'Live' INSTALL TEST of Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE)

on an Acer 11.6 inch Netbook
with AMD/ATI C70 'Fusion' chip

and with a UEFI boot menu
and Windows 8

circa Dec 2012

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'LIVE' (not to disk) INSTALL test   SUMMARY


This page provides notes on doing a 'Live' install of Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) --- the 2012 April release --- on an Acer 11.6" netbook computer with an AMD C70 'Fusion' chip and with Windows 8 pre-installed.

    (This Acer Aspire One 725-0687 netbook came with a 320 GB hard-drive and 2 GB of memory.)

In particular, these notes indicate

  • how I accessed the boot menu on this Acer netbook
  • how I switched from 'UEFI' to 'legacy' mode to allow the install
  • some features that I tested when the LMDE desktop appeared

This is a netbook that I got on sale at Walmart for about $200 during the December 2012 Christmas season. It was about this time that news items started appearing that manufacturers of 'netbook' computers (such as Asus and Acer and HP) were no longer going to manufacture netbook computers. (2014 update: Although Acer and Asus netbooks seemed to disappear in 2013, Asus and Acer and HP were still coming out with 11.6 inch and 10.1 inch form-factor laptop computers --- with 320 and 500 Gig hard-drives and 2 Gig or 4 Gig of memory --- in 2014. In other words, 'netbook' computers were still appearing in 2014.)

I described 'complete' installs of Linux Mint (a live install followed by an install-to-disk) on another couple of Acer 11.6" netbook computers:

In the Linux Mint 11 netbook install, I encountered an issue with getting a wireless Internet connection going via that netbook's Broadcom BCM4313 chip --- after installing the distro to disk, but NOT when testing the distro in 'live' mode. But I encountered no wireless problems with the LMDE install --- neither pre nor post install-to-disk.

And, in the Linux Mint 11 netbook install, I encountered issues in getting a proper screen resolution (1366x768), which I solved by installing the AMD 'fglrx' driver and the AMD CCC (Catalyst Control Center). But I did not encounter that problem with the LMDE install. The proper screen resolution was automatically established, both in 'live' mode and after installing the distro to disk.

On an Ubuntu Install Notes web page, I described my journey from using the MS Windows operating system to using Linux --- and I described how I came to choose Ubuntu Linux when I migrated my main computers from MS-Windows to Linux.

That page describes the eventual installation of Ubuntu 'Karmic Koala' on 3 desktop computers and 3 Acer 10.1" netbook computers --- in the 2009 to 2011 time frame. Ubuntu 9.10, with the Gnome desktop (using filename lists rather than icons in the Nautilus file manager), performed quite responsively on the 10.1" netbooks.

So a love of netbooks was blooming.

The niceties of netbooks :

I really like the little 3-pound (1.36 kilogram) netbook computers. They are so conveniently portable.

I use a netbook in front of the TV at home --- to do something contructive during the ridiculous amount of ads being shown on ALL the TV channels nowadays. I can quickly pack the netbook computer away when company comes. And I can easily take the netbook to other rooms, like to the kitchen table to work there --- or beside a desktop computer, say to use a wired ethernet connection there, during an install.

Furthermore, the netbooks are handy to take to LUG (Lunux User Group) meetings and to Linux conferences --- to demo software.

You can see the 'intro' on my Linux Mint Debian Edition (2012) Install page for some info on various models of Acer netbooks --- with 10.1 inch and 11.6 inch screens.

What distro to install ?

I did not consider other, non-Linux-Mint distros for this netbook, because I had tried several non-Mint distros as described on the parent page to this page, the Linux Mint Installs page. On that page, I described my first Linux distro install on an 11.6" netbook.

There I discussed how I had a collection of CD's from the issues of Linux Format Magazine that I bought in 2009-2011. So I looked through those CD's to find candidates for installation on my first 11.6" netbook, and tried a few.

After those experiences, and on following the development of Linux distros in late 2011 and early 2012, via Linux magazines and web sites like distrowatch.com, I had pretty much decided that there were really only two distros that I would be trying on my next distro-install --- and both of them were Linux Mint --- namely the Ubunutu-based Linux Mint (with either the MATE or Cinnamon desktop) OR the 'semi-rolling' Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE), which is based on 'Debian testing' repositories.

I had downloaded the LMDE 201204 ISO file in May 2012. It was in the new 'hybrid' CD-and-USB-stick format, and I used instructions at community.linuxmint.com to put the ISO on a USB stick.

I had that USB stick handy. And I REALLY wanted to try a rolling release, because I was inconvienced when my Ubuntu 9.10 release passed its 18-month 'lifetime' and no longer had the Karmic Koala repositories available. So I decided to use LMDE for this install.

