10 things to do first in Linux Mint 18.2 Cinnamon


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Congratulations, you have installed a brand new Linux Mint 18.2 (code name: Sonya), with the Cinnamon desktop! What's best for you to do, first of all?

I've made a list of the things to do, which I've divided into three categories:
- 10 absolutely essential ones (part 1);
- the recommended ones (not essential, part 2);
- the maybe useful (part 3).

It's quite a list, but it'll give you a polished, nearly maintenance-free operating system that you'll be able to enjoy for years to come! Plus it's also a crash course in the use of Linux Mint.

Note: you'll find only relatively safe tips and tweaks here, because I think that the stability and reliability of your operating system should never be endangered. This website is serious about Linux Mint, so my approach is conservative.

I try to mention it whenever some risk is unavoidable, so that you can always make a balanced decision.

Note: this web page is only meant for Linux Mint 18.2 with the Cinnamon desktop environment; the page for the Mate desktop is here and the page for the Xfce desktop is here.

Contents

  1. 1 TEN ESSENTIAL ACTIONS:
    1. 1.1 Select an update policy and apply all available updates
    2. 1.2 Better settings for the terminal, for Update Manager and for installing software
      1. 1.2.1 Improve the settings for installing software
      2. 1.2.2 Improve a terminal setting
      3. 1.2.3 Consider changing the settings of Update Manager
    3. 1.3 Drivers and full multimedia support
      1. 1.3.1 Install missing drivers
      2. 1.3.2 Install full multimedia support
    4. 1.4 Optimize your Solid State Drive (SSD)
    5. 1.5 Install some useful tools for system management
    6. 1.6 Decrease the swap use (important)
    7. 1.7 Turn on the firewall and set a root password
      1. 1.7.1 Turn on the firewall
      2. 1.7.2 Set the root password
    8. 1.8 Font support
    9. 1.9 Avoid 10 fatal mistakes!
    10. 1.10 Solve some known bugs
  2. 2 TWELVE RECOMMENDED ACTIONS (NOT ESSENTIAL):
    1. 2.1 Remove Mono, Orca and VirtualBox Guest software
    2. 2.2 Optimize Firefox
    3. 2.3 Tweak Libre Office
    4. 2.4 Disable hibernation (suspend-to-disk)
      1. 2.4.1 How to undo
    5. 2.5 Install an extra web browser
    6. 2.6 Speed up your Linux Mint
    7. 2.7 Improve Power Manager for a laptop
    8. 2.8 Install a good DVD burning application
    9. 2.9 Extra visual effects: the fewer, the better
    10. 2.10 Multiple accounts: prevent other users from accessing the files in your account
    11. 2.11 Disable the touchpad while typing
    12. 2.12 Disable the Switch User option
  3. 3 TWELVE NEUTRAL TWEAKS (MAYBE USEFUL):
    1. 3.1 Add a weather report to the panel
    2. 3.2 Change the wallpaper
    3. 3.3 Access your network disk (NAS) with Gigolo
    4. 3.4 Migrate your e-mail from Outlook (Express) in Windows, to Linux Mint
    5. 3.5 Install some simple games
    6. 3.6 Make the Grub boot menu pretty
    7. 3.7 Turn Num Lock on automatically
    8. 3.8 Make available updates more prominent
    9. 3.9 Disable window tiling and the HUD
    10. 3.10 Disable window thumbnails on hover
    11. 3.11 Limit the menu search word 'synaptic' to Synaptic Package Manager
    12. 3.12 Increase general font size and cursor size
  4. 4 Want more tips?
  5. 5 Get help

Tip: you can download a checklist here, which you can print on paper. Then you can strike the items that you've done, with an old-fashioned but effective pencil.

Are you unsure what Linux Mint version you have? The version number on the default wallpaper should give you an indication, but you can also check that as follows:

Launch a terminal window:
Menu - Administration - Terminal

Type (use copy/paste in order to avoid typing errors):
lsb_release -a

Press Enter.



Part 1

TEN ESSENTIAL ACTIONS:


Select an update policy and apply all available updates

1.1. First the updates, then the rest...

Click on Menu - Administration - Update Manager

Select an update policy (for beginners I recommend the first one, named "Just keep my computer safe"; I'll explain more about that later), let Update Manager check for available updates and apply them all.

