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Sunday, 27 July 2014

Introduction

This article will show you how to install Linux Mint 17 side by side with Microsoft Windows 7. The desktop environment that will be installed will be the “Cinnamon Desktop”.

It is imperative that you follow every section especially the part about backing up your Microsoft Windows files. If you fail to back up your system and something goes wrong with the installation you run the risk of losing data.

Don’t let the last paragraph scare you. Installing Linux Mint is not that difficult and the rewards are incredible.

Linux Mint is currently the most popular version of Linux and boasts an impressive user interface and a great range of software and it can be installed and used for free.

Backup Windows 7

Whether you intend to continue installing Linux Mint or not it is very important for you to back up your system regularly.

Your computer may well be equipped with the best Antivirus software and the best Firewall software but one careless click on a link in an email could cause Malware to be installed on your computer which may trash your system rendering it useless.

Sometimes things go wrong. What would you do if your hard drive failed? First of all you would lose access to Microsoft Windows and more importantly all of your photos, videos, music files and documents would be either lost or very difficult to recover.

Before installing Linux Mint it is imperative that you backup Windows 7 in case something goes wrong with the partitioning of the hard drive or the installation of the “GRUB” bootloader which enables your system to dual boot between Microsoft Windows and Linux Mint.

Create a recovery disk

The recovery disk is used when you don’t have access to Windows 7 at all. It provides a way to boot so that you can recover from your system image.

To create a recovery disk:

  1. Click the “Start” button.
  2. Click “Control Panel”.
  3. In the “View By” drop down in the top right corner select “Large icons”.
  4. Click the “Backup and Restore” icon.


  5. There are three options in the left hand pane. The first option if you have never created a backup before is to set up backups. The second option is to create a system image and the third is to  create a system repair disc.
  6. Click “create a system repair disc”.

  7. A screen will appear asking you which drive to use to create the disc. Select your DVD writer.
  8. Click “Create disc”.


  9. After a short period a message will appear telling you to label your disc which is a good idea.
  10. Now place this disc somewhere safe and memorable

Create a system image

The system image will take a full copy of your Windows partition (and any other partition you decide to backup)
  1. Click the “Start” button.
  2. Click “Control Panel”.
  3. In the “View By” drop down in the top right corner select “Large icons”.
  4. Click the “Backup and Restore” icon.
  5. Click “Create a system image”.

  6. The “Create a system image” dialog will appear and will ask you where you want to create the image. You should choose the location you wish to save the image. Make sure you have enough disk space.  Read the section “Backup Media” if you are unsure where to backup.

    The options available are “on a hard disk”, “one or more DVDs” or “On a network location”.
  7. Once you have chosen where you want to create the image click “Next”.

  8. You will now be shown a screen asking you which drives to backup. You should leave the C drive and the System partition checked.

    You can optionally choose to backup other partitions if you have any.

    Note that in the screenshot above I have chosen to backup to a different partition on the same machine and I am warned that this is not a good idea.

    Ideally you should backup to an external hard drive or network drive or at very least DVDs.
  9. Click Next to continue.
  10. You will see another screen which asks you to confirm your backup. Click “Start” to backup the image.

Backup files and folders

You should consider backing up important documents and family photos to another device just in case the system image has not been created correctly and the more copies you have of something the less likely it is to be lost forever.

Copy the images and documents to a DVD, USB, external hard drive or via a service like dropbox.
If you have an iPod synchronise your music so that all your music is both on your computer and on your iPod.

Consider backing up your music to a series of DVDs, USB drives or an external hard drive.

For videos you will also need to back them up to DVDs, USB drives or an external hard drive.

Summary

Before continuing it is definitely worth trying your recovery disk out to make sure it loads to the recovery screen. Simply reboot with the DVD in the disc drive.

System Requirements

The following is a list of requirements that your computer must meet in order to be able to run Linux Mint with the Cinnamon desktop.
  • x86 processor (32-bit) or x64 processor (64-bit)
  • 512 megabytes RAM (1 gigabyte recommended)
  • 10 gigabytes disk space
  • DVD or USB support

How to get Linux Mint

The options available are as follows:

1. Download Linux Mint and burn to a DVD or USB drive
2. Buy a Linux DVD or USB drive

Downloading Linux Mint

If you have a good internet connection, a DVD writer or a USB drive, and you have no download limits on your internet connection then you can get Linux Mint for free.

The best place for information on downloading a Linux Mint image is the Linux Mint website.