    I continue to have Ubuntu 9.10 installed on 3 desktop and 2 netbook computers --- in the 2009 to 2014 time frame. It works well for me on my main desktop. No reason to change yet. When I need a new release, like of the Seamonkey web browser, I install a download from the seamonkey-project.org site in my home directory --- as described here, on a 'Seamonkey Install and Usage Notes' page.

The Ubuntu-Unity and Gnome3 debacle :   (namely, throwing multiple babies out with the bath water)

I have described, at a page on my Freedom Environment software site, my concerns with the direction that the 2011 releases of Ubuntu and Gnome are taking --- a finger-tip oriented instead of a mouse-oriented interface. Just when Gnome 2.x was becoming a mature, well-debugged desktop system, they have chosen to essentially toss away a lot of the good features that they do not seem to appreciate.

For example, you hardly 'hear' the Unity and Gnome3 developers talk about the future of the Nautilus file manager (nor changes to it in Gnome 3), and yet the Nautilus file manager is probably the one 'application' that I use the most --- even more than a web browser and an email processor. The only application that I use more 'minutes-per-day' than the file manager is the SciTE text editor --- and maybe the Seamonkey web browser. In terms of 'invocations-per-day', Nautilus is either at the top, or just behind SciTE and/or Seamonkey.

My life on my computers would be too tedious to imagine without the Nautilus file manager. So I am really concerned when the Ubuntu and Gnome organizations give it essentially no lip-service.

On the Freedom Environment 'Contact' page (link above), I pointed out that I would probably be switching from Ubuntu to Linux Mint or some other Debian-based distro --- such as Debian itself.

I do not expect the Ubuntu Unity desktop to reach a good level of maturity, for desktop and laptop computers, until around 2013 --- if ever. It seems that Ubuntu is aiming for touch-screen oriented devices like phones and pads and TV's --- pretty much forsaking the mouse-oriented desktop market, and the mouse-user netbook market, which includes me.

In the 2011-2012 time frame, I am avoiding Ubuntu-Unity and any Linux using Gnome3. But I want a Debian-based distro that has no bias against using proprietary software if the user experience would benefit. So that pretty much led me to choose between LMDE (Debian-based) and Linux Mint 13 (Ubuntu-and-Debian-based) for this computer.

So here we are at a Table of Contents that takes you to the way I handled a UEFI boot menu like the ones that were coming out on computers in the 2012-2013 time frame. In particular, I describe how I handled the 'InsydeH2O Rev 3.7' UEFI boot menu of this Acer netbook (model 725-0687).

Table of Contents:

(links to sections below, on this page)

  • 'Live' (not to disk) INSTALL TEST of LMDE 201204 (2012 April)

      on an Acer Aspire One 725-0687 netbook,
      with an 11.6" screen and with the C70 dual-core chip
      with on-board Radeon HD 6290 graphics
  • SUMMARY --- lessons learned.

End of Table of Contents. Start of Install Notes sections.

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I used a USB-stick containing the LMDE 201204 'hybrid' ISO that I had downloaded from the Linux Mint site and put on the USB stick according to Clem's instructions at community.linuxmint.com

Instructions for dealing with the 'new' UEFI boot menu follow.

  • To get the boot menu, hold the F2 key down before pressing the ON button. The boot menu came up within a couple of seconds. (NOTE: If you find that Windows 8 starts up, power down and try again. Windows 8 seems to be quite pesky at times, but I found that if I was persistent with the F2 key --- and made sure that it was immediately invoked after the ON key was pressed --- that I could eventually get to the boot menu instead of Windows 8.)

  • Use the right-arrow key to move from the 'Info' menu to the 'Boot' menu of 'InsydeH2O Rev 3.7'.

  • Use the down-arrow key to position to the 'Boot Mode' line which will probably be set at 'UEFI'. (Under the 'Boot Mode' line is the title 'Boot priority order' followed by a list of some device names.)

  • Press the Enter key and a little menu with 2 options ('UEFI' and 'legacy') pops up. Use the down-arrow key to position on 'legacy'. Press Enter on 'OK'.

    You will find that once you go to 'legacy' mode, the list of devices (like 'USB FDD' and 'USB CDROM') are all grayed out (non-moveable). So you have to move them in 'UEFI' mode, and then set 'legacy' mode. (Use up/down arrow keys to position on a device, then F5/F6 to move the device up/down in the list.)

  • Then save-exit. You will see a dark screen with lots of messages. The messages on the screen halt and say that a USB device is not found. 'No bootable device' on a black screen. This is OK.

