Sunday, August 08, 2010

Mint-y Fresh Upgrades

Doesn't always seem like it, but I suppose every now and then I manage to do some things right. Recently I started to get a little frustrated with my Linux install on my laptop. I've been running Mepis Linux ever since I got this particular laptop. Seems like maybe two years now if not more. I liked Mepis because it installed for me and I was able to get everything mostly working. One thing that annoyed me though was the wireless connection manager. I always had to go into it as root in order to re-establish a connection. The other thing was that I was never really happy about the desktop and how everything looked. I attribute part of that to the KDE 3.x desktop I was using and part of it to Mepis.

Anyway, I decided I was ready to go ahead and upgrade the Linux partition. This would probably help me wean off the Windows partition which I feel like I've been using far too much lately. I'm currently in a bit of "down" time on various activities - no MINI runs being planned, soccer season is just now starting to crank up, and I have not yet really cranked up some of the mission opportunities I am pursuing.

After checking out DistroWatch to see what was new, I came across Linux Mint. Looked pretty good and one thing I like is that they offered a KDE based version (KDE being my preferred desktop manager). I felt a bit reassured because they were also offering other dm versions as well like Xfce and getting ready to release a FluxBox version. So they seem to be on top of things when it comes to packaging things up outside of the typical Gnome dm.

The potential down side though included the fact that I would have to go ahead and make the switch to the 4.x series of KDE. I had checked out the new KDE 4.x when it was at 4.0 and was very unimpressed (thus, the reason why I stuck with 3.x for my Mepis install). Now they are up to 4.4. The other problem (well, potential problem) is that Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu (ok, technically the KDE version is based on Kubuntu) and I have never had any luck installing Ubuntu.  So that had me a bit worried.

Anyway, I went ahead and backed up my data on the laptop and started the process of installing Linux Mint.  I ran into a bit of problem as I could not figure out how to create a swap partition.  I was able to free up some space on the hard drive for it, but could not make it usable.  So I had to proceed without one.  After configuring a few options though, I let it rip.  In the past it always seemed like Linux installations took a while - at least an hour (yeah, I know that is horrible compared to the all day process a Win install involves).  And when I last updated my iPhone to 4.0, that took close to two hours.

Amazingly, I think it took only about 15 minutes max for Linux Mint to install.  Once installed and fired up, I discovered the bit that I apparently did right.  A while back.  In keeping my home directory on a separate partition, I just mounted it as the home directory.  When I fired up Thunderbird, I discovered all my settings and local folders still there, all my accounts were working, etc.  Firefox was the same way with my homepage already set.  Basically, everything was just like I left it in terms of data.  So that was really nice.

I'm now playing around with the configuration of my desktop and power settings.  I have to say, the KDE is pretty nice - much better than I remember when I tested back around 4.0.  I just have to do some more tweaking - e.g. getting Flash up to date.  Overall though, I am very happy with this new Linux Mint install.  Now I can enjoy more time in Linux and only get into Windows for those few programs with no Linux counterpart (hmm, I may even have to try out Wine).