Personal "Rough Notes & Useful Links

User Tools

Site Tools


Mint 13 Xfce: After First Boot Configuration

Install Notes Context

This page contains Summary Notes that I would use when going over how I load Mint 13 Xfce with someone else. If a system is 7 to 10 years old, then these notes cover how I would probably go about loading Linux onto that equipment.

These notes are rather extensive, because the more I worked with Mint 13 Xfce, the more I found that I needed to configure– to make this version of Linux something I would hand over to a novice user. To be blunt, I consider Mint 13 Xfce to be a “best compromise” … where it was the best 12.04 LTS Linux based distribution that I could find to refurbish really old hardware– and turn that into a system that was actually usable for home, school or home-office type uses.

That using this, even a 3.0GHz P4D computer with 2GB of RAM and an 80GB Hard Drive becomes a system I would use for my own daily needs. And if a really old (P4 era) laptop has “sound issues”– or some other old hardware related difficulties– this is the version of Linux that I can usually use to get that system to reliably “just work”.

As the page title makes known, these instructions are everything I go through after the Linux Mint 13 Xfce installer has run, and the system has rebooted at the end of that– to run this OS for the first time.

Initial Hardware Check & Configure

  • The “quick check” that the Hard Drive is good only works properly after the 1st boot
    • Settings » Disk Utility → Select the Operating System Drive
      • Ensure this drive has the GREEN LED graphic & “Disk is healthy”
      • If “A few bad sectors” or AMBER/RED LED, then REPLACE the drive!
  • The Mouse/Touchpad also needs to be configured to work in a more reasonable manner.
    • Settings » Mouse and Touchpad » Behavior → Increase Double Click Time to 350ms
      • TIP: Just click on the right side of the slider to increase the value by 100ms
    • Settings » Settings Editor » xfwm4 → mousewheel_rollup » double-click » toggle to FALSE
      • double-click on the text mousewheel_rollup to get the “Edit Property” pop-up
      • Then click once on “TRUE” to toggle the value to “FALSE” (then click the “Save” button)
  • Set more reasonable Swap File usage
  • sudo apt-get install gksu leafpad    # used to make text file editing easy
    gksu leafpad  /etc/sysctl.conf    # copy/past below into bottom of file
    # Decrease swap usage to a reasonable level
    # Improve cache management

Network Services Configuration

Linux Mint uses .deb files to install packages and updates. So for any location that uses multiple Linux computers, downloading these .deb files once, then storing them locally on the network, can make a tremendous difference to how fast installing programs or doing updates happens. (Only the 1st computer has to waaait for the needed .deb files to download from the Internet.)
  • enable using a squid-deb-proxy server – if there is one on the local network
  • sudo apt-get install squid-deb-proxy-client
    • Make certain “-client” is at the end of the above command! (Don't install a 2nd .deb server!)
A DNS “issue” in any 12.04LTS Linux can sometimes cause an Internet connection that is connected, but not working properly– because it cannot translate the site name into the numeric address used on the Internet. This problem often occurs when going about and using different WiFi networks.
  • Install the DNS / WiFi Internet fix
  • sudo dpkg-reconfigure resolvconf
    • answer “Yes” to the 1st question … “Prepare /etc/resolv.conf for dynamic updates?”
    • answer “No” to the 2nd question … “Append original file to dynamic file?”
    • press Enter for “Ok” to the “need to reboot” message


Software Sources & Updates

  • Remove the Ubuntu software repository that is no longer on the Internet from the Software Sources list
    • Settings » Software Sources » Other Software
      • select then Remove the Software Source
GIMP 2.8 was the first version to offer “Single Window Mode” … which places all the parts of GIMP into a single window – in the manner that many other Paint Programs are setup – instead of having many windows open for the different parts of the GIMP program.

