Linux Mint 15 KDE hands-on: A stumble on UEFI Boot

Linux Mint 15 KDE hands-on: A stumble on UEFI Boot

Summary: Mint 15 KDE is released, and looks good as usual — but it doesn't install on my UEFI boot systems.


Well, this has been a bit of an odd situation.  Linux Mint KDE and Xfce releases normally seem to follow the main Cinnamon and MATE releases by about a month or so.  This time, however, the release candidate versions of these distributions didn't even show up until a good month after the main release, and it was almost another month before the final Xfce release was available. The final KDE version was finally released another week after that.

I wonder if this is an indication of some specific problems, or if the Mint developers are simply getting overloaded? I didn't see anything in the release announcement for either version which shed any light on this.

My first experience with Mint 15 KDE was unfortunately not good: it doesn't install properly on either of my UEFI boot systems.

I find this really baffling, because the main release installed on UEFI boot systems with no problems — and, in fact, it's even more baffling now because, while the Xfce distribution also had serious UEFI boot problems, they were not at all the same as those the KDE versions has.

Perhaps I am misunderstanding something here, but it would seem to me that once the main distribution had UEFI boot working, all the other spins need to do is keep their fingers out of that bit.  Obviously it's not that simple.

Anyway, as I said, the symptom this time is different from the Mint Xfce distribution. This time the Live Media itself will UEFI boot just fine, but when I tried to install it, it died near the end, after informing me that the grub2-efi package failed to install, and the lack of grub could make the system unbootable (duh).

There was unfortunately no further information or details available, so I have no idea why it failed to install.  Then, to add insult to injury, the installer itself crashed. Sigh.

I got around this problem by enabling Legacy Boot Support on both of my UEFI systems, and it then installed properly on both.

If you are running a typical setup of Linux Mint only or Mint/Windows dual boot, you would have to leave Legacy Boot enabled to use the system, but because I have several other Linux distributions installed on the UEFI systems, I was able to configure it to boot the installed Mint KDE system as part of the grub multi-boot configuration of one of those, so I returned the BIOS setup to UEFI boot only (but still Secure Boot disabled).

Once I got it installed, this released looked good. 

Although Linux Mint itself is derived from Ubuntu, the Mint KDE distribution is not derived from Kubuntu.  The Linux Mint development team creates it, starting from the main Mint Cinnamon/MATE version. As a result, it has pretty much the same package/application/utility/codec selection that the main distribution has, with some adjustments due to the software collection that is included with the desktop manager. That means it has things like MintUpdate, the new Mint Driver Manager, Mint Software Sources and Mint Software Manager, MintBackup and the like.

So, what's new in this release? Check the What's New document for complete details, but here are a few of the highlights:

  • There is of course the updated Linux kernel, 3.8.0, and the latest KDE Software Collection 4.10, which together form the backbone of this system.
  • The new MDM (greeter/login manager) is included, which brings along HTML5 capability.
  • The new Mint Software Sources and Mint Software Manager utilities.
  • Finally, of course, lots of upstream packages have been updated — although I am disappointed to see that digiKam is still only 3.1.0 when a number of other distributions already have 3.2.0.  I assume/hope/pray that this will be picked up in one of the early Mint updates.

Oh, and speaking of updates, keep in mind that because this release has been rather a long time coming, there are a lot of updates to be installed as soon as the initial installation is complete. There were some 200 waiting when I installed it.

Of course, this wouldn't be any kind of 'Jamie's KDE Review' without me raving about the KDE Netbook version.  This time there was a bit of a surprise, though. 

I installed as usual on my Samsung N150 Plus netbook (yes, I still have it and it still works just fine — it might be on the way to Africa with a friend soon, to serve as a general travel system and digital camera unload/backup device, thus the disappointment with digiKam above).  This is a non-UEFI system, so installation was routine, there were no problems and everything worked just fine. 

But when I went to switch to the KDE Netbook desktop (System Settings/Workspace Behavior/Workspace/Workspace Type), the drop-down selection list was inactive and showed only 'Desktop' (ie standard KDE Plasma Desktop). 

It turns out that with this Mint KDE release you have to add the kde-plasma-netbook package if you want to use the netbook version.  I suppose that makes some sense, as most people seem not to use it, so why carry along the extra baggage.  It's too bad, though, because it really is an excellent interface on small screens.

Mint KDE Netbook
Linux Mint 15 KDE Netbook Desktop

I seem to vaguely recall that at one point when the Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) was still alive, there was actually a point where it would be automatically enabled when the screen size was less than some arbitrary value (12 inches would seem a good candidate for this to me), but perhaps I am just dreaming, rather than remembering.

