Archive for the ‘Linux Mint’ Category

What’s with the Lemur?

System 76 Lemur

System 76 Lemur

Nope, I am not talking about the curious little Madagascan primate, I am talking about the one from System 76!

It has been a while since I have done a review, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working one up πŸ™‚ At this past years Ohio Linux Fest I got to rub elbows with Carl Richell from System 76 who promised me the opportunity to review one of their masterpieces. After some killer anticipation, the unit arrived on my doorstep and it turned out to be their Lemur Ultra Thin laptop.

This lappy has a GORGEOUS 13″ display, a core-i3 proc, and the all the assorted (and working) ports, wifi, ethernet, sound, SUSPEND, etc., that you would come to expect. I did say working didn’t I? That’s important because, as retailer of Linux computers, it’s important to make the distinction that there is NO guesswork as to whether or not Linux will run on perfectly on it. It does πŸ™‚

System 76 was nice enough to let me demo this thing for a long time, so it’s safe to say that I tested this thing out really well. I used it extensively at home to do my normal web surfing, video watching and music playing. I also used it for work where it was my portal for a bunch of system administration work, rdesktop and ssh sessions galore, plenty of terminals open with configuration scripts and php programming, connected through every kind of free and paid wifi you can think of, not to mention my work vpn. And a lot of that was all at the same time! This system performed more than admirably. I even used it at a work conference where I did splunk installs and testing without issue.

I am not sure what kinds of proprietary things that System 76 provides in its own packages, however everything in Ubuntu, the Linux distribution that System 76 ships with by default, runs perfectly. Then again, so did Mint 10, the other Linux distribution I installed and tested with. This left me with, literally, nothing whatsoever that didn’t meet my personal satisfaction πŸ™‚

This laptop is very light, perfectly functional, very good looking and stunningly well designed and put together. It feels to me like a MacBook Air with a warp drive, and at literally half the price. In short, this is the laptop that I want to carry around (did I mention it’s light too)? I am hoping that Mrs. LincolnClaus is reading this. It would look great under the tree this year! I would gladly get rid of most of the rest of my laptop entourage to be able to carry one of these.

Hey, anyone want to buy a pristine condition used netbook? Or two? πŸ™‚

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Current Screenshot

I always love to see what people are doing on their Linux boxen so I figured I would offer up my current screenshot and see if I could encourage you all to do the same. Here I am this morning running Linux Mint 10 (realy nice btw), google chrome browsing my usual websites, thunderbird checking my email accounts, browsing my network shares via nautilus and watching some tv I pulled off my tivo.

So what are *you* doing?

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Linux Mint 10 RC

Linux Mint 10 RC on ThinkPenguin Air

Linux Mint 10 RC on ThinkPenguin Air

After having a couple really long and bad weeks here at the Fessenden residence, I finally got the chance to send back my Think Penguin Air review unit. But right before I did that I wanted to make sure I wiped all my personal info from the computer. Cue Linux Mint 10 Release Candidate.

I was so excited when Ubuntu 10.10 came out because I knew that meant that a new Linux Mint would not be far behind. It was not long afterward that I learned that Mint had a release candidate ready. Not being a patient man, I grabbed an iso and, via unetbootin, stuffed it onto a usb stick so I could try it out.

It just so happened that I was way overdue to send back my review unit, so what better place to try the new Mint than to use it to wipe my data off that review unit? I could think of none, so on it went!

The interesting thing I noticed in the installer was that it was installing packages while it was asking the “end of install” questions. You know, the ones where it was asking my account name, timezone, name for my computer, those sorts of things. Now I may be wrong, but I am pretty sure those were never asked on previous releases until *after* all the software packages were installed. Anyhow, I believe this sped up the install considerably. 15 minutes and I was up and running.

Once running, one of the first things I noticed was the default background was grey and the theme has some polished metal thing going on. Initially, I was incensed that Mint would release without their trademark beautiful green background, but after a few minutes, it started to grow on me a little. I looked at the other included backgrounds and found the same background as the default, but in green. I decided that what they really *need* to do is to take the green logo from the green version and apply that to the grey default background and that would fix things for me πŸ™‚ Maybe Clem is listening?

I can’t comment too much on the rest as I have not had much of a chance to use it, however, everything worked, everything was aesthetically pleasing, and the Mint menu looked a bit different.

