How to get rid off the Ubuntu font completely in the Linux Mint 19 Cinnamon panel

With Linux Mint 19.2, the Noto font-family has been abandoned in favour of the Ubuntu one. While it does look decent (and likely has the better licensing status – didn’t research that), I’m personally not a particular fan of it and preferred Noto.

Of course it can be changed back rather easily, but the Cinnamon panel stuck with Ubuntu when using the default Linux Mint theme. No problem however, since Cinnamon uses CSS for configuration stuff like this.

The responsible file is /usr/share/themes/Linux Mint/cinnamon/cinnamon.css. Simply replace Ubuntu in line 6 with "Noto Sans"  (or whatever font you prefer) so it looks like this:
font-family: Ubuntu, sans-serif;
You can also change the font-size in the line below, if you desire.

I’d recommend to do this on a copy of the original theme, just to be safe. Simply follow these steps in a terminal:
1. sudo cp -r /usr/share/themes/Linux\ Mint /usr/share/themes/Linux\ Mint\ Noto
2. sudo nano /usr/share/themes/Linux\ Mint\ Noto/cinnamon.css
3. change the line as described above, save the file
4. in the GUI, go to the theme menu, select „Linux Mint Noto“

Replacing the worn-out CCFL display in my Thinkpad x200

So I was in the following situation: I bought a used x200 from a friend a few years ago which seems to be virtually indestructable. Yet it had one major issue: The display had severe signs of age already, namely a yellow tint and insufficient brightness even at 100% backlight. It was still usable indoors, but not under daylight or even in a train. Also the high voltage inverter necessary to drive the display made a constant hum, which was subtle yet nasty.

This led to me buying an x201 which already had LED backlight, and also one can hardly own enough compact Thinkpads, right? I would be using the x201 until this day, if it hadn’t broken down – some day, it made weird fan noises, before switching off and refusing to boot ever again. (It shows something about a fan error, but as far as I could find out it seems to be a common mainboard problem with this model, not the actual fan being broken.)

I was glad to have a backup, but also wanted a newer model (hoping it will last me longer) and went with an x230. So far so good, but having an x200 with a broken display and an x201 where everything but the display was broken kept me thinking whether it was exchangable or everything would blow up due to the inverter.

Yet the internet didn’t really deliver useful information on whether this would work and so I never dared to touch it – until yesterday. I had removed the display panel from the x201 to look for its FRU, which turned out to be 42T0711. And exactly this display was also available in the x200! Should work, shouldn’t it?

Now I just needed to take the risk and try transplanting the display. Luckily the disassembly of older x-series Thinkpads is rather easy and I had done it before. I won’t go into largely boring details here, but two things should be mentioned: It turned out that the cable between mainboard and display was incompatible, so I needed to change that too. And also the LED board within the display bezel which – in case of CCFL displays – carries the inverter. So, if you wanna do the same, make sure you have the cable and LED board, although the latter is not necessary to use the computer, so it’s somewhat optional. Remember to re-connect the bluetooth and camera modules in case your Thinkpad has those (both are optional components).

TL;DR: Are displays interchangeable between Thinkpad models x200 and x201? Yes, they are – check the FRU of the actual component in question!

x200 with the new display already built in, but still lacking the LED board beneath it. Sorry for the crappy photo, it’s the only one I took during this procedure.

Old LED board with the inverter on the right side. For non-CCFL-displays, the right half of the board is just empty. The connector on the left however is incompatible, so you need to change the whole board and can’t just un-solder the now useless inverter.

An unorthodox method to keep Dropbox from autostarting

Whether you like them or not, cloud storage solutions are a useful thing. Despite having a self-hosted ownCloud, I also still use Dropbox for various reasons.

Now on my desktop computer the Dropbox client is running all the time, so the default setting for an automatic startup is perfectly fine with me. On my notebook however I don’t want anything data-hungry to start automatically when I log in, because I don’t always have a good wireless connection – sometimes I need to tether using my phone, or I might just have a poor connection to some public network.

No problem you’d think, just disable the automated startup in the client settings and you’re fine. In the past this worked for me too, but on my current installation (running Linux Mint Cinnamon 18.2 at the moment) it didn’t. No matter how I configured it, the client would always start at login. Even when I deleted the autostart file, which is located in ~/.config/autostart, it was simply rewritten every time I manually started the client.

I figured that it might just look whether the autostart file exists, not check its contents, so instead of the command starting the Dropbox client I entered something that wouldn’t do anything meaningful at all (a blank file might work as well, but I didn’t try that). I used echo, but something like pwd or ping -c 1 would be just as fine. However, the client still overwrote that file every time, so I decided to get brutal to set the access rights to 444, making it read only for everybody. That finally worked!

I have no clue why the setting doesn’t work as it should and, to be honest, didn’t bother debugging it. My solution (or rather: workaround) works well enough for me.