Sunday, September 9, 2018

LMDE Upgrades

Let’s back up a moment… Like way far… Before Flush Twice… Even before Windows 95… The internet had only just reached Ohio, and BBS’s (aka Bulletin Board Systems) were still the coolest thing you could do with your home computer on a Saturday night. (Hey, it actually got me laid many times, which is more than I can say for reddit.)

It was the early 90’s and a friend of mine had introduced me to a new operating system. He was so excited about it! “What can you do with it?” I asked while feigning interest. Denny typed a few cryptic commands into what looked like a broken DOS prompt. It spit back equally cryptic nonsense as he explained with great excitement what the system was doing. At the time it didn’t make that much sense, and I wasn’t really all that impressed.

A few years later I would be very impressed during a computer show at Hara Arena when I witnessed an entire operating system installed with a graphical desktop environment in a mere 20 minutes. In both cases, that OS was Linux, and after the latter, I became a Linux user. Fun fact: Flush Twice was originally hosted on a Linux server in my basement.

Of course some of you may recall my foray into the military back in 2005. After I joined the Army, my propensity for Linux was not well tolerated, and I had to switch over to Windows again, but in 2012, I was a free man, and I immediately steered back towards Linux. Of course my old distro had withered and died, so I had to find a new one.

Linux Mint was particularly appealing, owing to the fact that the system could be installed with full multimedia codecs in a mere 20 minutes. Everything just worked, and the Mate Desktop Environment was so clean, simple, and intuitive that I really didn’t have to Google info on how to use it.

Now while Linux Mint offers a variety of desktop choices, their flagship is called Cinnamon. It’s a home grown desktop very similar to Mate, but slightly more hackerish. It also seemed glitchier to me, and it looked very dark. I prefered Mate. It was lighter, seemed to work better, and it was easier to find everything.

A small failing of Linux Mint at the time was that it was based off of Ubuntu. While this made rebranding and packaging a snap, the whole OS had to be reinstalled about once a year when the latest version was released. An alternative was Linux Mint Debian Edition. It was a little grittier, but I wouldn’t have to keep reinstalling it so often.

So LMDE (the Debian branch) became my OS of choice, and with it, I could just get things done. Of course 3 years ago, LMDE became LMDE 2, and just recently it became LMDE 3, and wouldn’t you know it… They discontinued the version that included the Mate Desktop Environment, so you can’t just upgrade in place… Nope. I had to do a fresh install with the Cinnamon desktop.

OK, so all is not lost. This is Linux after all. After installing LMDE 3 with Cinnamon, I just installed the Mate desktop packages (of which there are many) and switched to using it instead of Cinnamon. With three desktop installations, that was a lot of downloading and installing, and it went a little over the usual 20 minutes.

But still, the computers have all been updated, and everything seems pretty much like it was. Given how the interfaces changed from Windows 7 to 8 to 10, keeping things the same is a relief. I take comfort that the Linux community is dedicated to keeping desktop computers alive and well for many years to come.

So special thanks to Clem and company for all their hard work on creating and maintaining Linux Mint.

Also thanks to this week’s joke contributors: Glenn and George. I wouldn’t be able to keep doing this if it weren’t for their contributions, because I ran out of jokes a long time ago. If you would like to contribute a joke, you can submit one here or email me at If your joke is used, you’ll get a thank you from me and a warm fuzzy feeling inside!



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