Goodbye Mint, Hello Fedora

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 | Misc | No Comments

Seems Mint 13 finally finished me. I have to say that Mint 10 was the last “flawless” version of Mint (I’ve been there since Mint 4 “Daryna”). Right now I am still using Mint 12 on my home machine, tried 13 on my business laptop – and decided that I don’t want to take part in the desktop environment wars any more. Again, the multi-monitor setup in Mint was a pain and trying to preserve the Gnome 2 / XP way of working is a huge step back IMHO. I am okay with Gnome 3 (didn’t try Unity yet) and I was looking for a “pure” unfiddled Linux experience. After checking some major distros I decided to give Fedora 17 a more serious go and I have to say I did not regret it. “Mint” Linux, no clutter, bleeding edge (wow, finally including a mulit-monitor setup that seems to work). You could argue that setting up the system takes longer, because Fedora does not ship with things like proper multimedia support or propitiatory software like Flash, VirtualBox or Skype. I think that’s pretty kewl. You should understand why mp3 playback is not available out-of-the-box and that you have to explicitly install it at your own will.

Anyway, right now I am compiling a few Fedora 17 post installation tasks that will show there’s a bit more to do (no Gnome 3 extension installed by default – very pure indeed 🙂 ), stay tuned.

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Linux Mint 12: More post installation tasks

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012 | Linux, Tech-savvy | No Comments

I started to write down my personal Linux Mint post installation tasks as of version 10. After installing a few Mint 12 machines I had to update the list. As always, highly personal, take whatever info might be useful, ignore the rest.

  1. Add favorite programs to autostart
  2. GNOME 3 has no point-and-click tool to add autostart options, at least no default shortcut for it. Alt-F2 and gnome-session-properties does the trick. I have essentials like my browser, media player and ssh-add in my autostart.

  3. Disable extension overkill
  4. Whether you use MATE, GNOME 3 or Cinnamon is up to you. I kinda like the new GNOME, but not all the default “extensions” that come with Mint 12 extend my user experience in a good way 😉 I decided the following options work the best for me:

  5. Install VirtualBox with USB support
  6. Well, installing VirtualBox is a little confusing, as you have multiple versions (virtualbox-ose, -nonfree, -4.1) in your available software list. Some people suggest adding new repos and installing the latest version, I just stick to what’s being delivered by the default repos. Makes me feel better for some reason.

    The VirtualBox site states that the “standard” installation names are the ones with the major version at the end, so I just went for the -4.1 (writing this 4.1.14 is the latest stable, the official Mint repos provide 4.1.6, yeah, whatever…)

    If you want USB support you have to add the appropriate extension pack. Go to and get it for your installed version. You also have to make all users that want to use VirtualBox members of the vboxusers group. As there is no GNOME 3 default group editor simply open a shell and enter

    nick $ sudo adduser username vboxusers

    Your group memberships will be updated the next time you log in.

    Finally, add USB devices in your VBox config’s USB section (select the desired machine, click “Change”, choose “USB”). After that you should be ready to go. What a drag.

  7. Use the users group as the default group
  8. I share my computer. I share a lot of files, like pictures and stuff. I don’t like that my user – nick – also has his primary group called “nick”. So ownership of files is nick:nick. This makes little sense to me and I’d rather have it like this: nick:users and nickswife:users so that I can easily access the same files as my picture taking wingman. So issue

    nick $ sudo usermod -g users username

    for each user that should have the “users” group as the default group. (The sticky bit approach cd /our/pics; chgrp -R users .; find . -type d -exec chmod 2770 {} \;; find . -type f -exec chmod 660 {} \;was not sufficient for me, by using the same primary group I hope we won’t have any permission troubles in the future again)

  9. Increase history size
  10. Remember that wicked command you entered a few weeks ago? No? Increase your history size to something that lives up to the term “history”. Open your ~/.bashrc and enter something like export HISTFILESIZE=10000

That’s it for today. Have phun!

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Mint 12: Hide unwanted devices in Nautilus

Friday, February 10th, 2012 | Linux, Tech-savvy | No Comments

My laptop consists of quite a few partitions, different OSs and file systems. Nautilus displays everything that will be mounted to /media as a device in the places sidebar. This became an annoyance, because I really don’t need to see my Win7 system partition and my old Mint 10 partitions on a regular basis. I tried the easy way: right-click on an item and say “remove” or something – naaat!

I was looking for an easy solution and came across some pretty old forum posts and workarounds that simply don’t work (any more). Here is how I managed to get rid of the unwanted device entries fairly easily: you simply have to explicitly mount the unwanted volumes and use a folder other than /media – basically /mnt will do. This way you don’t have the unwanted file systems listed in Nautilus directly yet can access them easily by navigating to /mnt/mountpoint.

Step by step:

  1. open nautilus
  2. mount all unwanted files systems by selecting them one after another
  3. open a terminal
  4. list mounted devices
    nick@mintbox ~ $ mount
  5. look for the entries that resemble the unwanted files systems
  6. write down the /dev/sdx and type attributes
  7. create mountpoints for each device in in /mnt
    nick@mintbox ~ $ sudo mkdir /mnt/exampleMountPoint1
    nick@mintbox ~ $ sudo mkdir /mnt/exampleMountPoint2
  8. open fstab
    nick@mintbox ~ $ sudo gedit /etc/fstab
  9. add a fstab entry for each device (first is a Win NTFS partition, second a ext4 Linux one)
    /dev/sda6   /mnt/exampleMountPoint1   ntfs-3g   defaults 0 0
    /dev/sda7   /mnt/exampleMountPoint2   ext4      defaults 0 0

That should do the trick.

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Installing Linux Mint 10 VirtualBox Guest Additions

Saturday, December 18th, 2010 | Linux, Tech-savvy | 3 Comments

I had some trouble installing the VirtualBox guest additions to my Mint 10 VM using the “standard” way (via the “Devices” menu). It failed setting up a proper X driver (Warning: unknown version of the X Window system installed. Not installing X Window system drivers). I was stuck with a 800×600 resolution.

After some research (and a few not so successful hints) I came across a pretty neat solution. Fire up your VM and simply install the guest additions using apt inside your VM:

user@vm ~ $ sudo apt-get install virtualbox-ose-guest-utils

dkms and x11 packages will be installed automatically. Now restart your VM and your guest additions should be up and running … hopefully 🙂

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