Linux Mint 16 Petra – Install Notes

As promised (although slightly delayed), here are my notes from installing Linux Mint 16 Petra on my Dell Latitude E6530.  This was mostly a promise to myself, so I my notes would be in one, easy to find, place.

Armed with a freshly burned DVD of Mint 16 Cinnamon x64 and the new Samsung 840 Pro SSD in the laptop, I booted up the Live CD using the UEFI boot DVD option. Since I had already played with Petra, I went straight to the Installer. I chose the default partitioning (small boot partition, some swap space and the rest for /). I opted out of the option to encrypt since the 840 pro has built in hardware encryption. I used the software encryption with Mint 15 and didn’t really notice a slowdown except when hibernating/waking up. One thing to note with EFI boot and Mint 16 is the installer uses ‘ubuntu’ for the EFI folder name which will cause a problem if you were hoping for a dual boot system with Ubuntu. Nothing you can’t work around but be aware.

Once the OS was up, I noticed one major improvement over 14 and 15, my touchpad worked!  So, off to install updates and mess with the look and feel, like the background, login screen, touchpad settings and keyboard shortcuts.

Since I use Windows for my day job I make heavy use of the ‘Windows’ key on the keyboard. One big complaint with Linux Mint (holds true for 14, 15, and 16 so far) is that if the Super key is assigned to the Mint Menu, that is all it is going to do. You can still assign things to Super-L or Super-R but you are only going to get the expected result with a little luck and pressing the right key twice in a short time frame. So my Mint Menu has a short cut of CTRL-ALT-ESC freeing up the Super key for all the other things I am used to.

  • Super-D = Show Desktop
  • Super-L = Lock Screen
  • Super-T = Launch Terminal Window
  • Super-R = Launch Do (Need to install Gnome Do)

Now that the computer is usable, it is time to start installing software. Mint comes with all the basics the casual computer users would need.  Firefox and Thunderbird will handle web and email;  Libra office takes care of your spreadsheets, presentations and documents; Banshee and Gimp have your media covered.  But since I am a bit more than a casual user I had to install a few more things.  The first round of things to install are ones that can be installed from the software manager:

  • gnome-do and gnome-do-extentions – Search and run programs with minimal keystrokes.
  • arduino – Arduino IDE.
  • sqliteman – GUI tool for managing SQLite databases.
  • git – Git Client.
  • nemo-dropbox – Dropbox client for the Mint file manager, Once installed, you run the client which downloads the actual Dropbox app and guides you through the rest of the setup.
  • remmina and remmina-plugin-rdp – Best RDP client I have found so far. Works a lot better for RDP when you remember to install the plugin.
  • okular – Universal document viewer – Much better than the default PDF reader.
  • eagle – PCB design software.
  • meld – Graphical tool to diff and merge files.
  • skype – Do I need to explain this one?
  • mysql-workbench – Graphocal design and modelling tools for MySQL.
  • emma – MySQL managing assistant – Not sure if I need it with workbench but it is here for now.
  • openvpn and network-manager-openvpn-gnome – OpenVPN Client to connect to my home router.
  • openconnect and network-manager-openconnect-gnome – OpenConnect VPN Client compatible with Cisco AnyConnect.

Other very necessary things to install that take a bit more effort:

  • TLP – Power management – No configuration necessary.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linrunner/tlp
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install tlp tlp-rdw
sudo tlp start

  • BumbleBee – Nvidia Optimus for Linux – Most importantly puts the power hog video card to sleep. The process to install this has gotten significantly easier with time.  You will probably need to change the version of nvidia-settings-304.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bumblebee/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install bumblebee bumblebee-nvidia primus linux-headers-generic primus-libs-ia32 nvidia-settings-304
inxi -G (should show Intel as the GLX Renderer)
optirun inxi -G (should show NVidia as the GLX Renderer)

Other things to install are HAL, SublimeText and RVM but these each deserve their own post for various reason, so I will add that to my to do list.

One other thing I like to do is customize the bash prompt.  I know who I am and the host name of my machine, so I drop those items. Since I have git installed, I include the active git branch in the prompt (only displayed in directories that are part of a git repository). To get the effect I want I replace the PS1 line in /etc/bash.bashrc with this:

PS1=’\[33[01;34m\]\w\[33[01;32m\]$(__git_ps1)\[33[01;34m\] \$\[33[00m\] ‘

It might be more appropriate to do this in my local .bashrc but I am not a Linux expert and it was easy to edit the existing line in bash.bashrc.

Once you are here you should have a machine ready to take on the world! Time to set up your email in Thunderbird, add your IM accounts to Pidgin and restore your bookmarks to Firefox. I hope you found this helpful.


P.S. I decided that since I enabled the HDD password in the BIOS, I would set my account to auto-login.  At first I thought this might be insecure but I decided the boot password is just as good as the Linux login and this way I don’t have to authenticate twice.


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