Kudos to the Mint team and I cannot wait for the final release so I can upgrade some of these machines around here and give Mint 10 a better run πŸ™‚

Sunday, October 24th, 2010




I had the opportunity to check out some encrypted filesystem stuffs recently. The one that really stood out as easy to install. manage and use, for me, was EncFs. Now this post is mostly for posterity, but I wanted to share that, unless you are trying to get it running on RHEL, it’s pretty easy to get set up. I mostly referred to this site and had it up and going lickety-split.. I really am thrilled with how easy this actually was…


I tried getting it running on RHEL 5. I will spare you all the gory details about how it took hours of peeling through the dependency issues with nonstandard RHEL packages, but you get the idea. What I will leave you with here is what actually made it work:

yum -y install fuse fuse-devel fuse-libs
rpm -Uvh rlog-1.3.7-1.el5.rf.i386.rpm
rpm -Uvh fuse-encfs-1.4.1-1.el5.rf.i386.rpm
modprobe fuse
useradd -G fuse your_user_name

And that was it! Bask in the glory!!!

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Linux Mint Debian

Mint Debian

Linux Mint Debian

I was sure excited when I saw the announcement that there would be a Linux Mint Debian edition. For some time now, I have been excited to look over practically anything involved with Linux Mint. It’s no secret that it is my favorite desktop Linux.

I grabbed the iso and set about installing it on my current slushbox, which is a 3ghz single core machine with 1gb of ram and a 40gb hdd. Of course I didn’t notice that it had no dvd drive until after I was already frustrated that the dvd wouldn’t boot in the machine. πŸ™‚ Eventually I came to my senses and hooked in an external dvd drive and was quickly greeted by the installer.

The first thing I noticed is the partitioner. When installing Mint proper, you can just autopartition the drive and use the entire thing. This is not so here, in fact, the partitioner didn’t even recognise my sata drive at all initially. I had to fdisk the thing and create a new partition table (can’t remember what was originally on the drive to be fair) before the partitioner would even see the drive far enough to suggest that I need to repartition it for Mint Debian. Even at that, the menuing at that point is not completely suggestive as to what and how this should be done. Since this was not my first rodeo, I partitioned the hdd with a 2gb swap (twice my memory size) and the rest with a giant root (/) partition. Be forwarned, the disk partitioning on this distribution is not something I would throw at a newbie.

Once the system was partitioned, the rest of the installation was relatively simple. This followed the normal Mint installation and the only thing notable about it was that it was simple enough to not be notable at all. Good job!

After the installation, I always make it a point to immediately do all the updates. The surprising thing here was the number of updates available. The distribution has been available for only a week and there were well over 300 package updates already. This is a good and a bad thing. It’s good proof that people are looking at things and improving them but it’s sort of annoying to have to wait 45 minutes to use your brand new distribution too. The other really notable issue here is that updates on this distribution are not as user friendly as on Mint proper. In the very first update I was asked what to do with some conf files it said I had changed, even though I had hardly had the chance to log in let alone change config files, and worse yet, the updates included grub, which asked me where to install itself. That is a particularly bad thing to spring on a newer user. I don’t understand why it couldn’t have checked where it was already installed except for a pretty poor implementation of the package update. Again, this is a big deal because a new person would have either given up, or had (in my case) a 50/50 chance of picking the wrong option here. If you are calculating odds, for a newbie, that is a 75% chance of horking your new Linux install. That would not be a good way to make a first impression.

Once all the updates were correctly done and I had a clean reboot just to make sure grub was installed correctly, things were rockin’. Over all I was impressed with the desktop. This is the typical Mint desktop that I have grown to love and appreciate since Mint 7. To me, Mint’s default desktop feels like my digital home.

Of course, there were some issues there too. Aren’t there always? Mint Debian is , obviously, Debian underneath and not Ubuntu, so, as you would expect, there are some differences. I found quickly that there was no xterm installed (oh come on people) and when launching gnome-terminal from the run command (alt-f2) I got an error about the default set of quotes not being available or something like that. That is a non issue for me because I turn them off anyhow, but still, that shouldn’t happen.

Running Mint Debian on this machine seems pretty snappy, so I did some resource checking. The entire system was running on only 144 megs of ram (nice)! CPU was a different story. It was running at almost 20% load. In contrast, my other machine running Mint 9 proper was running at 173 mb of ram and 6% CPU. Interesting difference since the other machine has 1.5gb of ram and a single core 1.7ghz proc. Other items of note are the placement of some menu items, etc..

What were my honest impressions? Well, it seems to me, in this instance that Mint can be seen as sort of an abstraction layer. What I mean by that is that Ubuntu used Debian as a starting point and then, in my opinion anyway, added a level of usability and polish on top of that to make a name for itself. In the same manner, Mint proper did that with Ubuntu as a base, adding a substantial, again in my opinion, level of polish. This same polish, applied to a Debian base gives you what we have in Mint Debian today. Unfortunately it’s missing the intermediate Ubuntu polish in there. πŸ™‚

This is not to say that I didn’t like Mint Debian. I very much enjoyed it. I am certainly looking forward to seeing it mature and I fully believe that all of the persnickety details I noticed will be fully addressed within short order. For those of you who have been “doing Linux” for a while, you should definitely check this out. For the new guys, give it a month or three. Like I said, I know I’ll be watching this one.

