Xfce: Gnome System Monitor

If you’re like me and you’ve mostly been experienced with using the Gnome System Monitor to look at the status of your machine and running applications, you’ll find it missing if you decide to change over to a different desktop environment such as Xfce.

I just recently installed the Xfce version of Linux Mint on one of my PCs, and the first thing I always do is set CTRL+Alt+Delete to open System Monitor. Searching for System Monitor in the menu gave no results, so I searched online for xfce system monitor. The only pertinent result that I found was of someone explaining to install Gnome System Monitor in Xubuntu using CLI. I’m assuming Xubuntu’s repositories have Gnome System Monitor in them to give you a result when searching in the Software Center, so you can install it just as easily through the software application with a UI rather than worrying with CLI, but I personally only installed it from the Software Manager in Linux Mint. I also wanted to know if there was any default application for monitoring running processes, and luckily the same post mentioned Xfce Task Manager.

As the post suggested, Gnome System Monitor is a more appealing application than Xfce Task Manager, but I actually like the simplicity of Xfce Task Manager as well. I also like the fact that it shows you the load on the CPU and memory above the list of running processes, rather than requiring you to switch between tabs to view the two separately as in Gnome System Monitor. Either way, I still installed Gnome System Monitor, but I decided to map keyboard shortcuts to both.

You can map keyboard shortcuts in Xfce by opening All Settings from the corner shortcut icon of the main menu and scrolling down to Keyboard under the Hardware category. It’s pretty straightforward. You’ll a tab titled Application Shortcuts. Just click the Add button at the bottom of the pane listing current shorcuts.

I personally chose to make Xfce Task Manager the common CTRL+Alt+Delete shortcut, and then made Gnome System Monitor CTRL+Shift+Alt+Delete. The commands for running the two applications are xfce4-taskmanager and gnome-system-monitor. You’ll be prompted that CTRL+Alt+Delete is already set for the command to lock the screen. Just click the button that says to map it to whichever monitoring application you want it to run, if you don’t want to use a different shortcut altogether.

Another plus I’ll give to Xfce Task Manager is that it defaults to create a minimized icon on the panel next to the clock that you can click on to relaunch the application in a window or hover over to view current loads on the CPU and memory. This can be disabled in the Preference settings of the application, and if you run it using the keyboard shortcut again while it is already minimized in the panel, it will actually launch a second instance (including an additional minimized icon in the panel). Not a huge deal, but a slight annoyance.

phpBB 3.1.x: Soft Delete for Boards Upgraded from 3.0.x

phpBB 3.1.x boards now have the ability to allow moderators to soft-delete posts so that they can later review the post and/or decide to restore it. If you upgraded from 3.0.x to 3.1.x instead of just installing a fresh 3.1.x board, you might have noticed that the confirmation message when deleting a post or thread doesn’t mention anything about soft- or hard-deletion. To fix the issue, all you have to do is modify some permissions that appear to be improperly set for the moderator roles in the permissions settings on the board during the upgrade.

The steps to fixing the issue are:

  • Go to your ACP.
  • Click on the Permissions tab.
  • Click on Moderator roles under the Permission Roles category in the left navigation pane.
  • Click the green edit cog icon to the right of the Full Moderator role.
  • Scroll down to the Moderative permissions section of the page.
  • Click on the Misc tab.
  • Change the Can soft delete posts entry from No to Yes.
  • Click Submit.

Anyone who has Global Moderator status on your board will now be able to soft delete posts as opposed to only being able to permanently delete them. The same must be done for any other moderator levels you want to be able to do soft-deletion as well. The Queue Moderator role doesn’t need the ability to perform any deletions – per its role description (only validating and editing posts queued for moderation), but you may decide you want the Standard and Simple moderator roles to only be able to soft-delete, whereas they can only hard-delete posts and topics due to the permissions issue of the upgrade. By default (in a fresh 3.1.x installation), the Standard, Simple and Full moderator roles are supposed to all be able to perform soft- and hard-delete on posts and topics.

Installing Linux via Bootable USB

Most of my Linux experience has been with Ubuntu. If not Ubuntu, then a relative flavor with Linux Mint and some slight tinkering with elementaryOS. The great thing about these three is that you can easily create a bootable media for either running a live desktop to test or to install thanks to the Startup Disk Creator application that ships with Ubuntu and Linux Mint both (and likely eOS also, but I didn’t check).

