As long-threatened, I've finally followed the crowd and move from Ubuntu to Linux Mint. The main attraction was Mint's use of the MATE desktop, which is enough like Gnome 2 to keep me happy indefinitely, but I also liked the fact that the Debian edition, hereafter LMDE, is a
rolling release, meaning I'm not going to have to do a complete upgrade in 6 months. The price is that some software is going to be a little behind the times, but, hey, at work we use CentOS. At least with LMDE it's unlikely that I won't be able to run Google Chrome or Chromium.
So a brief review:
Installation was simple enough. After several hours of backing up my /home partition (twice, to two separate USB disks), I downloaded the DVD and did the initial install. I left my /home and /usr/local directories, which were on separate partitions, intact, and let LMDE overwrite the root directory and install its version of Grub to run through the boot process. This took less than an hour, which was a pleasant surprise.
It then took me another couple of hours to pick out all the packages that weren't automatically installed, and get them up and running. Not too bad, really.
There were, of course, a few things that didn't quite work perfectly.
My Gnome 3 Random Wallpaper Switcher did not, of course, work for MATE. Fortunately, the differences between gconftool and mateconftool are minor, and so I was able to rewrite the script without too much trouble. The revised program can be downloaded here.
CUPS gave me some problems at first. I eventually found a solution in the Linux Mint Forums. Note that you have to do two things:
Enable 32 bit applications to work on a 64 bit platform, using the command
sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386
(My own humble contribution.)
Make sure libgs9 is properly installed:
sudo apt-get install --reinstall libgs9
More details about this are here.
- Enable 32 bit applications to work on a 64 bit platform, using the command
Google Earth actually worked, unlike in 64 bit Ubuntu. Well, not quite. At first, when I typed in a request, I got an invalid HTTP request message. This turns out to be a well known problem, having to do with Google's shipped version of libcurl. As noted there, the solution is to use your own version of libcurl by renaming Google's version to some nonsense name:
$ sudo -i
$ cd /opt/google/earth/free
$ mv libcurl.so.4 libcurl_old.so.4
Given the problems I had with trying to get Google-Earth running on Ubuntu, I suspect you'll need the i386 architecture available for this to work as well.
EMACS, of all things, gave me the most problems. Whenever I'd try to start it up, I'd get the message:
Font `Ubuntu Mono 13' is not defined
Running emacs in a terminal window, i.e.
worked fine. I Googled, Duck-Ducked, and even Binged for a solution, but found nothing. The only thing anyone can conclude is that something in one of my old Ubuntu configuration files was forcing Emacs to look for the Ubuntu Mono font.
Which, of course, was not defined. Oh, LMDE has a package with the Ubuntu Fonts in it, but not the Mono font. I found the full set of fonts at
- Finally, my favorite version of Spider Solitaire is not included (even in Ubuntu, it was last seen in Lucid, 10.04). Fortunately, I have an old .deb file which I found somewhere and still installs without error. Crappy fonts, but it works. I once had the source code for this, I should really download it and install it for myself, since it seems no one is maintaining it.
After a week, those are all the problems I've found. The system is stable, MATE is as good a Desktop as you're going to find these days, and I've had no difficulties in installing other software that I want.
This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.