Note: during the updates you might be asked whether you want to replace a configuration file. Don't replace it: although replacing is generally safe, it's usually unnecessary.

Afterwards reboot your computer (not always necessary after updates, but in this case, do it just to make sure).

Better settings for the terminal, for Update Manager and for installing software

1.2. The terminal (terminal window), Update Manager and the mechanism for installing software, are three very important tools. That's why it's important that their settings are optimal. You can achieve that as follows:

Improve the settings for installing software

1.2.1. Mint deviates from the Ubuntu way, where the so-called "recommended" packages are concerned. When you install software yourself, Ubuntu installs the recommended packages by default, but Mint does not.

This has two important disadvantages: in Mint, the features of the applications that you install yourself, can be needlessly crippled. And some how-to's for Ubuntu, don't work in Mint. All this for the sake of saving some disk space...

You can make things right like this:

Menu button - Administration - Synaptic Package Manager

Settings - Preferences - tab General
Section Marking Changes: tick: Consider recommended packages as dependencies

Click Apply

Click OK.

Furthermore, you need to change the setting "false" into "true", in the settings file /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/00recommends. That's easiest to do in the following way:

Menu - Administration - Terminal

Copy/paste the following command line into the terminal, for example by a right-click with your mouse (this is one line!):

sudo sed -i 's/false/true/g' /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/00recommends

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.
Press Enter again.

Improve a terminal setting

1.2.2. You're probably going to use the terminal from time to time, because it's the mighty "Swiss Army knife" of Linux. But the default appearance of the terminal window can be made more practical. You can do that as follows.

The terminal window is semi-transparent. Beautiful, but impractical. Improve it like this:

Menu bar of the terminal: Edit - Profile Preferences (or: right-click with the mouse in the black space of the terminal - Profiles - Profile Preferences).

Tab Colors: remove the tick for: Use transparent background.

Consider changing the settings of Update Manager

1.2.3. The default settings of Update Manager are very cautious; that's a characteristic of Linux Mint. Stability first and foremost.

In itself that's good, although Ubuntu (on which Mint is built) is less cautious with updates. And Ubuntu is also stable and reliable.

It might be worthwhile to make Mints Update Manager a little less cautious: that gives you the advantage of extra bug fixes.

You can easily do that by switching your update policy. In the panel of Update Manager: Edit - Update policy. I definitely do not recommend the third option, called "Always update everything". But the second option called "Let me review sensitive updates" is a reasonable choice for people who already have some experience with Linux Mint.

Note: if you're an absolute beginner with Linux, then it's better to select the first policy called "Just keep my computer safe". With that update policy you only miss some ordinary bug fixes, but you still get all of the security updates.

It's therefore not strictly necessary to change things. But it is important that you understand these aspects of Update Manager. That's why this is listed among the essential things to do.

If you don't want to change the settings of Update Manager (yet), you can simply skip this.


Much more about tweaking the settings of Update Manager here (*Click*).

Drivers and full multimedia support

1.3. For installing missing drivers and full multimedia support, proceed as follows (you need internet connection for this!):

Install missing drivers

1.3.1. Installing drivers is usually not necessary, because they are already present in the Linux kernel. Exceptions are some printer drivers and proprietary restricted drivers for (among others) Nvidia graphics cards.

a. Install your printer and scanner in this way (*Click*).

b. For optimal performance of your Nvidia video card, or your Broadcom wireless chipset, you'll want to install the closed source restricted driver (the proprietary driver). Get it like this:

Menu - Administration - Driver Manager

When available for your system, this tool will present you with one or more installable non-free drivers. Select them, with the exception of the package intel-microcode or amd64-microcode (if any of these microcode packages is being offered to you).

Reason: despite the "device not working" report, your device (CPU) is already working on the microcode contained in the BIOS / UEFI, which is usually just fine. Installing another microcode package has been known to cause severe boot problems on some hardware combinations!

The required drivers are then automatically downloaded from the internet, from the software repositories of Mint, and (also automatically) installed. Afterwards you'll have to do a full reboot of your computer.

Note: sometimes you're being offered several versions of the restricted driver for your Nvidia video card. The order of preference is as follows:

1. nvidia-(from highest number to lowest number)
2. nvidia-(from highest number to lowest number)-updates
3. nvidia-experimental

Only choose from the versions that you're being offered, because only those support your video card! Start with the preferred number one, and only work your way down when it doesn't perform well.