If you want to create a bootable media for another distribution, you’re out of luck with Startup Disk Creator. Even Debian distributions, which Ubuntu is derived from and actually show up in the pane listing ISO source images to use in Startup Disk Creator, won’t complete write to the USB drive without spitting out an error right before it would normally queue for password to write the boot record onto the media.

You’ll get a few different opinions on how to create a bootable media when searching online, some of which suggest installing and using additional packages such as UNetBootin or USB Creator. If you’re not comfortable with using terminal, or aren’t familiar enough with mounted drives and devices to make sure you don’t commit an act that will cause you to potentially lose vital data on your computer, then perhaps those are the better options.

For me, I hate installing any applications or packages that I don’t need. Since Ubuntu, and I wager most Linux distributions, ship with dd I prefer to use that. What’s better is its use is fairly straight-forward on top of it. You can get a few ideas of what dd can be used for by viewing its Wikipedia page. It appears to be a relatively easy option for backing up sensitive data, such as the MBR on a drive.

But anyway. If you’re looking to create a bootable media for a non-buntu distro, you can do so with dd with the following command:

sudo dd if=image.is of=/dev/sd?

If you read up on dd at the Wikipedia page, you’d have seen that there is also an argument you can pass: bs. By default, bs, which defines the block size for reading and writing in dd, is 512 bytes. Some suggestions that I’ve seen online recommend defining the block size to be larger. Larger block size would lean one to believe means less cycles when writing. So, you may want to bump that up to something larger, though staying within appropriate boundaries. Examples online of using dd to create writable USB drives often include a block size of 1MB. So, you could include that in the command:

sudo dd if=media.is of=/dev/sd? bs=1M

You must also make sure the media you’re writing to isn’t mounted before using dd to write to it:

sudo umount /dev/sd?

So, for example, if you’re USB drive was mounted as device sdc and your Linux distro image was named Linux-LiveUSB.iso (and we’re assuming you’ve navigated terminal to be in the same directory as the ISO image to avoid needing to include the path), you would issue the following to write it to the USB drive:

sudo umount /dev/sdc
sudo dd if=Linux-LiveUSB.iso of=/dev/sdc bs=1M

A brief summary of the commands are

  • if: Input File. This is the location and file that is being read from.
  • of: Output File. This is the location and/or file that is being written to.
  • bs: Block Size. This is the size, in bytes, that each data block is being read and written at. The default is 512, so leaving this undefined will have dd read and write data blocks at 512 bytes.

Lastly, I would say to only use this method if you need to create a bootable USB drive, and there are no other pre-installed software to get the job done. For example, why use this over Startup Disk Creator if you’re in a *buntu OS and need to create a bootable *buntu USB drive? There is no reason to. If you’re writing to a CD/DVD, then I would think the included disk burning software on your system would work just fine. If not, then dd should work fine for that as well. Just use the device name of the disk burner when designating the output file in the command. If the idea of manipulating data via terminal scares you, then I’d say better safe than sorry, and just look around for a fitting application with an easy UI.

BIND Authoritative-Only DNS Server on Ubuntu Server 14.04 or Debian 7

This post will explain how to get a DNS server setup going on Ubuntu Server 14.04 or Debian 7 using BIND. The arrangement assumes the following:

  • You’re using a master/slave configuration.
  • Your server host provides the rDNS for you. Most VPS hosting services handle the rDNS, so you’re not required to configure it on your own DNS server.
  • Your hostnames for the servers have been configured as fully qualified domain names.

For the example, the master server will be located at ns1.mydomain.com with an IP address of 10.0.0.1 and the slave server will be located at ns2.mydomain.com with an IP address of 10.0.0.2. Our test domain that is being handled by the DNS servers will be testdomain.com and will be configured to point to the same IP address as the master DNS, which is where we would assume the web server servicing the domain will be located.

For the commands shown in the explanations, it’s assumed that you’re logged in or acting as the root user. If not, you need to precede the commands with sudo, this includes when opening configuration files for editing. You’ll get a permissions error when you try to save the file if you don’t.

Installation

Start by installing BIND on both servers:

apt-get update
apt-get install bind9 bind9utils bind9-doc

If you’re notified that the file /etc/init.d/bind9 already exists on the server, and asked what you would like to do about it, respond with Y or I to install the version that is included with the package.

Configuration

Once the installation is complete, you already have a DNS server running on your Ubuntu installation. We only have to make some configuration changes to ensure master and slave servers are communicating with each other and that the master has been configured with the zone information for the domains being serviced by the DNS servers.