Linux Mint comes in a number of varieties.

First of all you can choose to install a 32 bit or 64 bit version of Linux Mint.

Obviously you should only choose the 64 bit version if you have a 64 bit computer. You can however choose to install the 32 bit version on a 64 bit computer if you wish to do so. I'm not sure why you would want to do this though.

There are also a number of different desktop choices such as MATE, Cinnamon, KDE and Xfce.

Ideally you should choose the Cinnamon desktop as this is the ultimate desktop for Linux Mint. It has all the whizzy effects, gestures and style required of a top operating system.

If your graphics card is not up to running Linux Mint Cinnamon or you need something a bit more lightweight then you should consider the MATE desktop as an alternative as this will run on pretty much any machine.

This guide assumes that if you are running Windows 7 then your computer is probably more than capable of running Linux Mint with the Cinnamon desktop.

Another thing you will notice on the download page is the option for no codecs and this goes hand in hand with the “Multimedia Support+” heading.

Basically whilst Linux is free some of the components that are installed aren’t. If you want to use Flash or play MP3s then these require non free components to be installed. This doesn’t mean that you have to pay for them but some people would prefer not to have proprietary software installed on their machines.

Personally I think it is a good idea to install everything you need to get the job done and in that regard I would choose the option to have multimedia support.

As mentioned before this guide is written for Windows 7 and Linux Mint with the Cinnamon Desktop so find that option and click the link (either 32 bit or 64 bit, depending on your machine).

The next screen provides two ways to download Linux Mint. The first way is to use a bittorrent. Many people think that torrents are only used for downloading illegal software but torrent software is just as useful for distributing legal software such as Linux Mint.

You can either choose to download from a download mirror or from a torrent. A download mirror will give you the download speed made available by the server that it resides on at that download mirror.

A torrent will enable you to download the file from as many people as are serving the software. If there are 100 users with the Linux Mint software available as a torrent then you can download from all 100 people.

If you do not know how to use torrents then it might be a good idea to just choose the mirror that is closest to you geographically. 

Burn the Linux Mint image to a DVD

If you would prefer to use a USB drive skip to the next section as this section deals with booting and installing from a DVD

To burn the Linux Mint image to a DVD you will need a CD/DVD disc burning application such as Nero Express.

It is highly likely that you will already have a disc burning application on your computer but if not you can download a 15 day trial copy of Nero from http://www.nero.com/enu/downloads/.

This guide assumes you are using Nero Express. If you know how to use another application already feel free to use that application to burn the image to a DVD. If you don’t have Nero Express download it from the link above.

To burn the image to a disc:
  1. Open Windows Explorer (Press Windows button on keyboard and E on the keyboard or press “Start” and type “Explorer”, then click “Windows Explorer”).
  2. Navigate to the folder where you downloaded the Linux Mint image. 
  3. Right click the image file with the mouse and select “open with” and then “Nero Express”.
  4. Place a DVD into the disc drive.

  5. Check that the “Current Recorder” dropdown list is set to your DVD drive.
  6. Check that the “disc type” is “DVD”.
  7. Check that the “Image File” is the Linux Mint image that you selected.
  8. Click the “Burn” button.
  9. When the process has finished, click the “Next” button and then click the “Close” icon.

Make a bootable USB Drive

If you have already created a Linux Mint DVD to boot from then you can skip this section.

To burn the image to a USB drive you will need:
  1. A blank 2gb USB drive (or larger)
  2. UNetbootin
If you have a USB drive but it is not blank first of all make sure that there is nothing you need on the drive. If there is something you need on the drive copy it to another drive or a disk.

IMPORTANT: Remember that if you back up your USB drive to your Windows partition that your backup image will not contain these new files and so if something goes wrong you will lose these files. You should either copy the files to another drive, to a service like Google Drive, Dropbox or to a DVD.

Formatting the USB drive

  1. Insert the USB drive into your computer.
  2. Open Windows Explorer (Press Windows button on keyboard and E on the keyboard or press “Start” and type “Explorer”, then click “Windows Explorer”).
  3. Find the removable device that relates to your USB drive.
  4. Right click with the mouse on the drive and select “Format”.

  5. Make sure the file system is set to “FAT”.
  6. Check “Quick Format”.
  7. Click “Start”.
  8. A warning will appear telling you that the data on the drive will be deleted. If you want anything on the drive copied off then you should cancel and backup the data otherwise click “OK”.
  9. A message will appear telling you that the format is complete.

