10. Installing Linux Mint
In the previous article, I explained how to download Linux Mint and burn it to a DVD (or USB drive). In this article, I will explain how to install it. In the past, this used to be a complex process, but these days, it is very simple. I would even add that it is now simpler than installing Windows or MacOS.
Installing from disk
We’ll use the DVD, since the process with a USB drive it is virtually the same. You will need to start up the computer, open up the DVD tray, insert the disk, and then restart the computer. This should start loading the Linux operating system.
If the computer does not restart from the disk, then it may be bypassing the drive. Some computers are set up this way to speed up boot times. If so, you will need to go into that computer’s boot us process (often called the BIOS) and make that change. Since there are many different ways to access a computer’s boot up process, it is beyond the scope of this article to go into each one, but here is a link with instructions for various systems.
Once the computer restarts, the computer screen may prompt if you really want to boot from the DVD. Confirm this and proceed.
Booting Linux Mint for the first time
Linux Mint, more than other version of Linux, makes installing very easy. There are only a few prompts, a few long pauses while it loads software, and then you are presented with a logon screen. It really is that simple . We won’t discuss every option. Instead we’ll use the defaults, but as defaults go, they are well thought-out and there is little reason to deviate.
As mentioned already, Linux will initially load itself entirely into memory without installing itself on the hard drive. This is sometimes called a live-install and requires the DVD every time you restart. It will also not have access to the hard drive, so saving files is not an option either. It really is like a test-drive at the car dealership and just as with a car, you can still walk away if you don’t like what you see.
P.S. If the computer does not restart from the DVD disk, then it may be bypassing the drive. Some computers are set up this way to speed up boot times. If so, you will need to go into that computer’s boot us process (often called the BIOS) and make that change. Since there are many different ways to access a computer’s boot up process, it is beyond the scope of this article to go into each one, but here is a link with more comprehensive instructions for various systems.
The process of loading Linux Mint from the DVD is also a bit slower because DVDs are inherently slower than a computer hard drive. So it will take a few minutes to start up. One of the first screens you will see is:
The first (default) option should be selected and you shouldn’t need to change it. Click Enter to continue.
You may experience some long pauses here, especially on slower computers, and these can last several minutes. It may also scroll text on the screen as it loads files. Some may even say that something failed to load. That’s OK, Linux Mint will try several of them until it finds one that works.
Even if after some time the computer locks up and fails to complete the boot up process, that’s OK too. Just restart and Linux Mint will try something else. Unlike most other operating systems, Linux Mint is designed to run on a huge diversity of computer hardware, so it will try different ways until it finds one that works. This is normal.
Allow Linux Mint to load completely into memory and start properly. When it’s done, it will show the following screen:
You are now running Linux! Go ahead and click around if you like, but we’re not done yet.
The icon we are interested in is the one labeled “Install Linux Mint” on the left. Double-click it to proceed with the actual installation onto the hard drive.
Installing Linux Mint onto the Hard Drive
After clicking on the icon, the first screen you are prompted with is for selecting your language.
English is the default so unless you are fluent in another language, keep the default and click Continue.
The next screen asks if you want to install additional software:
Linux developers are very particular about using software that does not belong to them (see my previous posts about Linux software and licensing). In this case, Linux Mint wants to know if you want to install popular software applications that the Linux Mint programmers haven’t created, but that you are likely familiar with like the Firefox web browser.
Only leave this checkbox blank if you want to find less popular applications to get your work done (and Linux has tons of these), but I don’t recommend it. Put a check in the box, save yourself the trouble and click Continue.
The next screen offers more choices, but again, if this is a computer that you’ve put together following my previous articles, then the second radio button is the one you will want to choose: Erase disk and Install Linux Mint:
If this computer has Windows 7 or another operating system that you wish to keep, then you would choose the first radio button (like I did above because I was installing it on my own computer with Windows already on it). This will create a menu of operating system options for you to select from each time you start your computer. However, you will likely be installing a fresh operating system, so select option 2.
The other options below add more complexity and don’t need to be selected here since you can implement them after Linux is installed too.
One warning (although the screen warnings will say this too), that option 2 will erase everything else on the computer. So make sure that you have no files on this computer that you need to keep.
With that out of the way, click Continue.
The next screen allows you to select your time zone. It should default to your time zone, but if not, select yours. Click “Continue”. The next screen (sorry, I don’t have a screen shot) will allow you to select a foreign keyboard layout. As you can see, Linux never lacks choices, but just select English (US) and click Continue.
The next screen is important. It will ask for your preferred name, computer name and a password:
It will pick a generic name for the computer, but you can change that as well. For username, I recommend something short so that it’s easier later. Unlike in the Windows/Mac world Linux requires you to log in with your username more often for security reasons, so having a short username helps.
It will also help when created automated procedures and other customizations that Windows/Mac users typically won’t make. I’ll cover this more in a future article, but for now, choose something short; so if your name is Josephine, use Jose or Jos. You can thank me later.
For the password, Linux Mint will tell you if you chose a good password (see the text next to the password field as you type it in. It’s always a good idea to pick a solid password:
Below the password confirmation box, you can tell the system to automatically log you in if you are lazy. I don’t recommend this, but it does save you time. You can also tell it to encrypt your Home Folder where all your personal files will be stored. If you are installing on a laptop, this is a good idea in case it is stolen – it will make accessing your personal files nearly impossible.
Of course, this also comes with a warning: if you forget your own password, you will likely not be able to recover your data either. The encryption is very thorough. My recommendation is to not encrypt the Home Folder for now. As when starting with any new system, it is best to mke things recoverable in case you make a serious mistake. Besides, you can always encrypt it later once you become more familiar with Linux Mint.
Click Continue to complete the selection of options. Linux Mint will now proceed to install all the files as directed.
Completing the Installation
Linus Mint will take some time to install everything. This is because not only does it need to transfer the files from the DVD, but it is also unpacking the compressed files as it is installing. This can take up to 20 minutes on slower computers. As it proceeds, you will be shown a welcome screen that you can click through for some useful Linux Mint info:
This may be a good time to grab a drink. When Linux Mint is done installing files, the system will display the following final screen:
Click Restart Now to boot Linux Mint from your hard drive. It will even remind you to remove the DVD disk before it reboots. As it boots up, it may display some more text on the screen, but that is normal as well. You will eventually be prompted to log into your desktop for the first time. Go ahead and log in to kick the tires.
You’re all done with the installation.
I spent some time going into detail here, but it was intended for those who have never installed another operating system. For most of us who are busy running a business, doing this computer type work is not really in our wheelhouse.
My goal is to point out that it’s actually not too daunting to install a new operating system. If you’ve followed my other articles, this is also part of coming up with inexpensive solutions to computing and doing things yourself is one sure way to save a little money along the way.
In the next article I will cover some of the things that Linux Mint recommends when you first start using it. These are tasks that most Windows/Mac users don’t bother with, but they probably should. It’s another part of becoming a bit more self-sufficient when it comes to computing, and thus, to keep costs down.
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