Do you have a brand-new graphics card from Nvidia? Then it might be too new for the version of the proprietary restricted driver in the software repositories of Mint. In that case you won't be offered any proprietary driver by Driver Manager.

If this happens, then you can look for another solution for your Nvidia card on this page.


For an AMD/ATI video card you have to stick to the default open source driver. Because the closed AMD Catalyst (fglrx) drivers are not compatible with Linux Mint 18.x.

These closed fglrx drivers are proprietary and so their code is not available. AMD indicated they no longer wanted to support them and urged their customers to use open-source drivers instead.

If you're using an AMD or ATI GPU in Linux Mint 18.x, the operating system will automatically select either the radeon or the amdgpu driver for you, and both of these open-source drivers are installed by default.

Install full multimedia support

1.3.2. You've probably installed full multimedia support during the installation of Linux Mint, by ticking the checkbox for Install third-party software for graphics and Wi-Fi hardware, Flash, MP3 and other media. But if you didn't, you can do it now:

Menu button - Sound & Video - Install Multimedia Codecs

Note: this menu entry is only present when you haven't installed full multimedia support (mint-meta-codecs) yet. After installing it, this menu entry will disappear.

You can play encrypted video DVD's with VLC Media Player, but you can also enable other media players in your system to play such DVD's. In the following way:

a. Menu - Administration - Terminal

b. Type (use copy/paste to transport this magical incantation to the terminal):

sudo apt-get install libdvd-pkg

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.

Whenever the terminal asks you to confirm the installation procedure with a preselected "OK", press Enter to give that "OK".

c. When it's finished, copy/paste this line into the terminal:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure libdvd-pkg

Press Enter and let it do its job, which might take some time, especially on old hardware. Just wait patiently for it to finish.

Optimize your Solid State Drive (SSD)

1.4. Do you have a Solid State Drive (SSD) instead of a conventional hard disk? Then optimize it for Linux Mint.

Install some useful tools for system management

1.5. For file management with root authority, it's best to use a stand-alone simple file manager that's not embedded in your operating system. Because otherwise you run the risk of messing up some vital file permissions in your home directory, if you inadvertently run your default file manager with "sudo" instead of "gksudo". Such a simple stand-alone file manager is Double Commander.

Some of my how-to's contain the use of the simple stand-alone text editor Leafpad, for editing system-wide configuration files with root authority. So it's handy to install that as well.

Furthermore, for optimal control of the sound settings, there's a useful application called pavucontrol.

And finally, for finding files, the simple, user-friendly application Catfish is a superb tool.

Install them all like this:

Menu - Administration - Terminal

Use copy/paste to transport this magical incantation to the terminal (this is one line!):

sudo apt-get install doublecmd-gtk leafpad pavucontrol p7zip-rar catfish

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.
Press Enter again.

Decrease the swap use (important)

1.6. This is especially noticeable on computers with relatively low RAM memory (2 GB or less): they tend to be far too slow in Linux Mint, and Linux Mint accesses the hard disk too much. Luckily, this can be helped.

Note: does your computer have 4 GB RAM or more? Then you can skip this item, because with so much RAM you probably won't notice any benefits from applying it.

On the hard disk there's a separate partition for virtual memory, called the swap. When Mint uses the swap too much, the computer slows down a lot.

Mint's inclination to use the swap, is determined by a setting. The lower the setting number, the longer it takes before Mint starts using the swap. On a scale of 0-100, the default setting is 60. Which is much too high for normal desktop use, and only fit for servers.

A detailed explanation can be found here (link dead? Then download this pdf file with the same content).

Now the how-to:

a. Check your current swappiness setting:

Menu - Administration - Terminal

Type (use copy/paste to avoid errors):
cat /proc/sys/vm/swappiness

Press Enter.

The result will probably be 60.

b.  To change the swappiness into a more sensible setting, type in the terminal (use copy/paste):
gksudo xed /etc/sysctl.conf

Press Enter.

