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Old 17th February 2015, 22:31   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Linux Mint XFCE – Install & Setup

Backing up data
Even the best most solid systems can let us down and more likely we make mistakes ourselves and screw something up. I've made many boo boos and will many in the future. Also There are only two types of hard drives in this world, those that have died and those that will.

I'm not going to harp on about a comprehensive strategy or the many different techniques such as drive imagine and cloning etc. But I would like to introduce you to a little app called “Lucky Backup” (available in the Software Centre). Mint has an app pre-installed to help with backups and if you get on ok with that then fine. But I personally like this other one, it's easy to set up and flies through the task, which is important because the faster & easier it is to do this job the more likely we are to do it every day or so. I backup my Home folder which is where all the users personal and configuration filed are stored, every day to a usb pen drive, it only takes a few seconds. Check it out!

Oh yes, and don't leave that external hard drive with your lifetime family photo collection on sitting next to your laptop when you go out, that burglar will steal both.

The Home Directory & hidden files
Further to backing up the Home directory (folder) it is useful to actually see what you are backing up. The Home Directory is where all the users personal and configuration files & folders are located, that's why it has your name on it.

But what you don't know is it also contains various hidden folders and files. There's no secrecy going on here, no one is trying to hide things from you, it is simply done this way for tidiness and to keep these behind the scene configuration files out of your way.

But sometimes it is useful to see them and one day you might want to change something in there.

So lets explore.
Launch your File Manager and click on your name.
In the toolbar of your file manager click on View, select “Show Hidden Files”.
All the hidden stuff will appear.

You will notice that the names of all the previously hidden folders and files all start with a dot (.) keep that in mind when naming or renaming files, if you accidentally hit the full-stop at the beginning of a file name you might hide it from yourself.

One more thing on file names.
Linux knows the difference between capitals letters and non-capitals, Windows does not. Window sees abc the same as ABC but Linux recognises the difference so you could have 2 files in a Linux directory with the same name but spelt differently (if that makes any sense).
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Old 17th February 2015, 23:56   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Linux Mint XFCE – Install & Setup

A couple of advanced tips for smoothing sailing

The Backlight Issue
On many laptop and desktop machines there is an issue with the device not remembering the brightness level previously set by the user and on startup the screen can be maximum or minimum brightness. This is not the fault of the operating system but the manufacturer. The chances are your machine was originally built to work with Windows and the hardware setup was specifically tailored for Microsoft.

Nevertheless having your eyes burnt out by a screen almost as bright as the sun and having to reset it every boot up is a pain. So here's a little hack that has always worked for me. Only do this if have this problem.

Open a Terminal.
Copy & Paste this command
cat /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0/max_brightness
The result should be a number (maybe 15).
That number is the number of levels your screen brightness has, with 0 being none and 15 being max.
Now that we know the number we can use it to judge what level would be comfortable for us and use a hack to force the machine to set it automatically.
In this instance I am going to set it at 5.
In the Terminal paste this
gksudo gedit /etc/rc.local
Enter your password.
A file will open in gedit text editor.
Add this before the last line “exit 0″:
echo 5 > /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0/brightness
The number 5 is the brightness level I am setting, you can try whatever level might suit you up to the max we previously discovered.
Save the changes to the file, close it and the Terminal.
When you next reboot your machine should reset the brightness at the end of the boot sequence, saving you the trouble.

There is an attached image below.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg backlight.jpg (15.9 KB, 6 views)
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Old 18th February 2015, 01:02   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Linux Mint XFCE – Install & Setup

Disable Screen Saver and adjust power settings.
This is more my personal preference but screen savers can be a pain in the butt especially if you are watching a movie. To suddenly have the screen go blank or burst into multi coloured lava lamps is not my idea of fun when I am relaxing watching something.

If this annoys you also do this:
Go to main Settings.
Click on Screensaver.
Set the “Mode” to “Disable Screen Saver”.
Job done!

Personally I also increase the time-outs in the Power Manager.
Under the setting “On AC” and the tab “Monitor” I set sleep at 15 minutes and display off at 20. But that’s just the way I like it.

-------------------------

I think we are getting close to the end of this tutorial now.
Tomorrow I will cover system maintenance and any odds & ends that spring to my mind which I think might be useful.

Until then Happy Computing and Think Linux!
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Last edited by Akbuk Rob; 18th February 2015 at 01:36..
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Old 18th February 2015, 20:52   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Linux Mint XFCE – Install & Setup

Uninstalling applications

You could just head over to the Software Centre, find the app you no longer want and hit the button to remove. Removing apps this way leaves behind the original install files and some configuration files which you may or may not wish to keep. There is a faster way with more options.

The Terminal again.

Lets say I want to uninstall a program called “MyGame”.
In the Terminal type sudo apt-get remove mygame press enter, give it my password and it's gone.
This is what I call a soft remove because although the app has gone the system has not removed the original install files nor any configuration files associated with the app. If I want to reinstall that app I can do so in the normal way(s) and I would not need to download the installation again. Theses left overs will not cause any harm but if I know for sure I won't want that app ever again I might wish to get rid of the install files as well, especially if I don't have a lot of space on my hard drive.
sudo apt-get purge mygame completely removes the package and the associated configuration files.

