10 Things to Do First in Linux Mint 19.2 Cinnamon


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Congratulations, you have installed a brand new Linux Mint 19.2 (code name: Tina), 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 19.2 with the Cinnamon desktop environment; the page for the MATE desktop is here and the page for the Xfce desktop is here.

Contents of this page:

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? You can check that as follows:

Launch a terminal window:
Menu - Administration - Terminal

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

inxi -S

(Note that the letter S is capitalized)

Press Enter.



Part 1

TEN ESSENTIAL ACTIONS


Always do these things:

Apply all available updates and set up Timeshift

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

Click on Menu - Administration - Update Manager

Apply all updates.

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.

b. Then launch Timeshift, which is useful to get your system up and running again quickly in case of emergency:
Menu button - Administration - Timeshift

c. Click the button Settings - Schedule. Preferably configure Timeshift to put its snapshots on a separate dedicated hard disk partition (20 GB is a workable and reasonable minimum size for that partition), so it won't eat disk space needed by your system.

Set the schedule to monthly, with a retention of two snapshots. No more, because otherwise, under certain circumstances, Timeshift can start gobbling up disk space like crazy.

Barring the rare exception, nobody will ever need more than two snapshots.... Even if the snapshot you restore is quite old: simply run Update Manager after the restoration and your system will be fully up to date in almost no time at all.

Want to know more about dealing with Timeshift snapshots? Then read about it here (*click*).

d. Reboot your computer (usually not necessary after updating your system, but do it this time 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. Type your password when prompted. In Ubuntu this remains entirely invisible, not even dots will show when you type it, that's normal. In Mint this has changed: you'll see asterisks when you type. Press Enter again.

Note: this may have an unwanted rare side effect. When installing certain applications that have file manager Nautilus as "recommended" dependency, you get Nautilus into the bargain!

That's undesirable, because installing a second full-blown file manager like Nautilus alongside your default file manager, will lead to conflicts. When you suddenly find that you've got Nautilus in your menu, I advise to remove Nautilus immediately, like this:

sudo apt-get remove nautilus

This should leave all other installed applications intact, including the one whose installation pulled Nautilus. So it should always be safe to remove Nautilus.


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

Tab Colors: remove the tick for: Use transparency from system theme.

Know your Update Manager

1.2.3. Update Manager is one of the most important tools you have. It's therefore also very important that you acquaint yourself with it. For that purpose, I've published a how-to for tweaking and optimizing 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 all, but only after creating a snapshot with Timeshift first.

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. The recommended one should work best for most hardware combinations.

Only choose from the versions that you're being offered, because only those support your device! Start with the recommended 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 at all 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 19.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 19.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.

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 it can sometimes be handy to use a simple stand-alone file manager like Double Commander.

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 pavucontrol p7zip-rar catfish

Press Enter. Type your password when prompted. In Ubuntu this remains entirely invisible, not even dots will show when you type it, that's normal. In Mint this has changed: you'll see asterisks when you type. 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 8 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 file or 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 called swappiness. 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):
xed admin:///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 blue 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 5. 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. In Ubuntu this remains entirely invisible, not even dots will show when you type it, that's normal. In Mint this has changed: you'll see asterisks when you type. Press Enter again.

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. The root password is unfortunately no longer set by default.

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. In Ubuntu this remains entirely invisible, not even dots will show when you type it, that's normal. In Mint this has changed: you'll see asterisks when you type. Press Enter again.

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.

Improve font support

1.8. Install some useful fonts, in order to improve the compatibility with documents from Microsoft Office. Namely a package containing some old Microsoft fonts and two modern Google-made free replacement fonts.

I. First the package with old Microsoft fonts:

a. Launch a terminal window (this is how to launch a terminal window).

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

wget http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/pool/contrib/m/msttcorefonts/ttf-mscorefonts-installer_3.7_all.deb -P ~/Downloads

Press Enter. With this command, you download the installer package from Debian, because the version in the Ubuntu/Mint repositories is broken. Furthermore, the Debian package is cleaner because it doesn't pull some software that's useless in Linux Mint.

c. For the actual installation, use copy/paste to transfer this line into the terminal (it's again one single line!):

sudo apt install ~/Downloads/ttf-mscorefonts-installer_3.7_all.deb

Press Enter. Type your password when prompted. In Ubuntu this remains entirely invisible, not even dots will show when you type it, that's normal. In Linux Mint this has changed: you'll see asterisks when you type your password. Press Enter again.

d. Now you might be confronted by a license agreement from Microsoft (sigh). See the screenshot below (click on it to enlarge it):

Hit the Tab key to activate <Ok> (which then turns red), and press Enter.

e. In the next window you'll be given the chance to say Yes to the agreement: hit the Tab key to activate <Yes> (which then turns red) and press Enter.

f. Finally, copy/paste this command into the terminal:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig

Press Enter.


