Peppemint Linux

A friend had been talking up the Peppermint Linux distro and had given me an ISO for it. The other day, I needed to set up a Linux virtual machine to test out some commands for installing and configuring my conky script so I figured I’d give it a try.

Like most Ubuntu-based distributions, the installation was very straightforward. The ISO was from December so there were about 167 updates which didn’t take long to install. Peppermint has a different look and feel and it took me a while to get familiar with the menus since they are different from those in Mint Linux and I prefer to use an applications dock on my system. But, as I said, the menus in Peppermint are different from I’m used to seeing. Maybe they’re more similar to those used in Ubuntu. It’s been a number of years since I’ve used actual Ubuntu.

I still had the last PC I’d actually built because during my last equipment purge, I keep it around for sentimental reasons. It has an AMD Ahtlon II X2 245 processor (dual core), an ASUS main board, and 4GB of DDR2 RAM. Not much by today’s standards, but pretty good in its day.

Since I wasn’t doing anything with it, I figured it might be good for testing or checking out other operating systems. I put Peppermint 7 on it. Again, the installation went smoothly and it seemed to detect most of the hardware. When I had run Ubuntu on this machine a long time ago there were some on-board devices that didn’t have the right drivers. I know the sound card was one of them.

I checked Additional Drivers under the Software & Updates menu and found one unknown device that was shown as not working. By default the “Do not use this device” radio button was checked. The other radio button gave the option “Using Processor microcode firmware for AMD CPUs from amd64-microcode (proprietary)”. I selected that option, applied it, and rebooted. Now it’s still unknown but that it’s using an alternative driver. I wonder what it was.

Looking at the other tabs under Software and Updates, I saw that Peppermint 7 is based on Ubuntu Xenial, the latest release. That may explain some of the differences from I see in Mint. I’m still on 17.3 which is an LTS supported until April 2019. At this time, I don’t see much point in upgrading. I did download an ISO for 18.1 (xenial based) because I wanted to build a Linux-based USB drive for virus scanning and diagnostics. Should I obtain another system or need to reload one of my current systems, I’ll probably go with 18.1.

One thing I noticed with both Peppermint installations was that the time displayed in my conky script was a bit left of center. I made a slight change to the alignment setting for that line which fixed it. That change on my Mint system moves the time slightly right of center. Just a weird aberration, I guess. On the installation in the Athlon PC, ifconfig showed me that the network interface was called enp2s6 rather than the usual eth0. It seems to be a strange and illogical name for a network interface.

I’ll probably mess around with Peppermint some more but I think I’ll likely stay with Mint as my preferred distribution. I’m used to it and it has worked well for me for a number of years. Since I have VirtualBox and an available computer, I’ll likely explore other distributions and see what they have to offer.

DNS Woes

Yesterday evening I began noticing that Dropbox on my Windows computers was not updating and today I noticed that was was not able to get to web sites that I’d been able to access before and I was not able to update my anti-virus software or get Windows updates.

I ran the network troubleshooting on my Windows 7 machine and it said that it was unable to connect to the DNS server. Strange, I thought. I’ve had no trouble accessing anything on my Linux machines. I did some research and found that the DNS servers on my Uverse gateway are hardwired and cannot be changed. Those particular servers are necessary for the Uverse TV package which I don’t have.

On my Windows 7 box, I manually set the DNS servers to OpenDNS (208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220), rebooted and my Internet access was back to normal. Since I don’t want to go through the trouble of setting up a network behind the AT&T gateway, I’ll have to do this on all of my computers.

In the process I discovered that my Mint laptop had had the OpenDNS addresses configured in the /etc/resolv.conf during installation. I went ahead and added it to my main Ubuntu PC.

That’s another strike against the Uverse Internet package. There is no alternative to the the 2-Wire gateway they provide and you can’t change things like the DNS addresses. Time-Warner is starting to look better. At least I’m not tied to their modem/router and I can choose my own DNS servers.

Things to do after a fresh Ubuntu Linux install

I found this article this morning and felt it might be useful: Things to do after a fresh Ubuntu Linux install

It’s based on Ubuntu 10.10 (64-bit) so it may differ a bit from other versions.  All in all, there are some useful tips in it.

Gwibber Update

A couple days ago, I noticed that my Twitter feeds on Gwibber were no longer updating but I didn’t have time to look into it until today. I found a Gwibber forum that discussed, at length, various source code tweaks. If I was still involved with programming and writing code, it might have been fun.

I looked on an Ubuntu forum and found the answer I was looking for. It turned out that Twitter had changed the way clients needed to authenticate user accounts. Ubuntu’s repositories did not yet have the current, working version of Gwibber so a forum member explained how to obtain the update using apt-get. That’s so much simpler now that I’m more in the user camp.

If you use Gwibber to access your Twitter feeds, here’s the fix:

Linux terminal:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-desktop/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
Restart Gwibber:
gwibber-service restart

You’ll have to edit your Twitter information to authorize it (username and password). Also note that you can only have one Twitter account at a time active in Gwibber which is kind of inconvenient as I had two accounts active before the change. On my Windows computer, I can have two instances of Thwirl open, each with a separate account open. As near as I can tell, Gwibber under Linux won’t allow that. Would the Linux version of Thwirl let me do that?

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I’m a PC and I run Linux

I thought about what I did with my home computer and realized that very few things I do actually require Windows to accomplish so I decided to make it a Linux PC. However, getting Linux on the new computer was a greater challenge than I had anticipated. But isn’t that always the case? Things are never as easy as they first appear.

I ended up having to create a new Live CD for Ubuntu and it worked after failing with Mint and another Ubuntu CD. For the record, the Mint CD failed on another computer and the new Ubuntu CD failed on the other as well. On that computer, I ended up installing 8.04 and upgrading to 10.04.

Once I got it up and running, I got the dual monitors going. I ran into a few issues with the NIC and audio drivers but they seem to be working now. The next hurdle is to install the applications I need, configure them and import whatever data is required. I also need to determine what needs to be moved from the W2K PC to the laptop, which will be my main Windows computer.

I’ve run into a few other problems too. I’m currently working on accessing the NAS. Apparently, I have to install nfs-common and create directories before I can mount them. That much is done though I haven’t tried mounting them yet (it was getting late). I’ll have to do this for each Linux installation. I’m hoping that for computers with multiple users I can create the directories outside of the /home directory so I don’t have to do this for every user.

The migration project is coming along and I’m learning as I go. I’m not in a particular hurry so getting it right is far more important than getting it done quickly.

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