Linux Mint Debian Edition 2 – Codename “Betsy” Installation and Customization

Linux Mint is one of the fastest growing desktop Linux distributions today. Linux Mint is an Ubuntu based distribution that aims to be a home user friendly distribution that has a sleek, clean look as well as provide as much hardware compatibility as possible. All of this paired with a development team that constantly tries to keep the distribution moving in a forward fashion.

While Linux Mint’s main releases (LM Cinnamon and LM Mate) are based off Ubuntu, there is a lesser known variant that has been making great strides over the last couple of years. Of course, Linux Mint Debian Edition is the variant and the subject of this tutorial.

Just like the main version of Linux Mint, LMDE is available in Cinnamon and Mate as well as 32/64bit variants. Currently there isn’t a “stable” release of LMDE2 but this tutorial, screen-shots, and posting were done using a fresh install of LMDE2 64bit Cinnamon. So it is currently stable enough for those purposes!

New Features

While this is still a release candidate, everything that is going to make their way into the official release are already there. From here on out it will be minor changes and some final polishing. A list of what all has changed, seems to be hiding at the moment but some big obvious changes have made their way into this release though:

  1. Cinnamon 2.4.6
  2. Linux 3.16
  3. Firefox 36
  4. BASH 4.3.30

One question was whether or not Systemd was going to make its way into the release. Without getting to much into the argument it was a sigh of relief to see that the Linux Mint team didn’t try to rush and push Systemd into the release, but it will be interesting to see what happens when Debian releases Jessie into stable.

Installation of Linux Mint Debian Edition 2 “Betsy”

1. The first step to installing LMDE2, is to obtain the ISO file from Linux Mint’s website. This can be done either through a direct http download or via wget from the command line interface.

The url for download: http://www.linuxmint.com/download_lmde.php

This will land on a page where the CPU architecture and desktop environment must be selected. The next screen will prompt the user for a mirror to download the image from or a torrent to use. For those who already know that LMDE2 64-bit Cinnamon is for them, feel free to use the following wget command:

# cd ~/Downloads
# wget -c http://mirror.jmu.edu/pub/linuxmint/images//testing/lmde-2-201503-cinnamon-64bit-rc.iso

The above commands will switch to the current user’s downloads folder and then proceed to download the iso file from a mirror here in the USA. For those reading out of country, please be sure to visit the downloads link in the above paragraph to find a mirror that is close for a quicker download!

2. Once the ISO is downloaded, it will either need to be burned to a DVD or copied onto a flash drive. The preferred and easiest method is a DVD but this tutorial will walk through how to do it on a USB flash drive. The flash drive will need to beat least 2GB in size in order to fit the ISO image and it needs to have all data removed from it.

WARNING!!! The following steps will render all current data on the USB drive un-readable! Use at your own risk.

3. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, open a command line window and insert the USB drive into the computer. Once the drive is plugged into the computer, its identifier needs to be determined. This can be accomplished with several different commands and is VERY important to get right. It is suggested that the user do the following:

  1. Open a command line window
  2. Issue the command: lsblk
  3. Make note of which drive letters already exist (sda, sdb, etc) ←Very important!
  4. Now plug the USB drive in and reissue: lsblk
  5. The new drive letter to appear is the device that will need to be used
Linux lsblk Command

List Block Devices Information

This tutorial /dev/sdc is the device that will be used. This will vary from computer to computer! Be sure to follow the above steps exactly! Now navigate to the downloads folder in the CLI and then a utility known as ‘dd‘ will be used to copy the ISO image to the USB drive.

WARNING!!! Again, this process will render all data on this USB drive un-readable. Make absolutely sure the data is backed up and the proper drive name has been determined from the steps above. This is the final warning!

# cd ~/Downloads
# dd if=lmde-2-201503-cinnamon-64bit-rc.iso of=/dev/sdc bs=1M

The ‘dd‘ command above will copy the iso file to the flash drive overwriting all data previously on the drive. This process will also make the drive bootable. If something other than LMDE2 64bit Cinnamon was downloaded, the name after ‘if=‘ will need to be changed as appropriate.

