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[How to] Upgrade Ubuntu to Mint Mate 16 “Petra” Desktop

Posted in Uncategorized by Alan Keister on January 3, 2014

If you use Ubuntu Linux and don’t like the Unity interface, you can replace it with a much better interface from Linux Mint.  Mint offers the most usable of the Linux Desktop environments.  It is clean, smooth and very customizable.  Mint 16 is built upon Ubuntu 13.10 so a migration is possible after you upgrade to Ubuntu 13.10.

Mint offers several desktops, Mate and Cinnamon.  You can read a thread comparing the two here.  I chose Mate for my system because it more mature and stable.  They are both big improvements over Ubuntu’s Unity desktop, especially for development where you switch between multiple windows frequently.  Mate and Cinnamon use a Windows-like taskbar at the bottom of the screen and have a menu like the Windows start menu.  I think these are good things.   Anyway, if you have read this far, you have already decided to upgrade.

Step 1:  Upgrade to Ubuntu 13.10

So you don’t have to type sudo before every command

sudo su -

If you are not already running Ubuntu 13.10, you will need to upgrade.  You may need to do this several times to if you are running Ubuntu 12.x.   Unfortunately, it takes an hour or two and prompts you several times in the middle.  People shouldn’t complain about Windows Update after running this.

do-release-upgrade -q

Do a “sudo su -” after each reboot

After upgrading to Ubuntu 13.10, make sure you are fully up to date

apt-get update

Step 2: Add Mint repository and install Mate

Add the Mint and Mate software repositories

add-apt-repository "deb http://packages.mate-desktop.org/repo/ubuntu saucy main #Mate Desktop"
apt-get update
apt-get --yes --quiet --allow-unauthenticated install mate-archive-keyring
apt-get update

Install Mate

apt-get --yes --quiet install mate-core mate-desktop-environment mate-desktop-environment-extra  mdm  deborphan synaptic --install-recommends

Then we do another quick reboot.


Step 3: Set Mate as default desktop

When you are prompted to login, click on the Ubuntu icon and change the default session to Mate.  If you are already logged in, click Session, Select Mate, Select Make Default.

apt-add-repository "deb http://packages.linuxmint.com petra main upstream import"
apt-add-repository "deb http://extra.linuxmint.com petra main"
apt-get update
apt-get install mint-mdm-themes mint-x-icons mint-themes mintmenu mintwelcome mintstick mintnanny mintupload mintupdate mintinstall mintsystem mintdesktop

Step 4: Customize Mate

At this point, the desktop will still look a bit like Ubuntu.  Right-click on the desktop to change the background.  Change the theme to mint-x, then customize the bottom panel (taskbar).  Right click on the bottom panel left side.  All that is there now is a “show desktop” button.  Add the mintMenu (start menu) and whatever other quick launch apps you want.

Step 5:  Cleanup

apt-get --yes purge unity unity-2d* unity-asset-pool unity-common unity-lens-* unity-scope-* unity-services indicator-messages indicator-status-provider-mc5 indicator-appmenu appmenu-* lightdm unity-greeter overlay-scrollbar liboverlay-scrollbar* zeitgeist zeitgeist-core zeitgeist-datahub activity-log-* libunity-misc4 libunity-core-5* globalmenu* update-manager update-manager-core gir1.2-unity-5.0 usb-creator-gtk ubuntu-wallpapers* ubuntuone-* ubuntu-mono light-themes adium-theme-ubuntu ubuntu-sounds nautilus nautilus-sendto-empathy

Last thing to do is cleanup leftovers. It will also clear out the apt cache to save you some disk space.

apt-get --yes purge `deborphan`
apt-get --yes autoremove
apt-get clean all
apt-get autoclean

It looks like this (click to enlarge):


Thanks to the older blog post by Jeff Shaffner that gave me most of these steps.  http://jeffshaffner.wordpress.com/.

More info about upgrading from other versions of Linux are here:  http://wiki.mate-desktop.org/download

Please leave me a comment if you find this useful.

Welcome back!

Posted in Uncategorized by Alan Keister on December 31, 2013

It has been more than four years since I last posted on this blog.  Everything is out of date.  Incredibly, it still gets 15-20 hits per day.  The most popular post is “I curse HP Printers”.  These days, I curse Brother printers as well.  Ours seems to forget about it’s wifi connection every so often.  Anyway, I have a few things to post here that I think will help people.  I have had to do a lot of research on the web to find solutions for various things.   I’ll document them here.

