Mike's Land of Linux

I'm still what you call a linux noobie but after three plus years of using Linux Mint (Cinnamon) I guess I'm not so noob. Currently I'm using Mint 20 Cinnamon on three desktops and one HP laptop. Two desktops are dual boot Win10/Mint.

I started out with Linux by accident. I had an old 2 core desktop that I advertised on FB but nobody wanted it and I was a day from bringing it to the local recycling station when I read a FB page done by a computer teckkie who wrote about giving your old computer a new lease on life by installing linux and Mint in particular. That caught my curiosity and I looked into Mint, downloaded the .iso file and burned that onto a DVD and installed it. The rest is history.

I have a Dell Optiplex 7010 (i7) and another Dell Optiplex 7020 (i5) both with 8gb ram. The 7020 has two HDDs; one for Mint 20 and one for Windows 10. The 7010 i7 runs strictly Mint. And then I have an HP laptop also running Mint 20. Down in the basement is an old HP6000 dual core desktop with one HDD split between Mint 20 and Windows 10 (dual boot). Update: the 6000 was given away to someone needy. I replaced it with another Dell 7010 i5 w/8gb ram. I've tried Ubuntu 20, Manjaro XFCE, Linux Lite, Mint XFCE, Zorin XFCE, LMDE4, Ubuntu KDE Plasma and MX Linux but no thank you to all of those. They were not what I wanted. Looking back now, if I were not using Mint on my machines, I'd probably be most happy with Ubuntu. More about that later.


Linux Mint 20 is now out and rather than wait for the upgrade option, I decided to do clean installs. My first install was on a Dell dual core desktop. The install went flawlessly. So, after the good experience with that, I did a clean install on my HP Elitebook laptop. That one also went flawlessly. And so, to build on that, I did another clean install on our Dell i7 desktop. That also went perfectly. Finally, for my last install, I went back to the first Dell dual core desktop, wiped the disk, installed Windows 10 2004 and then installed Mint 20 Cinnamon and converted its 160GB drive to a dual booter. It was a quick and easy install which installed effortlessly. And I'm glad I took the time to do this instead of waiting for the official upgrade instructions because I'm reading that some users have had problems with it. It was tempting to just wait for the upgrade because upgrades generally go much faster than clean installs, but I learned a few things about MBR and GPT formats and just how easy dual booting can be, at least in a desktop and one laptop.

I still have a Dell i5 with two HDDs, one for Mint 20 and a larger HDD for Windows 10. I have two software defined radios (SDRs) that I can't run on Linux, so I need to keep that one TB drive for those. Also, in those cases where I need Adobe Acrobat or MS Office and LibreOffice or WPS Office won't do, I have them on Windows. I try to not use them unless it's absolute necessary. On this particular computer I had Ubuntu 20 installed for about a month, then I decided I liked Mint 20 better, so I went back to Mint Cinnamon. I did want to keep Ubuntu but it was just annoying enough that I ditched it and went back to Mint.

The annoying thing about Ubuntu Desktop concerns the desktop itself. We're all familiar with placing shortcuts on the desktop and we're all familiar with dragging icons from a folder to the desktop or from the desktop to trash. With the Ubuntu desktop, the process is different. You can drag and drop icons from window to window. You cannot drag an icon from a folder to the desktop. It just won't work. What you havd to do is copy or cut the file in your document window, for example, and past it to the desktop. Instead of icons to launch from the desktop, save your files, etc as favorites, which adds them to the stock Ubuntu dock where they launch with a single click. You can then set that dock either vertically or horizontally. This drag and drop thing is something you'll need to just get used to since I've read that this is just one of the things that makes Ubuntu unique. If you want to try a flavor of Ubuntu with a desktop that works fine with drag and drop, try Ubuntu Mate. See more about this below.

So, one day I was bored and wondered to myself what Ubuntu Mate (Ma-tay) would look like. My answer was that I probably wouldn't like it since I tried Mint Mate once and was underwhelmed by it. But I downloaded the ISO, put it on a USB drive and installed it on a spare HP dual core I had laying around. Sure enough, it looked like Ubuntu with the panel on top and the power button on the top right, the dock on the left side and a bottom panel with a couple of applets on it. Could I make it look like Mint Cinnamon/Windows? Had I not done this with Mint I might not have attempted it, but I gave it a try. It took maybe three hours on two different evenings to play with it and I had it looking pretty similar with Mint, to the point where a Windows user could feel comfortable using it, just like with Mint Cinnamon. Here is a screengrab of Mint 20's desktop. And here is a screengrab of Ubuntu 20 Mate's desktop. Mint is just a tad darker because of the Plata-Noir theme, which I love. If you are a Windows user, would you have any problem using either one of these operating systems? I doubt it. And dragging and dropping files from folder to desktop or trash works as it should.

October 2020. Since the last time I wrote about Ubuntu, I gave the HP dual core computer away. I replaced it with a Dell 7010 i5 desktop on which I installed Ubuntu and Windows, dual booted on one drive. After a while I thought a better way to dual boot was with two drives instead of one, so I changed to two drives, but I still wasn't really happy with stock Ubuntu. So I tried to see if I could improve it. I put the plank dock on it and shoved the stock dock over on the left side so it wouldn't show. It looked cool. It was then I noticed that I couldn't find the list of apps I have installed on the computer unless I made the stock dock on the left side visible again and then added Ubuntu Software to the plank dock. Good grief! Why bother.

