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Miscellaneous usefulness

What version of Linux am I running?

Alternatives to Unity.

Changing the Linux boot partition.

Clock problems caused by dual booting with Windows

Deleting millions of files.

On booting: "error file not found." and "grub rescue> _"

On booting: "error: no such partition." and "grub rescue> _"

Finding files in Linux.

Searching for text strings in files in Linux.

Removing excess old GRUB entries.

update-grub sets an incorrect root=UUID= in grub.cfg

Changing the swappiness to 10

locate cannot find files on an encrypted home directory

Encrypted swap partition not loaded automatically on startup

What is on my LAN?

Watching the output from a Linux command

Packages I keep installing

Increasing the Recent Documents width in Linux Mint 18.2 MATE

Seeing what WiFi networks are around with their channel numbers and strength

Disabling auto updates

Putting the search back in Synaptic


Distro Specialism Conclusion
Ubuntu 10.04 LTS NetBook edition Netbooks Excellent. Have it installed on my netbook. Netbook Edition no longer exists.
Ubuntu 12.04 LTS The generic Ubuntu Now uses Unity. Yuck. Unacceptable.
Kubuntu 11.10 Uses KDE rather than Unity Tried it and my opinion is ... can't remember. But I abandoned it for Xubuntu.
Xubuntu 12.04.1 LTS Uses Xfe instead of Unity and is less resource hungry Installed on main desktop. Preferred desktop distro.
Mint 12 Robust Cool. Sort of like it. Not used long term. Mint 13 is out.
Fuduntu 2012.3 Supposedly good for battery life, part Fedora and part Ubuntu Tried it on my netbook. Yuck. And battery life no better than Ubuntu, but makes the netbook very slow.
Edubuntu Education focussed Not suitable for me as the mix of apps is unhelpful and irrelevant.
Lubuntu 'Lightweight' and uses LXDE Not got any apps!
LXDE Very lightweight but usable since it has Very useful; installed on a netbook


Autostarting applications in Gnome.

Changing the default application in Ubuntu.

Getting a T-Mobile dongle working in Ubuntu.

Immediately after installing Ubuntu...

Ubuntu, partitions, booting and GRUB.

Entering diacritics and special characters in Ubuntu using the 'Compose Key'.

Entering Unicode in Ubuntu in

"Unknown keyword in configuration file: gfxboot" and "vesamenu.c32: not a COM32R image" booting from a Ubuntu 10.04.4 USB stick.

error: file `/boot/grub/x86_64-efi/normal.mod' not found.


VirtualBox error virtualbox driver_unloaded_without_cancelling_pending_operations


Viewing .chm files in WINE


Auto-playing audio CDs in Xubuntu.

Bookmarks in Xubuntu 11.10.

Hibernate, Standby, Suspend and Sleep

Posting links to text and images from Xubuntu.

Re-installing the GRUB menu in Xubuntu 12.04.

Sharing directories with other PCs.

Shortcut Keys in Xubuntu.

Update error: An error occurred. Encontered a section with no Package: header/ Problem with MergeList /var/lib/apt/lists

Updating cookies to modify the email .sig signature.

Updating Xubuntu results in freezing at "Checking battery state".

Changing the default browser from Firefox to Waterfox Classic.

Linux Mint desktop environments

Flavours of Linux Mint are Cinnamon, MATE, KDE and XFCE. (The term I should have used, rather than 'flavour' is 'desktop environment'. Now there's a woolly term. It's all the stuff that determines what the graphical user interface will look, feel and sound like. But it is also the term Canonical use for the different Ubuntus that are available.)

Cinnamon - the prettiest. The most memory-hungry. My study PC has 2GB RAM and my netbooks 1GB RAM. Supposedly, Cinnamon requires "1GB RAM (2GB recommended for a comfortable usage)" but I think that is to run the operating system, not the OS plus LibreOffice plus DropBox plus Firefox. It says the same for the XFCE version.

KDE - has the biggest collection of integrated applications.

MATE - quite memory efficient.

XFCE - the most memory efficient. Has no facility for sound events.

DE Pros Cons
Cinnamon pretty the most memory hungry
KDE the biggest collection of integrated applications. I tend not to use those applications
MATE quite memory efficient
XFCE the most memory efficient Has no facility for sound events

Checking .ISO files

The Linux torrent program Transmission is disconcerting in that it seems to produce partial or corrupt .ISO files. It will report a file at 100% when there are corrupt or missing parts. Check the properties and it might say "Downloaded: 1.4 Gb (+ 1.05 Mb corrupt"). Cut a CD or DVD from such a file and you will get odd problems trying to work with it because you are installing a corrupt Linux.

Here are various ways:

  1. cut a CD / DVD from the .ISO, boot from it and use its in-built check (only works on most Linux .ISOs);
  2. cut a CD / DVD from the .ISO and use the md5 checksums file on it to check all the files;
  3. for one .ISO, check the MD5 checksum of the downloaded .ISO file itself;

This is quick and does not risk cutting a useless disk, but you do need to know the checksum which has to be found on the web site from which you downloaded the file.

md5sum filename


md5sum linuxmint-17-xfce-dvd-32bit.iso

like this:

simon@simonX64:~$ cd Downloads/Torrents/Complete/
simon@simonX64:~/Downloads/Torrents/Complete$ md5sum linuxmint-17-xfce-dvd-32bit.iso
7eb3b7e9261aa7fda811dae53f5ecb80  linuxmint-17-xfce-dvd-32bit.iso
  1. if you can't find the md5 checksum of the download, mount the .ISO and check its contents using the embedded md5sum.txt
mkdir ~/Downloads/mountedCD/
sudo mount -o loop -t iso9660 ~/Downloads/Torrents/Complete/linuxmint-13-xfce-dvd-32bit.iso ~/Downloads/mountedCD/
cd ~/Downloads/mountedCD
md5sum -c md5sum.txt
sudo umount /home/simon/Downloads/mountedCD/
  1. Create and maintain your own file of checksums.

As you download files, append the checksum from the web site, two spaces, then the file name into a .txt file to produce your own checksum file, like this:

43ca0be4501b9d1a46fea25ec2cd556e  linuxmint-13-mate-dvd-32bit.iso
2d84f671ad77a8019dfa6e1d00572d82  linuxmint-13-mate-dvd-64bit.iso
721036768e95793ade27935038499e82  linuxmint-13-xfce-dvd-32bit.iso
b2b9d300c2f0e9fe85000313edc2aa81  linuxmint-13-xfce-dvd-64bit.iso
5ba48b32861c62aebd44c5f310966ea3  linuxmint-16-cinnamon-dvd-32bit.iso
21190d6baacbe106f145ca1ae44a0d88  linuxmint-16-cinnamon-dvd-64bit.iso
1d05326903d52a0608f9661d774721e9  linuxmint-16-kde-dvd-32bit.iso
ce590f819c125730bedf234bd374e4d8  linuxmint-16-kde-dvd-64bit.iso
678dc3975bb205137a67702f3552a894  linuxmint-16-mate-dvd-32bit.iso

then just do

md5sum -c SimonsSums.txt

to check all the files.


The T-Mobile dongle and Web 'n' Walk package works a treat.

The only problem I have is that T-Mobile does not permit Skype to work over its network, including the Instant Messaging.