Updated: January 4, 2008; January 31, 2009
Note: I have written a new review / tutorial on the latest release: 6.0 Felicia. If you're interested, take a look. The featured stuff includes Compiz on both Nvidia and ATI cards on two different laptops, Wireless, Skype, Web camera, and multimedia support, installation highlights, and a review of several popular applications like Gnome Do, Giver, APTonCD, and others.
If you are a beginner Linux user looking for a simple, friendly distribution, you might want to look at Linux Mint.
Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu and shares the same repositories. The default version ships with the Gnome desktop, although the KDE, Xfce and Fluxbox desktop managers are also available. Like Ubuntu, Linux Mint offers a highly versatile and friendly environment, with Aptitude interface and Synaptic package manager.
For those of you who might have preferred my Kubuntu tutorial to have been a Ubuntu one, this is a very good chance at bridging the gap and getting answers to open questions. While the two distributions have much in common, there are some differences, offering the new Linux user to enhance his/her experience on familiar grounds and yet gain a different look from another angle into the free world of Linux.
What are we going to see in this article?
In this article, I'll demonstrate the classic GUI installation, but also a few things more, including guided text installation of an application from an archive, troubleshooting compilation and installation problems, troubleshooting post-installation problems, editing system configuration files, adding new startup programs, tweaking the resolution and mouse settings, all these while using both the GUI and the command line to achieve the desired results, and some basic insight into wireless adapter configuration. It should not be boring.
This guide builds on the other Linux tutorials I have published; you are advised to invest some time reading them before you try this one because some miscellaneous elements might be skipped.
For your convenience, please refer to these articles (if you haven't done so already):
To understand how to setup virtual machines, try VMware Player - A great friend.
To get into dual booting, try Dual booting - Windows & Linux - Full tutorial.
To learn about Linux command line, read Highly useful Linux commands & configurations.
To learn about the GRUB bootloader, read GRUB bootloader - Full tutorial.
Ready? Let's install Linux Mint
As said, Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu. New users will find it extremely convenient. For Ubuntu users, the transition is painless. Like most modern distros geared toward usability and fresh Windows converts, Linux Mint offers a live CD installer, allowing the computer users to test the distro and check the hardware compatibility before installing. Furthermore, there's the usual assortment of great programs, out-of-the-box support for graphic drivers, even a simple installation procedure for wireless adapters, and of course, an animated desktop.
To download Linux Mint, please visit the official site. At the time this article was written, the latest release was Linux Mint 4.0 Daryna. Daryna is compatible with the latest Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon.
Furthermore, under the Release notes, you may find lots of interesting information, some of which I will not repeat here. These notes concern the new features in the software management, update and installation, and various desktop improvements.
To successfully install Linux Mint, you will need: A computer with a modern processor, minimum of 256MB of RAM and a CD/DVD-ROM drive; Linux Mint CD (or an .iso image if you prefer to test the distro in a virtualized environment); Optionally, a virtualization product like VMware Player, VMware Server, VirtualBox, or others. I recommend the VMware Server, as the most wholesome package. That's about it. If you're ready, head on to the next page.
Warning for the 56K dial-up users: For the purpose of better readability, I will use full-size images rather than thumbnails that link to images. This may cause some slowdown during the loading of the pages.
Again, you do not have to really do any of this. You could just read and practice the next time you really install from scratch. But I suggest you try to follow the instructions and do it for yourself. You will only benefit from it.