of Ubuntu on 3 desktop computers and 3 Acer 10.1" netbook computers --- in the 2009 to 2011 time frame. Ubuntu 9.10, with the Gnome desktop (using filename lists rather than icons in the Nautilus file manager), performed quite responsively on the 10.1" netbooks.
So a love of netbooks was blooming.
The niceties of netbooks :
I really like the little 3-pound (1.36 kilogram) netbook computers. They are so conveniently portable.
I use a netbook in front of the TV at home --- to do something contructive during the ridiculous amount of ads being shown on ALL the TV channels nowadays. I can quickly pack the netbook computer away when company comes. And I can easily take the netbook to other rooms, like to the kitchen table to work there --- or beside a desktop computer, say to use a wired ethernet connection there, during an install.
Furthermore, the netbooks are handy to take to LUG (Lunux User Group) meetings and to Linux conferences --- to demo software.
Drawbacks of pre-2011 netbooks :
The first 3 netbooks I had were Acer netbooks with slight variations of the Intel Atom processor (N270, N450, and N450) and with a separate Intel video graphics processor. These netbooks were commonly reported to be rather underpowered for showing videos (and for high-powered video games) --- although they are/were quite adequate for most of my uses.
The Acer part numbers of the 3 Atom-based netbooks were
I have found the 'LU' part number to be the most consistent way to identify a particular Acer 'manufacturing group'.
Video playback of high-resolution movies was reported to experience pauses. To get smooth playback of video files, one needed to stick to video files of resolution around 320x240 --- or perhaps 640x480. Vertical resolutions of 720 or 1080 were not likely to playback smoothly.
Besides the video playback issues, the main drawback, in my mind, is the rather small size of the screen and keyboard in those 10.1 inch screen computers.
Features of the new AMD 'Fusion'-based netbooks :
In mid-2011, there were lots of news articles on the coming appearance of netbooks with the new AMD 'Fusion' processors. AMD calls these processors APU's. They are a combination of CPU's and GPU's (Graphics Processing Units) on the same chip.
These chips were reported to be capable of playing hi-res videos smoothly --- even with the C-50 or C-60 chip, rather than the more robust E-series AMD chips.
Furthermore, the new AMD-based netbooks (or 'mini notebooks', as some insist on calling these slightly larger computers) would have a slightly larger screen (11.6 inch instead of 10.1 inch) and correspondingly larger keyboard --- AND YET they were still to weigh only about 3 pounds.
In addition, the AMD C-60 chip was to have a 'TurboBoost' feature that would allow the CPU to work more energy efficiently --- by switching to a higher processing speed (about 1.3 Gigaherz) when processing load crossed certain thresholds, but working at a lower speed during lighter loads.
The somewhat larger screen-size and keyboard-size, while keeping the weight down to about 3 pounds, was especially appealing to me. And the better video processing capability and energy efficiency were also appealing.
So when the Acer Aspire One 722-0369 (AO722-C62kk) netbook --- with an 11.6" screen and with the new C60 dual-core chip with on-board Radeon HD 6290 graphics --- Acer part number LU.SFT02.175 --- started appearing in on-line stores in early November 2011 (but was still not appearing in local 'big-box' stores), I decided to order one over the internet. I got one via buy.com and installed Linux Mint 11 on that one.
In the 2011 through 2012 time frame, Acer seems to keep coming out with slightly different models of the 11.6" netbook with the C60 processor. The one that I bought in 2012 June for this LMDE installation was an Acer Aspire One 722-0473 with Acer part number LU.SFT02.171 --- manufactured in 2012, rather than 2011 like the LU.SFT02.175 mentioned above.
As far as I can tell by the specifications on the boxes of these Acer 11.6" netbooks with the AMD C60 processor, they have the same basic features:
I can only guess that there are slight hardware and software differences in the different 'manufacturing groups'. I have not found any clear information on the differences --- even at us.acer.com.
What distro to install ?
I did not consider other, non-Linux-Mint distros for this netbook, because I had tried several non-Mint distros as described on the parent page to this page, the Linux Mint Installs page. On that page, I described my first Linux distro install on an 11.6" netbook.
There I discussed how I had a collection of CD's from the issues of Linux Format Magazine that I bought in 2009-2011. So I looked through those CD's to find candidates for installation on my first 11.6" netbook, and tried a few.
After those experiences, and on following the development of Linux distros in late 2011 and early 2012, via Linux magazines and web sites like distrowatch.com, I had pretty much decided that there were really only two distros that I would be trying on my next distro-install --- and both of them were Linux Mint --- namely the Ubunutu-based Linux Mint (with either the MATE or Cinnamon desktop) OR the 'semi-rolling' Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE), which is based on 'Debian testing' repositories.