Note: Configuration files residing in your personal Home directory are not usually affected by either removal method because they are owned by you (not root) so need to be manually removed if you choose to do so. Remember, you need to "View Hidden Files" to see these.

If you dislike using the Terminal “Synaptic Package Manager” provides a graphical interface to purge apps, remove old kernels, clean the system and install software, drivers etc. Find it in the Whisker Menu under System.
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Old 18th February 2015, 21:08   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Linux Mint XFCE – Install & Setup

Maintenance

There is virtually no maintenance needed to keep your Linux system running sweet. Forget all that nonsense you had to do with Windows, like virus scans, defrags, registry backups, cleaning tools and the likes. You are a Linux user now and the machine will work for YOU not the other way round. Having said that there is one very important task you should undertake install updates regularly. Updates bring bug fixes, security patches and newer versions of software. They are free and unobtrusive, the little icon in your bottom panel will turn from a green tick to a blue symbol if there are any updates for you. It is up to you if and when you install them. Nothing will ever install without your express permission. Although you will probably find updates are much more frequent than Windows they are often small and will certainly download & install much quicker than happens with Windows.

Virus free.
I don't care what some Windoze advocates try to claim about viruses and Linux, you won't get one because there aren’t any. Period! So forget anti-virus software constantly running in the background eating up half your processing power and sometimes screwing your machine up. WE DON'T NEED IT. Of course if you want to be a gentleman or lady and scan all your outgoing emails & files just in case you are carrying something that might attack a Windows machine that's up to you, but my philosophy is if they want to run a Swiss Cheese of an operating system they should protect themselves. The only risks you face as a home Linux user are the ones you will no doubt take yourself.

Why no defrag?
Linux uses your hard drive in a different way to Windows. With Windows data is written progressively from the beginning of the drive towards the end. In fairness to Microsoft they have got better over the years and now they leave gaps for files & folders to expand. But this still causes untidiness when some files are deleted and others grow, quite often there isn't enough space to write the added data next to where it should be, the result over time is “Fragmentation” with bits of files scattered in several places on the hard drive. Linux on the other hand is fragmented by design. Data is written from the centre of the drive heading outwards in both directions with big gaps in-between, the result is files can expand yet stay with their parents.

What about the System Registry?
A constant source of problems in Windows.
Linux doesn't have a Registry so no problems in that department.

Cleaning tools like Ccleaner.
Nope Linux pretty much cleans itself on boot up.

This has to be said.
It might sound like I am trying to put Windows and their user down, I am not. Windows is a very good operating system (I happily used different versions for many years). I am of the belief that Linux is not for everyone but then neither is Windows or Mac. It is and should be each to their own, it is great that we have choices, I would hate to live in a world where the only choice was Linux.
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Old 18th February 2015, 21:37   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Linux Mint XFCE – Install & Setup

So what maintenance should I undertake with my Linux?

Must do.
Install the regular updates.
Back up your Home directory regularly (this applies to any and all operating systems).
Upgrade the system at, before or not too long after the “End Of Support” date.

Optional.
Remove “Residual Config” files.
Packages can also become unused over time. If a package was installed to assist with running another program and that program was subsequently removed you no longer need the supporting package. You can remove it with “autoremove”.

Remove .deb files (installation files) for packages that are no longer installed on your system. Depending on your installation habits, removing these files from /var/cache/apt/archives may regain a significant amount of disk space.

Remove old kernels now & again.
Unlike Ubuntu and some other flavours of Linux, Mint has a policy of not upgrading kernels during the life of a release unless they consider it to be important for security. So this may never need to be done.

At the end of the day you can have a new free latest version of Linux every 2 or 3 years at the longest, so if you can't be bothered with the optionals no worries they won't do any harm.


How to tackle the three optional tasks

Remove “Residual Config” files.
Mint has a nice & easy friendly little feature for this.
From the Whisker Menu open Software Sources (it's under System).
Click “Maintenance” > “Purge residual configuration”.
Done!
Can also be easily done from the Terminal or Synaptic Package Manager.
Terminal command (if you do it this way) sudo apt-get autoremove

Remove .deb files (installation files)
Terminal
sudo apt-get autoclean
or
sudo apt-get clean
The same as above, except it removes all packages from the package cache. This may not be desirable if you have a slow internet connection, since it will cause you to re-download any packages you need to install a program.

Remove old kernels.
This one is a little more involved for the novice one should be careful because if you inadvertently remove all the kernels on your system including the one you are using your system will not reboot and you will need your installation disc to recover, so unless you are confident or adventurous you might be better to leave this alone.
But here is how to do it anyway:
In the Terminal type uname -r this will tell you the kernel in use, it will be something like 3.13.0-45-generic note this down because you do not want to remove it or the Headers associated with it.

