Linux Mint 17.1 Xfce: 10 things to do first


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Congratulations, you've installed Linux Mint 17.1 (code name: Rebecca), with the Xfce desktop environment! 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 17.1 Xfce Rebecca. The tips for the newer Linux Mint 18.1 Xfce Serena are here.

Contents

  1. 1 TEN ESSENTIAL ACTIONS:
    1. 1.1 Apply all available updates
    2. 1.2 Improve the terminal, Update Manager and the settings for installing software
      1. 1.2.1 Improve the terminal settings
      2. 1.2.2 Consider changing the settings of Update Manager
      3. 1.2.3 Improve the settings for installing software
    3. 1.3 Install missing drivers and firmware
      1. 1.3.1 Preferred order for the non-free video drivers
    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 Improve multimedia support
    8. 1.8 Turn on the firewall
    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
    2. 2.2 Check whether the screen saver is configured correctly
    3. 2.3 Optimize Firefox
    4. 2.4 Improve and tweak Libre Office
    5. 2.5 Install an extra web browser
    6. 2.6 Disable hibernation (suspend-to-disk)
      1. 2.6.1 How to undo
    7. 2.7 Disable the multiple workspaces
    8. 2.8 Don't use the fast user switch
    9. 2.9 Tame your mouse and touchpad
    10. 2.10 Speed up your Linux Mint
    11. 2.11 Remove the option 'save session' from the logout window
    12. 2.12 Disable the mousewheel-rollup feature
  3. 3 TWELVE NEUTRAL TWEAKS (MAYBE USEFUL):
    1. 3.1 Multiple accounts: prevent other users from accessing the files in your account
    2. 3.2 Repair a display error (window borders that disappear)
    3. 3.3 Use your own picture for wallpaper and improve the terminal
    4. 3.4 Add a weather report to the panel
    5. 3.5 Improve the clock
    6. 3.6 Lock the panel
    7. 3.7 For little RAM: enable zRam
    8. 3.8 Access your network disk (NAS) with Gigolo
    9. 3.9 Migrate your e-mail from Outlook (Express) in Windows, to Linux Mint
    10. 3.10 Install some simple games
    11. 3.11 Make the Grub boot menu pretty
    12. 3.12 Trick for shortcuts on the desktop
  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.

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 - Xfce Terminal

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

Press Enter.



Part 1

TEN ESSENTIAL ACTIONS:


Apply all available updates

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

Click on Menu - System - Update Manager

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).

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

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

Improve the terminal settings

1.2.1. 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 like this:

a. Unfortunately the menu bar of the terminal window is hidden by default. Only because the developers think it looks nicer that way, I'm afraid....

That's of course impractical and annoying. Like this you can make the menu bar of the terminal visible:

Menu button - Xfce Terminal
Right-click with the mouse in the black space of the terminal - tick: Show Menubar.

b. Furthermore, the terminal window is semi-transparent. Again: beautiful, but impractical. Improve it like this:

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

Tab Appearance - section Background: select None (use solid color).

Consider changing the settings of Update Manager

1.2.2. 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 security updates. You can do that by enabling security updates for level 4 and 5 packages. In the panel of Update Manager: Edit - Preferences. Do it only for security updates, not for those levels in general!

Note: if you're an absolute beginner with Linux, then maybe you'd rather change nothing in Update Manager. That's OK, too. Without any changes you still have a secure system. Much more secure than Windows, for example....

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 and proceed with item 1.2.3.


Improve the settings for installing software

1.2.3. 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 - System - 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 button - System - Terminal Emulator

Copy/paste the following command line into the terminal, for example by a right-click with your mouse:

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.

Install missing drivers and firmware

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

a. First install a firmware package that can't be in Mint by default, for copyright reasons. Even if you don't need it now, because it might come in handy in the future:

Launch a terminal window:
Menu - Xfce Terminal

Type (use copy/paste):
sudo apt-get install linux-firmware-nonfree

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

Afterwards, reboot your computer.