So, upon buying this 11.6" netbook (at Target, on clearance for $240), I was faced with the decision of which version of Linux Mint to put on this netbook --- the recently released Linux Mint 13 (based on Ubuntu 12.4 = 2012 April) or the recently released LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition), a 'semi-rolling' release that was released in 2012 April and was referred to as the '201204' release on the Linux Mint web site.
I had downloaded the LMDE 201204 ISO file in May 2012. It was in the new 'hybrid' CD-and-USB-stick format, and I used instructions at community.linuxmint.com to put the ISO on a USB stick.
I had that USB stick handy. And I REALLY wanted to try a rolling release, because I was inconvienced when my Ubuntu 9.10 release passed its 18-month 'lifetime' and no longer had the Karmic Koala repositories available. So I decided to use LMDE for this install.
I continue to have Ubuntu 9.10 installed on 3 desktop and 2 netbook computers. It works well for me on my main desktop. No reason to change yet. When I need a new release, like of the Seamonkey web browser, I install a download from the seamonkey-project.org site in my home directory --- as described here, on a 'Seamonkey Install and Usage Notes' page.
The Ubuntu-Unity and Gnome3 debacle : (namely, throwing multiple babies out with the bath water)
I have described, at a page on my Freedom Environment software site, my concerns with the direction that the 2011 releases of Ubuntu and Gnome are taking --- a finger-tip oriented instead of a mouse-oriented interface. Just when Gnome 2.x was becoming a mature, well-debugged desktop system, they have chosen to essentially toss away a lot of the good features that they do not seem to appreciate.
For example, you hardly 'hear' the Unity and Gnome3 developers talk about the future of the Nautilus file manager (nor changes to it in Gnome 3), and yet the Nautilus file manager is probably the one 'application' that I use the most --- even more than a web browser and an email processor. The only application that I use more 'minutes-per-day' than the file manager is the SciTE text editor --- and maybe the Seamonkey web browser. In terms of 'invocations-per-day', Nautilus is either at the top, or just behind SciTE and/or Seamonkey.
My life on my computers would be too tedious to imagine without the Nautilus file manager. So I am really concerned when the Ubuntu and Gnome organizations give it essentially no lip-service.
I do not expect the Ubuntu Unity desktop to reach a good level of maturity, for desktop and laptop computers, until around 2013 --- if ever. It seems that Ubuntu is aiming for touch-screen oriented devices like phones and pads and TV's --- pretty much forsaking the mouse-oriented desktop market, and the mouse-user netbook market, which includes me.
In the 2011-2012 time frame, I am avoiding Ubuntu-Unity and any Linux using Gnome3. But I want a Debian-based distro that has no bias against using proprietary software if the user experience would benefit. So that pretty much led me to choose between LMDE (Debian-based) and Linux Mint 13 (Ubuntu-and-Debian-based) for this computer.
So here we are at a Table of Contents that takes you to the issues I encountered (very few, actually --- although the disk partitioning interface/procedure was not for 'newbies') --- and some things I did to polish off the installation.
How the notes are presented :
The notes are grouped according to the several issues (and non-issues) encountered during the LMDE install. The 'non-issues' were major issues in my previous Linux distro installs.
There is a table of contents below, with links to the several groups of notes.
Alternatively, for navigation, you can use the 'Find text' option of your web browser to look for keywords on this page. For example, if you are looking for information on wireless issues, you could search for 'wireless' or 'broadcom' or 'network' or 'connect'.
OR, simply scroll down this page.
The notes within each group (i.e. for each issue) are usually in order chronologically --- that is, according to the sub-issues that I encountered.
Table of Contents: (of this page)
End of Table of Contents. Start of install note sections.
< Go to Top of Page, above. >
I inserted a USB-stick containing the LMDE 201204 'hybrid' ISO that I had downloaded from the Linux Mint site and put on the USB stick according to Clem's instructions at community.linuxmint.com
I used the F2 key on the Acer netbook, right after powering it up, to get into the BIOS menus. I went to the 'Boot menu' to move the 'USB pny' option (it was a PNY USB stick) to the top of the boot list --- ahead of the 'CD' and 'HDD' (Hard Disk Drive) options.
When I saved the BIOS changes and exited, the computer loaded Windows 7. After going through some Windows 7 setup prompts (a waste of time, since I was going to 'wipe' Windows 7), I simply shut down Windows 7 and powered up again. This time the messages indicating that Linux was starting up appeared, and I soon had an LMDE desktop in front of me --- working from RAM-disk (memory chips), not from the disk drive.
Testing an internet connection :
The main thing that I wanted to test is to see if I could connect to the internet, like I do from my other Acer netbooks.
The network-manager applet icon was on the bottom right of the task panel at the bottom of the screen. When I clicked on it, it opened and showed the access-point names in our neighborhood (about 5 names). I clicked on my access point and got a 'WPA' prompt for a password. Soon after I entered the password (and a password for a 'keyring' prompt), I got a popup that said I had connected to my access point (my wireless router in my house).