Scroll to the bottom of the text file and add your swappiness parameter to override the default. Copy/paste the following two green lines:

# Decrease swap usage to a more reasonable level
vm.swappiness=10

c. Save and close the text file. Then reboot your computer.

d. After the reboot, check the new swappiness value:

Menu - Administration - Terminal

Type (use copy/paste):
cat /proc/sys/vm/swappiness

Press Enter.

Now it should be 10.

Note: if your hard disk is an SSD, your machine will benefit from an even bigger decrease in swappiness. That's because too many write actions, like frequent swapping, reduce the lifespan of an SSD. For an SSD I advise a swappiness of 1. Also check these tips for optimizing an SSD for your Linux.

Turn on the firewall and set a root password

1.7. The default security of Linux Mint can and should be improved a bit. This concerns the firewall and the root password. Below you can find how to do that.

Turn on the firewall

1.7.1. The firewall is disabled by default, but usually it's better to turn it on. Especially on mobile devices like laptops, which sometimes connect to other networks than your own. Furthermore

The firewall is called Uncomplicated Firewall (ufw), and can be operated from the terminal.

Menu - Administration - Terminal

Copy/paste the following line into the terminal:

sudo ufw enable

Press Enter. Type your password when prompted; this will remain entirely invisible, not even asterisks will show when you type it, which is normal.

Uncomplicated Firewall (ufw) has a sensible set of default settings (profile), which are fine for the vast majority of home users. So unless you have special wishes: you're done!

You can check the status of the firewall with this command:
sudo ufw status verbose

Press Enter.

When enabled, the output should be like this:

pjotr@netbook:~$ sudo ufw status verbose
[sudo] password for pjotr:
Status: active
Logging: on (low)
Default: deny (incoming), allow (outgoing), disabled (routed)
New profiles: skip
pjotr@netbook:~$


I've printed the most important message in red: this output basically means that all incoming is denied and all outgoing is allowed.

There are sensible exceptions in the default settings: for example, with the default profile the use of Samba should be no problem. Also downloading torrents (fetch) should be possible; but seeding torrents (serve), might require a temporal disabling of ufw.

It's easy to disable the firewall (should you wish to do so) with this command:
sudo ufw disable

Press Enter.

If you're interested in the full set of rules, see the output of:
sudo ufw show raw
You can also read the rules files in /etc/ufw (the files whose names end with .rules).

A further explanation about the firewall and security in general, can be found here.

Set the root password

1.7.2. Starting with Linux Mint 18.2, the root password is unfortunately no longer set by default (if you've upgraded from 18.1 to 18.2, you're not affected).

This means that a malicious person with physical access to your computer, can simply boot it into Recovery mode. In the recovery menu he can then select to launch a root shell, without having to enter any password. After which your system is fully his.

He can then do all kinds of nasty things. Like changing your own password....

This is how to fix it, by setting a password for root (preferably identical to your own password):

Menu - Administration - Terminal

Copy/paste the following line into the terminal:

sudo passwd

Press Enter. Type your password when prompted; this will remain entirely invisible, not even asterisks will show when you type it, which is normal.

Note: I advise to make the root password ("UNIX password") identical to your own, in order to prevent problems later on.

That's it! Problem solved.

For good measure: a bad guy with physical access to your computer, also has other means to acquire root authority on your computer. So this fix certainly doesn't make your computer completely safe: physical access always remains a risk.

What this fix does, is blocking one much too easy way to get such unauthorized root access. Which increases security somewhat.

Font support

1.8. Now install some useful fonts:

a. Menu - Administration - Terminal

Use copy/paste to transfer this line into the terminal (it's one line!):

sudo apt-get install fonts-crosextra-carlito fonts-crosextra-caladea

Press Enter. Type your password when prompted; this will remain entirely invisible, not even asterisks will show, which is normal.

b. Use Software Manager or Synaptic Package Manager for installing some extra Microsoft fonts:

Menu - Administration - Software Manager

- Query: microsoft

- Double-click Ttf-mscorefonts-installer for installation and press the Install button.

Funny detail: during the installation of the Microsoft fonts, which you definitely want to have, you might be asked to check a box stating that you accept a license agreement of.... Microsoft.

Note: it may look like the installation has stalled. This is only seemingly so: simply wait. After a while (this might last several minutes!) the installation should finish neatly.

Avoid 10 fatal mistakes!

1.9. There are 10 mistakes that you definitely want to avoid, for the sake of the health of your system. Written for Ubuntu, but applicable in Mint as well.