Now open up Synaptic Package Manager
Type into the Quick search text field 3.13.0 (this is the current kernel series and is the same group of numbers as your current kernel but without -45 at the end). Narrow the search by clicking “Installed” in the left menu. Select all the entries that are not your current ones (holding the Ctrl key allows you to select multiple items). You should be left with about 4 UN-highlighted items (see attached image). Now right click over one of the highlight items and select “Mark for complete removal”. Double check you have not marked any items related to your current kernel. Click “Apply (the green tick at the top). All those items will now be purged from the system.

For advanced users only.
If you are confident you can recover from a mishap and want to do this the quick way, here is the terminal command:
dpkg -l 'linux-*' | sed '/^ii/!d;/'"$(uname -r | sed "s/\(.*\)-\([^0-9]\+\)/\1/")"'/d;s/^[^ ]* [^ ]* \([^ ]*\).*/\1/;/[0-9]/!d' | xargs sudo apt-get -y purge
This will remove all but the current kernel.
Important - If you’ve upgraded your system, or had an update with a new kernel, please reboot your machine before running this.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg kernels.jpg (21.1 KB, 5 views)
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Old 18th February 2015, 21:44   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Linux Mint XFCE – Install & Setup

Something useful

Hardware List.
It can be useful to have a list of all the hardware components inside your computer.
This is how you generate it:

Open a Terminal.
Copy & Paste this line:
sudo lshw -html > hardware.html
Press Enter.
You will be asked for your password.
Your password will remain invisible, not even asterisks, this is normal.
Now you'll have a nice document in your personal folder, named hardware.html.
Try it now.
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Old 18th February 2015, 21:45   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Linux Mint XFCE – Install & Setup

Getting out of jams

Application locked up.
Here's the situation . . . . You are putting your computer to work, editing an image or video, web browser open, a word document going on etc. probably half a dozen or so tasks going on simultaneously. You right click something or hit some key and wallop, one of your apps throws a wobbly, it won't budge and you can't close it. What do you do? Reboot, hit it with a hammer, phone a friend? Don't despair help is at hand.

Open a Terminal.
Type xkill
Press Enter.
Your cursor turns into a cross.
Click on the offending window.
It's gone.

Note: You will loose any unsaved changes but everything else is fine.
Try it now, launch any app and xkill it.


The Three Finger Salute.
Another way of getting out of a sticky situation is with the “Three Finger Salute”.

Ctrl+Alt+Backspace (without the “+”)
or sometimes
Ctrl+Alt+Delete (Backspace/Delete it varies on different systems).
This trick takes you to the Login screen.


Whole system freeze.
It's rare but it can happen, it's usually related to some hardware in your computer not playing nicely with the operating system, graphics maybe. Perhaps you have experienced such an event. Nothing works, not mouse nor keyboard nor swearing.

What do you do? Press & hold the power button to force a hard shutdown? That's not a good way. Windows would certainly not be happy and would probably want to run 2 hours of self diagnostics before letting you back in. Linux won't be so hard on you but you risk corrupting data or even the system, most times you will get away with a hard shutdown but it's that one bad time that we want to avoid.

Linux “Magic Keys” to the rescue.

All Linux systems provide a a back door to communicate with the kernel directly and here's how:
Hold down the Alt and SysRq (Print Screen) keys.
While holding those down, type the following in order. Nothing will appear to happen until the last letter is pressed: reisub
Watch your computer reboot magically.

What the individual keys do in that sequence are not as important as what it does as a whole: stops all programs, unmounts all drives, and reboots. A lot safer than just cutting the power.

Notes:
Don't rush this, hold each key down for 1-2 seconds to give it time to do its tasks.
On some computers (especially laptops) access to the SysRq key requires also pressing the Fn key, without testing we can't be sure.
An easy way to remember this sequence is busier spelt backwards.
Don't play with this willy nilly, it should be used as a last resort.
If you have used reisub correctly and the computer still does not respond then the kernel has gone into a “Panic” and your only option now is the “Hard Shutdown”.
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Last edited by Akbuk Rob; 18th February 2015 at 22:00..
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Old 18th February 2015, 23:06   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Linux Mint XFCE – Install & Setup

That concludes this tutorial on Linux Mint 17.1 “Rebecca” XFCE

In my opinion one of the best operating systems ever produced - Built for getting the job done.

It's powerful yet able to run on relatively low end computers whilst still providing an attractive, highly customisable and configurable user interface.

I would recommend this system for computers with 1gb RAM and above.


If you have installed this operating system, read these posts and followed my advice & suggestions you should be well on your way to becoming a Linux Guru.

I thank Bickern for asking members to hold back with comments & questions whilst I have been putting this together and I now invite any questions or comments (I'm sure Middle Earth will go through everything with a fine tooth-comb).

Thank you to anyone who has taken the trouble to read all of this, I hope it hasn't been too boring.

Happy Computing and Think Linux!


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Old 19th February 2015, 05:25   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Linux Mint XFCE – Install & Setup

Good one Rob, well written and concise.
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