I then opened the Linux Mint software panel (by clicking on the icon on the left of the task bar at the bottom of the screen). I clicked on Firefox, and within about 10 seconds, the Firefox window appeared and connection was made to its default startup URL --- a Linux Mint web page.
So that was great! The wireless connection was working.
Monitor resolution :
When I had installed Linux Mint 11 (in Nov 2011) on another Acer 11.6" netbook, the text and icons on the desktop were elongated, horizontally. 1024x768 had been chosen as the screen resolution, instead of 1366x768.
So I was pleasantly surprised that the LMDE 201204 'Live' session had started up with the proper screen resolution, 1366x768.
So my two main concerns, wireless network connection and proper display screen resolution, were handled nicely.
Other tests :
One thing that disappointed me about the Linux Mint 11 (spring 2011) distro as well as the Linux Mint LMDE 201204 distro is that they did not have an 'Examples' icon on the desktop like some past Ubuntu releases provided.
On Ubuntu, when you clicked on the 'Examples' icon, you were presented with several sub-directories of test files --- such as image files, audio files, PDF files, OpenOffice documents.
Rather than spend time trying to find such files in various directories of the LMDE install, I decided to assume that the viewers/readers/players of those types of files would just work --- especially since it is unlikely that there were any audio files in the distro with which to do an audio test.
But if I were a first-time Linux installer, I would be really ticked-off that there was not an easy way to test if the audio of this netbook worked with this distro.
Lucky for me, since I had experience with audio working 'out-of-the-box' in Ubuntu installs on Acer netbooks, and in the Linux Mint 11 install on an Acer 11.6" netbook, I could feel fairly confident that audio (and probably video) playback would work.
So I clicked on the 'Install' icon on the LMDE 'Live' session desktop to do the install-to-disk --- to the 320 GB disk drive.
Here are my step-by-step notes on the LMDE install, including setting up for the 'live' test, before doing the install to disk:
At this point, I was a little surprised and a little disappointed because most installs (esp. Ubuntu installs) offer two or three user-friendly disk-partitioning options at this point:
This install was apparently offering the 3rd option only.
Since I had no nice way to do screen captures of the windows I encountered in doing the disk partitioning (and I did not take the time to grab a digital camera and take shots at each step), I do not go into detail, on this page, on how I handled the disk paritioning part of the install-to-disk. But I do have a a page of screenshots of an Ubuntu install, over an old Xandrox Linux partition, on an Ubuntu 9.10 Install on CyberpowerPC page. That page includes a description of partitioning a disk so that '/home' is in a separate partition --- separate from the '/' (root) partition and separate from the swap-space partition.
Here is a brief verbal description of what I did for the disk partitioning for this LMDE installation:
On exiting the window showing my 3 new partitions, I received a prompt window for user name, userid, password, and host (computer) name.
Then the LMDE install started. It spent about 25 minutes copying files to /usr. (A message line at the start said that the install would take about 10 minutes, but it was longer than that.) Then the install spent about 3 minutes removing live configuration packages. Then it configured the boot loader in much less than a minute.
I got an 'Install Finished' notification and a prompt to restart the computer, via an OK button. During the shutdown part of the restart, I saw some server errors (about 'module unix' not found) on the black screen background. (I found some notes later that these messages can be ignored --- which I indeed did, since I simply had to hope for the best.)
I got the following prompt on the black screen background.
I removed it and pressed Enter. The restart commenced. After the restart, I was looking at the new desktop instead of the 'live' desktop --- no Install icon on the desktop.
Now I needed to confirm that, after the install to disk, I could still connect to the Internet --- like I had been able to in the Live mode!
That issue is the subject of the next section.
Although I had problems in establishing a wireless connection after the install of Linux Mint 11 on an 11.6" Acer netbook (with Broadcom BCM4313 wireless processor) in 2011 Nov, as described in detail on a page describing that Linux Mint 11 installation, I had no problem with LMDE on this netbook, after install-to-disk.
I have not investigated what wireless processor is on this netbook (say, via 'lspci') --- nor have I investigated what software or software 'stack' is driving this wireless connection (say, via an 'lsmod' query).
I will check that out and report back here.
UPDATE 2012jun30 :
I later did an 'lspci -vv' command and found that this Acer 11.6" netbook with an AMD C60 chip uses an Atheros wireless processor, instead of a Broadcom processor that was used in my previous Acer 11.6" with AMD C60 chip.
And 'ath9k' is the driver being used.