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Linux Mint – Debian?

Linux Mint Debian

Linux Mint Debian

Today is very important for Linux Mint. It’s one day to remember in the history of our project as we’re about to maintain a new distribution, a rolling one, which promises to be faster, more responsive and on which we’re less reliant on upstream components. Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) comes with a Debian base, which we transformed into a live media and on top of which we added a new installer. It’s rougher and in some aspects not as user-friendly as our other editions, it’s very young but it will improve continuously and rapidly, and it brings us one step closer to a situation where we’re fully in control of the system without being impacted by upstream decisions…….
Read More Here

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010




How many is too many? Is this excessive or have I just been watching too many episodes of Hoarders?

  • Top – Dell Inspiron 15 – My “desktop” machine.
  • Far left – Macbook 5,2 – Use when I am relaxing in bed with my feet propped up. Pisses me off that I cannot get Linux shoehorned on this properly yet.
  • 2nd left – Acer Aspire One – netbook I use for TLLTS work.
  • Bottom middle – Acer Aspire 3680 – my main livingroom machine – always tethered to the power cord because I have had it so long the battery only lasts 11 seconds.
  • 2nd right – HP Mini 110 – new netbook and daily carry.
  • Far right – Thinkpad X31 – dev/test/slush box.

And, of course, these are not *all* my computers. I also have a couple ESXi boxes which run a few virtual servers and an old G3 (upgraded to G4) Blue and White that mostly is a nightstand.

So, what computers do you all have kicking around?

Monday, June 7th, 2010

TLLTS on Mint 9

tllts on mint 9

tllts on mint 9

I just found out from a friend of mine that there is a link to TLLTS on the “News” section of firefox in the default install of Linux Mint 9! Sweet! Check out the pic at

Addendum: Apparently there is quite some talk about TLLTS on the Mint Forums as well!

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010




Why Grassman? Well, my preferred method of computer naming is to use Cryptids. You guessed it. That means I got a new (to me at least) computer. I did a little side work in exchange for a 10″ netbook and another Western Digital 1TB MyBook World Edition. I left the choice of netbook open and got a really nice refurbished HP Mini 110-1125NR.

This thing is a sweet little netbook! I was a little hesitant at first because, as you’ll notice in the picture, the trackpad buttons are on the sides, much like my Acer Aspire One. I really really hate that “feature” on the Acer and suspected much the same here as well. Much to my delight, these buttons feel way nicer and are quite comfortable to use. The computer/netbook itself came with 1gb of ram, a 140gb hdd and Windows 7 (somethingorother) pre-installed. Well, that didn’t last long. In fact, it never got booted. I immediately slapped in my USB stick with Linux Mint 9 that had been put on there with unetbootin. I am sure you have all ready reviews about Mint 9 by now, but if you haven’t actually *tried* it, you are surely missing out. In a few minutes, I had Mint 9 on the HP and the only thing I really had to adjust was getting wireless networking working. This is not as difficult as you may think. I clicked the icon on the task bar for restricted drivers and told the machine to install and use the STA driver (yes, I had to initially connect it via ethernet). A quick reboot later and wireless was working perfectly. This machine runs very well, feels quite quick, it feels solid and of good quality unlike some netbooks which are very toyish (?) feeling. It is very sleek and pretty and, in my opinion, the difference between 10 inch and 9 inch display in a netbook is enormous. The only thing I believe i will change about this netbook is to upgrade the ram to the full 2gb. Not insomuch as it needs it, because it runs very well on 1gb, but just because I can and because it is very likely that I will use this computer as a lot more than just a “netbook”.

An odd funny story here is that 1 year ago when Allan and I were at the South East Linux Fest, we went to BestBuy to waste a little time. There I bought a neoprene netbook sleeve for my Acer Aspire One. The only decent one they had was this black one with some designs on the outside for a 10 inch HP netbook. Imagine my surprise when it occurred to me that that netbook sleeve is the one that actually matches my new refurbed 10 inch HP netbook. πŸ™‚ Reunited at last!

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Mint 9 Isadora

Linux Mint

Linux Mint 9 Isadora has been released.

Once again the Mint team has done well. On my test hardware, Isadora runs strikingly well. It’s fast, faster than 8, and of course, beautiful to look at. Read the release notes for updates and changes, there are some good ones in there. In the mean time, start your downloads. You are going to want this one!

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010