1. General Linux Mint desktop installation and configuration

The perfect Linux desktop for broadcast or general use.

These steps require experience and familiarity with multiple computing concepts. You must be aware that the process of installing an operating system will erase all previous data and software on the machine, which if it ran Windows or any other operating system, will not be able to run Windows or any other operating system again until that has been reinstalled. Reinstallation of Windows or any other operating system requires experience, installation media and in many cases a licence key, all of which are well beyond the scope of this document and which, as they are not our products, we are unable to provide.

Due to the wide variety of computer hardware and software available we are unable to offer any assistance in the event of any issue or incompatibility. These steps are therefore for reference only and should not be regarded as a conclusive set of instructions.

You will need to know how to use the Vi text editor to follow these notes. Alternatively you may be able to substitute references to "vi" with your favourite editor. More information on vi can be found here: www.howtogeek.com/102468/a-beginners-guide-to-editing-text-files-with-vi



Start the installation:

First, download Linux Mint 19.3 "Tricia" - Xfce 64-bit
(filename: linuxmint-19.3-xfce-64bit.iso)
from https://linuxmint.com/edition.php?id=278

You'll now need to create a bootable CD or USB stick to install the downloaded ISO file on your computer. Full installation details for all computers are beyond the scope of this article, however please be aware that doing so will wipe any data from the existing machine. To prepare a USB key and make it bootable on a Windows computer, I use the Rufus utility.

Once you have booted the USB key or DVD you should see a desktop appear. Double click on "Install Linux Mint" to start installation. When prompted click "Continue" and choose your keyboard layout.

Ensure you tick the box labelled "Install third-party software for graphics and Wi-Fi hardware, Flash, MP3 and other media" (exact wording may vary).

When prompted you will usually want to "Erase disk and install Linux Mint" and click the "Install Now" button. WARNING: This will wipe all data from the machine (if prompted accept the option to "Write changes to disk").

Optionally, tick the "Use LVM" box if you feel you're likly to need to change your drive partition sizes in future.

During the install select your location (used to set the clock and other settings correctly for your country).

When prompted enter the following and click continue:

Note: I recommend you set the username to "broadcast" (all lower case without quotes) to allow our other install notes (such as those for Rivendell) to be used without changes.

Your Name: broadcast
Your Computer's Name: (choose an appropriate name following the rules below)
Pick a username: broadcast
Choose a password: (choose a password)
Confirm your password: (repeat the above)
Log in automatically: Tick if the machine is going to run applications like Rivendell unattended.

DO NOT use capital letters, spaces or any characters other than letters and numbers in the machine name and username (this is important as Rivendell uses the machine name for authentication). To ensure your configuration matches the one given in the notes on this site.

Once the Linux Mint install has completed, click "Restart now" to reboot.

Our customisations:

Once the machine has booted, login to the desktop (if not set to auto-login).
Close the "Welcome to Linux Mint" window unticking the "show this dialog at startup" option.

Ensure the machine has an internet connection, open a terminal window (click the fourth icon from the left at the bottom) and type:
sudo passwd root
Enter your password to each of the prompts to enable root account use.

Then enter the following (again enter your password if prompted):

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

sudo apt-get install synergy openssh-server vim numix* gtk-theme* xfce4-goodies firefox vlc audacity gnome-disk-utility gparted openvpn acpi curl wget rdesktop remmina ntp network-manager-openvpn-gnome seahorse libgnome-keyring0

Download or copy the broadcast-themes.zip file to the Downloads folder.
Click here to download the file.
Type the following:
cd /home/broadcast/Downloads
unzip broadcast-themes.zip
cd broadcast-themes
sudo mv Broadcast\ Theme/ /usr/share/themes/
mv wallpapers/ /home/broadcast/
cd ..
rmdir broadcast-themes
Download or copy the broadcast-icons.zip file to the Downloads folder.
Click here to download the file.
Type the following:
cd /tmp
unzip /home/broadcast/Downloads/broadcast-icons.zip 
sudo mv broadcast /usr/share/icons/broadcast

Select our custom theme:

From the main menu enter and click "Window Manager".
Choose Theme: Broadcast Theme.
Title Alignment: Left.
Click "Advanced" and untick "Window Snapping" and "To Borders".
Close the Window Manager.

From the main menu enter and click "Appearance".
Choose "Style", "Broadcast Theme".
"Icons", "Broadcast".
Close Appearance.

Right click the main menu (Mint logo, bottom left), select "Properties".
Click the green Icon.
At the top of the window that appears choose "Select icon from", "Image Files".
Navigate to /usr/share/icons/broadcast.
Select the format-justify-fill-symbolic file and click ok.

You should now be back at the "Whisker Menu" window:
Under "Appearance", "Item icon size": Very small.
Show application descriptions: untick.
Under "Behaviour", "Switch categories by hovering": untick.
"Position categories next to panel button": Untick.
Close the window.

Right click on the desktop and select "Desktop Settings".
Click "Icons". Set Icon size: 38.
Under "Default Icons" tick only "Wastebasket".

