Finally switched to Linux Mint

Pages: 12
Got a new PC (finally) and since it is really nice, modern hardware I am finally making the move from Windows.

I liked Windows 7. Very clean, good OS.

Windows 10 is also very nice, but... M$ has gone the evil route and, besides having already offloaded QC onto the end user, decided that it will no longer support anything but Windows 11(+) and that your OS is no longer yours to do with as you wish (subscription OS, basically), so...

I've officially made the switch to Linux Mint.

Still getting things set up, but progressing nicely. Mint has made things a whole lot easier than I had hoped. (I've spent years setting up my Windows PC the way I like it.)

Stuff like turning that stupid Caps Lock key into the Ctrl key -- I dunno why IBM and MS have a hard-on for having the Ctrl key in an awkward spot, unlike every other kbd extant. Mint made it amazingly easy, though. No need to directly mess with Xmodmap or anything like that!

I'm sure I will miss some features running off Windows directly... but if I need to do that I can just boot up the old PC, lol.

Never thought the day would come that I'd do this. (But saw it coming a couple of years ago, so, not a total surprise that it has finally arrived.)

Woot, I guess?
Last edited on
One nice feature of Linux is not needing an overabundance of resources, unlike Windows.

I am debating getting a simple without OS bare-bones system to try out Linux, when my Win 10 machines finally are no longer economically feasible for hanging onto.

Win 10 is still half-arsed being supported by MS, though that is coming to a close. MS can take Win 11 and shove it. As resource hoggish as 10 is, 11 is a quantum leap above that. MS continues to nag me my current 3 PCs are not capable of running 11.

Well, DUH! I have zero intention of wanting that.
BTW, D, please keep us updated with your impressions of Mint, good and bad. Any info on Mint would be helpful.
Do you know about Wine, the Windows emulation layer for Linux?

https://www.winehq.org/

https://www.wikihow.com/Use-Wine-on-Linux
'Twas the first thing I installed. (I'm particular to Notepad++, and that's a Windows-only app.)

Just to be aware, Windows is very nice. It just works.

Linux is for people who can put up with dinking with the inner workings of the OS from time to time to fix random stupid stuff.

Windows doesn't typically have that problem. But since I sometimes dink with the inner workings of Windows anyway, I figure I'll get along OK, but... IDK. We'll see if it gets too annoying for me at some point.

I was unsure between Mint and Fedora for a bit, but Mint is a very easy one to play with.

I'll keep y'all updated.
From what little I have tinkered around with Linux the impression I got was it is meant for people who want to muck around behind the scenes.

At the time I was less interested in that, I just wanted (and still want) an OS that works and lets me worry about other things.
All OSes require dinking. The trick is who does it.

MS has made a business of having people at MS dink with it and pass the result on to the end user, already dinked for your hardware combinations.

But Linux doesn't work with that kind of ecosystem. Either you learn to be a sysop, get a distro where the volunteers are doing enough of it that you don't have to care, or pay for enterprise services (like companies do for Windows).

Mint (and Ubuntu) falls in that second category. The caveat is that people are kind of bound to how the maintainer/volunteers want their systems to work, on their hardware, which is significantly more circumscribed than what MS supports, even with their QC teams culled.

Most of it is fortunately not that difficult, but there is a learning curve, same as for Windows, and mostly required up-front instead of over time.

One of the reasons I went with (and like) Mint is that it made a lot of that automatic and easy.
Random HOW-TOs

Make your old .exe files work in Linux

(1)
Install WINE. You should afterwards have an executable named "wine-stable" in your /usr/bin/ (or /usr/local/bin/) directory. There should also be an executable symbolic link in there named "wine".

Mine is /usr/bin/wine, which is what I will use in the next steps.

You should, at this point, be able to open the terminal and run any Windows executable by typing "wine myprog.exe. As yet, you might not be able to simply click on it in the file explorer.


