Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Why you should try Linux Mint – Part II

The last post showed that there are alternatives to WinOS and MacOs. In particular it demonstrated that Linux Mint, a free alternative that can be as good any mainstream OS.

In this article you will learn a bit more about Linux Mint, how to install it and how to use it. Seven main blocks A-B-C-D-E-F-G describe a comprehensible step by step guide... Are you ready?

A. Introduction
Most of the tech community agrees Linux Mint is outstanding. Although some may consider it a conservative system because it focuses on stability and consistency rather than fads. See a screen-shot below (yes you can change the theme/colours of the system):


B. Capabilities
The beauty of Linux Mint is that you do not have to take my word for it; you can download it and try it for yourself without installing it in your computer! Just keep in mind to burn/copy the file into a DVD and run it, it will not install automatically and you can use it as a test-drive.

I honestly think you will find Linux Mint an exceptional desktop. In my case, Mint ran flawlessly from the moment I installed it. This included automatic support for the graphics, sound, in-built camera, Wi-Fi hardware. The days when Linux had trouble with commonplace PC hardware is history. In the event you do have exotic hardware which many of the readers may not have, Mint includes a Driver Manager to make it easier to manage which driver to use with your devices! It is that E-A-S-Y, really!

Mint has the usual selection of software: free and open-source. This includes LibreOffice (like Office) for the office suite, Thunderbird for e-mail (like Outlook), Firefox Web browsing and so on - all free. Say, you have your own favourite applications, as I do, Mint's Software Manager works as an app store and makes finding, downloading, installing and uninstalling programs very easy - you don't want Firefox you can go for Chrome, go to software manager and remove one and take the other. Installing software is as trivial as installing a new program on an Android or iPhone. And guess what... there is no need to install media players you can just copy your media files (video or music) and Mint is already ready to play them.

Its design is far more secure than Windows. There are such things as Linux viruses, but there have been only a handful and mostly are harmless. Linux is the safest full desktop operating system you can run in your computer. So, if you have a slow old computer that you are attached to and you would still like to use it, Linux Mint is what I recommend.

Yes, if you have Windows programs that won't fun on Linux, or MacOS, then you may need to stick with Windows, but now Mint has an application called Wine (yes like the drink) which will run most Windows programs.

C. System Requirements (for current Linux Mint 16)
Here is what you will need to run this system:
  • Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both 32-bit and 64-bit processors, this means if you have a Windows 32-bit or 64-bit you can run it without a problem. Most of you may have a 32-Bit processor - if you do not want to risk it go to the system information of your computer  just to be sure;
  • 512 MB RAM, however 1GB can be recommended for a more comfortable usage;
  • 7.8 GB of disk space;
  • Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution;
  • CD/DVD drive or USB port.
In layman's terms, if you have an average computer with +5 years you should choose Linux Mint 32-bit.

As you can see that you do not need a powerful computer and if you just use Linux Mint and you erase your entire computer and install Mint on top, you will get even a faster computer. Can Linux Mint help you to clean your computer while installing the new operating system? Of course! Linux Mint is here to help you!

D.Downloading & Installation
Now the exciting part! Installing Linux Mint is easy, quick and painless. Linux Mint 16 is also a live system, so you can just run it off the disc before actually doing an install on your computer. Please note that the performance running off a disc will not necessarily be as good as running it after a real install. But it will give you a taste of what Linux Mint has to offer.

First you need to go to Linux Mint website: http://www.linuxmint.com/ pick the option for 32 or 64-Bit version in the Cinnamon row (see below). If you would pick "no codecs" you would not have multimedia support. Ah and if you are wondering what is the difference between Cinnamon and MATE I would need to explain in very technical terms, but let's just say that Cinnamon is based on a more recent technology but MATE offers similar functions.

You then need to burn the file into a DVD disc, it needs to be a DVD since it is roughly 1 Gigabyte.
You can now use Linux Mint through your DVD.