That really would be a nice feature for KDE though, in my opinion: the netbook desktop is already there, waiting to be used — if it detects a sub-12-inch screen on startup, and the user hasn't specifically configured a desktop, it comes up with the netbook desktop by default.  Not that I am biased or prejudiced in any way, mind you...

Mint KDE Netbook Windows
Linux Mint 15 KDE Netbook

As I haven't included anything other than a home screen shot of KDE Netbook recently, here is a quick look at some applications running on it. 

There has been some misinformation floating around that KDE netbook could only run or only access one application window at a time, and as can be seen here that is obviously false. 

When a new application is started, it automatically opens in full-screen (maximise) mode, including 'hiding' the KDE top panel.  But the window can then be un-maximised, and can be used and worked with just like windows on the normal KDE desktop, or pretty much any other desktop for that matter. Multiple windows, with multiple applications, changing stacking and active windows as usual. You can also list and select the active window through the KDE top panel, or of course using the standard Alt-TAB key combination.

So, to summarize about Linux Mint 15 KDE: if you have a UEFI-boot system, you might want to think carefully before trying it. If you have a normal or legacy boot system, or if you are happy leaving Legacy Boot Support enabled on a UEFI-boot system, then by all means, go for it. Beyond this UEFI-boot issue, the release itself is what we all expect from Linux Mint these days: good, solid, well configured with an excellent range of pre-installed packages and great Mint-specific utilities.

Topics: Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems

J.A. Watson

About J.A. Watson

I started working with what we called "analog computers" in aircraft maintenance with the United States Air Force in 1970. After finishing military service and returning to university, I was introduced to microprocessors and machine language programming on Intel 4040 processors. After that I also worked on, operated and programmed Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8, PDP-11 (/45 and /70) and VAX minicomputers. I was involved with the first wave of Unix-based microcomputers, in the early '80s. I have been working in software development, operation, installation and support since then.

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  • Oh Dear Lord

    The extent to which some will travel to get to a desktop is utterly amazing... must love running setup.
  • Known issues

    EFI support

    If your system is using secureBoot, turn it off.

    If you installed Linux Mint in Virtualbox in EFI mode and it cannot boot post-install, type "exit", choose "Boot Maintenance Manager", "Boot from file" and select EFI/linuxmint/grubx64.efi.

    Post-installation, the EFI boot file is located in /boot/efi/EFI/linuxmint/grubx64.efi. If your system is unable to find this file, copy it to /boot/efi/boot/bootx64.efi (alternatively you can write "fs0:\EFI\linuxmint\grubx64.efi" into a /boot/efi/startup.nsh file).
    • I just can't figure out why Linux isn't popular on the desktop

      "If you installed Linux Mint in Virtualbox in EFI mode and it cannot boot post-install, type "exit", choose "Boot Maintenance Manager", "Boot from file" and select EFI/linuxmint/grubx64.efi.

      Post-installation, the EFI boot file is located in /boot/efi/EFI/linuxmint/grubx64.efi. If your system is unable to find this file, copy it to /boot/efi/boot/bootx64.efi (alternatively you can write "fs0:\EFI\linuxmint\grubx64.efi" into a /boot/efi/startup.nsh file)."

      Oh. That's why.
      • Yes, it looks very much like the fix to MS security update 2823324

        Start your Windows 7 system in safe mode, and open a command prompt. Yes a command prompt, but didn't TB3 tell us Windows users NEVER need the command prompt? Well maybe he was wrong, just this once. Anyways.
        dism /image:C:\ /get-packages

        Look for the update among the hundreds of names, then type:
        dism /image:C:\ /remove-package/PackageName:Package_for_KB2823324~31bf3856ad364e35~x86~~

        Simple, right Todd?
        • Nice try at the FUD

          You COULD do things the hard way by following MS's option #3.

          Since you are only interested in spreading FUD, you've decided to not only go off topic, you've also decided to ignore MS's option #1 which involves 1 key press on boot and about 2-3 mouse clicks. So once again, you don't NEED the command prompt. Sorry, you lose. Again.

          Now, since you are clearly comfortable with presenting the most difficult option as the ONLY option, I respond by reminding everyone that the only option for Linux is to compile everything. Wait, would the be FUD?
          • I'm reminding everyone,only option for Linux users is to compile everything

            Did you check with Loverock Davidson to see if he has a copyright on the use of "Compile" here on Zdnet before you used it?
            Over and Out
          • Actually, it's the only option

            If you want to be sure to only un-install security update 2823324, and not undo anything else that was done since the restore point was created. Using the restore point method will un-install all other patches that were installed at the same time.
          • Why...