(2)
Make sure the binfmt_misc package is installed. For Linux Mint it gets installed as part of the "binfmt" package, and should be already installed by the OS. Just check that it is there.

(3)
Set up a root account. Linux Mint does not do this by default, but sudo won't work for the next steps. Online people recommend you use the same password for your user account and the root, just so you never forget it. While this is a security concern, on a home PC it doesn't really matter -- your user account is in the Admin ring anyway.

(4)
Open a terminal and make sure that the binfmt stuff is mounted:

$ sudo mount -t binfmt_misc none /proc/sys/fs/binfmt_misc/
mount: /proc/sys/fs/binfmt_misc: none already mounted or mount point busy.
$ _

In my case it was already mounted, so I got the weird message. All is good.

(5)
Switch to root using the "su" command. Type in your root password (it will not show up as you type). Your new terminal prompt string will now end in a # (instead of a $).

$ su
Password:
root@...# _


(6)
Add the magic powers using the following line. (Adjust as necessary for the location of your wine executable.)

# echo ':DOSWin:M::MZ::/usr/bin/wine:' > /proc/sys/fs/binfmt_misc/register
# _

You can read more about how to do this here: https://github.com/torvalds/linux/blob/master/Documentation/admin-guide/binfmt-misc.rst

(7)
Get out of root!

# exit
$ _


(8)
You can verify that DOSWin powers were added to binfmt by listing the contents of the directory:

$ ls /proc/sys/fs/binfmt_misc/
DOSWin  jar  llvm-14-runtime.binfmt  python3.10  register  status
$ _


If you have a Windows executable laying around, you can also make it work too! I conveniently have one named "hello.exe".

First we need to add execute permissions, then we can run it as we would any other binary.

$ chmod +x hello.exe
$ ./hello.exe
Hello world!
$


(9)
Alas, your file explorer may not have picked up the executable powers properly. For nemo, I had to go to the file, right-click, and add "wine" to the what to do with this file type list and select make it do that for every file of this type.

(Be aware that a terminal program needs extra help, so nemo ran it, but I never saw any output. Test with your GUI Windows executables.)


(10) !!!
Sorry, left this step out the first time. We need to make the change PERSISTENT. (So that the next time you turn off and restart your PC it still works!)

Add a file to /usr/lib/binfmt.d/ containing the string you echoed. For the Windows executable I added a file named /usr/lib/binfmt.d/doswin.exe.conf (the actual name doesn't matter, so long as it doesn't clash and it must end in ".conf"). The contents of the file are the same string as before:

 
:DOSWin:M::MZ::/usr/bin/wine:

It is OK (and expected!) that the file terminate in a newline.

You will need superuser powers for this -- the file must belong to root.


That's it!
LOL, seems like more than it was...
Last edited on
Windows URL files

I keep quite a few ".url" files laying around, so... using the last trick I added the ability to execute them as well.

The first thing we need is a little script that knows how to deal with those pesky .url files. I used Tcl -- it comes with Linux Mint. Open the Software Manager and make sure both of the following packages are installed:

  * Tcl Tool Command Language
  * Tcllib Standard Tcl Library

Now for the script.

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
#! /usr/bin/env tclsh

try {
  package require inifile

  set f [::ini::open [lindex $argv 0] r]
  set sections [::ini::sections $f]
  
  set section [lsearch -regexp -inline $sections {(?i)InternetShortcut}]
  if {$section eq {}} {error {missing InternetShortcut section}}
  
  set keys [::ini::keys $f $section]
  set key [lsearch -regexp -inline $keys {(?i)URL}]
  if {$key eq {}} {error {missing URL key}}
  
  set url [::ini::value $f $section $key]
  if {$url eq {}} {error {empty URL}}
  
  ::ini::close $f

} on error e {
  puts stderr $e
  exit 1
}

exec xdg-open $url

I put mine in /usr/bin/open-windows-url .
Make sure it has execute permissions (sudo chmod +x /usr/bin/open-windows-url)!