LibreOffice 4.2 provides drastically better compatibility with things like Microsoft Office … so I also consider it a “must have” program for using Linux.
  • Use the appropriate PPA's to update GIMP and LibreOffice to the current version. (GIMP 2.8 & LibreOffice 4.2)
  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:otto-kesselgulasch/gimp
  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:libreoffice/libreoffice-4-2
  • Now command Linux Mint to use the above changes to the Software Sources
  • sudo apt-get update
  • do all Updates → The “Shield” icon in the bottom right corner (that will have a blue symbol in the centre)
    “Standard Answers” to use with the Mint Updater : (what I recommend using)
    • click ”Ok” to any additional changes pop-ups
    • click ”Replace” to any “Replace configuration file” pop-ups
  • When the updates finish, the shield icon should have a Green Check, and Updates must be re-opened to run the below.
  • Now set the Update Manager to check for updates only once per day!
    • top of window menu » “Edit” » “Preferences” » the “Auto-Refresh” tab
      • Change the time interval from 15 min. to 1 day
Linux does NOT have the same “Rollback Drivers” capability of other Operating Systems such as Windows. So if a Proprietary Video Driver “fails spectacularly” – that can leave Linux Mint with no video at all on the display.

If that happens, it can actually be simpler to “start over & reload Linux”. Or an experienced user can use a Live Boot DVD/USB – to then use text commands to set the video driver back to something that worked.
Proprietary Video Drivers (drivers provided by the manufacture) are often needed to get acceptable performance on older ATI® or NVIDIA® Video Cards. (Hopefully an older card has a Proprietary Driver available.) For the above reason, any drivers should be tried as early in the load process as possible.

Also, if something like a phoneline Fax Modem will not be used, then I would suggest not loading any Proprietary Driver for that “unused” hardware.
  • load the Proprietary Video driver (if there is any) – then load other drivers only if they are needed.
    • Settings » Additional Drivers → let it search, then load drivers as appropriate


Language / Graphical / Display Configurations

Programs like LibreOffice use the Linux (operating system) language support for things like the dictionary. So when “Canadian English” is not installed by default, spell checking in LibreOffice does not work, etc..
  • Settings » Language Support
    • IF “Language support not installed completely” → select “Install”
  • Install some Xfce Artwork, then some TrueType font packages for Linux
  • sudo apt-get install xubuntu-artwork xfce4-artwork edubuntu-wallpapers
  • sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer x-ttcidfont-conf ttf-xfree86-nonfree
    • “Tab” key then “Enter” key … “⇐” key then “Enter” key … to accept the Microsoft Fonts legal stuff.
    • When asked about /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/10periodic → press ENTER for No (the default)
  • Install the Flash Plugin used by 12.04LTS (in past, took toooo long to get Mint-Flash updates)
  • sudo apt-get install flashplugin-installer
  • Enable seeing a startup screen, if things take a little longer to load.
  • sudo update-alternatives --config default.plymouth
    • select mint-logo.plymouth (mint logo startup screen) ← “1” then “Enter” keys
XScreenSaver is an older Linux package, that is now causing problems. For example, I have seen Skype present a pop-up – to answer or decline a call – and when the mouse is move, the screensaver going away also takes away the pop-up … so the Skype call now cannot be answered. XScreenSaver apparently also prevents having multiple user accounts logged into the computer at the same time.

My answer to all of this is to “uninstall the pretty pictures” (XScreenSaver), and going back to letting the power management just blank the screen when desired.

To get the graphical Power Management utility to do that in the expected manner, it is also necessary to edit a configuration file after XScreenSaver has been uninstalled. (Otherwise OS defaults of 10 to 15 min. are used.)
  • Uninstall XScreenSaver
  • sudo apt-get remove xscreensaver xscreensaver-data
  • Edit the configuration file, so Power Management works as expected
  • gksu leafpad /etc/X11/xorg.conf    # copy/paste the below text into bottom of file
    Section "ServerFlags"
    	Option "BlankTime"   "0"
    	Option "StandbyTime" "0"
    	Option "SuspendTime" "0"
    	Option "OffTime"     "0"
    	Option "DontZap" "false"
One unintended consequence of uninstalling XScreenSaver is that the Screen Lock no longer works. I don't know anyone who actually needs a Screen Lock– and apperantly if needed, something simple (slock?) could be installed. So with the problems XScreenSaver was causing, I consider “reverting” to just the Power Management a “best compromise”.
When the Xfce Desktop "Behaves Badly"
The Xfce Desktop used by Mint 13 apparently has an obscure bug that will occasionally cause the Desktop to mess up or “behave badly” …
  • Create a script to make it easy to fix Xfce Desktop “Behaves Badly”
  • gksu leafpad /    # copy/paste the following into this empty file
    # Fix the Xfce 4.10 Desktop "Behaves Badly"
    xfwm4 --replace
    sudo chmod +x /


