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Last week 3 of my favorites distributions launched their updated versions, Elementary OS Freya, Linux Mint Debian Edition and Antergos (basically an updated ISO). As I am a “burned out” Geek, I can’t stop thinking of changing OS on my main machine (once more).

So breakdown of these 3 candidates :

Elementary : based on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, with Pantheon as it’s Desktop Environment (homebrewn), sporting in-house created apps and with a certain design in mind. Elegant, sleek, and fast but has some stirred some controversy due to payment methods in download section.

Linux Mint Debian : based on Debian stable with bits of rolling release :

LMDE is however slightly faster than Linux Mint and it runs newer packages. Life on the LMDE side can be exciting. There are no point releases in LMDE 2, except for bug fixes and security fixes base packages stay the same, but Mint and desktop components are updated continuously

I have been using Cinnamon as the default Desktop Environment on all my current OSes, thus I am fairly familiar with it. Why choose it over its’ Ubuntu base? Debian’s semi-rolling release mostly, but sometimes I feel like Mint is kind of.. boring (some might say that boring is good when talking about production machines)

Antergos : based on Arch, meaning living with a truly rolling release distribution (with all it’s pros and cons), though I have yet to encounter a problem on my current setup. This time, I’m more inclined on using GNOME. One of the reasons I’m not fully into Antergos now, is AUR, the way to install apps maintained outside the official repositories (plus Steam not being officially supported).

P.S Installing Debian Testing GNOME may be a good choice. We will see though.

 

Synapse

I have been using Antergos Arch on my laptop for about 20 days now and I’m still going strong about using it. The system, codenamed Synapse, boots in about 25 seconds, including password input, to desktop ready state (Desktop environment, Conky and Plank).

Antergos Arch, I used the Cinnamon version for my laptop, did not need much change from my part to fit my needs, only the much needed settings changes, some software install/uninstall and partial iredesktop tweaking. It’s only shortcoming was the absence of a Bluetooth applet, which can be easily be bypassed using the Terminal commands for Bluetooth connections.

On the software side of things, my first changes were to uninstall just three applications : Chromium Browser, Xnoise and Totem video player. But I went on to install the following :

Firefox Browser
Thunderbird
VLC video player
Rhythmbox
Minitube
GIMP for image manipulation
Conky (from AUR)
Guake dropdown terminal
and Archey3 for some Terminal ASCII art

And that’s it, for the time being not much else is needed in terms of software (and I believe more would mean bloat).

Some other changes came in the form of applets, extensions, desklets and themes for Cinnamon. I installed Weather and Places applets with the Maximus extension. When it comes to theming Cinnamon, I manually installed a couple of dark GTK3 themes along with the following Cinnamon Spices, constantly changing between :

Dark Void
iOS (personally tweaked a bit)
Numix Frost (came preinstalled)
Loki

Thus coming to my latest desktop :

Manually install GTK themes in Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a desktop environment both elegant (through the GTK 3+ engine) and usable (reminding a traditional desktop setup). One of the great features it holds, is the easiness when it comes to installing themes for the taskbar and menu, it can be achieved through the System Settings -> Themes tab.

My only “bug” was that, even if you had installed a dark theme (like Dark Void) the global ones (for Nemo, Rhythmbox, Banshee, Totem etc), are restricted to white and  gray variants like MintX and adwaita. I wanted something like GNOME’s global dark theme.

My online search has directed me to installing GTK themes through PPAs, which incidentally work without hassle. But I don’t want to clutter my PPA list with sources for these kind of things, I like keeping things minimal even in that. So the only alternative was to install my downloaded dark themes manually.

The steps needed are below :

First of all, open Nemo as root and navigate to :

/usr/share/themes

and paste the extracted folders of your themes

Afterwards from the Terminal :

tasos@Synapse ~ $ cd /usr/share/themes/
tasos@Synapse ~ $ sudo chown -R tasos <name of theme>/

This is it. Now the new global theme can be found under System Settings -> Themes-> Window Borders and System Settings -> Themes -> Controls.

