Six Clicks: Linux Mint tips and tricks

Six Clicks: Linux Mint tips and tricks

Summary: Want to get the most out of Linux Mint, one of the most popular of the Linux desktops? Then read on!


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  • Say hello to Linux Mint

    Linux desktop distributions can vary wildly in their look and feel. Unlike Windows 8 before the recent Windows 8.1 update, where a one-size-fits-all interface was the order of the day, Linux gives you an almost endless number of primary desktops such as GNOME, KDE, and Enlightenment. Then you your choice of variations based on them. In GNOME's case, for example, there's Ubuntu's Unity and MATE, and the interface I'll be talking about today: Cinnamon.

    To be precise, I'm going to show you some handy tips you can use to get the most from Linux Mint 16 with Cinnamon 2.0.

    Previously on Six clicks:

  • You don't need to know how to use a Linux shell, but it can be darn handy.

    People will tell you even today you must know Linux shell commands to do anything with desktop Linux. That's complete nonsense. Most users will never need to learn how to use Linux shell commands.

    That said, if you do want to learn how to use shell commands, you'll gain far more power over your operating system than any GUI can ever give you.

    In this example, I'm pretending I'm having trouble with my e-mail program, Evolution, and since it won't shut down by ordinary means, I've decided to kill it.

    To do that, I first open a terminal, which will give me access to the shell. From here I enter the commands

    ps -ef | grep evolution

    The first command ps and its flags -ef tell the shell to display all currently running programs. Now, since that would give me a list as long as my arm, I "pipe" the results with | to another program grep. Grep is the Swiss army knife of Linux/Unix text searching tools, and I'm telling it to look at everything ps -ef sends for the string evolution, my locked-up program's name.

    This now gives me another list of programs and I know that the last one, evolution is the master misbehaving program. So I enter my next command:

    kill -9 20287

    Kill does just what you think it does. It kills off programs. The -9 means "kill the process with extreme prejudice!" Don't let that program run for one more microsecond! For the program I want to kill in this example, I give the kill command the process identifier (PID) number. In this case it's 20287. I hit Enter, and, bang, Evolution is as dead as a doornail.

    Now, if this hasn't frightened you off — better still if you like the idea of having this kind of fine control over what's going on in your computer — you can start learning a lot more about the shell and its associated programs at the Linux Command site.


Topics: Enterprise Software, Linux, PCs

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  • Re: Six Clicks: Linux Mint tips and tricks....

    Bring back Gnome 2 and I might be interested again. Thats why I run Linux Mint 10 on a Parallels Desktop Virtual Machine and the very reason I switched to OS X which has a similar interface.

    Don't try and fob me off with MATE either. It just does't cut the mustard compared to Gnome 2.
    • You may want to try MATE again

      I think it's rather nice. Certainly it's closer to GNOME 2 than is the OSX interface.
      John L. Ries
      • True, Ries, MATE is based on Gnome 2

        I didn't know that, when trying different Mint distros, finally settling on MATE over KDE; though KDE if properly configured,is useful, as well. Mint's MATE is quite friendly, once you've explored it. So I went back to it, as an XP user with almost no knowledge of cli Linux.
        • Incorrect MATE is NOT based on Gnome 2

          MATE was a project to mimic Gnome 2 started by a group of independent developers and has no connection to the original Gnome 2 project.
          • Then you proved the point I wanted to make, 5735guy

            Whether it has inherent connection to Gnome or not, it is still BASED ON Gnome, as you just confirmed. Thank you.
          • I'm guessing, though...

            ...that MATE includes a fair amount of GNOME 2 code, nevertheless. Organizational independence means nothing in this case.
            John L. Ries
          • RE : Incorrect MATE is NOT based on Gnome 2

            Stop spreading lies please.

            MATE started as a Gnome 2.32 fork and the first release was essentially a replacement of all the "Gnome" labels for "MATE". Since Gnome 2 was left unmaintained by the Gnome Foundation, MATE is actually closer to what Gnome 2 is than anything else.

            Now MATE has evolved beyond that with v1.8 by removing many dependencies and is being adapted to run with many of the actual Gnome 3 tools such as bluez and the gnome-keyring. We are also working on GTK3 for the next release.
          • Re: Stop spreading lies please....

            Another reason why I stopped working with Linux was the obnoxious attitude of the developers.