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


c. For optimal performance of your Nvidia or ATI video card, or your Broadcom wireless chipset, you'll want to install the closed source restricted driver (the non-free proprietary driver). Like this:

Menu - System - Driver Manager

When available for your system, this tool will present you with one or more installable non-free drivers. Select them.

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 video card. The order of preference is as follows:

Preferred order for the non-free video drivers

1.3.1. The preferred order for the non-free restricted drivers for your video card, is this:

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

AMD/ATI:
1. fglrx
2. fglrx-updates

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 or ATI? 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, it's better to stick with the default open source driver for the time being and wait until the next Mint release, which will probably provide a newer proprietary driver.


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 the file permissions in your home directory. Such a simple stand-alone file manager is GNOME Commander.

For the same reason it's best to use a simple stand-alone text editor, for editing system-wide configuration files with root authority. Such as Leafpad.

Finally, a very useful tool for sound management is pavucontrol.

Install them all like this:

Menu - Xfce Terminal

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

sudo apt-get install gnome-commander libgnomevfs2-extra leafpad pavucontrol

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 (1 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 - Xfce Terminal

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

Press Enter.

The result will probably be 60.

b. Make sure that you have installed the applications gksu and leafpad:

Menu - Xfce Terminal

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

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

c. To change the swappiness into a more sensible setting, type in the terminal (use copy/paste):
gksudo leafpad /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

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

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

Menu - Xfce 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.

Improve multimedia support

1.7. The multimedia support can use some improvements.

a. Use Software Manager or Synaptic Package Manager for installing some extra fonts.

Menu - System - 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'll definitely want to have, you'll be asked to check a box stating that you accept a license agreement of.... Microsoft.

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

b. You might want to install Oracle (Sun) Java (if you need it, which is rare nowadays).

Turn on the firewall

1.8. 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.

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

Menu - Xfce Terminal

Type (use copy/paste):
sudo ufw enable

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

Press Enter.

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.

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. Look at the solutions for 17 bugs. Don't skip this! There's a 90 % chance that you'll benefit from at least one of the workarounds presented at that page..... Written for Ubuntu, but applicable in Mint as well.

Also relevant: the release notes of Linux Mint 17.1 Xfce.


Part 2

TWELVE RECOMMENDED ACTIONS (NOT ESSENTIAL):


Remove Mono

2.1. By default, Mono is installed. This package is a security risk, because it offers Windows applications a limited opportunity to run in Linux. Unfortunately also malicious Windows software, like viruses and such.

It's only a limited risk, but a risk nevertheless. So it's better to remove Mono. You can achieve that as follows:

Menu - Xfce Terminal

Type (use copy/paste to transport this magical incantation to the terminal):
sudo apt-get remove mono-runtime-common

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 two Mono based applications, namely media player Banshee and notepad Tomboy. You can install fine alternatives for them, that don't depend on Mono:

Copy and paste the following command line into the terminal:
sudo apt-get install audacious gnome-mplayer xfce4-notes

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.

Check whether the screen saver is configured correctly

2.2. The screen saver is enabled by default. But there's some resource hogging stuff among the screensavers, that may freeze your computer.

Set the screensaver therefore at "blank screen":

Menu - Settings - Screensaver: choose Blank screen.

Optimize Firefox

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

Improve and tweak Libre Office

2.4. a. The default office suite is the fine Libre Office. For sound playback in slide shows in Libre Office Impress, you need to install a supporting package. Furthermore, you can install another supporting package in order to improve the integration of Libre Office into your desktop. Install both packages like this:

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

Use copy/paste to transfer the following command line to the terminal (it's one line!):
sudo apt-get install libreoffice-avmedia-backend-gstreamer libreoffice-gtk

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

b. Finally, in order to improve the configuration of Libre Office, you can tweak its settings.

(continued in the column on the right)


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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 Chromium. You can install it as follows:

Menu - Xfce Terminal

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

sudo apt-get install chromium-browser chromium-browser-l10n

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

Note: most plug-ins that you've installed for Firefox (not the add-ons and extensions, but things like Java) work automatically in Chromium as well. No need for further action for that.