First, open /etc/bind/named.conf.options for editing. You should have something like the following:

options {
        directory "/var/cache/bind";

        // If there is a firewall between you and nameservers you want
        // to talk to, you may need to fix the firewall to allow multiple
        // ports to talk.  See http://www.kb.cert.org/vuls/id/800113

        // If your ISP provided one or more IP addresses for stable
        // nameservers, you probably want to use them as forwarders.
        // Uncomment the following block, and insert the addresses replacing
        // the all-0's placeholder.

        // forwarders {
        //      0.0.0.0;
        // };

        //========================================================================
        // If BIND logs error messages about the root key being expired,
        // you will need to update your keys.  See https://www.isc.org/bind-keys
        //========================================================================
        dnssec-validation auto;

        auth-nxdomain no;    # conform to RFC1035
        listen-on-v6 { any; };
};

We need to add the following two lines anywhere within the brackets defining the options block:

recursion no;
allow-transfer { none; };

Example with added lines:

options {
        directory "/var/cache/bind";

        recursion no;
        allow-transfer { none; };

        // If there is a firewall between you and nameservers you want
        // to talk to, you may need to fix the firewall to allow multiple
        // ports to talk.  See http://www.kb.cert.org/vuls/id/800113

        // If your ISP provided one or more IP addresses for stable
        // nameservers, you probably want to use them as forwarders.
        // Uncomment the following block, and insert the addresses replacing
        // the all-0's placeholder.

        // forwarders {
        //      0.0.0.0;
        // };

        //========================================================================
        // If BIND logs error messages about the root key being expired,
        // you will need to update your keys.  See https://www.isc.org/bind-keys
        //========================================================================
        dnssec-validation auto;

        auth-nxdomain no;    # conform to RFC1035
        listen-on-v6 { any; };
};

Save the changes and close the file.

Next, we need to configure the local file to point to the zone files for the domains that will be serviced by the DNS servers. Assuming that we’re servicing a domain called testdomain.com, open /etc/bind/named.conf.local and add the following – as designated for master and slave configurations:

Master

zone "testdomain.com" {
        type master; also-notify { 10.0.0.2; };
        file "/etc/bind/zones/db.testdomain.com";
};

Slave

zone "testdomain.com" {
        type slave; masters { 10.0.0.1; };
        file "/etc/bind/zones/db.testdomain.com";
};

Since the zone block within the local file is pointing to a sub-directory within BIND’s primary directory to house the zone files, we need to create the zones directory and change its owner to the bind user. This needs to be done for both the master and slave servers:

mkdir /etc/bind/zones
chown bind: /etc/bind/zones

Now, you can create the zone file for the domain. For the example, we called the file db.testdomain.com, and configured BIND to look for the file in the /etc/bind/zones directory.

An example of our zone file would look like:

$ORIGIN testdomain.com.
$TTL 1800
@       IN      SOA     ns1.mydomain.com.       admin.testdomain.com. (
                        2015010101              ; serial number
                        3600                    ; refresh
                        900                     ; retry
                        1209600                 ; expire
                        1800                    ; ttl
                        )
; Name servers
                    IN      NS      ns1.mydomain.com.	; master DNS
                    IN      NS      ns2.mydomain.com.	; slave DNS

; A records for name servers
ns1                 IN      A       10.0.0.1		; master DNS IP
ns2                 IN      A       10.0.0.2		; slave DNS IP

; Additional A records
@                   IN      A       10.0.0.1		; www IP

; CNAME records
www                 IN      CNAME   testdomain.com.	; www IP

The settings above are fairly straightforward for configuring a zone with NS records and records to point to a web server for serving pages. Just be aware that the value for serial needs to be changed every time the zone file is updated, otherwise the DNS server will not update other servers. For the appended www, you could include an A record that points to the web server’s IP address, just like the origin does, but I believe it is more appropriate to point it to the origin with a CNAME record, as I updated this example to do. Feel free to correct me if you know better.

Check Configurations

At this point, all configuration is done. You simply need to check the configuration and zone files for errors, and then restart the servers.

You can check the local configuration by issuing:

named-checkconf /etc/bind/named.conf.local

If it returns nothing (line-breaks directly back to the command prompt), then everything checked good.

