Monday, 10 March 2014

Why you should try Linux Mint – Part I


In the past days I've been experimenting with an Operating System (OS) alternative of Windows and Mac. An OS that is free, open-source, easy, fast and elegant... it is not Samantha but hey! It's secure and almost virus free.

Interested? Keep on reading... and trust me, I will avoid technical terms. :-)

A. Operating System

A.1 What is it?
An operating system (OS) is a collection of software that manages computer  resources: hardware and programs. The operating system is an essential component of the computer system. Programs that you use daily like Word, Games, Internet browser, among others usually require an operating system to function.
Operating systems can be found on almost any device that contains a computer—from mobile phones and video game consoles to supercomputers and web servers. Examples of popular modern operating systems include Android, BSD, iOS, Linux, OS X, QNX, Microsoft Windows, Windows Phone, IBM z/OS.

B. Open-Source

B.1. What is it?
Open source is everywhere, it is on a pancake recipe you got from a friend, you have all details, you try it, you change it, you improve it and then you pass it on to your friends. In production and development, open source promotes:
  • an universal access via free license to a product's design or blueprint, and
  • an universal redistribution of that design or blueprint, including subsequent improvements to it by anyone.
Open source gained hold with the rise of the Internet, and the attendant need for massive retooling of the computing source code. Opening the source code enabled a self-enhancing diversity of production models, communication paths, and interactive communities.
In other words, people are free to change and distribute software, it does not mean that is not secure but that collaboration (or consumers' community) is key. So if you would like to use your cat birthday picture as splash screen when you turn on your computer, in Windows (for example) you can't do it at no cost and with Linux Mint you can.

B.2. Economics
Being organized effectively as a consumers' community, the idea of open source is to  reduce costs to consumers and creators of further improvements by reducing restrictions of copyright. Basic economic theory predicts that lower costs would lead to higher consumption and also more frequent improvements to the original product. Additionally some proponents argue that open source also relieves society of the administration and enforcement costs of copyright. These self-made protections free the general society of the costs of policing copyright infringement. Thus, on several fronts, there is an efficiency argument to be made on behalf of open-sourced goods.

B.3. Examples
You might have heard about Firefox, if not you should have. In case you do not know, Firefox a current competitor of InternetExplorer and GoogleChrome, is a free open-source web-browser and according to many IT specialists it is one of the best browsers out-there... did I say it was free and one of the best?

C. Linux Mint

C.1. Linux Environment
I believe I lost some of the readers when the word Linux was used, but if you are still reading, trust me, it is not that complicated! A bit of background... Linux system was created as alternative to paid-software and the same time putting more focus on the security aspect of the computers.
  1. Tackling issue 1: Whenever the Linux word is mentioned most people assume "That is something for the computer specialists...", is that true? Well... yes and no... bear with me. By being open-source means that people all-over the world can collaborate on the development of the system, those are developers and therefore computer specialists, but it is also true that in most of the time collaborators are the ones using Linux.
  2. Tackling issue 2: "Well but I have heard that you need to know about computers and to be a computer specialist to use Linux... that is not for me!" That assumption was true in the past, I can not deny it. In the old days people would need to know code to install and run programs. Nowadays a lot of effort was done by the Linux community to create systems that are user-friendly, i.e. easy for the average user to use.
I can hear some readers saying, "Oh... you are just saying that! The average user is not able to use it!", I hear you but again bear with me on this, today there is a very good and interesting alternative, Linux Mint.

C.2. The Profile
Linux Mint is a Linux distribution for desktop computers. Linux Mint is aimed at being a both a powerful and easy to use, modern, elegant and comfortable operating system.  Mint provides full out-of-the-box multimedia support by including some proprietary software such as Adobe Flash. In other words, you will have all the necessary tools for your day-to-day use, for free. Mint's motto is "from freedom came elegance". New versions of Linux Mint are released every six months and yes they are for free.
According to many specialists, Linux Mint is close to perfection, it is one of the most ambitious Linux project. It is considered one of the best desktop operating systems ever made.

C.3. The System
As mentioned Linux Mint is a full out-of-the-box system, which means that when you install the application you will have access to all necessary programs, from: document creator (like MSWord); to presentation tools (like MSPowerpoint); to spreadsheets (like MSExcel); to Internet browsers (like InternetExplorer); among many other programs. Did I mentioned it is completely free and easy to use? What do the specialists point-out?
  1. System Menu - Mint's menu gives a similar look to Windows, i.e. the graphical look and the general ease of use for newcomers that are used to Windows type of system with an Appleish feeling;
  2. Update Manager - Mint's update program nicely divides all updates into different levels of importance so you can toggle which ones you would like to receive, it is just like the WindowsUpdate;
  3. Default Software - Mint's choices of default software are very good. It contains LibreOffice (imagine it as a free version of Microsoft Office) and Firefox, but beyond this it is still shipping with Mozilla's Thunderbird for email, and XChat for IRC communications.
  4. Media Codecs, Flash, and Java by Default - This has to be one of the favourite things about Mint. With a fresh install, Mint will play just about any media format you can throw at it, stream youtube (or hulu) videos, and run any java application you might have laying around.
  5. Default Theme - Mint's green skin has an appealing environmentally friendly look.

C.4. Viruses

Are Linux systems virus free? To be honest virus and malware can attack any type of system, so the answer is "no" there is Linux malware in the wild. However, there are fewer when compared to Windows and the access to the Linux operating system is much more difficult than it is for Windows.

D. Relevancy

Don't get me wrong I am also a Windows user, i.e. I still use computers with Microsoft software (I seldom use Apple products) and now I have the chance to have a computer where I have installed only Linux Mint. Microsoft with its WinOs and Apple with its MacOs are still very important players in the world and in the innovation sphere. However it is important to look at other alternatives in the market, competition always creates better conditions and better products for consumers.
Specifically this article has being focusing in open-source software, which is able to provide similar tools at a free price. This can be seen as quite relevant for:
  • Students;
  • Entrepreneurs;
  • Innovators;
  • New businesses or businesses with high IT costs;
  • and societies/people with less capital.

E. Final Comments (Part I)

This is a first part article regarding Linux Mint. I know that at this moment there are still doubts and suspicions on this operating system alternative, but hopefully I managed to increase your interest and critical thinking on free alternatives in the market. I know that certain readers may still have questions:
  • Is it that easy to use?
  • Are there physical requirements? or even "I don't know nothing about physical requirements, can I install it in my computer?"
  • Is it easy to install?
  • Will everything work?
  • Do I need to erase all the data of my computer?
  • What if I have problems with my computer?

Have any suggestions or questions? Drop them in the comments section and all these will be tackled in Part II; I will also help you to install Linux Mint and I will show you some of its functionalities - what more can you ask? ;-)

Find out more at: or read Part II for a more comprehensive guide.

*Final Note: I have no association with Linux Mint System or their products neither I have something to gain by publicizing Linux Mint. I am a Windows user since Windows 3.0 with html and mSL coding experience.

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Blog Editor and Owner: Luis Aparicio Fernandes (or Mikey) is a Business Expert and a Traveler based in London, UK. He is a member of The International Honor Society Beta Gamma Sigma due to his achievements in business. You can follow Luis on Google+, and LinkedIn.