Migrating from Fedora 5 to Linux Mint 10

My four-year-old system, castor, was in dire need of upgrading, so based on the pleasant experience of installing Linux Mint on my latest laptop, I decided to switch from Fedora to Mint.

I’ve been a long-time Fedora user (and before that, Red Hat, going back to version 4, as I recall). It has always felt very “solid” yet incomplete. By that I mean that after installing Fedora, I’ve had to go install all the various media packages, adding livna and rpmfusion (?) to the RPM configuration, finding the plugins, MP3 support, and whatnot.

I’ve wanted an out-of-the-box (“It Just Works”) distribution for a while, and Mint seemed to have it: all the media packages, plugins, proprietary drivers, etc. So that’s what I installed on my laptop back in January, with Mint 8, and I was willing to do it again, with the latest version, Mint 10.

Overall, Mint 10 looks much better than 9. Granted, that may be because this installation was on a 24″ monitor running at 1920×1200 resolution, but even the themes look better. My primary complaint with Mint is the usage of so much light green — probably my least favorite color — but that has been toned down for a background of metallic grey — my favorite color.

The out-of-the-box experience was great. There was some dorking around with setting up the disk partitions, since I prefer hardware- and software-independent disks, meaning that I can take (and have taken) a drive from a fail(ing) box, pop it into a good one, mount it, and pull all the files off, without the added stress of having to configure it via software. A failed RAID controller years ago set me on the path of resisting the easy of using LVM, and going the more difficult route.

One aspect of the older versions of Fedora was that I could choose the option to install every available package during installation, and never need to track down packages in the middle of working on a project that called for additional software. Of course, that resulted in many packages I didn’t need, cluttering up the menus, but I figured it was worth the long-term benefit. It also avoided the pre-yum hassle of RPM hell.

But that changed around Fedora 9, as I recall, where only a minimal set of packages were installed. So that was another strike against Fedora.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, yes, I have no lack of laziness (nor impatience nor hubris). I want to boot the machine with the installation DVD, click a couple of boxes, hit “next” a few times, walk away, and sit down an hour later at a machine ready to work and/or play (both the machine, and I).

Mint solves much of that issue. However, there is the need to find the correct packages, but the synaptic package manager is so easy to use that it’s essentially trivial.

So, some minor issues here, which others may encounter:


Running videos with mplayer -fs resulted in many errors such as:

X11 error: BadAlloc (insufficient resources for operation)

But this works properly: mplayer -fs -vo x11 -zoom


Listing directories with many entries became very time-consuming, a problem with dired.el. Additionally there was cruft at the end of the listing, evidently output from the change in how dired uses ls. So I added this to my .xemacs/init.el file:

(add-hook 'dired-load-hook
  (lambda ()
    (set-variable 'dired-use-ls-dired
      (and (string-match "gnu" system-configuration)
           ;; Only supported for XEmacs >= 21.5 and GNU Emacs >= 21.4 (I think)
           (if (featurep 'xemacs)
		(fboundp 'emacs-version>=)
		(emacs-version>= 21 5))
             (and (boundp 'emacs-major-version)
                  (boundp 'emacs-minor-version)
                  (or (> emacs-major-version 21)
                      (and (= emacs-major-version 21)
                           (>= emacs-minor-version 4)))))))))


One of the main reasons for my upgrade was to do Android development. However, after installing Eclipse and the Android Development Toolkit, there were errors when creating a new Android project:

…/platform-tools/adb: No such file or directory

Fortunately (for me) a friend had run into the same problem a few days ago, and this showed the fix to get the i386 compatibility libraries:

apt-get install ia32-libs


In short: Rails 3.0.3 (the current version) does not seem to run Rails apps written in 2.3, as is my site. So I downgraded by installing the 2.3.5 version of the Rails gem, and it works properly.