More specifically, 'lspci' showed:
06:00.0 Ethernet controller: Atheros Communications Inc. AR8152 v2.0 Fast Ethernet (rev c1) 07:00.0 Network controller: Atheros Communications Inc. AR9485 Wireless Network Adapter (rev 01)
And 'lspci -vv' showed:
06:00.0 Ethernet controller: Atheros Communications Inc. AR8152 v2.0 Fast Ethernet (rev c1) Subsystem: Acer Incorporated [ALI] Device 0598 Control: I/O+ Mem+ BusMaster+ SpecCycle- MemWINV- VGASnoop- ParErr- Stepping- SERR- FastB2B- DisINTx+ Status: Cap+ 66MHz- UDF- FastB2B- ParErr- DEVSEL=fast >TAbort-
Although I had problems with horizontally-elongated appearance of the icons and text on the desktop in both the 'Live' and installed-to-disk modes of Linux Mint 11 on an 11.6" Acer netbook in 2011 Nov, as described on a page describing that Linux Mint 11 installation, I had no display-resolution problem with LMDE on this netbook.
I have not queried the display-resolution setting on this netbook --- nor have I taken the time yet to track down what driver is being used for the monitor and this AMD C60 chip with Radeon HD 6290 graphics.
I will check that out and report back here.
For example, I will look at the 'Display' option of the 'System Preferences' group in the LMDE software menu, to see if it shows any information in addition to the expected '1366x768' (the monitor resolution).
And I will bring up the 'Additional Drivers' panel (if any, in the LMDE menus), to see if it discovers that an 'ATI/AMD proprietary FGLRX graphics driver' could be installed.
Perhaps the 'lsmod' command can be used to discover a driver being used for the monitor.
If I want to take advantage of the extensive 3D capabilities of the AMD Radeon 6290 graphics processor, then I may have to install a proprietary 'fglrx' graphics driver.
And I may need to install the ATI CCC (Catalyst Control Center) --- so that I would have the capability to control many of the features of the HD 6290 graphics processor.
I plan to add more information on graphics drivers for this netbook, here, later.
UPDATE 2012jun30 :
I later did an 'lspci -vv' command and found that LMDE was driving the graphics of this Acer 11.6" netbook with an AMD C60 chip (combined CPU and GPU) with the 'radeon' driver. The 'lsmod' command confirmed the presence of the 'radeon' module. 'man radeon' gives some information on this driver.
More precisely, 'lspci -vv' showed:
00:01.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc Device 9807 (prog-if 00 [VGA controller]) Subsystem: Acer Incorporated [ALI] Device 0598 Control: I/O+ Mem+ BusMaster+ SpecCycle- MemWINV- VGASnoop- ParErr- Stepping- SERR- FastB2B- DisINTx+ Status: Cap+ 66MHz- UDF- FastB2B- ParErr- DEVSEL=fast >TAbort-
It is still not clear to me whether I will find that I need to change to using the AMD proprietary 'fglrx' graphics driver.
There does not seem to be an 'Additional Drivers' option in the Mint Menu. So if I need to install 'fglrx', I will probably have to download it from an AMD site and install it according to the AMD instructions.
No problemo (so far)
Luckily, I did not encounter annoying user-interface problems after the LMDE install, like the annoying 'overlay scrollbar' (or 'Ayatana scrollbar') that I described on a page describing the Linux Mint 11 installation (2011 Nov) on another Acer 11.6" netbook.
It appears that that scrollbar 'feature' was not put into the LMDE distro --- thank the Universe. Please, Clem (Linux Mint lead developer), keep annoying Gnome 3 'features' OUT of LMDE.
One relatively minor user-interface annoyance that I found was in the 'Terminal' app. (I found that this is the 'mate-terminal' program in LMDE 201204, rather than 'gnome-terminal' as in previous Linux Mint and Ubuntu releases.)
The 'Terminal' background was white, which is quite annoying to me because prompts and text in yellow are hard for me to see on the white background.
There is an 'Edit' option in the top 'toolbar' of the 'Terminal' window. I could use a 'Preferences' option in the Edit menu to change the terminal background to black --- and text to white. Closing and opening the terminal window a couple of times confirmed that the background-color setting was 'permanent'.
I found a bug in one of the user-interfaces of the 'Caja' 1.2.0 file manager --- an interface that I find very useful. The 'Use a custom command' option of the 'right-click-on-file > Open With > Other Application ...' path does not work. Click on the plus-sign to open an entry field to set the path to the application and nothing happens. The entry field (and browse-to-file button) does not appear.
The 'set-another-application-to-show-for-a-selected-file-or-file-type' feature of Nautilus was working in Nautilus 2.28.1 --- in my Ubuntu 9.10 installs on 3 desktop computers and 2 Acer 10.1" netbook computers. Hopefully, Caja developers will restore that function.
This 'custom command' bug is discussed further in the ADDED APPS section below, where it is discussed what happened when I tried to use Nautilus 3.2.1 (which came with LMDE) to try to work around this bug in Caja.
If I discover any more annoying user-interface issues in LMDE 201204, I plan to document them here.
