Windows is easy and familiar. It has been the de facto operating system on most computers for the past twenty years or so- and for the majority of people who use PCs, it’s the only operating system that they know of. It’s easy to see why some people are hesitant on making the leap to other operating systems.
What is Linux Mint?
But if you do find yourself getting more and more enthused about moving away from “evil” corporate Windows and into the free world of open source Linux, then consider getting Linux Mint as your beginner distro!
Often touted as the ultimate Windows replacement, Linux Mint is one the most popular “beginner” Linux distros in the world today. Based and built upon another Linux favorite, Ubuntu, Linux Mint has been consistently getting positive reviews and raves from the tech community at large. It combines Ubuntu’s “out-of-the-box” functionality (i.e. just install and you’re done, no need for tweaking or fooling around with console) and its own brand of simplicity and newbie-friendliness.
The operating system’s current iteration is the Linux Mint 17.1 “Rebecca,” which was released on November last year. As a Long-term support (LTS) release version, Rebecca is expected to be supported by the Mint team until 2019.
Why Linux Mint?
Linux Mint users (and users of other Linux distros, for that matter) are such a small subset of the computing community, that hackers and other unscrupulous programmers don’t often bother writing malicious code and programs for them. There’s also the fact that Linux Mint can be installed on older computers (something that you can’t possibly do Windows 8.1 or Mac OS X) and is not a resource hog.
Now, compared to its older sister and near competitor Ubuntu, Linux Mint is sleeker and faster. Also, since the latest releases of Ubuntu use the drastically complicated Unity interface (with its Mac OS-type dashboard and confusing icons), Linux Mint offers a more familiar environment for people who are coming straight from Windows.
How to Install Linux Mint
Another great thing about Linux Mint- its versatility! You can install it on bare metal (i.e. install it on a computer as its sole operating system), dual boot it with Windows, or run it from WITHIN Windows.
1. First, go to the official Linux Mint download page. There are several editions of the current Linux Mint release available for download. The MATE edition is perfect for older, slower computers, while Cinnamon can be handled by most modern PCs. 64-bit computers can run both 64-bit and 32-bit Linux Mint editions, but 32-bit computers can only run 32-bit editions. So make sure that you choose the appropriate type.
2. Burn the downloaded .ISO file into a DVD or a USB stick. Run the program from the ISO, as soon as you’re ready.
3. Choose your preferred installation. Below are your three options:
a. Install it within Windows.
This option allows you to install and run Linux Mint like a normal Windows application. Run your Linux Mint DVD or USB, then select mint4win.exe as soon as Autoplay runs. In the Linux Mint Menu, choose “Install inside Windows.” Follow the instructions that the installer will show you.
b. Perform a clean install.
This option is for those who want to erase their existing operating system and use Linux Mint as their main OS. From the Linux Mint Menu, choose the “Erase disk and Install Linux Mint” option.
c. Use it alongside Windows.
Now, this can be a bit trickier. First, you have to backup all of your files from your Windows OS (in case something goes awry) and then partition your hard drive to make way for Linux Mint. Google “How to Partition Your Hard Drive” on how to do this properly. Once you’ve done partitioning, run your Linux Mint live disk and choose “Something Else” from the Menu. Decide on how much space you want to allocate for Linux Mint. Twenty gigabytes is highly recommended.
d. Try it using Live Mode.
If you don’t want to commit to having a full installation of Linux Mint on your machine, you can try using the OS straight from the USB or DVD drive. You can choose the “Try Mint” option from the menu.
There you have it. The Linux Mint installer is self-explanatory in itself, and you can have the OS up and running in no time. Linux Mint’s interface is pretty similar to Windows so you would have no problem getting around. But should you have any questions, the Linux Mint forums are an excellent resource for beginning Mint users!