Now we need to do the same thing as before and add the .url file to our magic binfmt list.

$ su
Password:
# echo ':WinURL:E::url::/usr/bin/open-windows-url:' > /proc/sys/fs/binfmt_misc/register
# exit
$ _

Now we can chmod +x some.url and execute it directly to open the URL with the default web browser!

$ cat > cplusplus.url
[InternetShortcut]
URL=https://cplusplus.com/forum/
^D
$ chmod +x cplusplus.url
$ ./cplusplus.url
$ _
(cplusplus.com forums page opens in browser)
Note: that ^D means you pressed the Ctrl+D key combination to terminate the file.
Yeah!

My /usr/lib/binfmt.d/windows.url.conf file contains, as expected:

 
:WinURL:E::url::/usr/bin/open-windows-url:



Design Notes

This time we registered it with its file extension instead of any fixed-location magic number in the file.

This is because Windows URL files are actually standard INI files, and may not necessarily follow strict formatting. (For example, I know that I've typed in both "URL=" and "url=" in my .url files over the years.)
http://www.lyberty.com/encyc/articles/tech/dot_url_format_-_an_unofficial_guide.html

The Tcl script opens the file, finds the InternetShortcut section and URL key without case sensitivity and gets the non-empty url value. If all that works successfully, we use xdg-open to load up the web page.
Last edited on
I hope the new version works out well for you! Regardless of OS, new hardware still astounds me a lot... even my now 2 year old I9 still feels like I have hacked into someone's server room and made it my own.

I used to say that windows had a bad OS every other go... 95 (poor), 98 (decent) .. and all the way until fairly recently. 7, 8, (where did 9 go anyway), 10, and 11 all seem pretty solid with the usual caveat that you have to dig through the default settings and decrapify them, remove junkware & auto-starting stuff you don't need, and so on. The last ones I recall that were... lacking ... were ME & Vista, and TBH this was more UI derp than malfunctions.

Linux, I have yet to make friends with it. I made peace with it long ago, but never friends ... its like that annoying co-worker you have dealt with for 25 years, never liked but no longer hate :) I even had fun with it at work a couple jobs back, but I didn't have to deal with its sysadmin woes there, SEP field made all the difference.

Yeah, people really like to give Windows a bad go, but it really is a very clean, well-designed OS. The only real problem it suffers is that DLL versioning was not considered when it was designed, and so assemblies had to be created to kludge that problem away -- and became useful for other things as well, lol.

Windows 9 never existed. (What would have been 9 is Windows 10.)

Linux isn't so bad... I like your description of your relationship to it though (and probably feel the same way -- I'm not sure where I am at right now).

Mint is proving to be pretty friendly. Google helps a lot, lol.
There are many things that contribute to each OS.

* How to get applications / what application can you get? Debian / Ubuntu / Mint apparently has many "repositories". Can you trust content of some repos? Well, can you trust content of Apple Store or Google Play either? Can you simply "install package in Package Manager" or do you have to websearch for .msi (or whatever each Windows application happens to be)?

* What are the defaults? If you tolerate them, then there is less need to muck.

* What can you muck and how much? If you don't like the default, but can do no thing about it, then you don't have a bliss. If you want to muck and it is technically possible, then how you can learn how to do it?


If you do get preinstalled system that has necessary bits and somebody else handles the installs (and regular sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade equivalent), then GNU/Linux is no different from OSX or Windows.
I feel the same way but instead of switching to Linux Mint I have a computer set up for Arch.

Windows 10 LTSC 2019 is supported with security updates until 2029, and likewise the LTSC 2021 is supported for 10 years, so you don't need to start using Windows 11.

Ideally, I only plan to use Windows 10 when necessary. I had Windows 7 until recently (shh, don't tell the hackers).

As far as games, some games run better on Linux than Windows. Vulkan API games appear to have little issues.
Last edited on
Arch
???

