A Windows Free Apartment

Well, not quite. But it just got a lot closer. A few weeks ago I took some space from my ridiculously large Windows partition (200 Gb of 600 Gb free space) on my daily driver Toshiba Dynabook laptop and installed Peppermint OS, a semi-lightweight Ubuntu based Linux distro. It was a bit worrying. I had bricked my old netbook multiple times trying to do different dual boot implementations. So I made sure to take all the necessary backup precautions when shrinking my Windows volume (Windows actually makes this pretty easy, believe it or not) and installing Peppermint 9 from a USB stick.

Most important was ensuring that GRUB was installed onto the correct (efi) partition. Otherwise getting back to Windows 10 might be and issue. Thankfully everything went well and the PC rebooted without a hitch with both Windows 10 and Peppermint available on the GRUB menu.

Of course Peppermint boots fast and smooth with almost zero delay after login. No hangups on the password screen. No impossible wait times as bloatware loads in the background. All major issues with Windows 10. Peppermint runs like a dream and has all the benefits of the Ubuntu ecosystem but even more lightning quick. It also has many similarities aesthetically to older Windows versions so hopefully, with enough time, it will convince my wife to completely abandon that horrendous piece of Microsoft dreck.

Simple, lightweight, and gets the job done – Peppermint 9

But my dual boot was not without issue. The first problem I had to troubleshoot was fixing the clock de-syncing when switching between Windows and Linux. This is a common issue and is caused by Windows using local time for it’s default rather than UTC. I decided to fix this by changing Peppermint’s default time setting to RTC (local). This is the easiest, most no-hassle solution to get both systems showing the accurate time. (I know it’s not necessarily best practice, as UTC is preferred, but I just wanted things to work quickly.)

The second issue, which was more vexing than all others, was automatically pairing my Bluetooth mouse across both operating systems. Each time I paired it in one, I’d have to re-pair it in the other the next time I booted into it. Not cool! I won’t get into the vagaries of why this happens, but the fix was a bit more complicated than the clock sync issue. It involved extracting a key from the Windows Registry and copying it over to my Bluetooth configuration file in Linux. There are no two words in computer Geekdom that cause more existential dread for a regular Linux user than “Windows Registry”. Fortunately there are a million troubleshooting tutorials dealing with this issue, and after some mild hacking I was able to get my mouse working properly across platforms.

Finally having gotten these issues squared away, I know have a perfect dual boot setup: Windows 10 for the wife, and Peppermint OS for me. (Which I will now work out of – in perpetuity.) Bye Bye Windows… Happy New Year!

What do you think?