Linux Mint is a very well known desktop version of Linux that’s suitable for the everyperson as a drop-in replacement for a Windows or Mac computer. At the time of writing this article, Linux Mint has been the number one Linux distro for over a year according to DistroWatch. Mint is a derivative of Ubuntu, although you’d hardly know it.
In the following article, we have a video howto, showing you how to install it onto a PC, alongside Windows 10, which is an absolute breeze thanks to the installer. The video also shows you how to install apps with the Mint Software Manager and finally install Google Chrome (which is not available by default due to software licensing restrictions).
What’s different about Mint?
Mint uses a desktop environment called Cinnamon. The default desktop of Ubuntu (and many other distros) is GNOME3, so straight away it’s different, however that’s not where it stops. The best features about Mint are:
- Stability: It’s a no-nonsense distribution which works well. It seems to work with so much hardware right out of the box, even compared with Ubuntu.
- Ease of use: Although Mint is feature rich, it has a feeling which will make you right at home if you are coming from another platform, especially Windows.
- Aesthetically pleasing: Cinnamon looks more like GNOME2, but still pulls off a good aesthetic. It has some unique features such as Desklets which are single-purpose applications that can be added to your desktop, kind of like those widgets you got in Windows Vista – imagine weather applets and the like. There are multiple workplaces,
- Speed: Cinnamon feels pretty fast and it works on older hardware too. If you have really old hardware, Mint also offers a MATE desktop version, which is even more lightweight, whilst still allowing you access to the same apps.
- Software Manager apps: The software manager offers some everyday apps that you wouldn’t expect to see ‘out-of-the-box’ availability with most Linux distributions. However, these things are often considered staples of normal family users, apps including Skype, WhatsApp, Steam for gaming, DropBox, Google Earth and many more hot titles. This latest version of Linux Mint (18.3), provides Flatpak support. With Flatpak, you can install bleeding-edge applications even if they are not compatible with Linux Mint.
Check out our howto video to show you the simple steps of installing Linux Mint 18.3, which was released in December 2017. It is the ‘stable’ release of Mint, which will receive Long Term Support (LTS) until 2021, meaning that security updates and feature updates will be provided until at least then. Linux Mint 19 will be released around June 2018 but will not be an LTS release.
Before you get started
Before you get started with installing Linux Mint 18.3, you’ll need the following:
- A spare 4GB+ USB stick or blank DVD-R for the ISO image.
- A spare 15+ GB storage space on your computer (20+ GB recommended).
- 2GB + RAM.
- 64bit PC with UEFI or BIOS. 32bit installation only works with BIOS. Note that almost all computers sold since 2007 are 64 bit. If your computer is older than this, then check this guide out.
- A decent internet connection to download the ISO from www.linuxmint.com.
- Ability to ‘Burn’ the ISO image to USB or DVD. See our guide on chapter 5 for more information on this.
Aside from the flatpak system and the updated Software Manager, Linux Mint 18.3 provides a few more goodies that are not available in previous versions of 18.x.
Backups & Snapshots
Mint 18.3 comes with a brand new backup tool, which backs up your home directory and archives it into one simple archive file, which can be restored at a snap.
Kind of like the Time Machine software in MacOS, there’s a tool called Timeshift which creates complete system snapshots.
In addition to crash reports, the System Reports tool is also able to show information reports.
Unlike the release notes which show the same generic information to everybody, information reports are targeted at particular users, particular hardware, particular cases. Each report is able to detect its own relevance based on your environment, the desktop you’re using, your CPU, your graphic cards…etc, providing great ability for the Mint authors to fix more issues with the software and provide better enhancement.
Xed, the text editor, now features a minimap to help with navigation, like the Atom text editor.
The toolbar of the PDF reader, Xreader, was improved. The history buttons were replaced with navigation buttons (history can still be browsed via the menubar). The two zoom buttons were switched and a zoom reset button was added to make Xreader consistent with other Xapps.
For more information on this release, head over to the official website.