Finishing the installation
Icons for my desktop :
I put icons on my desktop to startup the following applications :
Comments on the Linux Mint 'Software Center' (used to install the Added Apps)
One thing I miss in the Linux Mint Software Center (and the 2010-2011 releases of the Ubuntu Software Center) is the ability to see the 'Details' of the installs --- the ability to watch a scrolling log of files being installed and actions being performed. I think this is a discouraging sign of what is happening in recent Linux releases --- the 'deciders' are deciding to 'dumb down' too many aspects of Linux.
(If there is a way of showing the Details, how to do it is 'way-too-hidden' --- or what passes for 'details' nowadays is really dumbed-down.)
One annoyance I find with the Linux Mint Software Center is the poor performance of the Search option. It tries to start searching as you key in each character of your search string. Try keying in 'lib'. There are so many 'lib'-related packages in the Software Center that the search bogs down and seems to go into a never-ending 'hang' mode.
It would be better if Clem would add a 'Go' button and let the user determine when the search will start --- especially since, if you make a keying error, the search can hang up and you have no way to backspace and correct your keying error in your keyword.
I replaced the LMDE-provided desktop background with a new background --- one chosen from my collection of 'wallpaper' images suitable for desktop backgrounds.
I was able to install such an image like one could on a Gnome 2.x desktop --- by choosing a 'Change desktop background' option that one sees in a popup menu on right-clicking the LMDE desktop background. Here is a screenshot of my desktop after setting up icons on the desktop for some most-used apps and after choosing a new desktop background.
Note that I ended up with icons for several versions of Seamonkey --- three 32-bit versions (2.10.1, 2.7, 2.0.11) and one 64-bit version (2.10.1). If the 64-bit version proves to be stable and able to use the 64-bit gecko-mediaplayer plugin available in the LMDE distro, then I will eventually remove some of the icons for 32-bit versions of Seamonkey.
Trying to use Nautilus to work around a bug in Caja :
Note also that there is an icon for the Nautilus file manager, in the screenshot above. Since Caja still has bugs (like the 'open-with-other-application' bug reported above --- which is REALLY interfering with my productivity, dammit), and since I found that LMDE had Nautilus (3.2.1) included in its apps, I made an icon for Nautilus in case I find it is getting to be a pain to work around the bugs in Caja.
I installed my 'feNautilusScripts' (from freedomenv.com) in both '$HOME/.config/caja/scripts' and '$HOME/.gnome2/nautilus-scripts' --- so that when I use Caja, I can use the 'feNautilusScripts' --- and when I use Nautilus, I can use the 'feNautilusScripts'.
Unfortunately, Nautilus 3.2.1 has the same bug as Caja 1.2.0 : the 'Use a custom command' feature does not work --- neither via 'right-click > Open With > Other Application' nor via 'right-click > Properties > Open With > Add'.
So to open '.html' and '.htm' files quickly with Seamonkey instead of Firefox, I will probably make a new 'feNautilusScript' to startup Seamonkey on a selected file --- and probably put the script in the 'EXAMINEfiles' group, in which I have an 'XPG' script that runs the FE 'xpg' command. The latter is one of my most-used 'feNautilusScripts'.
This is an example of using Nautilus-Scripts (and Caja-Scripts) to work around a bug or deficiency in Nautilus (and Caja).
The 'set-another-application-to-show-for-a-selected-file-type' and 'set-the-preferred-applicaton-for-a-selected-file-type' features of Nautilus were working in Nautilus 2.28.1 --- in my Ubuntu 9.10 installs on 3 desktop computers and on 2 Acer 10.1" netbook computers. It looks like Caja developers forked off Caja from a Nautilus version after 2.28.1 --- a version in which that function had been 'borked'. It appears that this 'regression' is the fault of Gnome-Nautilus developers, not Caja developers. Hopefully, Gnome-Nautilus developers will restore the 'Use a custom command' dialog in Nautilus --- and, hopefully, MATE-Caja developers will restore the dialog in Caja.
I have filed bug reports on 'Use a custom command' not working --- with both GNOME-Nautilus developers at bugzilla.gnome.org and with MATE-Caja developers at github.com/mate-desktop/mate-file-manager/.
Text Editors :
For text editing, I usually use SciTE. But just in case I need an alternative, I put an icon for Pluma (the MATE port of 'gedit') on the desktop.
Software Management :
For application installations, I usually use the 'Mint Software Center'. But since searches in the Mint Software Center sometimes bog down, and since Synaptic sometimes contains Debian packages not shown in the Mint Software Center, I put icons on the desktop for both 'Mint Software Center' and the 'Synaptic Package Manager'.
The 'Rolling Distro' question
So far, I am quite pleased with my LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) install on this light-weight (3 pound) Acer AO722 netbook with 11.6" screen.
It remains to be seen how stable the system stays through future 'semi-rolling' updates of the LMDE system --- from Clem and his Linux Mint helpers.
I am concerned that some of my applications will stop working if some '.so' files (dynamically-loaded shared executables) are replaced when one application is updated --- but a new '.so' file has a new 'arguments' list that is incompatible with the other applications that use the '.so' file.