So, I decided to look for another DE (desktop environment). Cinnamon is one, so I installed Cinnamon. It was okay, but still, after all, it was still Ubuntu. After looking around more I came across KDE Plasma, and it looked interesting so I installed it. It definitely was NOT what I wanted, so I tried to uninstall it. And that was a very bad move. It wouldn't uninstall and an online search showed me that trying to uninstall KDE Plasma from Ubuntu was a horror story in many cases. So what was I to do?

I knew what I needed to do. I wiped the drive clean and, after thinking about it, installed LMDE4 for the second time. And again, I still wasn't too enthusiastic about it. So, the end of this story is that I wiped LMDE4 off the drive and reinstalled Mint 20, which is really what I liked the best anyway and what I will stay with. I'm done with distro hopping. However I still have a 600GB HDD with Ubuntu 20 and Windows 10 installed laying on a shelf. I just can't bring myself to wipe the drive clean.

By the way, if you installed a distro and you don't like the way the desktop looks or acts, you can change desktops to something else you might like much better. Some desktops are very easy to install and remove if you don't like them, but some might be a real pain in the @ss to uninstall (KDE Plasma?), so check online and do a few searches before you try it.

Another thing you should know if you have Windows 10 dual booted with Mint or another linux distro, either both on one drive or each on a separate drive, is that if you decide to change your linux distro and install something else, your grub bootloader will get messed up and you will not be able to boot your computer. Do yourself a huge favor before you do this and download Linux Boot Repair and put it on a bootable USB drive. Then when your computer doesn't boot, turn on your computer with the boot repair USB installed, keep pressing F12 (if you have a Dell) and boot up from the USB drive. Then run boot repair and let it fix everything. You will save youself hours of grief.

One of my other hobbies is DXing, or tracking down TV, FM and AM stations from far away. Because of that hobby I have a real interest in software devined radios, or SDRs. If I can find anything that will help me or others to track down these stations using linux Mint, I will post the information here. These two programs will work with either Mint or Ubuntu 19.3 but Not Mint or Ubuntu 20, unfortunately. If you need them, use 19.3.



7-Zip for linux is called p7-Zip. Get it from Software Manager, just look for p7zip-full. Or go HERE to download it.

Android phones.
When you connect an Android phone to a computer running Linux Mint and go into DCIM and then camera, you normally see icons instead of thumbnails, even though you'll see thumbnails in your picture folder. To see thumbnails when you connect your phone, go to MENU-->ACCESORIES-->FILES->EDIT-->PREFERENCES-->PREVIEW and change show thumbnails to YES instead of Local Files Only. Why Mint doesn't make thumbnails the default with an android phone, who knows. Also make sure that your phone is set for media, not photos, or you won't see thumbnails.

MS Paint!!
You can have an app that's pretty darn close and just as easy. You can now uninstall GIMP or any of the other way-to-complex programs. What you need to download is Kolourpaint. You can find it in the software Manager. You'll like it! As a matter of fact, the graphic at the top of the page was made with Kolourpaint. Not too shabby, either.

This is a neat little utility I think everyone should have on their computer. Download it from the Software Manager. You can launch neofetch it by typing "neofetch" (without the brackets) in your terminal. What you find listed is your Operating System, Kernal and shell type, graphics and amount of RAM in your computer and more. Neofetch tells you quite a bit about your system.

Snipping Tool for Linux!
The screengrab program I like the most is called Shutter. It's simple and easy but you no longer find it in the Mint 20 repositories. I almost gave up on ever finding this program again, but it seems that the program has been recently resurrected. Download it from the shutter site or enter the three lines below to install it.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linuxuprising/shutter
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt install shutter
There you have it. Once you install it you will find it in the Mint main menu.

Change Your I-Beam! One thing that has always annoyed me about linux, is that thing called the cursor I-beam. The I-beam is that thing you get when you place your cursor over text, or in the address bar of your browser, or in some field where you need to enter data and click. In windows, it's very narrow. In linux it's too wide I-beam and looks like a fat dog bone. If you need to enter data or edit/insert letters or text, that fat I makes the process harder than it should be. But there's a fix for this. What you need to do is put another cursor package in your home directory at home/username/.icons. You should find the .icons directory there but you may not. Remember that the .icons folder is a hidden folder because it begins with a dot. Make sure your home folder shows hidden folders and files by pressing CTRL-H first. If you don't find the .icons folder,then make one. An excellent cursor package can be found here. Another cursor set that will work just great is here in the gnome look site. The two right folders in the graphic below are the folders you need. Normally in the .icons folder you'd just see a default folder. Choose the one you like best.

Cursor Set Your next step is to download the file into your download folder, right click and extract it. Then take the resulting folder and move it into home/username/.icons. Once that is done, go back to Mint and your main Mint menu. Go to themes. Then go to cursors, click and select the set you want. At this point, you are done. Enjoy your new I beam!

RESCUEZILLA! When something screws up (or when you totally screw up your system so it no longer works) you need it fixed fast! I really believe in disk imaging to get you back up and running quickly. Clonezilla does disk imaging, but Clonezilla is a pain to use and I've been scared silly at times trying to either create a disk image or trying to restore one. Clonezille is one of the most complicated imaging programs I've ever seen. Rescuezilla changes all of that and makes it simple. Just download it and put it on a USB drive. Boot your computer from the USB drive. Once Rescuezilla loads, select your source drive and target drive and create your disc image. No sweat. To restore your image, again select your source and target drives and click on restore. Unless you have some unusual need, you can forget Clonezilla. Rescuezilla makes disc imaging easy!

(c)2020 M.Bugaj

Last updated 11/14/2020