Create a shortcut to the user's "Home" folder on the desktop:

Note: Normal links in Linux may be counter intuitive for this purpose as they show a virtual path rather than the real one. To avoid that, we create a "URL link" to the required folder:

Right click on the desktop and select "Create URL Link".
Name: broadcast (or whatever username you've used)
URL: /home/broadcast
Click on the Icon and select "All Icons" then "folder-documents".
Click "Create".
Double click on the new icon and select "Mark Executable" when prompted.
You now have a direct shortcut to the user's Documents folder.

Other Settings:

Click the menu (bottom left) and enter and select "Power Manager".
Disable all the suspend and "put to sleep" options.

Click the menu (bottom left) and enter and select "Driver Manager".
See if any additional drivers are prompted for your hardware.

Right click the middle of the bottom panel. Choose "Panel" then "Panel preferences".
Change Row Size from 32 to 24.
Change Appearance: Style: Solid colour, Alpha: 100, Click on colour: 141414.
Click "Items". Add a separator between "Whisker Menu" and "Show Desktop"
and another separator between "Launcher" and "Window Buttons".

You can also optionally add a free disk space and weather indicator:
Add "Free Space Checker" and "Weather Update".
Move these so they are above the "Notification Area".
Add add two extra separators, one on each side of Weather and Disk space.
Right click on disk space and select "Properties". untick "Display Meter" and "Display Button".
Right click on weather and set your location.
Select the "scrollbox" tab and remove wind speed and direction.
Close the window.

Double click on "Documents" on the desktop.
Click "View" then "View as Compact List".
Optionally you can also select "Show Hidden Files" as this can be useful in future.
Click on "broadcast" (on the left) then double click on "wallpapers".
Double click on "broadcast-16-9.jpg" to open the image.
Right click in the middle of the imafe and "set as wallpaper".
Close the File manager.

Fix a problem with applications scroll bars disappearing:
Open a terminal:
sudo vi /etc/environment
Add on a new line at the end:
Reboot for this to take effect.

Fix the clock to ensure the exact time is shown:

The default XFCE "Clock" applet only updates from the system time once a second, so it's display sometimes lags behind the exact system time. In a broadcasting enviroment exact time is essential, so we replace this with one called "DateTime" to ensure split second accuracy:

Right click in the middle of the bottom panel and select "Panel", "Panel Preferences".
Click Items.
Click the + symbol and type "DateTime", select this and click "Add" then "Close".
On the taskbar there will now be two clocks. Right click on the left clock and select "remove".

Right click on the remaining clock and select "Properties".
Select "Layout", "Format", "Time Only". Then "Time", "Format", "Custom".
In the custom field enter "%a %d %b %H:%M:%S "
(Without quotes, Mint 19.3 looks better with an extra trailing space).
Click "Time", "Font". Select "Sans Regular" and "12pt".
(Note: On previous Mint versions this was "Noto Sans Adlam Regular Regular" and 12pt.)
Close the window.

Setup NTP time sync:

sudo apt-get install ntp

sudo vi /etc/ntp.conf

If needed, change the first "pool" line to your most local server.
For example:
pool uk.pool.ntp.org iburst

sudo service ntp restart

Test NTP with:
watch ntpq -cpe -cas

Make the active panel item more visible:

Right click the centre of the bottom panel (task bar):
Panel \ Panel Preferences.
Select "Items" then: "Window Buttons" (double click):
  Show button labels: tick
  Show flat buttons: tick
  Show handle: untick
  Sorting order: None, allow drag-and-drop
  Show windows from all workspaces: tick
Click "Close" to close the open windows.

Check for updates:

If there is a warning triangle icon near the clock (common on initial install), click it and install any recommended "language packs" and "multimedia codecs". There is no need to setup the "System restore utility" if prompted (you can click "ignore"), but it may be useful to do so.

Right click on taskbar "shield" icon. In the "Update Manager" that will appear, click "ok".
Click "Edit" and then "Preferences" and select the following options:
    "Hide the update manager after applying updates" - On
    "only show a tray icon when updates are available" - On
To apply these settings close the settings window.

If the window is closed but the shield is still showing, double click on it to reopen the window.
If an update list is shown, click "Install Updates" and enter your password if prompted to install.

Some personal cosmetic tweaks:

Remove the shortcuts other than "Minimise open windows" to the right of the "start menu".

Disable the transparent background to the terminal:
In the terminal select "Edit" then "Preferences" and click the "Appearance" tab.
Move the "Opacity" slider to the far right.
Click on the "Colours" tab, then click "Background colour":
Click the darkest black square at in the "Palette" section and then "Select".
Click "Close".

Fix problem of windows randomly maximising when moved near top of screen:
Window Manager Tweaks > Accessibility > Automatically tile windows when moving toward the screen edge. Untick.

Remove Xplayer and Rhythmbox (we've installed VLC instead as it supports JACK):
sudo apt-get remove xplayer
sudo apt-get remove rhythmbox

Add Mplayer in case it's needed by any scripts:
sudo apt-get install mplayer

Your Linux desktop is now ready for general use!

You can now install applications such as Rivendell or services such as VNC.

See the other notes for those details.