  • You will need to power off. Then power on, and, if you have a Linux live install on a USB device plugged into a USB port, the install may proceed.

    I used LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) Live, 2012 April. The Linux Mint desktop came up almost right away.

    I used the wireless option (on the panel on the lower right of the screen) to connect to my wireless router.

    Then I used the 'Start' menu at the lower left of the screen to start up the Mint apps panel and choose to start the Firefox web browser. It came up positioned on the Linux Mint home page. Success.

I was pleased with this live-install because I had no problems with screen-resolution nor with wireless connection. And the thing that I was REALLY concerned about, the UEFI menu, was handled OK. The use of the 'legacy' option of the boot menu on this Acer netbook allowed me to bring up this 'live' install of Linux Mint Debian Edition.

I did not do an install-to-disk at this time. Judging from my experiences with 'install-to-disk' after a successful 'live-install', I will probably have a few issues to resolve. I will document the 'install-to-disk' process on this netbook when I do it.

For now, I am holding off. I will do an install-to-disk when a 'quite mature' version of Linux Mint is available --- say late 2014 or thereafter.

In my other pages on Linux installs (Ubuntu installs and Linux Mint installs), I concluded by saying that a major lesson to be learned from my Ubuntu installs-to-disk and from a Linux Mint 11 and an LMDE install-to-disk is that, on almost any hardware configuration, you will probably have to spend a few hours --- or even a day or two --- resolving some 'install-to-disk' issues.

AT FIRST, I was pleasantly surprised by my LMDE install-to-disk (circa 2012 May). I did not have monitor-resolution issues or wireless-connection issues that I had in previous Linux installs. And, AT FIRST, it appeared that I would have no hang on re-booting after the install-to-disk, like I encountered in an Ubuntu install on a Dell desktop.

Alas, smooth sailing was not to be. I did, after all, encounter a persistent hang after re-boots --- a real show-stopper that would not let me get to my desktop even once.

However, once again, persistence paid off, and I was able to end up with a decent install. On both of my Acer 11.6" netbooks with an AMD C60 chip, it turned out that I needed to move 'Network Boot' to the top of the boot sequence, via the BIOS menu system. (This solution makes no sense to me. But it works.)

Other than the 'Network Boot' issue, most of my post-installation time was spent on choosing applications to install and configuring them after their installs.

If I DO encounter any more issues with Linux Mint installs-to-disk, I know that I can probably get past the issues by using the Ubuntu forums or AskUbuntu.com or Linux Mint forums or Debian forums or Google queries like the Google-query-links in my Ubuntu and Linux Mint Install Notes web pages.

    (NOTE: It is STILL not clear yet whether the quality and extent of support on the Linux Mint sites will ever approach the quality and extent available at the Ubuntu and Debian sites. For example, the 'Network Boot'-to-top-of-boot-sequence solution was found at an AskUbuntu.com page.)

Coming to a conclusion, finally :

I repeat what I said at the bottom of my Ubuntu Install Notes web page :

For me, the breath of freedom and the breaDth of freedom on Gnu/Linux --- especially in the form of the powerful shell scripting (and Tcl-Tk scripting) available --- is a big selling point for using Linux.

Other selling points: the available apps for web browsing and email and FTP --- Seamonkey-Thunderbird-Filezilla --- and ImageMagick and 'mtpaint' for image processing for web page development --- and SciTE for text editing (esp. script development and web page creation/editing) --- and a quite decent, stable file manager in Nautilus (or Caja).

    (Some info on Nautilus/Caja shortcomings is in my Nautilus Notes web page. For me, they suffer mostly from the following issues.

    • strange-filename-sorts (quite unlike the output from 'ls', when special-characters or different-length numbers are in filenames),

    • 2-different-[inadequate]-search-interfaces (the main one being well-hidden), and

    • failure-to-search-'hidden'-directories

    I use my 'FINDlists' Nautilus/Caja Scripts --- available from freedomenv.com --- to overcome the search inadequacies --- so 'no problemo'.

    And there is an easy fix, via inserting a little '.gnomerc' config file in your home directory structure, to make the filename sorts of Nautilus more likable --- as described in my Nautilus Notes page. However, Nautilus/Caja developers should give us some sort options through the Nautilus/Caja 'Edit > Preferences' pathway.

    I have filed a request for the ability to specify a desired sort technique --- both with MATE-Caja developers at github.com/mate-desktop/mate-file-manager and with GNOME-Nautilus developers at bugzilla.gnome.org.)

    Here is an image showing how the sort options could be added to the existing 'Behavior' panel of 'Edit > Preferences'.