The syntax here is very important! This command is run with root privileges and if the input/ouput are reversed, it will be a very bad day. Triple check the command, source, and destination devices before hitting the enter key!

dd‘ will not output anything to the CLI to indicate that it is doing anything but don’t worry. If the USB drive has an LED indicator when data is being written, take a look at it and see if it is flashing very quickly on the device. This is about the only indicator that anything will be taking place.

4. Once ‘dd‘ finishes, safely remove the USB drive and place it into the machine that will have LMDE2 installed onto it and boot the machine to the USB drive. If all goes well, the screen should flash a Linux Mint grub menu and then boot into the screen below!

Linux Mint Desktop Screen

Linux Mint Desktop Screen

Congratulations a successful bootable LMDE2 USB drive has been created and is now ready to run the installation process. From this screen, click the ‘Install Linux Mint‘ icon on the desktop underneath the ‘home’ folder. This will launch the installer.

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Rob Turner

Rob Turner is an avid Debian user as well as many of the derivatives of Debian such as Devuan, Mint, Ubuntu, and Kali. Rob holds a Masters in Information and Communication Sciences as well as several industry certifications from Cisco, EC-Council, ISC2, Linux Foundation, and LPI.

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4 Responses

  1. This is very useful. But, will you help with SSD installation of LMDE 2? I hear that TRIM enabling and partitioning on UEFI system is a headache?

    • Rob Turner says:

      Prakash,

      I haven’t installed LMDE 2 on an SSD as of yet. I have Linux Mint 17.2 on a SSD and trim was enabled by default and has been working flawlessly for several months now. What troubles are you experiencing?

  2. John says:

    I tried LMDE2 in a VM and decided I’d like to install the Mate version on my laptop. Unlike the new releases of LM17.2, the LMDE bluetooth worked out of the box with both my bluetooth headset and bluetooth speaker. Well the install went smooth and bluetooth works as I hoped. My question is about encrypting my home directory. I didn’t see an option that allows me to encrypt it during install. Is there a way to encrypt it after the fact? or did I miss something during installation?

    regards
    John

    • Rob Turner says:

      John,

      I don’t recall an option to encrypt a home directory without doing an “expert” install. However you can encrypt the directory after installation. To do this, complete the following steps:

      1. Log in as another user (I would advise doing this in the CLI). You can’t be logged in as the user who’s home directory you wish to encrypt! I accomplished this by changing the root user’s password using ‘sudo su’ and then passwd once root. Then issuing ‘telinit 1’ from within that terminal you can switch to a runlevel where the other user isn’t logged in.

      2. Update the list of available packages: ‘apt-get update’. Then install the necessary packages to encrypt the home directory with ‘apt-get install ecryptfs-utils cryptsetup’. These packages are likely already install but it never hurts to check.

      3. Run the command ‘ ecryptfs-migrate-home -u ‘ where is the name of the home directory you wish to encrypt.

      4. This should be successful and at this point issue ‘telinit 2’. This will restart the gui and allow you to test that the encrypted directory is readable/writable. DO NOT REBOOT YET!

      5. It may be necessary to know/record the encryption pass-phrase. To determine the pass-phrase, log in as the user who’s home directory was just encrypted and issue the following command ‘ecryptfs-unwrap-passphrase’. I would strongly suggest making a note of the output from the command as it is necessary should you ever need to recover your encrypted files manually.

      6. (Optional) While optional, it is usually strongly suggested that the system’s swap space be encrypted as well to ensure that plain text files don’t end up stored in swap. To do this simply issue the command ‘sudo ecryptfs-setup-swap’. I received an error on LMDE 2 Mate about not being able to start cryptswap1 when I ran this command, however upon a system restart everything was working as it should.

      7. At this point, restart the system and ensure that the user can log into and read/write files in their home directory.

      8. If all went well you can now delete the folder in home that will have the username. (eg /home/hrturner.ODT5dgX) as this is the old non-encrypted home directory. This is accomplished by the command ‘ sudo rm -rf /home/hrturner.ODT5dgX ‘

      Hope this helps and best of luck!

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