Solve some known bugs

1.10. If you have a problem: have a look at the solutions for 19 bugs. Don't skip this, when you have some problem! There's a big chance that you'll benefit from at least one of the workarounds presented at that page..... Written for Ubuntu, but applicable in Linux Mint as well.

Also relevant: the release notes of Linux Mint 18.2 Cinnamon.

(continued in the column on the right)

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Part 2

TWELVE RECOMMENDED ACTIONS (NOT ESSENTIAL):


Remove Mono, Orca and VirtualBox Guest software

2.1. By default, Mono is installed. This package is a security risk, because it's an implementation of Microsoft's .NET. That's cross-platform, which means it works in many operating systems (including Windows). That Mono infrastructure could potentially be abused by specially crafted cross-platform malware and viruses.

It's only a limited risk, but a risk nevertheless: with Mono, you're partly in the contaminated and infected Windows ecosystem. Whereas the benefit of Mono is only small, because there are usually excellent alternatives for the Mono based applications.

So it's better to remove Mono.

Furthermore, Linux Mint contains screen reader Orca (gnome-orca) by default. Nifty, when you're visually handicapped. But useless when you're not. And it's rather disconcerting when, after pressing the wrong key combination, your computer suddenly starts addressing you with a heavy bass voice....

Finally, Mint contains by default some virtualbox-guest packages. These are useless when you're not a VirtualBox user, and may cause problems when you do use VirtualBox. So in both cases it's best to remove them.

You can get rid of these annoyances as follows:

Menu - Administration - Terminal

Use copy/paste to transport this magical incantation into the terminal (it's one line):

sudo apt-get remove mono-runtime-common gnome-orca virtualbox-guest*

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.
Press Enter again.

This removal will also delete a Mono based application, namely notepad Tomboy. With the following terminal command you can install a fine alternative for it, that doesn't depend on Mono:

sudo apt-get install xpad

Press Enter.

Note: if in the future you install an application that needs Mono, you'll also be reinstalling Mono.... So always read what will be installed along with whatever application you plan to install.

Optimize Firefox

2.2. With a couple of changes in the settings, you can improve the performance of Firefox in Linux Mint. These tweaks will make this fine web browser leaner and cleaner.

Tweak Libre Office

2.3. The default office suite is the fine Libre Office. In order to improve it, you can tweak the settings of Libre Office.

Disable hibernation (suspend-to-disk)

2.4. Unfortunately, "hibernate" (suspend-to-disk) is enabled by default in Linux Mint. Which is rather surprising, because in Ubuntu it's disabled by default...

This aggressive sleep mode often leads to problems, because most manufacturers of BIOS and UEFI don't stick to the standards for implementing power saving. So your computer may experience malfunctions after waking up, or even enter a coma from which it can't awake at all.

It's therefore best to disable hibernation.

Note: the sleep mode "suspend" (suspend-to-ram) is much less aggressive and therefore far less likely to cause problems.

You can disable hibernation (suspend-to-disk) like this:

a. Menu - Administration - Terminal

b. Copy the following command line and paste it into the terminal, in order to avoid typing errors (this is one line):

sudo mv -v /etc/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d/com.ubuntu.enable-hibernate.pkla /

Press Enter and submit your password. Please note that the password will remain invisible, not even asterisks will show, which is normal.

With that, you've moved the settings file that enables hibernation, to the main directory / (root). Thus rendering it ineffective. The new location is a safe storage, from which you can retrieve it again, should you ever wish to restore hibernation.

c. Reboot your computer. Hibernation should now no longer be one of the options in the shutdown menu.

(with thanks to riffbiker from the Linux Mint forum)

d. On a laptop, it's advisable to check the power manager settings: you'll have to select alternatives for hibernation now, for actions like closing the lid...

e. The troublesome hibernation shouldn't be enabled by default at all... So please help to improve Linux Mint, by supporting this idea of mine:
http://community.linuxmint.com/idea/view/5482

How to undo

2.4.1. Do you want hibernation back? The above hack is easily reversible. Undoing it is very simple:

a. Menu - Administration - Terminal

b. Copy/paste the following line into the terminal (it's one line):

sudo mv -v /com.ubuntu.enable-hibernate.pkla /etc/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d

Press Enter and submit your password. Please note that the password will remain invisible, not even asterisks will show, which is normal.

