Installation Goof

Today I had some time free to install MX-14 in place of Xubuntu. Good news and bad news:

The good news is that the cursor isn’t playing catch-up with the mouse anymore. And everything “just works” without having stupid resource-hogging experimental stuff like PulseAudio included by default, rather than as a dependency for some other heavy application like Skype, which I don’t use anyway. MX-14 is a nice little “niche” distro for old hardware like mine. It instantly recognized my printer and stuff, has most of my favorite stuff installed by default, and though it doesn’t launch some applications very quickly, they run plenty fast and I can multi-task again!

The bad news is that I didn’t use the partitioner while installing MX-14, but chose to keep my existing /home partition unformatted. I usually set up my 80-GB hard drive as follows:

linux-swap, 1 GB (twice my computer’s RAM;
/ (root) 20 GB, which is way more than enough for everything, and
/home takes the remaining 59 GB.

The advantage of preserving a /home or a /data partition is that it lets me keep all my documents, pictures, tunes, browser bookmarks, e-mail settings and stuff even when doing a new installation of an OS.

I should have used GParted instead of trusting the installer to preserve my existing /home partition. Not a big deal because I always back up before a new install anyway, but THIS is weird:

There’s a 1.42 GB “unallocated” space that wasn’t there before, and the 54 GB space that used to be my /home partition is now a “removable drive” that has to be mounted manually. Um, what happened to /home? And why does the file manager think part of my hard drive is “removable?”

I don’t think I can use GParted to fix this unless I try it from the LiveCD. I suppose I’ll try it, and if I can’t fix it I’ll just re-install the OS and define a new partition scheme during installation. Word to the novice: Do not trust the installer to do what it seems to say! GParted is reliable and proven. The new MX-14 installer is – well, new. Nice, but maybe still on probation or something.

Hey but other than MY mistake in not using GParted, it’s nice to be able to multi-task, open multiple browser tabs, and listen to music while I write this post – and all without waiting for the cursor to catch up with the mouse.

Why Newbies Shouldn’t Beta-Test Linux Distros

Linux newbies should not beta-test Linux distributions, or they might end up like I did today! You may recall that my efforts to preserve the /home directory when I first installed Xubuntu 12.04 failed, and Xubuntu insisted that I give it the entire hard drive. Ah, what the heck, that’s what backups are for, right? So I went ahead and did it.

Changed my mind today. I figured I could use a LiveCD and restore a separate /home partition so I wouldn’t have all that hassle the next time. Besides, I might want to distro-hop a little.

Too bad. GParted from the LiveCD pretended to do the job, but when I was finished, Xubuntu refused to boot. Locked in a BIOS-cycle or something, I went from the Dell screen to a black screen, then back to the Dell screen over and over. No access to my hard drive at all. Okay, that’s it. I’ll just use this opportunity to try that SalixOS I’ve read so much about. Already had the LiveCD ready. It booted into the Live environment, I logged in using “live” as instructed in the documentation. The welcome screen loaded, and my keyboard and mouse froze, refusing to let me go any further.

2 for 2. Y’know what? I’m done. Back to where I started: Xubuntu 10.04-based Linux Mint 9 Xfce. Harder to modify than I thought. The Mint stuff is designed to protect fools like from ourselves I guess, but it also makes it hard to make it do what I want! Fortunately it also has a few tools that help out. After about 20 zillion updates were installed, I finally have a functioning Xfce4 desktop with all the ease of Xubuntu 10.04. And I’m done with Beta testing. I’ll use 10.04 as long as it is supported (until April 2013), then switch to the next LTS release (12.04) after it’s a year old. Safe, simple, and sane.

Now back to regular life.