Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tweaking Linux Mint 11 (Part 1)

As you start to add and change programs to your system, there may be some behavioral tweaks (simple or complex) that you want to do to your system to make your life a little easier.  I would like to cover some of the more important tweaks that I think people will want to change.

Preferred Applications

This feature is located in Menu -> Control Center -> Preferred Applications.  It grants you access to the applications that are run by default whenever your system makes specific calls.  For example, in the screenshot below I have changed my preferred web browser to Google Chrome so that anytime I click on a hyperlink it will no longer be opened with Firefox.  I chose Google Chrome because of the effortless bookmark/extension sync feature across Windows/Linux platforms if I ever need to switch back and forth.

Configuring the Boot Loader

Some of you may not be happy with Linux Mint 11 being the default operating system that is booted into or may want to change the time it takes for GRUB2 to boot into one of the operating systems.  To do this go to Menu -> Control Center -> StartUp-Manager.

First you can change your default operating system that is highlighted by GRUB2, so that you automatically boot into it from the boot loader.  You may also change how long it takes to boot into your default operating system using this program.

The "Timeout" option indicates how long the boot loader screen will stay active giving you the option of selecting an operating system.  If you would like to automatically boot into the operating system that you have selected enter "0" for the time.  Otherwise you can pick a default timeout that you would like.  However, if you would like to set it to not time out at all then there are some *slightly* more complicated steps to follow below:

Start by opening a terminal and typing the command:

gksudo gedit /etc/default/grub

Here we can change the time to infinite and do some more advanced configuration options as well.  By default this is the top few lines of my grub:

If you want to change your GRUB timeout from x to infinite change the following line:


If you would like GRUB to remember operating system you booted into last and highlight it automatically on restart, change the first line and add this one after it (both case sensitive):


Now, if you've made any changes in gedit hit the save button and then type this for following for your changes to take effect:

sudo update-grub

Restart and your changes should now be in place.  You can test the GRUB_DEFAULT and GRUB_SAVEDEFAULT by setting a low GRUB_TIMEOUT and booting into different operating systems and rebooting.

Starting a GUI-Based Application on Boot

It's possibly you may want to start an application that has a GUI when starting your system to help automate your system a little.  You may also have one that is being run automatically that you want like removed.  Go to Menu -> Preferences -> Startup Applications.

From here we can either add or remove an application.  For the sake of the tutorial, I'm going to add a Minecraft server so that I don't have to start it up every time I turn my computer back on.  Start by clicking Add and entering the name of your application.  Now we want to type the command to execute the application from terminal.  For some samples, check out the Native Games for Linux Mint 11 section on menu commands.  My Add Startup Program looks like the following:

Name: Minecraft Server
Command: java -jar /home/user/minecraft_server.jar nogui

Or if you'd like another example of how to start Pidgin when your system starts up:
Name: Pidgin
Command: pidgin


  1. So which start up apps can SAFELY be turned off and still have basic functionality? the built in definitions leave a lot to be desired.This reminds me of the startup tab in Microsofts "msconfig". Strange it seems that the list of start up apps in Mint gets longer with each release. Any thoughts?

  2. Based on the looks of it, you can turn off quite a few depending on what your needs/wants are. I'm still trying to figure out which of the mint* ones are necessary though. I'm just trying to go through these real quickly and see what I can find out for you without knowing too terribly much on any of the processes.

    Bluetooth manager: Disables bluetooth
    GNOME Login Sound: Disables login sound
    Remote Desktop: I believe this disables your ability to use VNC automatically.
    SSH Key Agent: Needed only if you use SSH
    Visual Assistance: I believe this will enable any assistive technology you use when you start the computer up, such as the magnifier.


    Certificate and Key Storage: Probably related to Wireless password storage and other uses.
    Disk Notifications: I've seen differing opinions on this one, I'm not sure if it should stay or go.
    GSettings Data Conversion
    User Folders Update
    Network Manager
    Power Manager
    PulseAudio Sound System
    PulseAudio Sound System KDE Routing Policy