Xfce Desktop Configuration

  • Set the login screen to something with looks that provides a good first impression:
    • System » Login Window » Local → select “Elegance”
  • Set the Desktop Apperances to something more reasonable
    • Settings » Desktop
      • Background → Images: Butterfly.jpg » Brightness: 10
      • Menus → uncheck “Desktop Menus” items
      • Icons → check ONLY “Home”, “Trash” & “Removable Devices”
    • Settings » Appearance
      • Style: → Clearlooks
      • Icons: → elementary Xfce
Apperantly it requires a serious effort to configure the Xfce Desktop to “just play” an audio CD or video DVD. For Audio CDs, Banshee is the default player … so I leave it that the program loads – ready to play the CD – when a CD is put into the drive.

However, for Video DVDs, VLC can reliably auto-play those in a manner that is like putting a DVD into a dedicated DVD player. So that is what I configure below.
  • Settings » Removable Drives and Media » Multimedia
    • Video CDs/DVDs Command: → vlc -f dvd:///dev/sr0
I configure the Power Manager to accommodate “1st time computer users”.

Anyone who is “old school” knows to press the power button to turn something off. Since I don't want anyone to “press and hold” the power button (which would power off the PC without doing a proper shut-down), I configure the PC to shut down immediately when the power button is pressed.

I also don't want a new user to think the PC “turned off” when the screen blanks. So I set the Screen Blanking for 60 min.. (The longest time period I can set for the screen blanking.)
  • Settings » Power Manager
    • General » When power button is pressed: → Shutdown
    • ON AC » Monitor
      • Switch off display… : → Never
      • Put display to sleep… : → 60 Mintues
      • Brightness: → Never (if this is even listed)
Workspaces (multiple desktops) is a feature of Linux … but that is also something that can confuse new computer users. So clearly, 4 workspaces is too much. That said, I find it extremely useful to have one workspace for what I'm doing on the Internet, and a 2nd workspace for what I'm doing locally on the PC. So that is the manner in which I set this up.
  • Settings » Workspaces » Number of Workspaces: 2
    • Workspace 1 name → On Internet
    • Workspace 2 name → On this PC
  • Panel » Panel Preferences » Items
    • Add “Workspace Switcher” & move it above “Indicator Plugin”
The Audio Configuration is something that can differ drastically between different makes & models of PCs. So I will need to start putting together a separate “audio settings” page, for the equipment I have worked with.
  • Panel audio icon » Sound Settings » check/configure the “Alsa mixer” controls/settings


Internet Client Program Configuration

If any program is open, that will ensure a program icon added to the “Applications Menus” area does actually get into that leftmost part of the bottom panel.
Google Chrome is the one Linux web-browser that provides/supports the current version of Flash. Also, the “Google Talk” plugin must be preinstalled, for things like Google Voice or Google Hangouts to work (in any web-browser).
    • download the correct .deb file & install Google Chrome
      • in Downloads right-click the .deb file » use GDebi Package Installer » Install this package
    • run Chrome → UNCHECK Make Google Chrome default browser → Start Chrome
    • run Chrome again → select “Don't ask again” button → “No thanks” link (below sign-in box to the left)
  • download the correct .deb file & install the “Google Voice and Video Chat” Plugin
    • IF Firefox was left open on the above download page, a Google Hangouts page should come up once installed.
kb/linux/mint13xfceafter1stboot.txt · Last modified: 2016/01/13 20:35 (external edit)