II. Now install the Google-made free fonts Carlito (replacement for Microsoft's modern proprietary Calibri) and Caladea (replacement for Microsoft's modern proprietary Cambria). Like this:

a. Launch a terminal window (this is how to launch a terminal window).

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. In Ubuntu this remains entirely invisible, not even dots will show when you type it, that's normal. In Linux Mint this has changed: you'll see asterisks when you type your password. Press Enter again.

b. Now you're going to configure Libre Office to use them as replacement for the Calibri en Cambria fonts from Microsoft:

Launch LibreOffice Writer.

In the panel of LibreOffice Writer: Tools - Options... - section LibreOffice: Fonts

Tick: Apply replacement table

c. Type in for Font (it's not in the dropdown list, you have to type it): Calibri
Replace by: Carlito (it's in the dropdown list)

Press the button with the green tick.

Tick: Always and Screen only

d. Now type in for Font (it's not in the dropdown list, you have to type it): Cambria
Replace by: Caladea (it's in the dropdown list)

Press the button with the green tick.

Tick: Always and Screen only

Click the OK button.

Avoid 10 fatal mistakes!

1.9. There are 10 mistakes that you'll definitely want to avoid, for the sake of the health of your system.

Solve some known bugs

1.10. If you have a problem: have a look at the solutions for several 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 19.2 Cinnamon.


Part 2

FOURTEEN RECOMMENDED ACTIONS (NOT ESSENTIAL)


Do these things if and when you have the time:

Remove Mono and Orca

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....

You can get rid of these two 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

Press Enter. Type your password when prompted. In Ubuntu this remains entirely invisible, not even dots will show when you type it, that's normal. In Mint this has changed: you'll see asterisks when you type. Press Enter again.

This removal will also delete a Mono based application, namely Tomboy Notes. 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.

Fix a potential permissions bug in your home folder

2.4. This issue should not apply when you've done a clean installation of Mint 19.2, because it has probably been fixed in 19.2. But when you've upgraded from an earlier version of Linux Mint: because of a polkit issue, Update Manager might have created a file permissions problem in your personal folder(s). In it, it might have changed the ownership of certain hidden folders to root. This might create unexpected malfunctions.

You can repair that by making sure that all files in your personal folder belong to you and not to root. Like this:

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

b. Copy/paste this line into the terminal:

sudo chown -R -v $USER:$USER $HOME

Press Enter. Type your password when prompted. In Ubuntu this remains entirely invisible, not even dots will show when you type it, that's normal. In Mint this has changed: you'll see asterisks when you type. Press Enter again.

c. When it's finished, reboot or log off and on again.

This appears to be an effective workaround which you probably only have to apply once. As such, it can serve as a practical "emergency" measure.

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... - Display: change that to: Show percentage

b. Furthermore, it's useful to set "shutdown immediately" for closing the laptop lid. You can enable that option as follows:

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. Type your password when prompted. In Ubuntu this remains entirely invisible, not even dots will show when you type it, that's normal. In Mint this has changed: you'll see asterisks when you type. Press Enter again.

Now you can launch Xfburn like this:

Menu button - Sound & Video - Xfburn

Visual effects: the fewer, the better (and disable at least one of them)

2.9. Not an action but a warning: in Mint Cinnamon you can enable a lot of visual effects. Nice, and some of them look very 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 more visual effects that are enabled by default (item 5.1).

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 (1): don't apply this recursively, on all files and folders within your home folder. That's quite unnecessary, and might even have negative side effects.

Note (2): 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. Then install a supporting package:

Menu button - Administration - Terminal

Copy/paste the following line into the terminal:
sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-input-synaptics

Press Enter. Type your password when prompted. In Ubuntu this remains entirely invisible, not even dots will show when you type it, that's normal. In Mint this has changed: you'll see asterisks when you type. Press Enter again.

c. Now create a new directory:

Copy/paste the following line into the terminal:

sudo mkdir -v /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d

Press Enter.

d. Then copy a file into that new directory:

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

sudo cp -v /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/70-synaptics.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/70-synaptics.conf

Press Enter.

e. 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.

