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

5. The installer doesn’t require it but it is strongly recommended that the computer have AC power connected as well as a connection to the Internet for software packages. The first screen will be the localization screen. Here the language, country, and keyboard layout should all be selected.

Select Keyboard Layout
Select Keyboard Layout

6. The next step is to select the timezone for the computer. While this is a trivial task, it was very neat to see the real time updating ‘wave‘ to show what parts of the world were currently dark and which were currently seeing daylight. Never the less, the time zone can be selected by using the interactive map or the drop down menu beneath the map.

Select Country Timezone
Select Country Timezone

The next step is creating a non-root user. Contrary to traditional Debian installs, LMDE will create a non-root user and give them ‘sudo‘ abilities right off the bat. This may be more familiar to those who have used Ubuntu or normal Linux Mint. Fill in the appropriate user information, make sure the new passwords match, and specify any of the other options desired.

Create New User Account
Create New User Account

7. The next step is the partitioning process. This varies a little from system to system but some best practices will be shared here. For most users, a simple single partition for / (root) is an acceptable practice.

For those a little more adventurous, a separate / (root) and home partition can be specified. For those that are even more adventurous, any partitioning scheme can be setup. For this install, the following was used on this laptop.

  1. / – 10G
  2. /home – 30G
  3. /usr – 20G
  4. /tmp – 5G
  5. swap – 9.5G

8. To accomplish this task, the installer enables the use of the ‘gparted‘ partition editor by selecting ‘Edit Partitions‘ in the bottom right corner. Unfortunately, this tutorial is lengthy as is and further partitioning is a topic for another article.

LMDE does expect the user to create partitions and tell the installer the appropriate mount point. Below are the partitions created for this system. Be sure to also create a SWAP partition.

Partitioning Summary
Partitioning Summary

9. Now the installer needs to be told what each partition is to be used for by Linux. Double click on the partition(s) and be sure to select the appropriate mount point.

Select Mount Point for Partition
Select Mount Point for Partition

For most home/first time users, creating one partition and setting it to be / (root) is sufficient. Don’t forget to leave a little bit of hard drive space for swap though!

10. Once the partitioning is completed, the next step will ask where to install GRUB (Grand Unified Bootloader). GRUB is responsible for actually pointing to and loading the Linux kernel when the computer starts and as such is very important! Since this is the only operating system on this computer, grub will be installed to the default location of ‘/dev/sda‘.

Install Grub Loader
Install Grub Loader

11. After this step, LMDE will begin to installation process. All in all the process of copying files to the HD from the USB drive took about 10 minutes on this older Toshiba laptop.

Installing Linux Mint Debian Edition
Installing Linux Mint Debian Edition

The installer will prompt to restart the system when the installation is complete! Go ahead and restart when the prompt is displayed. Be sure to remove the USB drive as well when prompted so that it wont boot the USB drive again.

VOILA! LMDE2 Betsy running the cinnamon desktop environment!

Linux Mint Debian Edition Desktop
Linux Mint Debian Edition Desktop

Customization Of Linux Mint Debian Edition 2

12. Now that LMDE2 is installed, it is time to start the customization process! This concludes the installation process. The following steps are merely examples on how to do some of the common tasks to make LMDE Cinnamon more user friendly as well as install some extra utilities.

The first task should always be to check the repositories for anything that may have been added since the ISO image was created. In LMDE, the ‘apt-get‘ utility can be used to accomplish the task of bringing the system up to date.

$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

This computer had a few updates to install when the above commands were ran which ultimately ended up in gaining some free space on the hard drive!

Installing System Updates
Installing System Updates

While running these updates, one of the packages (keyboard-configuration) will prompt for the user to select a keyboard layout again. Once this process finishes, it’s time to add extra software!

13. The typical (personally preferred) utilities that make the initial install onto fresh systems includes: Terminator, Uncomplicated Firewall, and ClamAV.

