Linux Mint 14 XFCE Edition

Linux Mint 14 xfce

Linux Mint 14 xfce

Woo! It has been a while since I posted about any linuxy things here and I was just going to veg today, but I promised 🙂

It’s no secret that I have had a thing for Linux Mint for quite a while. It is a solid reliable distribution that “just works” and, personally, it’s the one I have to piss with the least in order to get it working the way I like. That being said, as I posted about earlier, I noticed a few things on Mint 14 (Cinnamon) that contributed to keeping me off of it for a while. Most have been fixed, like the processor pegging, but the nagging issue with not being able to set custom keyboard shortcuts was a stinker. Honestly, at this point I have been so busy the last fre weeks I haven’t had a chance to see if that has been resolved yet. All that being said, I have this old laptop that I have traditionally run the XFCE edition on because it haqs lower resources. The XFCE edition has always worked a treat on this thing and I finally had the opportunity to upgrade from Mint 13 to 14 and really beat on it a little bit. In fact, that is what I am typing on now.

So just to be clear, I followed the recommended upgrade path, which is to say, clean reinstall. This seems to bother a lot of people but in Mint’s defense, I believe this is the best way to go from distribution to distribution. When you do an in place upgrade (which is possible) it takes tremendously longer imho, and then you are left sometimes with little residual bits and bobs issues to deal with that may or may not spring up on you at an inopportune time. Conversely, the clean install method of backing up your important bits, clean reinstall, and restoring the bits again is really relatively quick and painless. It does count on you having good backups, but, for sure, if you are doing an in place upgrade without good backups, you are lighting the disaster fuse 🙂

So, what is new on xfce edition? It doesn’t seem like there are any earth shattering changes here, mostly userland and kernel updates. Everything works really well and very quick, just as it did under 13. I would like to say I am surprised, but I am not. I have come to expect a certain level of quality from the Mint folks and they hardly ever disappoint. That’s why I always recommend their distribution, especially to newbies. People need to have a go-to distro that just works.

If you haven’t tried XFCE before and are contrasting it with Cinnamon or gnome (standard) you would certainly feel right at home and comfortable. While being a good bit lighter than the other DE’s xfce does well with providing you a similar set of programs, look and feel. Instead of a nautilus file manager, you generally have thunar, which works very well and much the same. Other differences are xfterm instead of gnome-terminal – still carries much of the same feel and functionality, etc.. You also have many of the same setup options, such as some ability for composting, screensavers, desktop backgrounds, virtual desktops and the rest of the things you are used to having control over. The menuing system has a bit of a different feel, but it is easily navigable.

As a lighter desktop option, there are still some things, some tweaks that you might need to take care of manually though. I will give you one example. For one reason or another xfce’s default icon text color was black. Well, as you can see from my screenshot, that doesn’t really work well for people like myself who like darker backgrounds (the default bg for Mint is a very light grey). I wanted to change that text color to white so I could, you know, read it 🙂 While not very hard, it involves editing the .gtk-xfce file in your home directory and changing all the color codes (3 there) from #000000 to #FFFFFF. The resulting file looks like so:

style “xfdesktop-icon-view” {
XfdesktopIconView::label-alpha = 0

fg[NORMAL] = “#FFFFFF”
fg[SELECTED] = “#FFFFFF”
fg[ACTIVE] = “#FFFFFF”
}
widget_class “*XfdesktopIconView*” style “xfdesktop-icon-view”

The rest of the customization, outside of fixing network manager’s dns control, which I think is a horrible idea, is pure userland. There are a bunch of programs that I personally use that make me able to do what I do and I naturally put all my customization into a script to be able to share it. You’ll need to run this as root and not just sudo it to get it to work correctly. To oget to a root account simply open a term and do a “sudo su -” and you’ll br prompted for your password. Once you give it, you are root. Just run this program for all the goodies. One other oddity I found was that after the initial reboot, when you are logging in, you *must* choose xfce as your session type. If you do not, you won’t get a desktop environment 🙂 Once you choose it once, though, it’ll ask you if you want to make it your default. Yes is a good answer here 🙂 Then you’ll be a rockin’!

Here is fixmint14.sh

#!/bin/bash

clear

# Test for UID=0
if [ “$(echo $UID)” != “0” ]
then
echo “You must be superuser to run this program. Try ‘sudo su -‘ then ‘./fixmint14.sh’”
exit
fi

sed -i -e ‘s/dns=dnsmasq/#dns=dnsmasq/g’ /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf

apt-get update
apt-get -y install xterm
apt-get -y install openssh-server ssh
apt-get -y install sshfs
apt-get -y install smbfs
apt-get -y install irssi
apt-get -y install vpnc
apt-get -y install screen
apt-get -y install vlc
apt-get -y install mencoder
apt-get -y install vim
apt-get -y install moc
apt-get -y install subversion
apt-get -y install git
apt-get -y install curl
apt-get -y install php5-cli
apt-get -y install mutt
apt-get -y install clusterssh
apt-get -y install html2text
apt-get -y install autofs
apt-get -y install vncviewer
apt-get -y install dropbox
apt-get -y install sqlite
apt-get -y install links
apt-get -y install rdesktop
apt-get -y install expect
apt-get -y install mysql-client
apt-get upgrade

for service in rsync virtualbox-guest-utils dns-clean pppd-dns saned speech-dispatcher ; do update-rc.d $service disable; done

reboot

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3 Responses to “Linux Mint 14 XFCE Edition”

  1. Charlie C. Ebert Says:

    Good review Linc. I’d just like to throw in a couple of items. I’ve also downloaded the Linux Mint 14 XFCE and KDE distro’s. I’m using the KDE one right now.
    Being a HAM radio operator, OLD SCHOOL, I use my USB headset all the time
    and I immediately noticed that the XFCE distro has no audio output selector.
    Cinnamon does but XFCE doesn’t. Funny but, when I was running the XFCE version of SALIX, they did have a master audio selector…
    So, I selected to install the KDE version and this desktop really rocks.
    I actually find the KDE version to be a bit snappier than Cinnamon. And the KDE tools are awesome. I’ve always liked KDE because of Slackware.
    Anyway, I noticed they did have the laptop touch pad options of ‘disable when typing” and “disable touch pad click”, which I thought was nice. Just scratched my head as to why they didn’t include an audio output selector tool like in Cinnamon or KDE?

  2. Charlie C. Ebert Says:

    Additional. Seems like any version of Mint you pick, if your software manager
    hit’s this,,,,

    roam ~ # apt-get install devede
    E: dpkg was interrupted, you must manually run ‘sudo dpkg –configure -a’ to correct the problem.
    roam ~ # dpkg –configure -a
    Setting up hwdata (0.234-1) …
    Setting up libpam-cap:amd64 (1:2.22-1ubuntu4) …
    Setting up desktop-file-utils (0.20-0.1ubuntu1) …

    Configuration file `/etc/gnome/defaults.list’
    ==> File on system created by you or by a script.
    ==> File also in package provided by package maintainer.
    What would you like to do about it ? Your options are:
    Y or I : install the package maintainer’s version
    N or O : keep your currently-installed version
    D : show the differences between the versions
    Z : start a shell to examine the situation
    The default action is to keep your current version.
    *** defaults.list (Y/I/N/O/D/Z) [default=N] ? Y
    Installing new version of config file /etc/gnome/defaults.list …

    Then, IT, DIES…

  3. linc Says:

    Hey Charlie,
    I am not sure what you mean by output selection tool, but on my xfce desktop if I click the speaker icon and then “Sound Settings” I can choose whatever input/output settings I like right there.. ??

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