I may be able to work around such issues by finding a copy of the old shared object(s) and using a 'wrapper' script employing a LD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable to supply the proper 'shared object' file(s) to each failing app.
But it will become quite a nuisance if I have to do that almost every time there is an update package for LMDE. (This is probably one reason why Clem expresses reservations about blindly accepting any and all updates to a Linux distro. He expresses such reservations several times on this web page titled "Mint 13 Reviews Roundup" where he responds to reviews of the Linux Mint 13 release in the spring of 2012.)
I thought I had a good install. I'm pretty sure that after installing about 45 apps and setting up about 10 app-icons on the desktop, I shut down the computer and started it up again to make sure I did not get a hang on the first re-boot after install. That is what happened to me, consistently, after an Ubuntu 9.10 install on a Dell desktop PC, which I documented on my Ubuntu Install Notes web page. I am pretty sure this Acer, with LMDE installed, re-booted OK, at least once.
Since I thought any major problems were behind me, I took this computer with me on a vacation trip far from home (and far from the USB stick I used for this install of 64-bit LMDE --- and far from my desktop with a wired Ethernet connection that I could use to Google for solutions).
So I was quite dismayed when a startup several days after the install (and far from home) led to the mouse-cursor being stuck on a black screen --- before getting to the prompt for userid and password. Several shutdown and startups yielded a hang at the same point in the startup sequence --- after LMDE 201204 startup messages in a 'console-like' mode were displayed and then cleared to a black screen, but before the login window appeared.
My first thought was that the problem may be related to the USB mouse I was using. Since I had left the USB stick at the top of the boot sequence, I decided to go into the BIOS Boot-sequence menu and move the USB device below the HDD (hard disk drive) device in the boot sequence.
That actually seemed to help some. I was able to get to the login window on several attempts at booting up. But now I was getting locked up (with mouse going dead) at various points in the startup sequence:
So now I was really at a loss what to do. I did not have a computer handy to connect to the internet and Google for cases where people had encountered hangs during bootup after installing LMDE. (I remember reading in Linux Mint forums that some people had experienced such hangs, and they had decided to go back to a Linux distro that worked for them in the past. I would be hoping to find someone who pressed on and found a solution to the hangs.)
I had a USB stick with a Linux distro on it, but it was Ubuntu 9.04 (2009 April) --- about 3 years old. I thought if I could come up in 'live' mode in that distro (working in RAM memory), I might be able to look for some solution --- say, by finding some hints in a log file on the hard disk.
As I went into the BIOS boot sequence menu to move the USB-stick above the HDD item in the boot-sequence menu, I noticed the 'Network Boot' item in the boot-sequence menu. That reminded me how moving that item to the top of the boot-sequence menu solved the problem I had in the Linux Mint 11 install that I performed on another Acer 11.6" nebook --- in that case, working around a wireless connection problem with a Broadcom wireless chip.
So I decided, what the heck --- before trying to bring up Ubuntu 9.04 in 'live' mode, I would try moving 'Network Boot' to the top of the boot menu.
I didn't really think this would work, because the problem seemed to be related to drivers for the monitor and/or graphics-chip and/or mouse --- not a wired or wireless ethernet problem.
But, lo and behold, the Network-Boot-to-top-of-BootSequence-in-BIOS trick got me past a Linux Mint install problem on another Acer 11.6" netbook with an AMD C60 chip.
In this case, it turned out this netbook had an Atheros wireless chip rather than a Broadcom chip, but, again, the 'mysterious' Network-Boot-to-top-of-BootSequence-in-BIOS trick worked.
I'm still not sure what's going on here, technically speaking. All I know, is that I am apparently going to need to keep 'Network Boot' at the top of the boot sequence, on this Acer netbook with LMDE installed.
Many people have complained about the loud beeps at login and shutdown. It is hard to believe that the tester-developers of LMDE allowed those beeps to be in the final release.
Haven't they ever seen people in a bookstore cafe where people are using free wireless connections. Don't they think it would be pretty embarassing for a notebook user to be disturbing the people around them with the loud beeps?
Besides that, even when one is using the computer by one's self, the beeps are so loud that they can scare the user at times.
It turns out there is an easy way to mute (or turn down the volume of) the beeps --- via a GUI. The following 3 screenshots show how to do it. (I found a hint at the solution via a web search, but the description was rather vague. These images will make it quite clear how to use the 'Volume Control' utility to mute the beeps.)
In my page describing the install of Linux Mint 11 on an Acer 11.6" netbook, in the 'Accessories' section of that page, I pointed out that from Nov 2011 through Mar 2012, I could not find a netbook sleeve suited to 11.6" netbooks in local stores that sell computer supplies (Best Buy, Target, Office Depot, Office Max, Walmart, hhgregg). The closest sizes that I could find were about 10.5" (too small) or 13" (too big).