Bye for now!

My GTD System For Outlook

Posted in Uncategorized by Alan Keister on March 29, 2009

I frequently let my inbox get out of control and that was especially true over vacation.  After reading a Lifehacker guide to setting up Gmail keystrokes for Outlook, I decided to set those up and add some of my own.  It makes handling email in Outlook a whole lot easier.

I have tried to use my inbox as a todo list by leaving email in there that needs action.  That has lead to a bloated inbox.  My new solution is to drop email into one of three folders: Follow Up, Read Later and Deleted Items.  I added simple keystrokes to Outlook using the techniques from the Lifehacker article so I both move an email to one of those folders and set a reminder at the same time.  This seems to be working very well so far. I should mention that I also filter all email not sent directly to me into a “CCmail” folder.  That becomes a second priority after my inbox.

Here are my additions to Gmail keys:

“0”, zero, shortcut key to leave an item in the inbox and set a reminder for 4pm today.

“1” shortcut to move an item to the Follow Up folder and set a reminder for tomorrow morning

“2” shortcut to move an item to the Follow Up folder and set a remider for Friday morning.

“s” shortcut to move an item to the Read Later folder.  These emails seem to have important information I should know.  I may get to these someday. “s” is like the Gmail “star” shortcut.

I have also set up “e” and “#” to delete email.  I never flush my deleted folder.  It is my entire archive.  I frequently search it for old email.  With good search tools like Xobni, Google Desktop, and Microsoft Search, a must have addon for Outlook search, there is no reason to store email in multiple archive folders.

Let me know if you would like my version of the config file.  It uses AutoHotKey to automate keystrokes in Outlook.  My biggest annoyance is AutoHotKey doesn’t seem able to use these keystrokes in an open email.  This works only when viewing the main Outlook window.  But it is still worth the effort.

A Simple Formula for Weight Loss

Posted in Uncategorized by Alan Keister on February 28, 2009

The New York Times had an article about the results of a study on various diets and their effectiveness.  The surprising results are … <drum roll> …

“people lose weight if they lower calories, but it does not matter how.”

Wow.  The formula for weight gain/loss is very simple: calories in – calories burned = weight gain/loss.  It is as simple as that.  Eat more calories than you burn and you will gain weight.  Most of the popular diets are a distraction for people.  They give people a set of rules to follow and that helps many people in the short term.  What we really need is an emphasis on counting calories.  Track the foods you eat on a daily basis and it will be immediately obvious  how to lose weight.

I recommend The Daily Plate for this.

My Favorite iPhone Apps

Posted in iPhone by Alan Keister on February 15, 2009

I have installed a lot of the free apps on my iPhone but usually end of deleting them.  Only a handful are still on there.  I use only a few on a regular basis and they are my favorites by far. They are all free.  Here they are in order:

1.  Melodis Dialer (iTunes link).  This is a great app that makes phone calls much easier.  I put it just above my phone icon on the main screen.  Start the app, say a name, and it finds the contact for you.  Very simple and very accurate.  Free.

dialer melodis-dialer

2.  Instapaper.  This ingenious little app is kind of like sending a web page from my PC to my iPhone.  Put a “read later” button on your browser tool bar.  Click it when you find an article you want to read later.  Viola!  It is now on your iPhone.   I usually have five or ten articles on my phone for when I have a few minutes to kill.  Free.

3.  Public Radio (iTunes link).  I often listen to NPR in my car on the way to the Metro.  This app lets me keep listening to it all the way to work.  Surprisingly, the iPhone app is about a second ahead of the radio station!!! Go figure.  Free.

Public Radio

4.  DC Traffic CamSure, Google Maps has live traffic but it is horribly inaccurate.  If you want to see what is really happing on your commute, try this app.  It is a live traffic feed to your iPhone.  They support many other cities in the US as well.  Free.

NBC Traffic Cam

5.  WeatherBug (iTunes link).  I have tried a lot of weather apps to find my favorite.  I like an easy to read forecast and live radar.  This one has both.  While the PC version of WeatherBug is downright annoying, the iPhone version is simple, clean and functional.  Free.

WeatherBug weatherbug-radar

It really is amazing how many great free apps are out there.  Please let me know which are your favorites.

