My Mom lives in Texas and I live in Arizona. So that rules out simply stopping in to upgrade her laptop to the latest Linux Mint Qiana. So the alternatives are, pack up the laptop and send it to me or upgrade via apt and SSH. I imagine you have guessed I picked the latter method. Yes and about three hours later it was finished. No errors this time around.
I am quite impressed with this version of Mint. I have yet to encounter any problems and I am very confident Mom will not either. She loves her Linux computer. And I love the fact that support calls since her days on Windows have ceased to exist and we can talk about something other than a computer problem.
Last week I upgraded Mint to Qiana. I don’t like to upgrade my main laptop that often, but when I saw that version 17 would be supported to 2019, I had to do it. I downloaded the ISO and prepared a flash drive for the install. I was ready to take the plunge, but during my quick inventory of installed programs, I started thinking of all the little customizations I had done. Not to mention most of the software I use on a regular basis are not in the default Mint image.
I still wanted to upgrade, but not in the traditional method of installing clean and restoring backups. This upgrade was done in almost one command, apt-get dist-upgrade. But first there were a few commands to run in order to prep the system for Qiana. In order for this to be successful, you need to point apt to thee new repositories. This is done with the following commands running them under sudo. I pass thanks for this post for clean instructions. Another of the many reasons I love Linux; when you want to know something, almost every time someone else did it too and wrote about it. The Linux community is world-wide and really does share the wealth of knowledge. You just have to find it. Each command is ran as a single line as sudo or su.
Once this is completed, you can proceed with the upgrade. But first some words of caution.
Ensure you have continuous power. This means for laptops to be plugged in.
Set the computer to not sleep. Screen is okay but definitely not the main unit.
Give yourself plenty of time for this to finish. I didn’t time it but it did take a couple of hours.
Have backups ready just in case. You do this anyway, right? Are they tested?
Knowing how to recover if something goes south will always help too.
Once you are ready, from a terminal enter these commands in order.
This will start the upgrade process and once it is finished, I ran the last command again. You may be wondering just how did the upgrade perform for me? Somewhere in the process my upgrade failed on one item and stopped. I rebooted and was given a nice green screen but without the login section. I entered a terminal by pressing ctrl+alt+F2. I logged in and ran the command sudo apt-get clean. Followed by sudo apt-get dist-upgrade. At this point the upgrade re-started finishing in about a half hour. The next reboot brought me to Linux Mint 17 Qiana. I am glad I knew a few commands and especially the alternate method of logging in.
Mint 17 is running without any problems, but one. It is not a deal breaker nor is it interfering with anything I do, but it is there and I haven’t tackled removing it as if yet. On my panel I have two network indicators instead of the normal one. They both show identical information and if you stop one, it stops the other. Strange, yes. But like I mentioned not a big deal. If anyone knows of a solution, I am all ears.
Update: I was checking items in the Startup Applications menu under Preferences, and I noticed two networking items. And yes I removed one and when I rebooted the laptop, the extra network item on the panel was gone and networking still functions. That was easy.
That’s all there is to an upgrade of Linux Mint 16 Petra to Linux Mint 17 Qiana. The small problems were indeed small and I would not hesitate to go this route of upgrading once again as long as I am not experiencing any problems before the process, I don’t expect problems during the upgrade.
How many times have you heard this: ‘Hey my laptop will not start-up, can you help me?’. My guess is you’ve heard it many times. And if you are like me, you help them out.
This story began a bit more than a year ago. I wanted to help out one of my extended family members. So I bought a used laptop from Craigslist, (I find most of my laptops this way.), I fixed it up and of course installed Linux. In this case Linux Mint. I install Linux for a couple of reasons; first it is freely licensed. Microsoft Windows would need a key and this was something they did not have; secondly on older hardware, Linux simply outperforms Windows, (Opinion yes, but try it yourself and see to believe.).
The laptop in this case was an older HP model. Probably marketed towards lower-end business users. When I bought the laptop it was loaded with Windows XP and was barely chugging. That may have been the norm ten years ago, but now we are used to using quicker computers. Linux Mint was a perfect fit providing functionality, speed and ease of use. The interface is somewhat familiar enough that most people will be able to do almost anything they need to do.
The delivery, questions, all went without a hitch. That was then, this is now. We were visiting a couple of weeks ago, and on the couch was the laptop. I noticed it and asked how is it working. The reply was not what I was expecting so I picked it up and turned it on. A few seconds later I was greeted at a prompt that ‘ntldr was missing’. I was disappointed to see that message, but I knew exactly what had happened. They had handed it over to someone to install Windows. But it wasn’t done right, or it was pirate copy, or who knows what else.
I left the laptop alone at that point since I had told them in the beginning I would not work on it if someone installs Windows. I had invested money and time in this laptop and I was willing to help with more instructions if I was ever asked. Disappointed yes, but I had to leave this one alone. Perhaps one day we will be visiting again, and I just might be carrying a flash drive in my pocket. Loaded of course with a Linux ISO or two or three.