You can then check the zone configuration with (on the master server):

named-checkzone testdomain.com /etc/bind/zones/db.testdomain.com

If all checked well, it should return something like:

zone testdomain.com/IN: loaded serial 2015010101
OK

Now, simply restart the two servers.

service bind9 restart

After waiting for the configurations to propogate (varies in time – could be over 24 hours), you can pull up a prompt on your local linux machine and issue the following to see if the DNS has updated the domain to point to your master DNS server’s IP address:

nslookup testdomain.com

A successful setup should return something similar to:

Non-authoritative answer:
Name:	testdomain.com
Address: 10.0.0.1

An unsuccessful setup would return something more like this:

** server can't find testdomain.com: SERVFAIL

If you get an error, it could be that you didn’t give the servers enough time to update the information for the domains. Either way, you can view the system log on the servers to see if there are any errors:

tail -f /var/log/syslog

Look for the following to indicate successful zone information loading and communication between master and slave servers:

named[4215]: zone testdomain.com/IN: loaded serial 2015010101
named[4215]: zone testdomain.com/IN: sending notifies (serial 2015010101)

Anything else, pertaining specifically to the domain you configured, might indicate there is a problem with either the zone file or that the master and slave are not communicating. Ensure your firewall is allowing traffic on port 53.

HostUS VPS Specials

These are two specials that HostUS is offering on their OpenVZ VPS services. It hasn’t been stated when the specials will end, but I’d grab them while they’re available if you’re in the market. Beyond the specials, they appear to have very affordable VPS options available, and I believe they’re in the process of adding KVM options as well. Worth a look if you are considering purchasing a VPS.

768MB
768MB RAM / 768MB vSwap
1 vCPU Core (Fair Share)
20 GB Disk Space
2048 GB Bandwidth / 1Gbit Uplink (Fair Share)
1x IPv4 address / 4 x IPv6 Addresses
OpenVZ/In-House Panel
$10/year (Click Here)

6GB
6GB RAM / 6GB vSwap
4 vCPU Cores (Fair Share)
150GB Disk space
5TB Bandwidth / 1Gbit/s port
3 x IPv4 address / 4 x IPv6 Addresses
OpenVZ/In-House Control Panel
$18/quarter or $65/year (Click Here)

 

Re-Formatting a USB Drive with GTP Data (Mac) in Ubuntu

I ran into a problem the other day when I decided to create a bootable USB drive for upgrading my fiancée’s Mac to OSX Yosemite.

After creating the drive with the bootable upgrade data, I decided to reformat the USB drive back for my typical use. This particular USB drive is one that I’ve used primarily for installing OS’s, so I regularly wipe it and use it to boot as a live USB for various Linux distros whenever I want to test something or (re)install it. However, I found that I couldn’t format this drive and use it to boot an OS as I had done before. GParted would perform the formatting action and partition the drive, but I could not get it to mirror the same Partition Type of W95 FAT32 (LBA) as the other drives I had. Whatever the problem was, it also caused Ubuntu’s Startup Disk Creator to be unable to perform the Erase Disk function on the drive without giving a long error that ended with the explanation of an invalid UUID. Searching for this error came up with nothing. So, snooping around, I decided to try formatting the drive via terminal, and that’s when fdisk gave me an error stating the the drive had GPT data, which is’t supported by fdisk.

A little more snooping online led me to this page, where an explanation of removing GPT data (used by Mac) was given. Following the steps outlined on that page using gdisk, and then following up with formatting via terminal with fdisk to reformat the drive as W95 FAT32 (LBA) type, the problem was finally resolved.

I’ll outline the steps, from beginning to end, for removing the GTP data and formatting back to FAT32, which I assume is how most USB flash drives are formatted by default.

First, issue the following command:

sudo fdisk -l

Note that you must issue the command with sudo, or else it will output nothing. Find your drive in the list of devices and it should have a line similar to:

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdX1               1  4294967295  2147483647+  ee  GPT

The values for Device, Start, End and Blocks will vary, but the value for Id and System will be ee and GTP as shown. Make note of the device’s designation, as it is important that you perform the next tasks on the correct device to avoid data loss or compromising your PC. Also be aware that some external hard drives are formatted this way (the above output that I used is of an external drive that I have that happened to be formatted to fit the example), so make sure you don’t mistake the wrong device for the one you’re meaning to format.

Now that we know the device we need to reformat, we have to use gdisk to remove the GPT data for us. fdisk does not support GPT data types.

gdisk /dev/sdX

I decided to call my device for the example sdX, where X would be the letter assigned to your device. In most cases, unless you’re performing this on the drive that your PC boots from, you’ll likely not be using sda or sdb. Otherwise, you may want to refer to Rod Smith’s steps that explain how to backup the drive’s MBR data. Since this post is meant to cover an external USB flash drive (per my personal situation), I won’t include those steps.