Great Free Games On The Net

Posted in games by Alan Keister on November 29, 2008

I was looking for a good game or two to play over the holidays.  I don’t have a very fast computer or the latest graphics.  In fact, I don’t think it is worth paying money for a game given the lackluster performance of my computer.  So I went looking for some old versions and free stuff.  I was amazed with the quality, quantity and selection.  There is some really good stuff available for free.

*  Let’s start with a game I have blogged before, LineRider.  It is very addicting.  All you can do is draw a sledding hill.  Once your hill is drawn, send your sled down.  See how many jumps and tricks you can make the sled do by changing the hill.  Here is my last attempt

Desktop Tower of Defense comes next.  I play this a year or two ago.  My kids loved watching me play this and it is a lot of fun.  Creeps come in from two sides and try to make it out the other sides.  Set up your towers and other Medieval defenses to destroy the creeps before the escape.

* Robokill.  Very simple and lots of fun.  You can play the first level for free.  This is a fast action robot shoot-em-up.


* If you want to try a recent game, there are plenty of free demos online.  A good resource is Game Demos at NZone. A couple of other good resources deserve a mention.  Top 5 best (free) open source games.  I am getting ready to try UFO: Alien Invasion from this list.  Also, the motherload of open source games is on Wikipedia, List of open source games.  This list has classics like NetHack (1987) to Freeciv, a clone of Civilization II.  1up.com has a pretty good list of the 101 Free Games 2008.

Leave me a comment if you know of other good free games I should try.

One Hundred Sit Ups — I did it!

Posted in fitness by Alan Keister on September 27, 2008

I did it! I can do 100 sit ups in a row without stopping…kind of. I really did 100 in a row but the last 20 were pretty slow. I started on week 4 of the program, performed week 5 twice and had to do week six twice as well. This program is really tough for sit ups. It may be a little too hard to get through it straight without repeating a week or two. But it sure does work!

One Hundred Sit Ups, Week 5…again

Posted in fitness by Alan Keister on September 1, 2008

I thought day 2 and 3 of week 5 were not very hard.   It turns out I was doing them wrong.  I didn’t notice there are two extra sets I didn’t complete.  I have restarted week 5 to try again.  Day 1, which was torture before, wasn’t too bad today.

In truth, I looked at week 6 with sets of 60,56,45,42,40,56 sit ups and don’t see how I could get through it.  I need more time before taking it on.

Meanwhile, LeeAnne, my wife, looked at day 1 of week 5 and decided to do all 167 sit ups in a row.  She was going strong when she counted 210 and got bored.  Wow.  That’s what doing 100 in a row EVERY DAY can do for you.

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One Hundred Sit Ups, Week 5

Posted in fitness by Alan Keister on August 25, 2008

I completed week 4 of the program and started on week 5. I did the test two days later to find which column of week 5 to execute. That was too soon. I was still sore and not at full strength. I could only complete 50 sit ups in a row which is about the same as before. Anyway, to my dismay, it is still enough to qualify for the hardest column of week 5. It is a very big jump in difficulty with sets of 40,32,30,25, and 40 sit ups. That is 167 sit ups!!! I couldn’t finish it the first time through. So I repeated day 1 today and made it. I thought my stomach muscles were going to rip apart. The rest of the week will be a breeze.

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One Hundred Sit Ups

Posted in fitness by Alan Keister on August 17, 2008

I’ve been reading a number of fitness blogs this year to help educate and motivate myself. A bunch of the bloggers have taken up the One Hundred Pushups program. It is a six week program designed to take you from very few to 100 pushups in a row. I was tempted to take on the program. But I was already pretty good at pushups and was focusing on increasing my upper body strength with bench press and incline press among other exercises. I found out last week that I have torn some cartilage in my shoulder and need to stop these exercises for a while.

I’ve decided to use the pushup program for sit ups. It looks like a nice progression; not too fast, not too slow. I am going to take a bit of a short cut with the program by skipping ahead to week 4. You see, I can already do 50 situps in a row. It seems silly to start at the beginning where it would have me doing sets of 10.

Today was my second day of week four at the highest level. I did sets of 27, 21, 21, 18, and 30. That’s a total of 117! Not bad but it was a struggle. My stomach is still sore from my first day two days ago.

I have found it helps me stay with it when I have a fitness goal. I currently have a weight, % body fat, and now one hundred sit ups goal.

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