PS. There may be a small bug when showing the thumbnail when choosing your themes, which doesn’t affect the theme itself.

Farewell #!

After reading Corenominal’s post for the discontinuing of CrunchBang Linux, a feeling of sadness overwhelmed me. I am still a Linux noob in terms of knowledge, but I know and have tried almost every distribution out there,   CrunchBang was my constant, the distribution I knew I would turn if I could not settle in any other.
I know it is just software but just hearing this kind of news I feel like something I thought that would always be there, will not be.
Farewell old “friend”, and I wish all the best to Mr. Newborough for one of the greatest distros of the last decade.

Creating swap partition

When I installed my OS, somehow I managed to somehow mess my swap partition, the most probable cause was that firstly I encrypted my drive and afterwards I partitioned it encrypting my swap with no way to access it. Thankfully I don’t use it much so it took me two days and a Conky setup to figure out that my swap partition was a zero byte partition. So the solution was to create a new partition, the space was there waiting, to be used as swap.

First of all after logging in as root in the terminal, I ran : blkid /dev/sdX where X is your various partitions, my output was :

Synapse ~ # blkid /dev/sda1
/dev/sda1: UUID="xxxx-xxxx" TYPE="vfat"

Synapse ~ # blkid /dev/sda2
/dev/sda2: UUID="xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxx" TYPE="ext4"

Synapse ~ # blkid /dev/sda3
Synapse ~ #

That means, no partition was identified in sda3. Now, I created an empty partition in the place of sda3 and then I ran mkswap :

Synapse ~ # mkswap /dev/sda3

Next, I used the swapon command to enable the partition :

swapon -U UUID where UUID is the output of running the command blkid /dev/sda3

The final step was to add the new UUID in /etc/fstab, which should look like this :

# swap was on /dev/sda3 during installation
UUID=xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxx none            swap    sw              0       0

That was it, my swap was identified and ready to be used.

 

Installing Linux Mint 17.1

Installing Linux on my PCs always feels easier than installing Windows, mainly because most of the times, I’m logged in a productive environment moments after installation is complete. Recently I decided to find a distribution to stick with, my choice – for reasons I have stated in older posts – is Linux Mint Ubuntu edition with the Cinnamon desktop.

Linux Mint’s 64bit Cinnamon can be downloaded from here and be used as a live system running from USB, from which it can be installed on a HDD. The installation process is very straightforward and blazingly fast.

After booting on the live session, a welcome screen appears with various links on the Linux Mint site, forum and documentation pages. On the desktop, alongside the Computer and Trash icons, there is an Installation icon which opens the Linux Mint installer. The installer is identical to the Ubuntu official installer, tweaked to Mint’s specific software and principles. Most of the steps are about configuring your custom system, language – location – keyboard layout – username & password. The only step worth mentioning is the partitioner. Most people (not dual booting) should use the “Use entire disk” option which auto-partitions your disk. It is worth mentioning that Linux Mint has the ability to boot an EFI system, just adds a small efi partition.

My setup, on a system with a 128GB SSD and 8GB of RAM, is :

Device           Type   Mount Point   Size

/dev/sda1    efi         /efiboot           512MB

/dev/sda2   ext4      /                        125GB

/dev/sda3   swap     swap                 2GB

I decided to use a unified root and home directory due to storage restrictions, if  I play games a 40GB root partition may not be enough. Also after reading various articles for swap on Linux systems I found that 2GBs of swap space are enough (maybe overkill for some).

Afterward all the procedure is just waiting for the installer to finish copying the files, which on my system lasted under 20 minutes and voila I was ready to be productive. No hassle, no drivers, all my hardware was detected, Lenovo’s function keys worked out of the box, as well as brightness control, microphone, suspend etc.

So after 30′-45′ I had a system with everything I needed for every day use. But no system comes tailored to everyone’s needs, it needs some minor (or major) tweaking. That leads us to…

Next : Tweaking Linux Mint