Changeover to Linux Mint Debian

04 Aug

I wrote a little while ago about thinking of switching to Mint Debian, then changing my mind. That was before I discovered that my current version (15) would no longer download programs from its repositories, and I was effectively stuck with a system going nowhere. So I bit the bullet and made the big changeover on the weekend. I was hoping to keep the old system and set up a dual-boot arrangement, but that didn’t happen, so it was lucky that the changeover worked pretty smoothly. In fact I only overlooked one item: the Address Book for Mozilla Thunderbird, which I was able to replace nearly completely from my wife’s computer. But here are some random observations from the process:

1. When backing up to an external hard disk, make sure it’s plugged into a USB3 port if you have one.

2. Torrent downloads of Mint ISOs are faster than direct downloads, even from a local site.

3. Backup and record the location of password files, databases of contacts, etc, financial information, templates, mail storage and so on. It’s not much use having the file if you don’t have a clue where it’s supposed to go.

4. Record any customised startup programs you may have.

5. Backup /etc and /opt somewhere at least, and /bin and /usr as well if you have room.

6. When readying a disk for installation by editing partitions, implement each step as you do it — i.e. don’t queue them up — so if something goes wrong you don’t have to start from scratch.

7. The idea of having a separate Home partition with all your settings in is a good one, but I found that if you keep your documents and data in there too, it gets mixed up with all the other crap. So now I make a separate partition for each type of file — Indexing, Multimedia, Mail, Ebooks, Archives, Dropbox, Virtual Images and Websites — and leave /home as the residue of the disk, for settings files only. But that does mean I have to run ‘sudo nemo’ after installation, and change permissions on all those new partitions so they belong to me.

8. Mint Debian is no better at finding a Windows PC on the network than any other Linux version or distro, even with the /etc/fstab and smb.conf files copied from an working PC. As it is now, the only way I can move files to and from my Windows server is via FTP.

9. Spotify for Linux seems to work — perfectly so far — in Mint Debian, including control via the keyboard keys.

10. Mint Debian with Cinnamon is indistinguishable from Mint with Cinnamon; there’s no way for the ordinary (or even advanced) user to know the difference, and no reason for them to care.

11. Upgrading with the Update Manager didn’t seem to work, but ‘sudo apt-get upgrade’ did.

And that’s it, really. In fact the most irritating part of the whole procedure was the backup to disk which told me when it began at nine AM that it would take an hour, and by half-past-eleven was telling me it would take an hour and a half — which it subsequently did.

Now I have to update Glenda’s PC too.

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Posted by on August 4, 2014 in Uncategorized


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