Get UNetbootin

UNetbootin is a free application that enables you to create bootable USB Linux drives.

To get UNetbootin:
  1. Open your web browser and navigate to http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/
  2. Click the “Download (for windows)” link.
  3. The sourceforge downloader will start and UNetbootin should start downloading.
  4. If you have a download blocker installed then you may need to authorise the download by clicking the yellow bar at the top of the page and allowing downloads from this site.

Burn Linux Mint to the USB drive using UNetbootin

To burn the image to the USB drive:
  1. Run UNetbootin by double clicking on the executable that was downloaded.
  2. If you have user account control set to on then you will have to authorise UNetbootin.

  3. The UNetbootin application has two ways to burn an image to a USB drive.

    a. Select a distribution from the list
    b. Select an image from your computer

    I think it is always a good idea to download the image from the place that the distribution links to as you are guaranteed to get the latest version and you can be sure that it is a good image.
  4. Click the “Disk Image” radio button.
  5. Click the button marker with “…”.
  6. Navigate to the folder with the Linux Mint image and select it.
  7. Ignore the “Space used to preserve files across reboots (Ubuntu Only)” as this install is for Linux Mint and not Ubuntu.
  8. Make sure the “Type” dropdown is set to “USB Drive”.
  9. Select the drive letter that corresponds to your USB Drive. Be careful to get this right so that you don’t accidentally overwrite the wrong device.
  10. Click “OK”.
  11. After a while the process will complete and you will have a bootable USB drive with Linux Mint.

Buy a DVD or USB drive online

You may not want to download an image of Linux Mint because you have download limits set by your internet service provider or because you have a poor download speed.

You may also prefer to buy a USB drive or DVD as you are then guaranteed to get media that works.

Click here to buy a Linux Mint USB drive or DVD visit

Try Linux Mint in Live Mode

Linux Mint runs in Live Mode.

What this means is you can test Linux Mint out by running it straight from the DVD or USB drive.

There are two real advantages to this:
  1. You can make sure the DVD/USB drive works correctly
  2. You can test all the features to make sure that you can connect to the internet and play music/videos etc.

Boot from a DVD

  1. Put the DVD into the DVD drive.
  2. Reboot the computer.
  3. A message will appear stating that Linux Mint will boot in 10 seconds.
  4. If you press “enter” on the keyboard the boot will start straight away.
  5. If everything is ok then after a minute or so Linux Mint will have booted.

Boot from a USB Drive

  1. Put the USB drive into the drive.
  2. Reboot the computer.
  3. A menu should appear with options to try Mint or install Mint.
  4. Choose the default option which loads Linux Mint from the USB drive without installing anything.
  5. If everything is ok then after a minute or so Linux Mint will have booted.
  6. If your computer booted straight to Windows 7 then your hard drive is set to boot before a USB drive.

    If this is the case you have two choices.

    The first choice is to boot from a DVD and the second is to go into your computer’s BIOS and change the boot order of devices.

    You will need to read your computer’s manual or search online to determine how to change the BIOS settings as they are different for each make of computer.

Install Linux Mint

If you are happy that you have adequately backed up your Windows files and any other important files and you are suitably pleased with the Linux Mint live run then now you can install Linux Mint.
  1. Boot into the live version of Linux Mint 17.
    Click on the install icon on the desktop.



  2. Choose your installation language and click "Continue".


  3. You will be asked to connect to your wireless network. This is optional and to be honest I always choose not to connect.

    The installer will use your internet connection to download updates as it goes which means when you boot Linux Mint 17 for the first time after installation it will be completely up to date.

    If you have a slow internet connection this can take ages and if your connection drops then it is hard to know the state of your installation. I prefer to get the installation done first and then apply updates later.

    Select your preferred option and click "Continue".


  4. The next steps shows you how well prepared you are for installing Linux Mint. If you have three green ticks then you are good to go. (The only one you really have to worry about is disk space and if you are not using a power source make sure your battery is charged).

    Click "Continue".
  5. The next step is very important. You basically get three choices when it comes to installing Linux Mint:

    a. Install Linux Mint alongside Windows
    b. Erase disk and Install Linux Mint
    c. Something else

    For this installation I will be advocating choosing the option “Something Else”.

    The “Something Else” option allows you to choose how to partition your disks and because of this you can choose how much disk space to give over to the operating system and how much to keep for your own personal data.



    Look at the image above. This is an image of my disk before I installed Linux Mint. As you can see I have 4 partitions.

