No Longer Minty-Fresh

Sunday, 2007-November-25 at 12:55 1 comment

Background

I upgraded my traveling laptop from Windows XP SP2 to Linux Mint earlier this year.  Mint is based upon Ubuntu Linux, so it is definitely a joy to work with.  I have written about my joys with Mint and about reducing the aggravation in my life that comes from Windows.

Upstreaming

Where Rick Jelliffe unwittingly upgraded his base Ubuntu system and made his system unbootable, I actually read the upgrade instructions and stepped through them, turning my Mint Bianca system into a hybrid Mint Bianca / Mint Cassandra system.  I read the philosophy behind Mint Celena and decided I did not agree.

The Update Manager and Update Notifier were removed from Celena so users would not perform un-educated upgrades. With more than 2 releases a year and many modules affected by upgrades, stability was preferred to security in Celena. No more pop-ups telling you a new version of Ubuntu became available, no more pop-ups telling you to download the latest kernel… your system is stable, tested and it should stay that way.

So I have "upstreamed" my laptop to Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy.

Not that I’ve done it all at once.  I have thus far removed the Mint repositories from my apt.list file and then upgraded my base to Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon.  I intend to back up my home directory and then install Gutsy from scratch.  Mint's installation was so quick and easy, in part because it does not ask you about partitioning–Do you want a separate /home partition?  How large do you want /home to be?–which is fine for a casual user who will never upgrade, but horrid for someone who will upgrade in place even once.

There are a couple of minor issues.  Chief among them is that I have to enter the key for each WiFi network each time I use it.  I can save the key to my keyring, but I still have to enter the unlock password for the keyring each time I start the computer.  Most hotel networks do not have a key, so it is not a major issue right now.  If I spend more time working within commuting distance from home, it might get to be an irritant.  Secondly, for most users, enabling IP-restricted software and file formats is a must.  A quick and simple question (with appropriate disclaimers) during installation would be sufficient.  This would then automatically enable the use of Acrobat Reader, win32codecs, and DVD playback.  (Yes, I understand the reasons behind it.  I am suggesting that for users that are familiar with the issues and choose to use IP-restricted files [such as music in .mp3 format], it can be a one-click, "I take responsibility for the consequences of my choices" type of thing.)

Conclusion

Like most users, I would not mind from-scratch installations if the default was to have /home on a separate partition, where I can easily keep my data and customizations across upgrades.  Even though Windows does not keep home directories (e.g., "C:\Documents and Settings\") separately, it does leave them pretty much intact during upgrades.  This is an area where Linux distributions can improve their installation processes and make their operating systems even better.

Update (2009-10-01)

I’m pretty likely to be back to Mint soon. The old laptop is slowly dying, and there were enough pains in the upgrade to Ubuntu 9.04 that I’ll be glad for a more stable distribution.

Entry filed under: Linux, Software. Tags: .

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1 Comment

  • 1. lnxwalt  |  Friday, 2008-August-22 at 19:37

    I should point out that logical volume management (LVM) partitions cannot be non-destructively upgraded. If the installation gives you a choice about partitioning, keep your /home partition separate from LVM. In fact, make sure that /home is a separate partition. Make it EXT3 or another journaled file system.


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