Reboot your computer. The hibernate option should be back now.

Install an extra web browser

2.5. It's useful to have an extra web browser available. Firefox is a fine application, but now and then (especially when you've installed too many extensions or add-ons in Firefox), it doesn't function entirely well.

An excellent alternative to Firefox, is web browser Google Chrome. Unfortunately it's not in the software sources of Linux Mint, but you can download its 64-bit installer from the download page of Chrome.

That web page should automatically recognize that you're running Linux Mint: it should offer you a preselected installer for Debian/Ubuntu, because that's what you need in Mint.

Double-click the installer, which has the extension .deb, as if it were a .exe installer in Windows. Then it'll install itself automatically.

Furthermore, it'll add the software source for Chrome to your software sources list, so that Update Manager will automatically offer you updates for Google Chrome as soon as they become available.

Note: do you have a 32-bit operating system? Then you can't install Google Chrome. In that case select Chromium, which can be installed by means of Software Manager.

You can find tips and tweaks for Chrome and Chromium here.

Speed up your Linux Mint

2.6. You can probably speed up your Linux Mint noticeably, by applying these safe speed tweaks.

Improve Power Manager for a laptop

2.7. The default settings of Power Manager for a laptop, can be improved.

a. By default, the icon of Power Manager in the system tray of the panel, doesn't show the remaining percentage of battery charge. That's not handy. Fix it like this:

Right-click mouse on the Power Manager icon in the system tray - Configure... - tick: Show percentage

b. Furthermore, the "shutdown immediately" option is missing for closing the laptop lid. You can add that option as follows:

Menu - Administration - Terminal

Use copy/paste to transport the following magical incantation into the terminal  (it's one line!):

sudo sed -i '/lid_options =/,+1 {s/("suspend", _("Suspend")),/&\n ("shutdown", _("Shutdown immediately")),/}' /usr/share/cinnamon/cinnamon-settings/modules/cs_power.py

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.
Press Enter again.

To set it: click on the icon of Power Manager in the system tray (an ordinary left-click) - Power Settings - section Power Options: When the lid is closed: set it to Shutdown immediately. Both for "On A/C power" and for "On battery power".

Install a good DVD burning application

2.8. The best DVD burning application is currently Xfburn, because the other commonly used burning app Brasero, is rather unreliable and regularly spoils your DVD's. Xfburn on the other hand, is reliable, simple and easy.

It has just one disadvantage: Xfburn can't burn multisession DVD's. So it can't add to a DVD that already has some content.


Install Xfburn like this:

Menu - Administration - Terminal

Type (use copy/paste to transport this magical incantation into the terminal):
sudo apt-get install xfburn

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.
Press Enter again.

Now you can launch Xfburn like this:

Menu button - Sound & Video - Xfburn

Extra visual effects: the fewer, the better

2.9. Not an action but a warning: in Mint Cinnamon you can enable a lot of extra visual effects. Nice, and some of them look bloody good indeed.

But they can cause a considerable extra system load as well, which may make your computer slower. Apart from that, they might even make your system less stable.

For the most reliable and stable system, it's therefore best not to enable extra visual effects. On the contrary: if you want to try to make your computer faster, it's even often worthwhile to disable some visual effects that are enabled by default (item 6, right column).

Multiple accounts: prevent other users from accessing the files in your account

2.10. Does your computer have multiple user accounts? Then you can easily prevent other users from accessing and seeing the files in your account, without taking radical measures like encryption. In the following way:

Launch a terminal window.
(You can launch a terminal window like this: *Click*)

Type (copy/paste):

chmod -v 700 $HOME

Press Enter.

Repeat this in each user account that needs the same protection.

Note: this doesn't protect you from someone with root permissions! It won't stop a determined and experienced snooper, but it's an effective measure to "keep the honest people out". If that's not enough for you: encryption of files or even of your entire home folder, is much more secure....

Should you ever wish to undo this (but why?), that's easy as well. For undoing you can use this command:
chmod -v 755 $HOME

Disable the touchpad while typing

2.11. When you have a laptop, it's advisable to disable the touchpad while typing. In the graphical tool Mouse and Touchpad you can activate a setting for that, but this doesn't work sometimes. Disabling the touchpad while typing should always work when you do it like this:

a. First deselect the option in Mouse and Touchpad:

Menu - Preferences - Mouse and Touchpad - tab Touchpad

Section General - Disable touchpad while typing: set the slider to OFF.