Is that a linux distro as I've not heard of it.

How does it support Windows 10?


It certainly isn't a 'nix distro I've heard of.

https://archlinux.org/

I personally need a distro that is mostly set up for the average user, similar to Windows. As I get used to how to do things on 'nix I will have time to learn what is customizable and how to do it.

Just as I did with Windows starting back with Win 2.0.
If you do get preinstalled system that has necessary bits and somebody else handles the installs (and regular sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade equivalent), then GNU/Linux is no different from OSX or Windows.

Yet, unlike MacOS or Windows there are more than one option available for an install-it-and-use-it Linux distro AFAIK.

That is both good and bad. Many casual users are put off by the choices, me being one of those. I would do the install myself.

At least from what I've seen getting a distro doesn't cost an arm, leg and 3 major organs to get. Just some time to prepare for the install.

I guess it is time to get another used PC that is complete except for an OS and spend some time trying out what Linux has to offer.
Arch Linux has been around for a while. It typically touts itself as a "lightweight" (very optimized, stripped-down) distro. It isn't any more beginner-friendly than most *nixen.

Mint + Cinnamon actually is very beginner friendly, but it is still a full-fledged linux -- you can do anything with it you might want to do with any other *nixen. It isn't perfect. Sometimes you have to dig deep to do weird stuff that ought to be easy... (like my posts above about adding magic execute permissions to random files). Google and the mint & ubuntu forums are goldmines of helpfulness.


EDIT
I just found this thread (https://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?t=398462), which funny enough devolved into a "Real Programmers" yarn starting with the awesome comment:

Petermint wrote:
Arch is for kiddies. Real Linux users download the kernel source, delete all the stuff they do not need, then compile. Best way to fit Linux on a floppy disk.


Which naturally takes me back to Randal Munroe's famous:
https://xkcd.com/378/

:O)
Last edited on
I do like both Emacs and cat, and use Red Hat family distros.

At least from what I've seen getting a distro doesn't cost an arm, leg and 3 major organs to get. Just some time to prepare for the install.

Time can be more precious than money. Just look at any Win/OSX user that rather pays for "comfort" than spends time with Linux. Life is full of choices.


Yes, there are options. Doesn't Ubuntu make it easier by offering install images with different desktop systems (KDE, Gnome, Cinnamon, and whatnot)? I'm sure one could install all of those desktops to same system and then choose which to use. I would not recommend such bloat though.
Pick a Linux distro, then begin installing anything and the OS will begin to bloat. This is true of Windows as well. You have to work really hard to keep things lean and trim.

True story: the very first time I used emacs I had to use the internet in order to figure out how to escape. I can get along just fine now (especially now that I can read the weirdo notation emacs introduced), but given the choice I'll take vim, heh.

The first thing I do in any environment is set up terminal aliases/macros to make my life easier -- and I keep them the same between OSes. Hardest thing is remembering whether to hit / or \ in directory paths, lol.

I like Fedora, but it isn't the most user-friendly. (And that one time it updated and hosed my virtual system hasn't quite left me yet.) But it was the other I was considering.

I am not a fan of Gnome, but Cinnamon has been surprisingly well-received on my part. (As yet I have not needed to install the KDE libs, but at some point I'll probably want to use an app that requires it.) I used to be happy with XFCE, but again, Cinnamon really is very nice, so, glad I went with Mint.

I do tend to hack the edges of the user experiences on my system, though.
Heh, just learned how to enable and use the Compose (== AltGr == Alt_R) key.

Before I had myself a custom keyboard layout so I could type stuff like ¡ñ! and ç and — and   and the like... But I very much like the Compose key after only a few minutes with it!

And again, I’m really very impressed that this is so easy to do in Cinnamon. No need to directly dink with xkb (or ancient xmodmap / other Lovecraftian horrors)!

“The fancy-pants double quotes are back, baby!”

This thing can do SO much more than my old custom keyboard layout could.
Pages: 12