Mint here we come

Well finally I have put my main computer onto Mint. The preparation was mainly making the various backups to ensure I don’t lose any data on switching over.
As you can imagine it is not always straightforward especially if doing something a little out of the ordinary. Some of these different elements in my setup include:
  • The two disks in a RAID-1 array where my home folders are stored.
  • The NVIDIA video card driving three display screens.
  • The separation of the home folders from the boot volume.
So I had to use the custom partitioning to split the installation over two different disks. First mistake was to redirect /usr to the 1 TB disk instead of /home (once upon a time /usr was the home folders root path but it was changed to /home quite a long time ago in fact). After realising the mistake and looking at options I decided it was just easier to do the installation again as no data had been put into the home folders at that stage. With this done it means the core operating system files are on the SSD but the home folder is on the 1 TB hard drive where there is plenty of room. At least Linux supports this properly unlike Windows where it can be put in with a registry key but Microsoft won’t support it. In fact, recent editions of Windows like 8, 8.1 and 10 will not update to a new release if the Users folder has been moved to a different path.

Now that I have the home drive set up I can start copying stuff across from the other half of what used to be the 1 TB RAID-1 array. Basically when I was setting up to install the computer, one of the tasks before shutting down Windows for the last time was to break the mirror, so that I ended up with two separate 1 TB disks that just happened to contain the same identical data. When I did the install, the first of these disks (/dev/sda1) was set up to be the home partition. This meant of course it was wiped, but the other disk (/dev/sdd1) was left alone. So /dev/sdd1 is still waiting for me to shift stuff across onto /dev/sda1. And once I have completed doing that then /dev/sdd1 can be set up as a mirror of /dev/sda1.

The second major issue was getting the system to boot with the NVIDIA card with only the Nouveau driver that comes in Linux. As it happens I had to edit the boot configuration in GRUB to add a couple of switches to it. The articles linked below are helpful (the boot options couldn’t be edited on the fly and I had to boot from the install CD then figure out how to mount the boot volume and make the edits and then update the configuration). This took quite a lot of fiddling before I managed to get it to work properly. The second time I worked out how to do it before rebooting at the end of the install so that went a bit more smoothly as it came up at the first boot into compatibility mode (software rendering).
Things are generally good as of now but naturally there is a mountain of work getting everything set up and running. The Mint driver manager had no problems installing the Nvidia proprietary drivers and getting the card going so I have three screens back on and things are moving along pretty smoothly at the moment.