More Mint and a system monitor applet

After playing with a lot of Lubuntu systems I have started to prefer Mint where enough memory is installed because it is often easier to install higher spec apps like Qgis. Lubuntu is really good for a lower spec system which doesn’t get used for more than internet stuff and I really recommend it for general use but if you are a power user with some grunty apps then you will find that Mint is easier to install some of these apps on. Google Earth is another example. I could not get it to install on Lubuntu without a lot of hacking and trying various things and the failed attempts also removed a lot of Lubuntu base install applications. I eventually restored most of them manually.
So yes Lubuntu is great and highly recommended but if you have 8 GB or more of memory, even on what is a very old Conroe system that I use at work (at least 8 years old), Mint will go really well and make it easier to install power user applications.
Since I put Mint onto that old Conroe I have struggled to find a system monitor applet to put into the panel. I also have decided one of my screens will have two panels with the one at the top of the screen displaying the clock, system tray, launchers, status icons, workspace switcher and the aforementioned system monitor applet. The one that I finally found that works very well is called System Monitor and its UUID is sysmonitor@orcus. This was after I had tried quite a few that Cinnamon didn’t like and disabled. You can find it in the list of available applets (online) that is in the add applet dialog box when you right click and select add applets to the panel. Be aware that you need to install a couple of dependencies and should do this in a terminal before you tell Mint to install System Monitor. The packages you need to install are:
  • gir1.2-gtop-2.0
  • gjs
Whilst it will work with only the first package installed, the second one is needed to change options for the graphs it puts into the taskbar. These graphs look like the ones that are in the system monitor applet that is included with Lubuntu and that is the look I was trying to get from a Mint applet as all I really need to see are a couple of boxes displaying the CPU load and memory usage so that I can tell when the system is really bogging down. It is actually quite surprising how much more performance you can get by increasing the RAM to 8 GB. This old Conroe can do that much memory because it has four slots. I remember my old Intel G41 system which is actually newer (the Conroe is a Intel Q35 system) being limited to 4 GB of RAM because it had only two slots. That system was really an object exercise in getting the right balance between price and performance. Most of the decisions I made such as buying LGA775 right at the end of that architecture, a Celeron CPU (Wolfdale-3M) and a board with only two DIMM slots were bad decisions in hindsight as the result is a system that has fallen well below useful after only three or four years, now struggling through its sixth year of life. Every system I have built since (with the exception of a couple of embedded mini-ITX Atom boards, and their replacement AMD E350s) has been specced for at least 8-16 GB of RAM with four slots, and the Pentium G is my preferred CPU for domestic use, being functionally equivalent to a Core i3 except for disabled hyperthreading.
I am now setting up one of my two AMD E350 board systems (Gigabyte GA-E350 WIN8) as a Mint testbed. What I need to do with it as a very high priority is to work out how to add RAID-1 to my Main PC at home as this has the disks but it was not set up when I installed or since because there are no nice GUIs unlike Windows. In other words I will probably have to move /home off the disk it is on to a disk that goes into the removable drive bay, then configure the RAID-1 and then migrate /home back to the RAID-1 array. So that is what the testbed is for. After I have finished with that it will become a Windows 10 testbed so I will have a Windows 10 computer in the house after all. But it will only be used for testing easyworship to start with.

The retreat from Lubuntu has now been completed with the second AMD E350 (identical motherboard to the other) also being installed with Linux Mint. But I continue to have a pen drive dedicated to the Lubuntu64 installer, and use it on some virtual machines. As I have stated above it is a great system for 4 GB or less of memory; once you are able to get as high as 8 GB, its advantages are no longer so clear cut because the CPU spec or speed is not so significant when such a large amount of RAM is installed. The second AMD E350 is in my workshop and will have a wireless connection to another network. It is being used primarily for work related to that network, which is not very much work at all at the present time. But hopefully the wireless connection will work well. I have had sooo much fun with a little Edimax nano adapter supposedly rated to 150Mbps which seems to be able to get real-world about 5Mbps on my home Wi-fi. So using another wireless antenna I have here I hope to be able to get a much faster speed. Well indeed I eventually tested with a much better Edimax solution, a wireless 802.11ac USB adapter with a big aerial on it. It turns out to be at least 5-10 times faster particularly on a 802.11ac network.

Another thing I am trying on my two work PCs is using Chrome instead of Chromium. Since it turns out Google makes a release of the full Chrome product for Linux alongside Chromium which is the open source part of the Chrome package. The newest one also has Firefox Developer installed from a source other than Ubuntu Make, which I could not find to install. I got FFDE from the Mozilla site instead. Once it is extracted you need to copy the firefox folder to somewhere, for example /opt (with root privileges needed) and then make a firefox-dev.desktop file for the menu entry which you put into ~/.local/share/applications where the Cinnamon menu thingy will pick it up automatically. The contents could look something like this (the firefox folder has been renamed to firefox_dev):

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Firefox Developer
GenericName=Firefox Developer Edition
Comment=Firefox Developer Edition Web Browser.

This has worked just as well as the Umake version.