            If you just updated, do a restore point. That's what we do with any of the 4000+ clients in my enterprise if there is an issue. No one dinks around hacking crap anymore, tech time is too valuable.

            Its one (of many) reasons Linux has failed on the desktop. OSs are becoming appliances, hence, the success of tablet OSs like iOS and Android (yes, I know its a Linux variant). Its why Microsoft will still support RT even with their current failure with the OS, because its an appliance and needs even less hands on then full Windows 8.
            Rann Xeroxx
          • And while I'm thinking about it.

            RickLively's post is one way to fix the EFI boot, but not the only, and probably not the easiest, but I notice you had no problem jumping all over it. So who's the FUDMaster?
            Sorry, you lose.
          • Not Exactly...

            I certainly don't want to interrupt this fascinating conversation, but in this specific case, the fact of the matter is that the information Rick Lively posted does NOT fix the problem that I had with Mint 15 KDE installation. This was another regrettable case of someone reading (at least part of) a post, and then responding by blindly quoting something directly from the Release Notes, without actually having tried anything on their own, or giving any consideration or evaluation to whether the "solution" actually applied to that "problem".

            Anyway, thanks again to one and all for reading and commenting.

      • I just can't figure out why Linux isn't popular on the desktop

        Can't you? it's simple, because it's not preinstalled on most PC's.

        Now ask yourself why windows on tablets and phones isn't popular, it already comes preinstalled, so there is no excuse there.
    • Thanks but No Thanks

      Thanks for the attempt to offer advice. But honestly, read what I wrote. I know how to install, configure, manage and maintain UEFI boot systems. I could have gotten Mint KDE working with UEFI boot (and Mint Xfce, for that matter), but that is not the point. As I said, the Linux Mint Cinnamon (and MATE) distributions install, on the exact same systems, with UEFI boot, and with absolutely no problems. If the KDE and Xfce versions do not, then someone has broken something. It might be a side effect of something else, it might have any number of other explanations, but something is broken. I'm not interested in trying to fix it for the purposes of this blog, and I can absolutely guarantee you that the majority of the readers here aren't going to do that either. It needs to work, out of the box. If it doesn't then move on to another distribution there are others that I have written about which do work out of the box.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • Why?

        Instead of reviewing the OS; pros, cons, features and the number of improvements from version 14, you have spent most of your article fussing over something, which add no value to a normal user.

        Why did you want to boot via UEFI? What was advantage you needed from this type? What portions of the firmware within Linux are stored in the UEFI partioning?

        When I received my Windows 8 Laptop, with the latest and greatest CPU (i7 - Q2 2013 release, 6 GB RAM, 1 TB hdd, Nvidia 1 GB RAM), I was thrilled. That is until I booted it and signed on to it.

        The first boot took over 30 minutes, with the setup, and customizing.

        Subsequent boots took about 1 to 2 minutes, with all the signing into hotmail, syncing what not. My son could not play some of his games on it, it was that slow.

        I shut it down, replaced the HDD with a new 1 TB HDD, enabled legacy boot, installed Linux on it. Now it boots in 18 seconds and has no issues.

        Next time you are writing an article heading, make sure you say what you are trying to do in the article. You give journalists a bad name.

        Rise up in level, with your writing and not with causing confusion and controversy.
        • Why would I repeat information?

          There are hundreds (literally) of reviews and comparisons of Linux Mint 15 out there; some compare it to previous Mint releases, some compare it to other Linux distributions, some run through the features and advantages. Many of them are really excellent, and provide more detail of that type than I could ever do, so why would I want to do that again? Here's a tip - go to Google search and type in "Linux Mint 15 KDE Review", and you'll find all the information you could ever want.

  • M$ must be held accountable

    for users not being able to install Linux on UEFI hardware.
    DoJ and EC must open an inquery!
    LlNUX Geek
    • not true

      It was the hardware manufacture that implement the UEFI and I have yet to see any locked out UEFI on any major vendor's PCs. Every PCs I have seen the "secured boot" option can be turned off in the BIOS option.
      • MS REQUIRES it.

        It isn't the vendors choice.
        • Except

          It can be turned off.

          Whether they put that option in there or not is up to the vendors.
          Michael Alan Goff
    • Did you not read?

      "I find this really baffling, because the main release installed on UEFI boot systems with no problems"

      Don't blame Microsoft for incosistent Linux QA.
      • I blame Micro$oft for UEFI monopoly control

        Just waiting for the next lawsuit to occur... And it will...