Anthony’s Linux Mint 17 Xfce post-installation guide

Linux Mint 17 Xfce has finally been released, and with it comes the latest version of my post-installation guide.  If wondering, I’m restricting these guides to LTS (long-term service) releases from now on, since the non-LTS releases only offer support for a short period of time. Linux Mint 17 (“Qiana”) will be supported until 2019. For other operating system guides I’ve written, see my tech resources page.

One change is that Mint has switched to a “17.x” series of LTS releases, starting with version 17.1 (“Rebecca“), which is supported until 2019. Since it’s all part of the same series, and with few major changes, this guide should apply to any 17.x releases.

For those interested in the previous LTS version, I still have the Linux Mint 13 Xfce guide available, of course.

Disclaimers: Not responsible if any of these tips wreak havoc on your computer. Backup all relevant hard drive information before proceeding with upgrades. My setup is Mint 17 Xfce on a HP m6-1045dx laptop. These instructions assume one’s installing the 64-bit version of Mint 17.

About Linux Mint

Mint was initially based solely on Ubuntu, but now comes with the option of Ubuntu-free, Debian-based versions (under the name “Linux Mint Debian Edition,” or LMDE). The Debian-based versions offer a choice of MATE or Cinnamon desktops (forks of GNOME 2 and GNOME 3 respectively). The Ubuntu-based Mint offers versions for MATE, Cinnamon, KDE, or Xfce.

The Ubuntu-based versions of Mint are updated about a month or so after a new Ubuntu release. The Debian-based versions of Mint, however, offer “rolling” updates, which means there’s no new “version” of the operating system to every worry about upgrading. Instead, new versions of software (or new components of the operating system itself) are simply offered as upgrades when available.

For more information on Mint:

Installation is similar to that for the Ubuntu family of distros. Since Mint pre-installs media codec support, etc., there’s less initial setup needed for Mint compared to Ubuntu, aside from customizing the wallpaper, desktop icons, etc. to one’s taste.

Recommended programs

While Mint comes with some of my favorite programs pre-installed (such as LibreOffice), there’s still a few extra programs that I like to install. Others might also have different software needs.

For those wondering, Mint 17 includes HexChat, an IRC client that’s a fork of XChat. XChat development and maintenance has been dead for some time; thus the replacement of XChat with HexChat.

Productivity

  • GCStar: A database program for hobbyists who wish to track their collections.
  • Calibre: An ebook management program.
  • GnuCash: Similar to Quicken, this program handles general financial bookkeeping duties (balancing checkbooks, tracking payments, etc.).
  • AbiWord: While I prefer LibreOffice, others might prefer AbiWord, a more lightweight word processor.
  • Google Docs: While it’s not specifically Linux-oriented, Google Docs does work on Linux just like on Windows or OS X.

Internet

  • Chromium: The open-source web browser which Google’s Chrome is based on. While Firefox is OK, Chromium’s available for those that prefer a Chrome-style interface/feature set.
  • Pan: For those that still read Usenet, Pan is an excellent newsreader.
  • Liferea: A stand-alone RSS newsreader program.
  • KeePassX: An excellent password management program, with cross-platform support.

System

  • Back In Time: A user-friendly backup program with some similarities to OS X’s “Time Machine.”
  • ClamTK: A GUI version of the command-line program clamav, this is a popular (and free) antivirus program. While viruses aren’t as big a concern for Linux users, it still doesn’t hurt to have it installed.

Media

  • Comix: A comics reader for DRM-free PDF, CBR and CBZ files.
  • Audacity: An audio editing program.
  • Sound Converter: A program to convert sounds from one format to another.
  • Handbrake: An easy-to-use DVD (and a few other video formats) conversion program. A version of Handbrake is now included with repositories, but it has fewer formats supported versus installing it directly from its website (www.handbrake.fr).
  • dvd::rip: A DVD ripping program, though not as easy to use as Handbrake for transcoding ripped DVDs into videos. I mostly use it on occasions I just want the VOB files from the DVD.
  • Shotwell: Photo management software.
  • Avidemux (GTK+): A video editing/conversion program.
  • WinFF: Another video conversion program.
  • uShare: A command-line program that offers a media server solution, allowing one to stream files (videos, music, photos) from their computer to a UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) compatible device. I’ve used uShare to stream files from my laptop to my Xbox 360.
  • Plex: An alternative to uShare that performs similar media server functions, but has a slicker interface. I’ve been using Plex on my Mac Mini to stream files to my Roku, but it comes with versions for every computing platform, including Linux.
  • Google Play Music: Like Google Docs above, it’s not specifically a Linux program and, well, it’s another Google service. Still, Music works well through a web browser, plus offers the option of uploading one’s music collection (up to 50,000 songs). The uploaded music collection can also be accessed from Android devices or from a browser on Windows/OS X machines. Thus, this might be another option for some.

Games

While it doesn’t match what’s available on Windows (or even Macs), there’s some games available for Linux. Two places to look for games include Humble Bundle and Steam.

There’s also Frozen Bubble, a popular (and addictive) game.

Set Banshee to import CDs as MP3 or FLAC

While I prefer to rip my CDs as lossless FLAC files for future-proofing purposes, others might prefer the more conventional (and lossy) MP3 format. In either case, to choose which format to rip CDs to by default, open Banshee (Applications Menu > Multimedia > Banshee). Once open, go to Edit > Preferences > Source Specific tab, then select “Audio CDs.” From here, you can choose which format Banshee should use to import audio CDs; available options include FLAC, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, and WAV.

Microsoft fonts

You’ll likely want to install the popular package of Microsoft fonts (Arial, Times New Roman, etc.). To install the fonts, open the terminal (Applications Menu > Terminal Emulator). Enter the following text, then hit “Enter”:

sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer

If prompted, enter your computer’s password, then hit “Enter” again. The fonts should be installed automatically.

Conclusion

Linux Mint 17 Xfce is a pleasant to use Linux distribution.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below.

(Updated 4/18/15)

5 comments

  1. I am new to linux and I found your post extremely helpful……and thanks for it…but I don’t know how to use terminal and I can’t find anything over internet….not yet at least. If you could help me to learn to terminal in anyway then I would be greatful.

    1. Not sure I have anything to input about that. There should be plenty of sites about using the command line for Linux (commands, etc.), or you can try a book…

  2. Hi,
    I am using mint 17 cinnamon version presently. I had earlier tried XFCE and liked it a little more that cinnamon. I have a five year old laptop – still going strong – and would like to switch from Cinnamon to XFCE without going thru the hassle of reinstalling Mint and my applications from scratch. Could you please recommend a good safe method.

    Your lucid article has convince me that XFCE is the way for me.
    Regards & thanks
    SK from India

    1. Thanks! Xfce is a desktop environment, and can be installed alongside Cinnamon. In the terminal, type: sudo apt-get install xfce4 Or go into the Software Manager and find/install the xfce4 package.

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