An update on linux mint

I reviewed mint Maya almost two months ago.  It is still installed on an alternate partition on one of my computers.  So it is time for a brief update.

The root password

First, I’ll comment on the password.  When examining blog statistics, I see a list of recent search terms that took people to this site.  In this case, the search term (if I remember it correctly) was “mint live root password”.

The story on the root password for Ubuntu and its derivative Mint, is that there is no root password.  The system is installed so that you cannot login as root.  You are expected to use “sudo” to gain root access.

On my mint partition, if I want a root shell, I enter

% sudo bash

That prompts me for my own password, and then gives me a root shell after I have entered the password correctly.  If running from a booting a live CD or DVD image, you should be able to use

% sudo bash

and immediately get a root shell.

Yes, you should be able to later set a root password on your installed system, though I have not tried.  Using “sudo” is part of the Ubuntu tradition, and nothing is lost by keeping to that tradition.  By  contrast, there is no such tradition with opensuse, so I rarely use “sudo” on my opensuse systems.

A possible bug

I have my desktop set to start an xterm session, when I login.  The xterm window is at the bottom right.  Shortly after I login, the borders of the xterm window appear before the full desktop background shows up.  If I move the mouse pointer around over the xterm window, my login session crashes and I have to login again.  If I wait until the full desktop background shows up, then the session seems very stable.

I’m not sure what is crashing.  I haven’t done much investigating.  And maybe moving the mouse elsewhere, not only on the xterm, might cause the same problem.  The bug might be specific to my video card.

Software updates

After booting the system, there is a shield shaped icon in the system tray that has to do with updates.  After I have been logged in for a while, the  icon usually shows a check mark.  Hovering the mouse over the icon gives text “Your system is up to date”.  Immediately after login, the shield icon is blank, presumably because it has not yet checked whether I am up to date.

On a couple of occasions, the shield icon has, instead, indicated that there are some updates.  And I followed the directions to apply them.

There’s one thing that I did notice.  My mint system was still running firefox 13.0 (or maybe that was 13.0.1), and that was long after my opensuse systems had updated to 14.0 and then 15.0.  So I decided to click on that update icon, even though it said that I was up to date.  After clicking, it gave me a list of available updates.  I applied those, and firefox is now at 15.0.

The handling of updates must be a bit different from opensuse.  It looks as if the update icon is only telling me about the most critical updates, and I have to manually check to find others.  This is not a problem, as long as one is aware of it.

Network shares

In a recent post, I described how I had setup NFS and samba file sharing on the home network.  Since my mint system is part of the home network, it made sense to try accessing those file shares.  The service manager had no entry to start nfs.  And there was no “/etc/auto.master” file.

I loaded the software manager (Synaptic Package Manager) from the desktop menu.  There, I did a search for “nfs”, and selected the obvious package for installing.  It informed me of other needed packages, so I allowed those to also be selected.  I next did a search for “autofs”, and select the obvious package there.  I seem to recall that I was again informed of other needed packages.  Finally, I clicked the “accept” button to commence the download and install procedure.

All went well with the install.  Following that, I made the same configuration changes that I had indicated in my recent post on file sharing.  And, thereafter, the file sharing seems to work well.


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About Neil Rickert

Mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

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