Finally, in Jun 2012, in a local Walmart store, I found they were selling 12" sleeves (for about $10)--- brand name: Merkury Innovations. So I bought one for this 11.6" netbook.
As I have mentioned above in the Introduction section, I am concerned about the direction taken by Gnome 3 developers --- and Nautilus (a real work-horse for me) is a Gnome app. I hope the Nautilus file manager is not made 'unproductive' by poor re-design choices.
I am glad to see that there is a fork of Gnome 2.x, called MATE (pronounced 'mah-tay'). I will be following developments in that area --- especially development of the 'Caja' port of the Gnome 'Nautilus' file manager.
I am glad to see that Clem Lefebvre, the Linux Mint lead developer, is not putting all his eggs in the Gnome 3 basket. He has released Linux Mint 13 (the spring 2012 Linux Mint release, based on Ubuntu rather than directly on Debian) in two flavors: MATE and Cinnamon.
Cinnamon is a desktop environment that Clem has developed using a fork of a Gnome window manager (Muffin forked from Mutter). But I doubt that Clem has invented another file manager. I suspect that Cinnamon is using the 'Caja' (or Nautilus) file manager underneath its desktop environment. 'Caja' may be my best bet for being able to continue using the 'Nautilus Scripts' capability that I find so useful.
It is amazing to me that, with so many Linux distros out there, there is only one --- maybe two --- distros that I have found that satisfy conditions such as
I value these requirements, with the first four being essential, when evaluating a distro.
It would be nice to have at least one alternative to the two Linux Mint distros that use Nautilus or Caja for a file manager: 'non-rolling' Ubuntu-based Linux Mint or 'semi-rolling' Debian-based Linux Mint.
I will keep looking for other distros that satisfy the requirements above.
Meanwhile, for the late-2012-to-early-2013 time frame, Linux Mint 13 (or 14 or 15) looks like it will be a candidate for my next Linux installation --- if the 'semi-rolling' LMDE lets me down.
In my other pages on Linux installs (Ubuntu installs and Linux Mint installs), I concluded by saying that a major lesson to be learned from my Ubuntu installs and from the Linux Mint 11 install is that, on almost any hardware configuration, you will probably have to spend a few hours --- or even a day or two --- resolving some installation issues.
AT FIRST, I was pleasantly surprised by this LMDE installation. I did not have monitor-resolution issues or wireless-connection issues that I had in previous Linux installs. And, AT FIRST, it appeared that I would have no hang on re-booting after the install-to-disk, like I encountered in an Ubuntu install on a Dell desktop.
Alas, smooth sailing was not to be. I did, after all, encounter a persistent hang after re-boots --- a real show-stopper that would not let me get to my desktop even once.
However, once again, persistence paid off, and I was able to end up with a decent install. On both of my Acer 11.6" netbooks with an AMD C60 chip, it turned out that I needed to move 'Network Boot' to the top of the boot sequence, via the BIOS menu system.
With this LMDE install, other than the 'Network Boot' issue, most of my post-installation time was spent on choosing applications to install and configuring them after their installs.
If I DO encounter any more issues with LMDE, I know that I can probably get past the issues by using the Ubuntu forums or Kirkland's Ubuntu Developer Documentation Search or Linux Mint forums or Debian forums or Google queries like the Google-query-links in my Ubuntu and Linux Mint Install Notes web pages.
(NOTE: It is STILL not clear yet whether the quality and extent of support on the Linux Mint sites will ever approach the quality and extent available at the Ubuntu and Debian sites. For example, the 'Network Boot'-to-top-of-boot-sequence solution was found at an askubuntu.com page.)
Coming to a conclusion, finally :
I repeat what I said at the bottom of my Ubuntu Install Notes web page :
For me, the breath of freedom and the breaDth of freedom on Gnu/Linux --- especially in the form of the powerful shell scripting (and Tcl-Tk scripting) available --- is a big selling point for using Linux.
Other selling points: the available apps for web browsing and email and FTP --- Seamonkey-Thunderbird-Filezilla --- and ImageMagick and 'mtpaint' for image processing for web page development --- and SciTE for text editing (esp. script development and web page creation/editing) --- and a quite decent, stable file manager in Nautilus (or Caja).
(Some info on Nautilus/Caja shortcomings is in my Nautilus Notes web page. For me, they suffer mostly from the following issues.
I use my 'FINDlists' Nautilus/Caja Scripts --- available from freedomenv.com --- to overcome the search inadequacies --- so no problemo.
And there is an easy fix, via inserting a little '.gnomerc' config file in your home directory structure, to make the filename sorts of Nautilus more likable --- as described in my Nautilus Notes page. However, Nautilus/Caja developers should give us some sort options through the Nautilus/Caja 'Edit > Preferences' pathway.
I have filed a request for the ability to specify a desired sort technique --- both with MATE-Caja developers at github.com/mate-desktop/mate-file-manager and with GNOME-Nautilus developers at bugzilla.gnome.org.)