Close Mouse and Touchpad.

b. Menu - Preferences - Startup Applications

Click Add - Custom command

Fill out the fields as follows (use copy/paste, that's easiest):

Name:
Syndaemon

Command:
syndaemon -i 1.0 -K -R -t

Comment:
Disable the touchpad while typing, with a reasonable delay of one second and only for tapping and scrolling

Startup delay: set it at 10 seconds.

Click Add.

This will disable your touchpad while typing, 10 seconds after login. Those 10 seconds are just a precaution for potential conflicts. Only tapping and scrolling are being disabled, which is usually what people want.

c. Reboot your computer (or log out and log in again).

Note: This is a user preference, so repeat this in each user account.

Disable the Switch User option

2.12. In the logout window, you can select the option Switch User. Don't use it, because this option sometimes works badly. Apart from that, it eats system power: the first user session remains namely in the system memory...

So it's better not to use this option at all. Preferably select Log Out. Only with that, you log out entirely from user account A, before you log in as user B. So that user B has the full system power at his disposal.

You can disable the Switch User option completely, in the following way:

a. Menu - Administration - Terminal

Use copy/paste to transport this magical incantation into the terminal:

sudo apt-get install dconf-editor

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.
Press Enter again.

b. Then in the terminal:

dconf-editor

Press Enter.

c. In that application, for expanding the subitems you have to click on the little triangle before an item. Click your way to:

org - cinnamon - desktop - lockdown

Tick: disable-user-switching

Close dconf-editor.

Note: this is a user preference, so repeat this in each user account.


Part 3

TWELVE NEUTRAL TWEAKS (MAYBE USEFUL):


Add a weather report to the panel

3.1. Always nice: a weather report in the panel. You can have that in Mint Cinnamon, but it's a ...*cough*... rather cumbersome job to get it. This is how to do it:

Right-click mouse on an empty space on the panel - Add applets to the panel

Tab Available applets (online)

Click Weather

Click on the button Install or update selected items

Click on the tab Installed applets

Click Weather

Click on the button Add to panel

Now you see a curved arrow appear in the panel. Not much use, because it'll be busy "loading" forever.

Right-click on the curved arrow - Configure...

Click the elongated button Get WOEID

Now Firefox will open with a particular website. Fill out your location there: pick a nearby city with an airport, because the weather data are being supplied by the airfields.

Fill out the acquired WOEID in the entry box of the settings of Weather.

Forecast length (days): set that to 5.

When you click on the Weather panel icon now, you'll see a window with extensive meteorological data, plus a five-day forecast.

Change the wallpaper

3.2. Mint looks nice out of the box, but maybe you want to change some of its looks anyway....

You can change your wallpaper in almost the same way as in Windows, but there's one important difference.

So: select a picture that you want for wallpaper. Double-click the picture file.

Now the picture is being shown in the image viewer Xviewer. Then, in the panel of that application: click Image - Set as Desktop background. You're done.

However, the important difference with Windows is this: Mint only creates a link to the picture that you've set as wallpaper. When you move or delete the picture afterwards, then your wallpaper disappears also, because the link is dead!

So don't throw away the picture, but put it permanently in your home folder. For example in the folder Images. And only then set it as wallpaper.

Access your network disk (NAS) with Gigolo

3.3. You can use Gigolo to access your network disk (NAS).

Migrate your e-mail from Outlook (Express) in Windows, to Linux Mint

3.4. It's easy to migrate your e-mails and e-mail settings from Outlook (Express) in Windows, to Thunderbird in Linux Mint Cinnamon. Simply apply this how-to.

Install some simple games

3.5. Always fun: install some simple games.

Menu - Administration - Terminal

Copy/paste the following terminal command (this is one line):

sudo apt-get install aisleriot gnome-cards-data gnomine quadrapassel gnome-sudoku

Press Enter. Type your password when prompted; your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.

After the installation you can find them like this: Menu - Games

Make the Grub boot menu pretty

3.6. The Grub menu, from which you choose what operating system to boot on a dual boot computer, is practical but ugly.

Luckily, it's easy to make it prettier: *Click*.