    The partition called “/dev/sda1” is a Windows system partition and should not be touched. The partition called “/dev/sda2” is the actual Windows partition and again should not be touched. When you run the Linux Mint install these are likely to be the only two partitions you see.

    In my case there are two other partitions. The partition called “/dev/sda3” is a backup partition. I use this to store a system image. It is not the only place I store the system image but it gives me instant access in case something goes wrong. If I happen to lose this partition then I can always go to my external hard drive to restore the image.

    The fourth partition on my drive is a data partition. I learned a long time ago to separate the operating system from the data on a drive and as such I created a data partition for storing documents, images, photos and videos.

    What you will also notice if you look at the image above is that there is a lot of free space. Over 100 gigabytes worth. This is the space I managed to retrieve by shrinking the Windows partition and this is where Linux Mint will be installed.

    At this stage it is important to talk about disk partitions. Each hard disk within a computer can have 4 primary partitions. Windows needs to run off a primary partition. Each primary partition can have logical partitions. Linux can run from logical partitions.

    If you look at the disk layout on my computer you will have worked out that I already have 4 primary partitions set up. The plan therefore is make logical partitions within the 4th partition.

    The setup will be as follows: Partitions 1 and 2 are for Windows and are primary partitions. Partition 3 will also be a primary partition and will remain as a backup partition. Partition 4 will be an extended partition and will contain 4 logical partitions.

    The logical partitions will be the existing data partition, a partition for Linux Mint, a partition for storing data and a swap partition.

    In your case you might only have 2 primary partitions set up as you may not have the backup or data partitions. This does not matter. You will be creating your logical partitions in the 3rd primary partition.

    Creating the root partition

    Select the “Free Space” and click “Add”.

    A screen will appear asking you to create a partition. In this step you will create the partition that will be used by Linux Mint.

    Initially the box marked “New partition size in megabytes” will show the full amount of free space. Realistically you only need around 20 gigabytes for the operating system allowing for software installations and so overwrite this field with 20000.

    Leave the radio button for “Location for the new partition” as “Beginning”. This will place the Linux Mint partition at the beginning of the disk.

    The “Use as” dropdown allows you to choose the file system that will be used by Linux Mint. The most commonly used file system in Linux is EXT4 and so I would always recommend using this type of partition.

    Change the mount point to / to make this the root partition. 

    Click “OK” to continue.

    Creating the home partition



    Now we are going to create the data partition or as it is called in Linux, the home partition. Consider the home partition to be the same as “c:\users\username” in Windows.

    Select the free space and click the “Add” button again from the “Installation Type” screen.

    The data partition will use up the rest of the disk space minus the amount you plan to use as a swap partition.

    How big should your swap size be?

    Now that is a really good question and everyone has differing opinions. If you plan to hibernate/suspend then consider using at least as much disk space as RAM.

    In the box marked “New partition size in megabytes” enter a value which is at least the mount of RAM less than the amount of remaining disk space.

    Again set the “location for the new partition” to “Beginning” and set the “Use as” to “EXT4”.

    You should set the mount point to “/home”. 

    Click “OK” to continue.

    Creating the swap partition

    The final partition to be created is the “Swap” partition.

    Select the free space and click the “Add” button again from the “Installation Type” screen.

    Enter the remaining disk space in the “New partition size in megabytes” box.

    This time change the “Location for the new partition” to be “End”.

    Within the “Use as” dropdown select “Swap area”.

    The “Swap area” is used when your machine has memory hungry tasks.

    The memory hungry tasks will start using disk space to store and swap memory. This is of course inefficient and if you hear a lot of disk activity when doing simple tasks then it probably means you don’t have enough memory in your machine.

    The “Swap area” is used by Linux Mint for hibernation purposes. If you don’t care about hibernation then you can make this partition a lot smaller.
  6. Now that all the partitions have been created the last thing to do from the Installation Type screen is to choose where to install the bootloader. This usually defaults to the correct place and should say “/dev/sda”. It is important to make sure this does not have any numbers at the end. (for example /dev/sda2).

    The bootloader determines the boot order of operating systems.


  7. The rest of the steps are very straight forward. Choose your location.


  8. Choose your keyboard layout.


  9. Create a default user and a name for your computer.


  10. Wait for the installation to complete which for me took less than 10 minutes

Test it out

Before booting into Linux Mint for the first time it is worth checking whether the Windows partition is still working properly.