Here is an image showing how the sort options could be added to the existing 'Behavior' panel of 'Edit > Preferences'.
Alternatively, a new 'Sort' panel could be added to the existing 'View', 'Behavior', 'Display', 'List Columns', 'Preview', and 'Media' panels of 'Edit Preferences'. (See the six panel tabs in the image of the 'File Management Preferences' window, above.)
On Nautilus/Caja performance :
Another shortcoming of Nautilus/Caja (that I notice more on my netbook computers than on my desktop computer) is their slowness in bringing up lists of filenames. The slowness on my desktop computer is only noticed in navigating to directories containing more than 2,000 files (such as /usr/bin or /usr/lib --- about 8 to 15 seconds to completed list display, the first time opening those directories in a login session).
Directory lists, for directories containing around 300 files (like /usr/sbin and /usr/share), appear almost instantly, on my desktop computer. NOT SO on this netbook installation of LMDE.
Even though I have used the 'Edit > Preferences > Preview' path of Nautilus and Caja to set the options
to 'Never', it can take quite a few seconds for the directory list, for directories containing around 300 files, to appear. I am pretty sure that a lot of the slowdown is due to Nautilus and Caja insisting on putting little icons to the left of the filenames, as seen in the following image.
Those icon files (in /usr/share/icons subdirectories) are about 1 Kilobyte in size, each. Compare that to the 8-bits (one byte) that the 'ls -F' command uses to put file type indicators like * (asterisk) and @ (at sign) and / (slash) after filenames. It takes over 100 times the bits --- for an icon image versus a single ASCII character indicator.
I would be quite happy to do without the little icons if it would mean almost instantaneous display of large directory lists. The little triangle to the left of directory names is enough to indicate directories to me (and to allow expansion of those directories into a 'sub-list'). I do not need the folder icons.
And I do not need the little globe icons and page icons (etc. etc.) to the left of files like '.htm' and '.txt' files. I can tell the file types by the suffixes I gave them. And even if I do not provide a suffix, I can usually tell what type of file it is since I created it. (Or I can make a Nautilus Script, using the 'file' command, to tell me the type of a selected file.)
So, PLEASE, Nautilus and Caja developers, ADD AN OPTION to the 'Edit > Preferences > Views' panel --- to allow me to turn off display of ALL icons beside filenames.
A new 'no icons' option could be added to the 'Views' panel, as illustrated in the following image.
If this option were checked, then the example icons-beside-filenames image (shown a few paragraphs above) would then look like the following image. (NOTE the 'generic' icons are gone.)
OR, the filenames list could appear like the following image. (Note that the space formerly occupied by the icons is now used by the left-adjusted filenames.)
I have filed a request for a 'no icons' option in 'ListView' mode --- both with MATE-Caja developers at github.com/mate-desktop/mate-file-manager/issues/ and with GNOME-Nautilus developers at bugzilla.gnome.org.
If the Nautilus and Caja developers do not get around to giving us a 'no icons' option in ListView mode, I guess I will have to enhance the file-and-directory navigator Tcl-Tk scripts in the 'feHandyTools' subsystem of my Freedom Environment software system to serve for file management, in place of Nautilus and Caja. The main right-click-menu options that I need are 'Scripts', 'Rename', 'Delete', 'Cut', 'Copy', 'Paste', and 'Properties'.
I have already implemented the 'Scripts' capability in Tcl-Tk file manager scripts --- so that I have an alternative in case the Gnome-Nautilus and MATE-Caja developers drop (or screw up) the 'Nautilus Scripts' capability. I just need to add the 'Rename', 'Delete', 'Cut', 'Copy', 'Paste', and 'Properties' options.
It is pretty sad (but pretty fortunate) that I can make a faster file manager with a scripting language (Tcl-Tk), than Gnome-Nautilus and MATE-Caja developers can make using compiled languages.
By the way, for KDE fans out there, I had to forget about using KDE on netbooks, because of the gross processing overhead of almost all KDE utilities. I described the 'venetian blind' effect that I got from the KDE Menu cascade in my first Linux installs on netbooks. See my 'Ubuntu Installs' web page.
A pretty happy camper :
I keep finding more to like (and bits, here and there, to dislike) in the Linux distros that I have installed. But, so far, I think I can cut the cord to MS Windows (EXCEPT for U.S. federal and state taxes software) --- as long as the Linux apps and distros and kernel keep getting better.
UPDATE circa 2012 December: In order to test a Linux install on a computer with a 'new' UEFI boot menu (and Window 8 pre-installed), I have documented a 'live' install of LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) --- the 2012 April version --- on an Acer netbook. The installation notes are on this UEFI Linux install-test page.
Bottom of this Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) Install Notes --- on an Acer 11.6" Netbook with AMD/ATI C60 'Fusion' chip page.
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Page created 2012 Jun 24-26. Changed 2014 Sep 11.