The above command will output something similar to:

GPT fdisk (gdisk) version 0.7.2

Partition table scan:
  MBR: MBR only
  BSD: not present
  APM: not present
  GPT: present

Found valid MBR and GPT. Which do you want to use?
 1 - MBR
 2 - GPT
 3 - Create blank GPT

Your answer:

In my case, I wasn’t asked which partition table to use, because MBR was restricted – causing GPT to be the only one available. However, it doesn’t matter which one you choose, if asked, since we’re wiping the GPT data and not looking to convert or salvage data.

You’ll be presented with a command prompt:

Command (? for help):

The remainder of the command prompts should be issued as:

Command (? for help): x

Expert command (? for help): z
About to wipe out GPT on /dev/sdX. Proceed? (Y/N): y
Blank out MBR? (Y/N): n

Make sure you answer n when asked if you want to blank out the MBR. This may not be as crucial for a USB flash drive, but wiping the MBR on a drive that you use to boot from would be disastrous (especially if you didn’t back it up beforehand).

The next steps are actually formatting the drive using fdisk. Substituting in sdX for your drive’s device, enter the following commands when prompted in the order shown to perform the format of the drive. Note: output has been omitted. Where no response is shown for command prompt, simply hit enter.

sudo fdisk /dev/sdX
Command (m for help): p
Command (m for help): d
Command (m for help): p
Command (m for help): w
sudo fdisk /dev/sdX
Command (m for help): n
Command (m for help): p
Partition number (1-4): 1
First cylinder (1-1020, default 1):
Last cylinder, +cylinders or +size{K,M,G} (?-????, default ????):
Command (m for help): t
Hex code (type L to list codes): L

At this point, you’ll be presented with a list of all device types you can format the drive to using fdisk. In this case, I wanted W95 FAT32 (LBA), so I chose b

Hex code (type L to list codes): b
Command (m for help): a
Partition number (1-4): 1
Command (m for help): p
Command (m for help): w

Finally, we can format the drive:

sudo mkdosfs -F 32 /dev/sdX1

The last command could technically be handled via Disk manager or GParted, if you wanted a user interface instead of terminal, but it would make sense to just issue the command in terminal since we’re already working in terminal for the rest of the steps.

phpMyAdmin: Missing Mcrypt Extension

If you’ve set up a web server recently that included PHP, you likely installed PHP’s Mcrypt extension. However, a lot of explanations on setting up a LAMP web server mention installing the extension, but not enabling it. If you’ve installed phpMyAdmin, you have likely seen the The mcrypt extension is missing. Please check your PHP configuration. error message at the bottom of the initial page after logging in.

Fixing this issue is as simple as two commands, at least in Ubuntu/Debian.

sudo php5enmod mcrypt
sudo service apache2 reload

You’ll have to log back into phpMyAdmin once you’ve reloaded Apache’s configuration, but you’ll see the error message is now gone.

If you didn’t actually install the Mcrypt extension when you installed PHP, you can do that before entering the above commands by first entering:

sudo apt-get install php5-mcrypt

If you’re unsure if Mcrypt has been installed, you can check for it by entering:

apt-cache policy php5-mcrypt

The output of the apt-cache policy php5-mcrypt command on a system where the package is not installed will look something like:

php5-mcrypt:
  Installed: (none)
  Candidate: 5.4.6-0ubuntu5
  Version table:
     5.4.6-0ubuntu5 0
        500 http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ trusty/universe amd64 Packages

If it is installed, it would look something like:

php5-mcrypt:
  Installed: 5.4.6-0ubuntu5
  Candidate: 5.4.6-0ubuntu5
  Version table:
 *** 5.4.6-0ubuntu5 0
        500 http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ trusty/universe amd64 Packages
        100 /var/lib/dpkg/status

Some information would vary, depending on the OS and the repositories your server uses, but the output of the command would be roughly the same (on Debian/Ubuntu), and will tell you if the package is installed and what version. You can also use this command to see what version any particular package is on the repositories your Ubuntu/Debian installation pulls from.

Linux Mint with MATE and Cinnamon

Linux Mint ships with several options for desktop environments, but the two most advertised are MATE and Cinnamon – with Cinnamon being its primary candidate.