            Indeed MATE was a fork of Gnome 2 and contained some of the Gnome 2 code but that does mean MATE is directly based on Gnome 2.

            A similar example was some code of Beryl was used in the development of Compiz Fusion but it was not directly based on Beryl.

            Get the facts straight. I am a former Linux developer so don't try to preach the truth when it is in fact a pack of lies.
          • 5735guy - you are one angry dude

            People are replying and chatting quite nicely, but you don't appear to listen very well and express quite an angry attitude.

            You are not 100% correct on your claims so open yourself up to critique, but do not take it well at all.

            Try decaf and take a deep breath now and then.
          • Fork

            Actually Mate *is* a fork of the Gnome2 code, from the last version before the move to Gnome3. So it depends on how you mean "connection"; it started out from the same code, but is not managed or supported by the Gnome project at all.
    • You want an unsupported desktop?

      Everybody else has moved on to something that actually gets patches these days.
      Michael Alan Goff
      • Gnome 2 users were given no choice....

        As with Windows 8 the new GUI's were forced upon us.
        • I don't get it

          Can you clarify that what is the difference between Mate and Gnome 2?!
        • You're right

          The people who were making Gnome 2 decided to move on.

          Maybe other people should too.
          Michael Alan Goff
          • People and organizations should use the software they want...

            ...instead of allowing vendors or developers to dictate to them. If the new direction is really superior, people will adopt it on their own without the pressure, which, as often as not, causes people to dig in their heels; or rebel.
            John L. Ries
          • True

            People can keep using software as much as they want, as long as they want.

            They shouldn't expect people to continue to put money into it indefinitely, though, for development.
            Michael Alan Goff
          • Agreed

            But commercial developers shouldn't cut off support for old versions until/unless it can no longer be done economically (it's actually not good business to annoy your customers needlessly). There's nothing wrong with charging for support after a reasonable, advertised, period of time (or from the start if the program is a free download), but pressuring customers to upgrade is just wrong.

            And the controversial decisions of open source projects have led to forking of codebases in the past and this will undoubtedly happen in the future as well. I'm actually surprised that KDE wasn't forked in response to version 4 (my wife was very unhappy about the abandonment of certain K-apps she was in the habit of using, such as KPDF).
            John L. Ries
          • Parachronistic vantage point

            Disagree with the notion that a developer (of anything) should _avoid_ pressuring [you say "pressuring", but I say leading] customers to upgrade. The weakness in this perspective is that A) customers know best and B) customers have the time/resources/interest to invest in R&D in every aspect of their lives (and no - that's not to suggest that developers _always_ know better).

            Successful business shows us/convince us how things could be, and how it could improve some aspect of our lives.

            It's cliche' now, but still true - if you asked someone what they wanted in transportation in the late 1700's, they'd tell you, "a faster horse." History is littered with these kinds of examples. Consumers weren't asking for music CDs to replace their cassette tapes, but the vast majority gladly (re-)purchased hardware and "software" for this new invention.

            And of course there will be the inevitable miscues - where the product was ahead of its time, or the developer failed to make a compelling presentation. Or even cases of outright consumer fickleness...

            To assert that everything that "works" now should be supported in perpetuity is primarily a natural change-adverse reaction. Or a change-on-my-terms "homesteader" sense of independence. Nothing wrong with either and you certainly don't have to support the developer who's inclinations don't match your own. But in the vast majority of cases, it is the developer (with their considerably greater reach, research and resources) that identifies opportunities, and consequently helps define the future. A future the individual may not agree with, but developers don't need to convince everyone - just enough.
          • Lead by advertising

            By all means, show people the advantages and make your best case, but if people don't want to bite, there's probably a reason that escaped the developers/promoters and they might want to rethink things. And avoid "progress for its own sake rhetoric"; it does impress some people, but only if they're not thinking very hard; if it really is progress, people will come to realize it in due course.

            It's the job of programmers to serve users and that of all for-profit businesses to serve paying customers; not the reverse. They should act accordingly.
            John L. Ries
          • And how are you enjoying that "8-legged horse"?

            The burden (and potential for profit) for innovation is with business, not the consumer.

            And don't preach about "rhetoric". Your premise about waiting for people to "realize [progress] in due course" is fundamentally flawed.