Linux Mint - Free and powerful

Monday, 6 June 2011

Running Natty Narwhal for real

It's been a while since the last post but time however has not stood still. As with many in the blogosphere it seems safer just to keep your head low at the moment and not post anything that could boomerang on you.

This post is just a reminder to myself about the current setup as I have no access to NCT as in Limitless. 

As Stephan and Dave always says - YMMV (huh?) - Your mileage may vary.

My setup for a laptop is usually two big disk split between software and data. I have tried many permutations and my latest one seems pretty efficient so let me share:


  • Recovery
  • Easy upgrade and downgrade
  • Seamless encryption
  • Moving a disk to another workstation
You can choose to make the install (slightly more) complex or do some jiggery pokery afterwards to create new links in fstab etc. However, I prefer to do this at install time as it makes my life simpler afterwards. In one of my previous builds I split the disk up in many smaller partitions. That worked ok but I have simplified a little. I now only split out /home.

Most of my real data is on a LUKS encrypted 650GB drive. Previously I mounted this drive as home and used pam_mount to ensure the drive started up with the OS.
volume user="rayd" fstype="crypt" path="/dev/disk/by-uuid/e633f0c4-0b94-4e49-a90e-fbe359d6c1fa" mountpoint="/home650gbCrypt" options="fsck,relatime"

This method had some issues especially when the encrypted drive was not available due to a crash etc. In that case I had change pam_mount and fstab to mount a virgin /home. Not great. Also, when you finally give in and accept the fact that an inplace upgrade is never as good as a clean install you really want to start with a new desktop and config files. The thought process here is that you simply move what you need to the new setup and Linux does make that really easy.

This time around I decided to use symbolic links rather and that seems to work really well.

Rename Document / Download etc, to DocumentVirgn,  or whatever you want.

Then create some symbolic links using terminal. You can of course just right click on a folder, create a link and then simply move the link to the target.

The syntax is simple ln -s /"the real directory and subdirectory" "to the target directory WITHOUT the subdirectory"

ln -s /home650gbCrypt/rayd/Documents /home/rayd
ln -s /home650gbCrypt/rayd/Downloads /home/rayd
ln -s /home650gbCrypt/rayd/Incoming /home/rayd

ln -s /home650gbCrypt/rayd/.config/chromium /home/rayd/.config
ln -s /home650gbCrypt/rayd/.mozilla /home/rayd

I then use Ubuntu Tweak to move the default directories, such as Documents, Downloads, Music etc, in Ubuntu to the new directories. There is probably a command line to do this but hey, why bother.

You also need to open up the Home folder (Nautilus) and drag the new symlinks to the shortcuts on the left. Simply delete the old values.


This is a pretty good setup for me now. I will use the extra space on my /home partition to run the vm's while the backups stay on the encrypted drive.

I probably missed a few things but I may even come back an update this post!

The main reason for me reinstalling is that Notes barfed because it uses old gtk libs. I reinstalled using the OCDC layer method that kinda worked but Notes seem happier now. It has not chucked away my menu's yet and I do not need to start it with a preload. I will investigate how we fixed this internally. However, Notes still looks .....


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