Anthony’s Linux Mint 15 Xfce post-installation guide

MacBook, coffee mug, and cactus

Linux Mint
Creative Commons graphic, created by Cllement Lefebvre.

Linux Mint 15 (Xfce version) was recently released, a month or so after the release of the main MATE/Cinnamon using versions. With the newest version of Mint also comes the newest version of my post-installation guide. There’s a few changes from the previous versions, which may be found here:

If you’re interested in Xubuntu, my 12.04 LTS guide is also available.

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 15 Xfce (64-bit) on a HP m6-1045dx laptop.

About Linux Mint

Mint was initially based on Ubuntu, but now comes with Ubuntu-free, Debian-based versions. The Debian-based versions offer a choice of MATE or Cinnamon, which are forks of GNOME 2 and GNOME 3 respectively. The Ubuntu-based versions offer the choices of 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, see their website: http://www.linuxmint.com/

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/Xubuntu, aside from customizing the settings, wallpaper, etc. to one’s taste.

Favorite Programs

While Mint comes with most of my own favorite programs preinstalled (such as LibreOffice and XChat), there’s still a few extra programs that I like to install. Some of my favorites are listed below.

Productivity

  • GCStar: A well done database program for hobbyists who wish to track their collections.
  • GnuCash: Similar to Quicken, this program handles general financial bookkeeping duties (balancing checkbooks, tracking payments, etc.). I used GnuCash for years on Mint, but one flaw I discovered recently (when moving files to OS X) was its poor exporting support. If that’s not a concern, then GnuCash will work well.

Internet

  • Pan: For the six of us who still read Usenet, Pan is an excellent newsreader.
  • Liferea: A well done newsfeed program. However, with recent changes to the RSS world (namely, the shutdown of Google Reader), one might wish to consider other options, especially if syncing with a smartphone newsfeed reader is desired.
  • KeePassX: An excellent password management program, with cross-platform support.
  • FileZilla: A popular FTP client.

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 reader for CBR or CBZ formatted comics.
  • Calibre: an ebook management program.
  • 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. Handbrake isn’t included in the repositories; it may be installed by visiting its website, 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. While gThumb comes preinstalled with Mint, I prefer using Shotwell.
  • 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 use uShare to stream files from my laptop to my Xbox 360.
  • xscreensaver-gl-extras: Extra screensavers, including a version of the classic “flying toasters” screensaver.
  • Brasero: A CD/DVD burning program with an easy-to-use GUI, featuring a choice of popular burning options.

Games

  • Frozen Bubble: A popular (and addictive) game.

Personal Preferences

There’s a few personal preferences I like to set:

  • Set Banshee to rip CDs as FLAC files: I prefer to rip my CDs as lossless FLAC files for future-proofing purposes. It also helps that Banshee will automatically convert FLAC files to MP3s when transferring songs to my Android smartphone. To set FLAC as the default, open Banshee (Applications Menu > Multimedia > Banshee). Once open, go to Edit > Preferences > Source Specific tab, then select “Audio CD.” From here, you can choose which format Banshee should use to import audio CDs; besides FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, WAV, and MP3 are also available.

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 msttcorefonts

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

Conclusion

That should do it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

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