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Mint Start Screen

Linux Mint's latest release, Version 17 Qiana

 Recently, Linux Mint released their latest long term support (LTS) version of their operating system. The LTS version is supported for 5 years from release date. This means that this version will be maintained and supported until 2019. By using an LTS release you can stay up to date and receive the latest updates without having to upgrade your operating system with each new release of Linux Mint. I have tried out this new version using the Mate desktop and I must say that I am impressed. The OS is very stable and everything worked perfectly straight out of the box.

The biggest challenge that Windows users face when first trying out Linux, is the sheer number of choices that you have with all aspects of the OS. With traditional Windows operating systems, all windows and icons are the same as all other Windows systems of the same version. That is to say, every version of windows 7, looks and feels the same as all other Windows 7 computers, yes you can change the desktop background picture, but the windows that open up and the icons are pretty much the same on every system.

Linux systems, on the other hand are different. You can choose different desktop environments as you wish. There are several different desktop environments, Cinnamon, Mate, KDE, Xfce etc. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, it is your choice which one you choose. I chose the Mate desktop as it tends to look and behave similar to the Windows operating systems prior to Windows 8, that most people are probably familiar with and would prefer. If you choose initially, to download an image with a particular desktop, you are not stuck with that desktop. If you want to change it, all you have to do is go to the software manager, search for the desktop you want to try, say KDE for example, and install it. It will then download and install the desktop environment for you to use. In order for you to use the new desktop, all you have to do is log out, select the new desktop and log in again. Hey presto, your desktop windows and icons are all changed. If you want to go back to the original one, log out, select your old desktop and log in again, simple.

If you do want to install, or even try out Linux Mint 17, there are a couple of things you will need to do that are a bit more complex than simple, but not too difficult. The first slightly difficult thing is to download and burn the image from the Linux Mint site. The download file is an .ISO image and will need to be burned to a DVD before you can use it. You can use your favorite CD/DVD burning software to burn the ISO image to DVD. If you don't have an ISO burning software program, there are lots of free CD/DVD burning programs available for download, you may want to go to the Filehippo website and type in burning into the search box in the center of the page. CDBurnerXP or DeepBurner are good options and should be able to burn the ISO you need.

Once you have your Mint 17 disk, put the disk into your CD drive on your computer and do a restart. If you have the option of the boot manager, usually pressing F12 at start-up on most computer will display the boot-manager. If the computer starts up normally, you may need to go into the BIOS and set the computer to boot to CD as the first boot option. This is usually done by pressing the delete key at start-up or perhaps the F2 key. Once in the BIOS, you will need to navigate using the arrow keys on older systems. Look for something there that says Boot or Boot Options. Press enter and there should be something that says move up or move down, it may be page up/down or F5/F6 or something like that. Select the CD drive as the first boot device then press F10 to exit and save the BIOS settings. Your computer should now boot to your Mint disk and load up the operating system for you to try out.

If you are happy with what you see, you will notice a CD icon on the desktop that says install mint. If you click this icon, mint will shut down and begin the install process. Once the computer re-boots, you will be asked how you want the operating system set up. You have the option of dual booting with the OS already installed, and linux installed alongside, reformatting the hard drive and installing Mint as the only OS, or manually setting up the partitions of the hard drive yourself. This is probably the most difficult part of the entire process, and once you have decided how you want it installed, the rest of the install is very easy.

Once the OS is installed, you can then customise the system any way you like, you will find it very configurable and you can customise any, and all parts of the operating system. The basic installation comes with a good array of software including office software, web browser, email client, chat client, graphic programs, photo programs, multimedia program and more. Additional software is available on the Internet using the software manager and searching for what you want. Installation is as simple as clicking Install, sitting back and waiting for it to download and install itself. Your program is now ready for use, its that easy.

If you need to run Windows programs, you can download and install a program called WINE. WINE is an acronym for "Wine Is Not an Emulator" and allows you to install and run Windows programs. While WINE is good, there are lots of alternative programs that do the same thing as their Windows counterparts, its just a matter of looking.

I could go on and on about how to do this and that using Linux, but instead, II will allow you to download a PDF which will explain it far better than I can as there are 48 pages for you to read at your leisure. Give Mint a go, you won't be disappointed.



Linux Mint 17 User Guide



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