Linux Mint Installation and Review

I had honestly never heard of Linux Mint until recently. I was thinking of doing another blog on the installation of yet another Linux distribution and went to distrowatch to see which Linux distros were doing well. It appears that Mint is a variant of the Ubuntu family of Linux distributions originally launched including specific media codecs not available in Ubuntu. It appears, by their logoing, that the focus of the distribution has now turned towards shaping Linux into an “elegant” experience.

Mint is released in several difference variants. The original includes the Gnome desktop. This release is available in both 32-bit and X86_64 versions. There is also a “light” version of Mint with the intent of being released in areas where proprietary software could be a problem. There are further community editions which include a KDE (unsure of the version), XFCE, and Fluxbox desktopped edition of the operating system.

Since this distribution is based upon Ubuntu (which is Debian-based itself!), Mint has access to literally thousands of software packages. These packages, available using apt, can be installed via remote repository or from a local hard disk.

Perhaps the biggest reason nowadays to consider Mint Linux is the community-oriented approach the developers take. Apparently, user input is taken directly from the forum and may show up in regular release versions in the near future.

As shown in Figure 1, I began by booting the Live image. Booting, mainly into RAM, a simple boot screen shows up displaying the boot progress (Figure 1, Left). In Figure 1 (Right), the XFCE desktop that boots is a simple desktop complete with all the normal working tools (office, networking, etc.) are present. The desktop contains a basic icon set including the “Install” icon.

Figure 1: (Left) Booting the live image. (Right) The basic Live XFCE desktop.

After clicking on the “Install” button, an installation guide commences (Figure 2 (Left)). After choosing a language, a time zone choice (Figure 2, (Right)) is presented. I, of course, chose New York City.

Figure 2: (Left) Language choice and (Right) time zone choice.

In Figure 3 (Left), the user is given a keyboard layout choice. I chose the US keyboard layout. In Figure 3 (Right) is the partitioner setup.

Figure 3: (Left) Keyboard layout and (Right) the initiation of the partitioning tool.

In Figure 4 (Left), we were given the choice of partitioning. Since I’m using a Qemu virtual machine, I choose the entire virtual hard disk partition. (Right) After choosing the partition and format, the partitioner formats the drive.

Figure 4: (Left) The preparation of the hard disk for installation of Mint. (Right) The tool partitions the disk.

After entering in my details in Figure 5 (Left), I can then continue with the installation as detail in Figure 5 (Right).

Figure 5: (Left) User registration including username and password. (Right) Last “dummy check” to install MintLinux.

Figure 6 (Left and Right) are different steps along the stages of the installation. In a Qemu VM, this took quite a while.

Figure 6: (Left and Right) Differing stages of the installation.

In Figure 7 (Left) I chose to reboot into the installation and out of the LiveCD Linux. The image in Figure 7 (Right) is simply the shutdown process out of the LiveCD image.

Figure 7: (Left) Once the installation is completed, the user is given the option to continue with the LiveCD version or to reboot into the installed Linux. (Right) As the option to reboot is chosen, a shutdown dialog is given.

Figures 8 (Left) and (Right) both images detail the process after the bootup has occurred. A reminder of the boot assistant and then the option of a root password is granted.

Figure 8: (Left) The assistant for Mint begins with the dialog telling the user that he/she will be asked questions. (Right) The input dialog is presented to choose and confirm a root password. I chose not to enable the root password.

Mint seems to have an interesting idea of putting fortunes (as in from fortune cookies) in the background of the terminal window. In Figure 9 (Left), you’re given the option of whether you would like to continue this option. I chose to discontinue that option. Figure 9 (Right) summarizes our choice of the boot option.

Figure 9: (Left) The first assistant option asks if you (the user) want forutnes told in your terminal box. I chose “no” to this option. (Right) A simple summary of all choices made.

As Mint boots, a simple and cleanly designed screen is shown in Figure 10 (Left). In Figure 10 (Right), the XFCE desktop is displayed. Again, cleanly and neatly displayed, the colors and desktop are well-done.

Figure 10: (Left) As first boot occurs, the Desktop Manager is launched. (Right) The XFCE desktop is displayed.

Figure 11 (Left and Right) display a basic working through the desktop. Right-clicks of the mouse reveal the display properties. The XFCE menu is easy to use. Further, XFCE is a lightweight desktop without ALL the eyecandy of some of the other DEs.

Figure 11: (Left) Desktop preferences of background color and behaviors can be set here. (Right) Desktop with menus organized in XFCE. Firefox is going to be selected.

Figure 12 (Left) shows the use of Firefox as the webbrowser. Figure 12 (Right) displays the settings and resolution manager.

Figure 12: (Left) Firefox running in Mint showing (Right) Settings manager for Mint including display resolution.

The Synaptics front-end to the Apt package manager is widely used on the Debian-based distributions. Figure 13 just displays a screenshot of this front-end in use.

Figure 13: A view of the Synaptics package manager.

Mint seems to be an excellent distribution for the standard “get it going!” idea. Since it has heritage with Ubuntu, the idea is that the distro is easy to startup and friendly for use. Coupled with the fact that the maintainers plan to make sure codecs and such other priority softwares are installed, this Linux distribution seems very usable. However, before I recommend it to any friend, I’d like to see it running native.

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