Yesterday I said goodbye to Kubuntu and my venture into KDE. I have to say it was an overall good experience to use it these last few months. But there was one real deal breaker. At some point, and I can’t really say when, I lost the use of two USB 3.0 ports on the left side of the laptop. In the beginning, I had written off the failures to the possibility a crash to the floor might have damaged them. What would happen is when I plugged a device in, nothing happened except for my mouse, (wireless, dongle plugged into the right side), would go haywire. I would have to reboot to fix this. I searched but found no answers or problems like mine. I also disliked the amount of system resources KDE uses while doing nothing for me. I tweaked KDE some, and tried to shave off a few of the applications I didn’t use, but it was more work to get rid of something and keep the dependencies for other applications, than it was to simply ignore them. My laptop is of modest hardware when compared to current technologies. On more robust equipment I’m sure the few extra clock cycles are never even noticed. But on my system they were noticed. These little widgets, screen enhancements, (many off), all required CPU and RAM. And on my laptop it made for a bit of sluggish performance.
I do applaud the KDE team for creating an environment with so many different objects a person can tweak and use. The KDE desktop is a tweaker’s dream. It seems never-ending in the number of tweaks that can be done. But for me, it is just too much. I like things a bit simpler. But this is just me.
I have come back to Linux Mint but in a new environment for me anyway, Mate. I installed the 64-bit Mint 16, Petra. From the beginning I was totally impressed. The install went very smoothly, and was quicker than I had ever seen. Less than fifteen minutes from the initial boot, to the first login on the new OS. And to top it off, everything is working, including the USB 3.0 ports. The installer is the same as with previous versions, but it switches a couple of the options to the last and starts copying files very early. I believe this is what gave me the impression of such a quick install. I installed to a Lenovo laptop, G580, with a dual core Pentium, 500GB hard drive and 8GB of RAM.
For right now I am going to stick with Mint and the Mate desktop environment. But who knows what the future will bring. Being able to switch and have a totally new environment, working with about any hardware, and do it all in under thirty minutes is what being a Linux user is all about for me. It boils down to choice. And Linux is my choice.
Lately I think my evolution with Linux has slowed to a pace somewhat slower than the glaciers of Greenland move towards the ocean. I am not learning anything new. I will admit that I am not giving it a supreme effort. I could do more, but with the programs I use I have hit a comfort zone. Perhaps the workload I am undergoing during the day has an effect. I turn on my laptop, or really I should say, I wake it up from its deep slumber, and everything works as it is supposed to do. I never have to fix anything or so it seems. Using Linux, in this case Linux Mint 14 XFCE, everything works. This does not happen at work. I don’t think I need to spell out what OS I primarily spend my entire day working with, do I?
So I ask the question, has this ever happened to you? I know this must happen to others, so how about you? Do you get in a glacial rut?
This is a short ‘How To’ video I created on how to use the Software Manager in Linux Mint 14 XFCE. This is a basic instructional video and is mainly aimed at the newer Linux users. We welcome comments and suggestions from the more experienced users too. This was created using the Record My Desktop utility and after the upload to You Tube has lost a bit of its clarity unless you run it in 720p. In the native ogv format it was very sharp. I hope you enjoy it. Click the link to view the video.
Wired driver installs? Yes if you are using the newest of chip sets from Atheros, it might not be in the kernel yet and you could be facing no interface found when attempting to configure the network. The driver patch is pretty easy to install if a few steps are followed while using wireless or from another computer.
Before you start run the command lspci in a terminal window to determine what driver you need. You will see something similar to this at the bottom of the output window:
02:00.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4313 802.11b/g/n Wireless LAN Controller (rev 01) 03:00.0 Ethernet controller: Atheros Communications Inc. AR8162 Fast Ethernet (rev 10)
In my case I have the Broadcom BCM4313 wireless controller and the Atheros AR8162 Ethernet controller installed as hardware. I am using kernel 3.5.0-21-generic #32-Ubuntu SMP Tue Dec 11 18:51:59 UTC 2012 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux in this Linux Mint 14 XFCE edition. In my case the wireless was indeed supported right away but the wired controller was not.
I first found the instructions here on the Linux Foundation but for me they were missing the crucial step of installing Linux headers build-essentials which is explained in this Ubuntu forum post here. The wget command in the instructions will pull drivers from this index. On the Linux Foundation site you will see a list of two chip sets, alx and atl1c. These instructions are for the alx series of chips. If you have the atl1c chip it might be as easy as replacing the alx in the command with atl1c but I have no way in which to test. These are the instructions I followed in a terminal window for the alx controller:
sudo apt-get install linux-headers-generic build-essential wget http://www.orbit-lab.org/kernel/compat-wireless-3-stable/v3.6/compat-wireless-3.6.8-1-snpc.tar.bz2 tar -xf compat-wireless-3.6.8-1-snpc.tar.bz2 cd compat-wireless-3.6.8-1-snpc ./scripts/driver-select alx make sudo make install sudo modprobe alx
Note the line starting with wget is wrapped to the next line. If all went well you now have a wired connection active. For some they will already have the build-essential files installed and can skip this step but for me this was the one line missing in other instructions that made this work. It does not hurt to run it again since if they are installed the command will tell you. Also note that if this is being done on another computer, follow the instructions to get the driver patch and transport it to the computer needing it. Once copied to the target computer start again at the tar command. Since this is a kernel patch, if you update the kernel you will need to run this again until the patch becomes part of the kernel.
I hope having this all in one place will help someone get connected until this patch makes it into the kernel itself.