Turn Num Lock on automatically

3.7. Does your keyboard (laptop?) have a separate numeric keypad on the right? Then it's useful for Num Lock to be switched on automatically, when you start Linux Mint.

Note: this instruction is only meant for desktops and laptops that have a separate numeric keypad! It's definitely not desirable to have the Num Lock on by default on a laptop that has no such separate keypad.

You can achieve that as follows:

a. Menu - Administration - Terminal
Copy/paste the following command into the terminal:

sudo apt-get install numlockx

Reboot your computer. The numeric keypad should turn on automatically after you log into your user account.

Note: it's possible that during login, Mint will turn Num Lock off again (sigh). If that happens, you can counteract that irritating behaviour as follows:

Menu - Preferences - Startup Applications

Click Add - Custom command

Give the new addition the name Numlockx and the command:
numlockx

Startup delay: set it at 20 seconds.

Click Add.

This will turn Num Lock on, 20 seconds after login. The delay is necessary, because you have to make sure it happens after Mint has turned Num Lock off.

Note: user preference, so repeat this in each user account.

Make available updates more prominent

3.8. Some people have difficulty noticing the blue icon in the system tray, that signifies that new updates are available.... In that case you can make available updates more prominent like this:

Menu - Preferences - Startup Applications

Click Add - Custom command

Name: Update Window
Command: mintupdate
Startup delay: set it at 99. Because otherwise it may conflict with the existing startup application mintupdate-launcher, which launches after 20 seconds.

Click Save.

Now you should be presented with the window of Update Manager, 99 seconds after you log in. You can't overlook it: it's "in your face".

The disadvantage is, that you also get to see it when there are no updates at all. But that's better than overlooking updates that need to be installed....

Disable window tiling and the HUD

3.9. Maybe you find window tiling and the HUD (Heads Up Display) an annoying feature (just drag an application window to the top of your display to see what I mean). If so, you can easily disable it like this:

Menu button - Preferences - Window Tiling
Enable Window Tiling and Snapping: set the switch to OFF.

Disable window thumbnails on hover

3.10. When hovering with the mouse pointer above a minimalized application in the desktop bar, a window thumbnail pops up. Neat, but especially on smaller displays this can be annoying.

You can disable it like this:

Menu button - Preferences - Applets

Click on Window list

Click on the Configure button - set the switch to "OFF" for: Show window thumbnails on hover

Limit the menu search word 'synaptic' to Synaptic Package Manager

3.11. If you type the key word (search term) "synaptic" in the menu search box of Cinnamon, the top result isn't Synaptic Package Manager, but the Mouse and Touchpad tool. That can be very annoying, if you use Synaptic on a regular basis.

You can fix it by changing the key word "synaptic" for the Mouse and Touchpad tool, into "sc". That way, that tool won't be shown as result for "synaptic" anymore. Like this:

Menu - Administration - Terminal
Copy/paste the following command into the terminal (it's one line):

sudo sed -i 's/synaptic/sc/g' /usr/share/applications/cinnamon-settings-mouse.desktop

Press Enter. Type your password when requested; this remains entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.

In a German localized system, copy/paste this command as well (it's one line):

sudo sed -i 's/Synaptic/sc/g' /usr/share/applications/cinnamon-settings-mouse.desktop

Press Enter.

Reboot your computer.

Note: you'll probably have to repeat this hack after future updates for Cinnamon.

Increase general font size and cursor size

3.12. If you have a display with a big resolution, sometimes the general font size and the cursor size are annoyingly small. This is how to increase their sizes:

Menu - Preferences - Fonts

Section Font Settings: Text scaling factor: set it to 1.5

Click on an empty part of your desktop and press F5, in order to refresh the desktop shortcuts. Then close Fonts.

Menu - Preferences - Mouse and Touchpad

Section Pointer size and speed: Size: increase it.

That's it!

Want more tips?

4. Do you want more tips and tweaks for Linux Mint? There's a lot more of them on this website! Like these:

Security in Linux Mint

Four popular myths and 12 tips about wireless security (for wifi)

How to clean Linux Mint

How to create a strong password that's easy to remember (the answer might surprise you!)

Get help

5. You can get quick and friendly help on the official Linux Mint forum.


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