Terminator is a shell program that has some useful features like split terminals and multiple profiles. UFW is a utility that makes managing IPTables (the kernel’s built in firewall) much easier. Lastly, ClamAV is a free anti-virus utility that can be installed and run in the back ground similar to most AV systems. The command to install all three is very simple.

$ sudo apt-get install terminator ufw clamav-daemon

This step should go smoothly. However, there was an issue with ClamAV but it was easy to resolve. The system, after installing the clamav daemon (service), had issues trying to locate the ClamAV virus signatures and then failed to update the signatures with the ‘freshclam‘ utility. The below screen-shot should clarify what was experienced.

ClamAV Virus Signatures
ClamAV Virus Signatures

14. In order to correct this issue and get the AV system to start, issue the following command with Internet access to manually refresh the ClamAV signatures and restart the AV service.

$ sudo freshclam
$ sudo service clamav-daemon restart

To confirm that the ClamAV service has indeed started the ‘ps‘ utility can be used to look for the process.

$ ps ax | grep clamd
ClamAV Status
ClamAV Status

The top line in the output confirms that ClamAV is running.

15. The last piece to make LMDE a little more user friendly is keyboard shortcuts. These are often used to expedite common tasks or launching applications. Creating a keyboard shortcut in LMDE2 very simple.

First launch the mint menu by either clicking it with the mouse or pressing the super key (Windows key). Then type keyboard in the search at the top of the Mint menu.

Keyboard Shortcuts
Keyboard Shortcuts

Once the keyboard utility opens, locate the ‘Keyboard Shortcuts‘ tab, select it, then in the column on the left, locate the ‘Custom Shortcuts‘ menu option.

Keyboard Custom Shortcuts
Keyboard Custom Shortcuts

Now clicking the ‘Add Custom Shortcut‘ button, will allow for the creation of a custom shortcut. One of the most useful shortcuts to create are for graphical utilities that may need to be launched with root privileges. There is a useful utility called ‘su-to-root‘ that allows a user to launch a prompt to prompt for their sudo password and then launches the utility with root privileges. Lets walk through a short example using ‘su-to-root’ in combination with a utility known as ‘bleachbit‘.

Bleachbit is a system clean up tool much like Ccleaner in the Windows world. Some of the filters that Bleachbit can be setup on will clean out areas on the system that require root privileges. So without further ado, let’s configure a shortcut to launch ‘Bleachbit‘ using ‘su-to-root‘.

Click the ‘Add Custom Shortcut‘ button. This will create a prompt for the new utility to be launched by the shortcut. Name the shortcut. In this case, it will be called ‘Bleachbit as Root‘. Then in the command field the command ‘su-to-root -X -c bleachbit‘ needs to be typed in.

This is the command that the keyboard shortcut will run when pressed. ‘Su-to-root -X‘ indicates that the system is going to launch a X11 (aka a graphical utility) and then the ‘-c bleachbit‘ indicates that the graphical application that is going to be launched is Bleachbit.

Create Bleachbit Shortcut
Create Bleachbit Shortcut

Once the command is typed, click the add button. The new shortcut command should populate the list in the ‘keyboard shortcuts‘ window. Just below that window is the ‘Keyboard Bindings‘ area. Highlight the newly created shortcut and then click on the ‘Unassigned‘ text.

The text will change to ‘Pick an Accelerator‘. This means to pick the keyboard shortcut to trigger this command. If something is chosen that is already picked, the system will issue a warning. Once there aren’t any conflicts, the keyboard shortcut is ready for use!

This concludes this installation and minor customization of the new Linux Mint Debian Edition – Betsy. While this distribution still doesn’t have an official stable release yet, the release candidate is very stable and chalk full of new features and updates. The Linux Mint team has done a wonderful job preparing LMDE for its second major release and this new release is sure to please anyone who is willing to try the new distribution!

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

    • 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?

      Reply
  1. 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

    Reply
    • 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!

      Reply

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