If you want to install it in your computer just follow the next steps. :-)

D1: When you run Mint (through the burn disc) there is an icon for installation, by clicking it a window will appear.

D2: The window will ask which the language you want to use.

D3: Then you just need to confirm that you have enough space and you are connected to the Internet, either through Wi-Fi or through a wired connection. Why the connection to the Internet? Mint will make your life easier and will check the current settings of your computer to provide you with the best possible installation.

D4: It will then ask what type of installation you want. Either a full installation where you erase your disk or something else. Attention: If you pick the first do not forget to copy your important files first, if you pick the second (the partition) you will need to divide your disk space between the current operating system and Linux Mint (you need roughly ~7.8GB of space). A full install while erasing the computer will give you a lot of free space and it is my impression that it will make your computer much faster (why not trying it in your old computer?).

Full install

Or a partition

D5: Then pick your country so you can get the updated time-zone.

D6: Pick your keyboard layout. If you do not know you can request "Detect Keyboard Layout", it is that easy! Why is Linux Mint is asking this? Well, computers have different keyboard layouts, a Portuguese keyboard will have ç, ã, ô, etc... which a US based computer does not have.

D7: Pick a user-name and a password for yourself (the password is not mandatory).

D8: Then you just relax for ~10minutes and wait for the system to install. During the installation there will be a slide-show, useful if you want to read a bit about the new operating system.

D9: Once the installation is over, you will be presented with the option to keep trying live version or to restart the system. My recommendation is that you click "Restart Now".

On next boot, if you made a partition install you will see the option of Linux Mint on the screen, if you did a full installation it will automatically enter Linux Mint through the created user-name. And thus you can enjoy the beautiful and beginner friendly Linux distribution.

E. After the Installation
I will not leave you empty-handed. There are still a couple of things you may do to have everything up-to-date. The first thing that you want to do, just after installing Linux Mint is to update your packages, i.e. make sure that everything is updated with the latest version. To do this, you will need to search for the "Update Manager" in the application list.

It will automatically check for updates, after all the packages are updated you can click in "Install Now".

If your computer has strange/difficult graphic cards or wireless connexion you may need to install some drivers to make it work properly. If your wireless does not work straight away you might want to install the driver using a wired connection.

After searching for the "Driver Manager" go to the application and choose the driver that you want to activate, Mint will make recommendations for you. You need to restart your computer afterwards.

You are almost done but keep on reading...

F. Software Manager
As I mentioned, Mint has a software manager that looks like your app store.

You can check the different applications...

...and chose the ones you like after reading the reviews.

At this stage you should install Gufw, a firewall application. Although Linux is quite secure it is still important to protect your computer. Search for it in the Software Manager and after the installation put the "Status" as on. You do not need to do anything else as it will remember the settings until you change them again.

You are officially done! Of course you can install other programs but all the important steps were explained here. Ah... if you are using a touchpad you will realise that tapping to click buttons is not working (only through the buttons), don't worry you can always change those settings in the System Settings.

G. Final comments (Part II)
You may find strange at first, it is not the operating system that you were using, but just like the changes from Windows 3.11 to Windows 95 or from Windows ME to Windows XP it requires some familiarization that will come over time.
Secondly, I do understand that many readers will be reluctant to delete their precious and current system for Linux Mint, so I suggest that you use the disc version first, see if you like it. If you have an old computer that you do not use any more you can always try it with it, it will be a great way to give it a boost.
Finally, you can always ask me system or user experience type of questions but if you have technical questions or problems there are many forums that can help you better, the official one is http://forums.linuxmint.com/, I used this forum in the past and it was of great assistance.

I hope you found this guide to helpful and honestly give Linux Mint a try, you will be pleasantly surprised.

If you want to read the Part I click here

*Please note: This blog is not responsible for any computer damages that may result from following the guide.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider tipping me using Bitcoin. Bitcoin Address: 1CZMXfdyJzquJaagpHixzizuN2SxFbefTP



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.