Linux Mint 6 CE
Thursday, April 16th, 2009 | Author: Ozzik

Man, it’s been 2.5 months since I last posted here. I guess it’s about time now.

Well, I actually wanted to wait a bit with this one, but then I realized that it’s now or never, so here it is.

Linux Mint 6 Community Edition, which is KDE4.2 based was released last week. Something I’ve been waiting for for quite some time now. So I decided to post a few thoughts(like everyone else on the net this year, right?) and tell you about few tricks I had to do.

I’ve been a Linux Mint user for a couple of years now, on and off. Finally settling on a CE version, mostly because it combines the best of both worlds - Gnome and KDE, while being based on KDE itself. For those who don’t know and are too lazy to look it up - Mint is an Ubuntu based distro, but is a bit more polished and includes all the necessary codecs and such. More user friendly I guess. But while so, like every other distribution it still needs a bit of tweaking. Why? Well, because this is the purpose of Linux - you make of it whatever it is you think it should be.

So I used the previous, KDE3.5.10 edition until this week and was pretty happy with it, but the thought of KDE4.2, which is discussed all over the net, wouldn’t leave me alone, so I decided to give it a go.

I won’t bore you too much with the installation processess and such - an idiot could do it, so I’ll just jump right over to the good stuff and tell you about some additional apps I added and tweaks I did.


htop - a nicer top.

Krusader - similar to Total Commander.


Pidgin - instant messenger, multi protocol + skype4pidgin plugin.

VMWare server 2.0 - gotta run WinXP for work purposes.

Kaffeine - a much better video player than the “Draggon” included.

KVpnc - a tool for making vpn connections.

CrossOver - I was one of those who downloaded it on that very special freebie day.

SSH SecureShell Client - under wine. This is kinda embarrassing, since SSH is supposed to be a Linux turf, but surprisingly I couldn’t find one client with a SFTP GUI, so I’m sticking with this one for now. Besides, I have the old freeware version;)

IE6 under wine, for those lame ass websites.

Lanflow under wine - an amazing and simple tool for diagrams. I’m used to it…

Azureus - also a matter of habbit. It’s called Vuze now. I guess I like it the best.

That’s it for the regular apps and tools. Those actually took me a few minutes to install and even configure. Well, OK, maybe half an hour;)

Now comes the harder part - the tweaking. See, even though it may seem like the distro is absolutely ready for use, you will always find something you’re not entirely happy with and there it all begins.

For me it was/is and probably will be the Desktop and everything about it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the guy with a black interface and every possible effect turned on, but hey - it’s my desktop and “I just want it the way I want it” (c)Meg Ryan.

KDE4.2 comes with a set of its own kwin effects and something called plasma. You’re welcome to read all about it, but to spare you some time - it’s when you can actually start with a clean desktop, having absolutely nothing on it, and then add the plasmoids(widgets/gadgets/whatever) one by one. You can add them to the desktop or create a panel and put them there. Taskbar, system tray, application launcher, clock, calendar, show desktop button, etc., they’re all plasmoids. So it seems natural you can just rearrange them a bit and leave it be. But the effects were too slow for me, and to be honest, the plasmoids were not that easy to configure. Actually, most of them were not configurable at all. You have a resize button - I dare you try to resize the system tray while not in the panel. And configuration only featured hotkeys. Pretty lame, unless of course, I missed something.

So I decided that the best thing to do would be to go back to my old friend Compiz. Now Compiz was actually the reason I wanted to upgrade. Well, not just Compiz, but Nvidia/Compiz. A lot of people had/have this problem - the screen is not refreshing. And the biggest problem with this is Firefox and Konsole. I did try a bunch of tweaks, including the registry hacks for Powermizer, but all to no effect. That was with the 180.11 Nvidia driver. Mint 6 CE comes with an old 177 (or 173 if you choose) driver, but to my surprise - that didn’t help.

By the way, to turn off kwin and switch to compiz you have to go to System settings->Default applications->Window manager and choose Compiz. I think it’s the only way to do it.

So the problem remained. Konsole was absolutely unusable, firefox would not refresh pages. Menu entries were not scrolling(refresh again) and I was really pissed off. For a couple of hours I switched back to kwin, but… no, it felt bad, not quite there yet, you know?

So i started digging. And the solution came from the forum. It’s a workaround plugin you have to compile by yourself, but don’t be scared of the word “compile”. It’s pretty easy when you can copy/paste it:)

The distro comes with Compiz 0.78, which is important. In a good way. This is what you have to do:

sudo apt-get install build-essential compiz-dev compiz-fusion-bcop git-core

Let’s make a working folder:

sudo mkdir ~/compiz
cd ~/compiz

Download the last snapshot (via git) of workarounds

git clone git://

This is the possible output you’ll get:

Initialized empty Git repository in /home/cpa/compiz/workarounds/.git/
remote: Counting objects: 295, done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (291/291), done.
remote: Total 295 (delta 184), reused 0 (delta 0)
Receiving objects: 100% (295/295), 51.34 KiB, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (184/184), done.

Enter the new folder (workarounds) and revert to 55bfd98979f273fd542ed2bd979e4054056cc478

cd workarounds/
git revert 55bfd98979f273fd542ed2bd979e4054056cc478

Again, this is the possible output

Auto-merged workarounds.c
Finished one revert.
Created commit c903d61: Revert \"Use XWMHints structure provided by core.\"
 1 files changed, 10 insertions(+), 2 deletions(-)

(Maybe a less or an editor will show you the information about this revert. Exit from the editor and follow the next step):

sudo make

The output:

convert   : -> build/workarounds.xml
bcop'ing  : build/workarounds.xml -> build/workarounds_options.h
bcop'ing  : build/workarounds.xml -> build/workarounds_options.c
schema    : build/workarounds.xml -> build/compiz-workarounds.schema
compiling : workarounds.c -> build/workarounds.lo
compiling : build/workarounds_options.c -> build/workarounds_options.lo
linking   : build/
sudo make install

the output:

install   : /home/cpa/.compiz/plugins/
install   : /home/cpa/.compiz/metadata/workarounds.xml
install   : build/compiz-workarounds.schema

Now restart X and go to the compiz settings. Enter the workaround plugin and activate the “Force synchronization between X and GLX” option. Test it and maybe play with other option there too.

This did the trick for me and ended my sufferring. Well, some of it:)

Btw, my system’s specs are AMD Phenom quad-core black edition 9850, Asus MoBo M3A78 Pro, 4GB RAM, Asus EN9400GT (Nvidia).

Now for the second part. The panels. I played and played with it, rearranged the plasmoids every possible way, but came to a conclusion that I really want my Avant Window Navigator back, and it’s not that I want my desktop to look like OS X, but because it’s the most convinient thing for me. So I installed awn-manager and all the plugins there are available. After that I decided to remove the task manager and the panel now only has clock, system tray, application launcher menu and few other buttons. But I’m still playing. And not because I’m not happy with the system, but because it’s fun:) Geek? No. Just a regular Linux user:)


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