    Alternatively, a new 'Sort' panel could be added to the existing 'View', 'Behavior', 'Display', 'List Columns', 'Preview', and 'Media' panels of 'Edit Preferences'. (See the six panel tabs in the image of the 'File Management Preferences' window, above.)

On Nautilus/Caja performance :

Another shortcoming of Nautilus/Caja (that I notice more on my netbook computers than on my desktop computer) is their slowness in bringing up lists of filenames. The slowness on my desktop computer is only noticed in navigating to directories containing more than 2,000 files (such as /usr/bin or /usr/lib --- about 8 to 15 seconds to a completed list display, the first time opening those directories in a login session).

Directory lists, for directories containing around 300 files (like /usr/sbin and /usr/share), appear almost instantly, on my desktop computer. NOT SO on a netbook install-to-disk of LMDE.

Even though I have used the 'Edit > Preferences > Preview' path of Nautilus and Caja to set the options

  • Show text in icons
  • Show thumbnails
  • Preview sound files

to 'Never', it can take quite a few seconds for the directory list, for directories containing around 300 files, to appear. I am pretty sure that a lot of the slowdown is due to Nautilus and Caja insisting on putting little icons to the left of the filenames, as seen in the following image.

Those icon files (in /usr/share/icons subdirectories) are about 1 Kilobyte in size, each. Compare that to the 8-bits (one byte) that the 'ls -F' command uses to put file type indicators like * (asterisk) and @ (at sign) and / (slash) after filenames. It takes over 100 times the bits --- for an icon image versus a single ASCII character indicator.

I would be quite happy to do without the little icons if it would mean almost instantaneous display of large directory lists. The little triangle to the left of directory names is enough to indicate directories to me (and to allow expansion of those directories into a 'sub-list'). I do not need the folder icons.

And I do not need the little globe icons and page icons (etc. etc.) to the left of files like '.htm' and '.txt' files. I can tell the file types by the suffixes I gave them. And even if I do not provide a suffix, I can usually tell what type of file it is since I created it. (Or I can make a Nautilus Script, using the 'file' command, to tell me the type of a selected file.)

So, PLEASE, Nautilus and Caja developers, ADD AN OPTION to the 'Edit > Preferences > Views' panel --- to allow me to turn off display of ALL icons beside filenames.

A new 'no icons' option could be added to the 'Views' panel, as illustrated in the following image.

If this option were checked, then the example icons-beside-filenames image (shown a few paragraphs above) would then look like the following image. (NOTE the 'generic' icons are gone.)

OR, the filenames list could appear like the following image. (Note that the space formerly occupied by the icons is now used by the left-adjusted filenames.)

I have filed a request for a 'no icons' option in 'ListView' mode --- both with MATE-Caja developers at github.com/mate-desktop/mate-file-manager/issues/ and with GNOME-Nautilus developers at bugzilla.gnome.org.

If the Nautilus and Caja developers do not get around to giving us a 'no icons' option in ListView mode, I guess I will have to enhance the file-and-directory navigator Tcl-Tk scripts in the 'feHandyTools' subsystem of my Freedom Environment software system to serve for file management, in place of Nautilus and Caja. The main right-click-menu options that I need are 'Scripts', 'Rename', 'Delete', 'Cut', 'Copy', 'Paste', and 'Properties'.

I have already implemented the 'Scripts' capability in Tcl-Tk file manager scripts --- so that I have an alternative in case the Gnome-Nautilus and MATE-Caja developers drop (or screw up) the 'Nautilus Scripts' capability. I just need to add the 'Rename', 'Delete', 'Cut', 'Copy', 'Paste', and 'Properties' options.

It is pretty sad (but pretty fortunate) that I can make a faster file manager with a scripting language (Tcl-Tk), than Gnome-Nautilus and MATE-Caja developers can make using compiled languages.

    By the way, for KDE fans out there, I had to forget about using KDE on netbooks, because of the gross processing overhead of almost all KDE utilities. I described the 'venetian blind' effect that I got from the KDE Menu cascade in my first Linux installs on netbooks. See my 'Ubuntu Installs' web page.

A pretty happy camper :

I keep finding more to like (and bits, here and there, to dislike) in the Linux distros that I have installed. But, so far, I think I can cut the cord to MS Windows (EXCEPT for U.S. federal and state taxes software) --- as long as the Linux apps and distros and kernel keep getting better.

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Page was created 2014 Sep 11.
Page was changed 2018 Aug 30. (Added css and javascript to try to handle text-size for smartphones, esp. in portrait orientation.)