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

g. Finally, check whether it's working, with the help of the following terminal command (copy/paste the blue line below in a terminal and press Enter):
ps aux|grep syndaemon

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. Besides, switching users like that 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. Type your password when prompted. In Ubuntu this remains entirely invisible, not even dots will show when you type it, that's normal. In Mint this has changed: you'll see asterisks when you type. 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.

Turn Num Lock on automatically

2.13. 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

Now do this: Menu - Administration - Login Window. Tab Settings: enable activate numlock.

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 the + button (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.

Think about removing Java (openJDK)

2.14. Linux Mint contains Java (openJDK) by default. That has some negative security implications. Consider whether you really need it (item 10).


Part 3

TWELVE NEUTRAL TWEAKS (MAYBE USEFUL)


Only do these things if you like them:

Make the Cinnamon panel traditional

3.1. The Cinnamon panel has "modern" features, like grouped buttons. If you don't want to get used to all that, you can restore the traditional panel as follows:

Menu button - Preferences - Welcome Screen

First steps - Desktop Layout - click on Traditional

Wait until Cinnamon has finished this (apparently resource-intensive) job.

Note: this'll give you a default traditional panel, so you'll have to redo any changes you've made to the panel.

Add a weather report to the panel

3.2. 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:

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

Tab Download

(don't forget to refresh the list)

Click Weather

Click on the button Install

b. Click on the tab Manage

Click Weather

Click on the + button (Add)

c. Now you see a curved arrow appear in the panel, which soon changes into an icon showing the weather in London. So right-click on the curved arrow - Configure...

d. Fill out your city or a large town in your vicinity. There should be no space between the comma and the country code, for example Chicago,US

e. Forecast length (days): set that to 5.

f. Close the configuration window.

g. 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

3.3. 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 File - Set as Wallpaper. 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.

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 gnome-mines quadrapassel gnome-sudoku

Press Enter. Type your password when prompted. In Ubuntu this remains entirely invisible, not even dots will show when you type it, that's normal. In Mint this has changed: you'll see asterisks when you type. Press Enter again.

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*.

Make available updates more prominent

3.7. 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 the + button (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

3.8. 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

3.9. 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 gears button - set the switch to "OFF" for: Show window thumbnails on hover

Increase icon size, font size and cursor size

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

a. For a Hi-DPI display:

Menu - Preferences - System Settings

Section Preferences - General

User interface scaling: change that into Double (Hi-DPI)

b. For a non-Hi-DPI display:

Menu - Preferences - Font Selection

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 Font Selection.

Then do this for the cursor size: Menu - Preferences - Mouse and Touchpad

Section Pointer size and speed: Size: increase it.

That's it!

Make sure that the trash bin isn't bypassed when removing files

3.11. By default, you have two file deletion options in your file manager: throwing a file into the trash bin or deleting it irrevocably right away. Sometimes this irrevocable deletion is being used by accident, which can lead to bitter tears: there's no undoing such a deletion....

So you might want to disable that irrevocable deletion, which can be done like this:
Launch your file manager - panel: Edit - Preferences - Behavior
Section Trash: deselect Include a Delete command that bypasses Trash

Create a manual snapshot with Timeshift to backup your modifications and tweaks

3.12. You've modified and tweaked your system quite a lot, by applying this list. That has cost you a lot of time, so it's useful to create a manual snapshot of your neatly tuned system. Including all of the settings changes which reside in your personal folder only (more about that later).

You can do that as follows:

a. Launch Timeshift:
Menu button - Administration - Timeshift

b. Click the button Settings - Users

By default all user folders, including the hidden settings files they contain, aren't part of the snapshot. For a good reason, because you don't want that recently modified important document of yours, to be reverted to its version of three weeks ago.... Or that your Thunderbird email boxes suddenly are being reverted to their past content.

But you're still at the beginning now, and there are no documents or e-mails in your personal folder yet. So temporarily include the hidden items (settings files) of each user account (with the exception of the root user account), for this snapshot only.

c. Create the one-time snapshot.

d. Click the button Settings - Users again, and fully exclude all user accounts again for future snapshots. This is very important!

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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