When you install Mint, you typically have to decide which desktop you want, because each has its own installation package. What you may not know, however, is that you can actually install one version of Mint and still have both options for your desktop environment. The best part is that you don’t even have to get your hands dirty with the command line interface to do it.

Here are the steps:

  1. After you have installed Mint, login and open the Software Manager. It is usually to the left in the Menu for both MATE and Cinnamon.
  2. If you have MATE version installed, search for Cinnamon. If you have Cinnamon, search for MATE.
  3. If you’re looking to add the Cinnamon desktop onto a MATE installation, you need to look for cinnamon and mint-meta-cinnamon packages in the top results, and install those two. For installing MATE within a Cinnamon installation, it’s the opposite: mate and mint-meta-mate. These two packages will install the desktop environments and the key packages that they need. A lot of the other results you see in your search will actually be included with the installation of those two.
  4. After the installation has completed, log out of your session and click the icon at the top-right of the sign in box on the login screen and you can now select between the two different desktop environments for your session.

Netflix Official Linux Support

There’s finally an officially supported way to watch Netflix on Linux without jumping hurdles through various methods that try to work around their Silverlight requirement.

Perhaps they’re copying the same method that allows Chromebook users to stream Netflix, but it requires the Chrome browser in Linux to do it. Before I did this, I attempted to install and configure Pipelight to see if I could stream a show in Firefox, and I was met with the incompatibility page. So, I removed Pipelight and installed Chrome. Went to Netflix, logged in and the show I tried to view opened up without a hitch – lacking any additional packages installed besides Chrome itself.

Though I prefer Firefox to Chrome, I’ll happily boot up Chrome if only to watch Netflix. It sure beats the uncertain methods of trying to either emulate or immitate Silverlight, which has been the popular tactic for some time now.

You can grab the Chrome package to install directly from your machine by going to its download page, or you can install it from terminal using APT by adding Google’s repositories:

wget -q -O - https://dl-ssl.google.com/linux/linux_signing_key.pub | sudo apt-key add -
sudo sh -c 'echo "deb http://dl.google.com/linux/chrome/deb/ stable main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/google-chrome.list'
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install google-chrome-stable

 

Linux Mint’s “Point” Updates

Linux Mint is doing something that is new, at least to me. If they’ve done this in the past, I didn’t know about it, so I’m assuming that they didn’t. They’re releasing a “point” update to version 17 “Qiana”, their latest LTS release of Mint, which will be 17.1 “Rebecca”. Based on what has been said in this blog post on Mint’s official website, I assume that all point releases will feature a different codename.

If my understanding is correct, Mint’s point-release updates won’t be quite the same as Ubuntu’s. Where Ubuntu 14.04.1 is actually the same exact distribution as 14.04 only with updated packages and kernels that would automatically be updated from Ubuntu’s repositories anyway (though saving you the time of downloading them – by getting them in the installation ISO), Mint 17.1 will feature updates to the desktop environments themselves. So, where 14.10 will feature an updated Unity, most likely, that could only be applied to 14.04 by enabling unstable repositories, Mint will work out a stable update to their environments and actually push it to be a stable update to their LTS release. This is awesome. There were small changes to Unity that I wanted from 13.10, but I didn’t want to upgrade to 13.10 or take the chance of upgrading the Unity environment in 12.04 at the risk of it having compatibility issues with packages in the 12.04 repositories. Even if my concerns were unfounded, updates to LTS releases are typically limited for a reason, and that’s usually to help ensure that people don’t run into compatibility issues or crippling bugs.

What’s also cool about the point-releases for Mint is that it will be upgradable through their Update Manager. Though Mint sees updates to packages at a slower pace than Ubuntu, this usually means the chance of having issues with those updated packages is minimized, which is better than getting the new bells and whistles only to have them break your machine and put you in an aggravating position of having to revert and recover. I like Mint. When the next LTS version is released, I may just change for my primary PC. I have two years to think about it, though I’m already running it on my laptop to see how the progression goes. That’s not to say that Ubuntu is being looked at as a loser in this. After all, I’ve used it as my primary OS for nearly three years now, and there’s obviously good reasons for that. I just can’t fail to consider another distribution that may be making better strides in improving the Linux experience, even if Ubuntu continues to be an excellent OS that is probably the best for first-time Linux users to try. On top of that, Windows users considering the migration over to Linux may find Cinnamon and MATE both more comfortable than Unity, in terms of a layout that closer resembles Windows’ Start menu-style layout. I would recommend Mint over Ubuntu to such a person.