Chromium is the open source "raw material" for Google Chrome (Google Chrome = Chromium with some adaptations). You can find tips and tweaks for Chromium here.

Disable hibernation (suspend-to-disk)

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

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

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

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

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.

Disable the multiple workspaces

2.7. By default you've got multiple workspaces, to which you can switch whenever you want. Some people like it. But for others, it's a bloody annoyance to see their open application windows disappear "all of a sudden".

Because it can happen quite unexpectedly: a workspace switch may happen by an accidentally pressed key combination (shortcut).

If you don't plan to use them, the best approach is therefore this one:

Menu -  Settings - Workspaces
Number of workspaces: set it to 1
Click Close.

Don't use the fast user switch

2.8. It's possible to switch from one user account to another, by means of the yellow button called "Switch Users" in the menu. It's best to avoid that button, because this might lead to unexpected malfunctions.

Furthermore, it's technically much better to simply log off from user account A before logging into user account B. For the simple reason that only then you have full system power available, for the user account that you're using.

Tame your mouse and touchpad

2.9. Your mouse and touchpad can perform better. Like this:

Menu - Settings - Mouse and Touchpad
Pointer speed: set the acceleration higher, to 4 (or thereabouts).

Tab touchpad: set the Scrolling mode to Edge scrolling

Click Close.

Speed up your Linux Mint

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

Remove the option 'save session' from the logout window

2.11. In the logout dialog, you can enable saving the session. But that's generally a nuisance, especially for beginners with Linux Mint Xfce. Because all open application windows will be restarted automatically, upon each login.... So it's best not to enable this.

You can remove old sessions like this:

Menu - Xfce Terminal

Type (use copy/paste):
rm -r -v ~/.cache/sessions/*

Press Enter.

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

In order to prevent mistakes, you can remove this option from the logout window for all users like this:

Menu - Xfce Terminal

Type (use copy/paste):
sudo mkdir /etc/xdg/xfce4/kiosk

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

Then copy/paste this command into the terminal:
gksudo leafpad /etc/xdg/xfce4/kiosk/kioskrc

Press Enter.

In that empty text document, copy/paste the following text:
[xfce4-session]
SaveSession=NONE
Save the modified file.

Reboot your computer. The option for saving the session should have disappeared from the logout screen.

Disable the mousewheel-rollup feature

2.12. Mint Xfce has a mousewheel-rollup feature, which is enabled by default.

This mousewheel-rollup feature causes many complaints from people who inadvertently perform a rollup of the active window, and then think that their application window has suddenly closed. Or they see the rolled-up window bar, but don't know how to restore it...

So it's better to disable this "feature from hell". Like this:

Menu button - Settings - Settings Editor (not Settings Manager!) - xfwm4
Double-click on mousewheel-rollup and set the value to FALSE (by clicking on TRUE).

Click on the "Save" button.

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



Part 3

TWELVE NEUTRAL TWEAKS (MAYBE USEFUL):


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

3.1. 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

Repair a display error (window borders that disappear)

3.2. On some hardware, you might encounter an annoying bug from time to time: the window borders disappear, leaving you with application windows without window buttons.

Whenever this happens, you can restore normality as follows:

Menu - Xfce Terminal

Type (use copy/paste):
xfwm4 --replace

Press Enter.

With that, you restart the window manager, and then everything is normal again (for the time being).

Note: do NOT use sudo in this particular command line! Because in this case you mess up the permissions when you use sudo, which causes all kinds of mysterious malfunctions.

Use your own picture for wallpaper and improve the terminal

3.3. Mint Xfce looks nice out of the box, but maybe you want to change some things anyway....

a. Change the wallpaper

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. In file manager Thunar (among other ways, you can launch Thunar by means of the panel button Places), right-click the .jpg file - Set as wallpaper. You're done.

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

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.

b. Improve the terminal

You've probably already noticed it: in Linux Mint, you'll start using the terminal more and more. Simply because it's often quicker and easier to use than the ordinary click-click graphical tools.

But the terminal is by default very bare and minimal, because it has no panel. Furthermore it's semi-opaque (sigh...). It all looks very nice and elegant, but it's not very practical.

You can make the terminal a bit more practical and easy to use, in the following way:

Menu - Accessories - Terminal

Rightclick with the mouse on an empty part of the terminal window - check:Show Menubar

Again, rightclick with the mouse on an empty part of the terminal window - Profiles - Profile Preferences
Tab Background - select: Solid color

Click Close.

Add a weather report to the panel

3.4. Always handy: a nice weather report in the panel of your desktop. See this instruction (item 3.4, right column). Written for Xubuntu, but applicable in Mint Xfce as well.

Improve the clock

3.5. You can add the name of the weekday and the date to the digital clock on the right on the panel:

Right-click on the clock - Properties

Section Time: Format: change it to Custom...

Replace the existing code by the following code (use copy/paste in order to avoid errors):
%a %B %e %G %k:%M

Close the Properties window. Now the change should be activated (see the image below):

Lock the panel

3.6. It may come in handy to lock the panel of Mint Xfce (kiosk mode) to protect clumsy users against themselves.... It's a how-to for Xubuntu, but applicable in Mint Xfce as well.

For little RAM: enable zRam

3.7. When your computer has very little RAM (768 MB or less), then the lack of memory will remain a problem, which will cause your system to slow down from time to time. Even when the swappiness has been decreased to 5 (see item 1.5 on this page).

In that case, you might achieve better results by enabling the experimental kernel module zRam. zRam creates a compressed swap file in your RAM. The compression factor is the gain: with that, you "increase" your RAM.

Note: this hack might make your system unstable! So do not apply it on important computers.

The price you pay for this, is threefold:

- Your processor (CPU) is being taxed more heavily, because it'll have to compress and decompress all the time;

- When the system has filled the RAM swap, it'll start swapping on the hard drive as well. With a heavy burden: the chunk of memory that has been sacrificed for the RAM swap.

- For the time being it's still an experimental module, so this extra layer of complexity might cause instability.

That's why, for the time being, I advise zRam only for computers with very little RAM, and even then only in combination with a swappiness that has been decreased to 5. Furthermore, zRam isn't suitable yet for production computers, but only for test machines and other, non-essential computers.

You can install it as follows:

Menu - Xfce Terminal

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

sudo apt-get install zram-config

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

Reboot your computer.


Check

Now check whether it works, like this:

Menu - Xfce Terminal

Copy/paste the following terminal command:

cat /proc/swaps

Press Enter.

If all has gone well, you should receive a report about one or more /dev/zram "partitions". zRam is active then; no need for further action.


Removal

a. When you want to remove zRam, it can't be done by the simple terminal command "apt-get remove". So:

Menu - Xfce Terminal

Copy/paste the following terminal command:

sudo apt-get purge zram-config

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

b. Reboot your computer.

c. Now check whether the removal has succeeded, like this:

Menu - Xfce Terminal

Copy/paste the following terminal command:

cat /proc/swaps

Press Enter.

If all has gone well, you should receive no report anymore about one or more /dev/zram "partitions"

Access your network disk (NAS) with Gigolo

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

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

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

Install some simple games

3.10. Always fun: install some simple games.

Menu - Xfce Terminal

Copy/paste the following terminal command (it's 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

3.11. 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*.

Trick for shortcuts on the desktop

3.12. In Xfce there's an annoying and useless "protection of the user against himself": whenever you want to launch a newly-made application shortcut on the desktop, Xfce issues a warning for that, because.... the file is supposedly in an insecure location!

That's nonsense, of course. So you can simply click "Mark Executable", as shown in the screenshot below (click on it to enlarge it):

https://sites.google.com/site/easylinuxtipsproject/8/Screenshot-executable.jpg?attredirects=0

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 11 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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