To boot into Microsoft Windows reboot your computer (remember to remove your installation media) and a menu will appear with various options including “Linux Mint”, “Linux Mint (Recovery)”, “Windows 7 (sda1)” and “Windows 7 (sda2)”.

Press the down arrow until “Windows 7 (sda1)” is highlighted and then press “Enter” on the keyboard.

If everything has gone successfully Windows 7 should boot up without any errors. If Windows 7 doesn’t boot up then reboot and try the “Windows 7 (sda2)” option on the menu and press “Enter”.

If Windows 7 refuses to load then there is a problem and it is not now worth continuing with booting into Linux Mint until the issues have been resolved. Feel free to leave a comment and I will try and troubleshoot your problem. The worst case scenario would be reverting to the backups you made earlier.

if you are reading on it is assumed that you have a working Windows partition. Now it is time to try Linux Mint.

Reboot your computer and from the menu press the down arrow until “Linux Mint” is highlighted.

Now press “Enter” on the keyboard.

After a short period the Linux Mint login screen should load.

Logging in to Linux Mint

If you chose not to login automatically then a login screen will appear.

You can login by clicking the username at the top of the screen.

Enter the password that you set up during the installation phase and press “enter” again to login.


Summary

If all has gone to plan you should now be able to boot into Windows 7 and Linux Mint.

I hope you have found this guide useful but if you spot issues along the way please leave a comment so that I can update the guide and so that other people can see how you worked around potential problems.

Thankyou for reading.

If you found this guide useful consider using one of the share buttons below to share the article so that other potential Linux Mint users will know where to go.

How to install Linux Mint alongside Windows 7

Introduction

This article will show you how to install Linux Mint 17 side by side with Microsoft Windows 7. The desktop environment that will be installed will be the “Cinnamon Desktop”.

It is imperative that you follow every section especially the part about backing up your Microsoft Windows files. If you fail to back up your system and something goes wrong with the installation you run the risk of losing data.

Don’t let the last paragraph scare you. Installing Linux Mint is not that difficult and the rewards are incredible.

Linux Mint is currently the most popular version of Linux and boasts an impressive user interface and a great range of software and it can be installed and used for free.

Backup Windows 7

Whether you intend to continue installing Linux Mint or not it is very important for you to back up your system regularly.

Your computer may well be equipped with the best Antivirus software and the best Firewall software but one careless click on a link in an email could cause Malware to be installed on your computer which may trash your system rendering it useless.

Sometimes things go wrong. What would you do if your hard drive failed? First of all you would lose access to Microsoft Windows and more importantly all of your photos, videos, music files and documents would be either lost or very difficult to recover.

Before installing Linux Mint it is imperative that you backup Windows 7 in case something goes wrong with the partitioning of the hard drive or the installation of the “GRUB” bootloader which enables your system to dual boot between Microsoft Windows and Linux Mint.

Create a recovery disk

The recovery disk is used when you don’t have access to Windows 7 at all. It provides a way to boot so that you can recover from your system image.

To create a recovery disk:

  1. Click the “Start” button.
  2. Click “Control Panel”.
  3. In the “View By” drop down in the top right corner select “Large icons”.
  4. Click the “Backup and Restore” icon.


  5. There are three options in the left hand pane. The first option if you have never created a backup before is to set up backups. The second option is to create a system image and the third is to  create a system repair disc.
  6. Click “create a system repair disc”.

  7. A screen will appear asking you which drive to use to create the disc. Select your DVD writer.
  8. Click “Create disc”.


  9. After a short period a message will appear telling you to label your disc which is a good idea.
  10. Now place this disc somewhere safe and memorable

Create a system image

The system image will take a full copy of your Windows partition (and any other partition you decide to backup)
  1. Click the “Start” button.
  2. Click “Control Panel”.
  3. In the “View By” drop down in the top right corner select “Large icons”.
  4. Click the “Backup and Restore” icon.
  5. Click “Create a system image”.

  6. The “Create a system image” dialog will appear and will ask you where you want to create the image. You should choose the location you wish to save the image. Make sure you have enough disk space.  Read the section “Backup Media” if you are unsure where to backup.

    The options available are “on a hard disk”, “one or more DVDs” or “On a network location”.
  7. Once you have chosen where you want to create the image click “Next”.

  8. You will now be shown a screen asking you which drives to backup. You should leave the C drive and the System partition checked.

    You can optionally choose to backup other partitions if you have any.

    Note that in the screenshot above I have chosen to backup to a different partition on the same machine and I am warned that this is not a good idea.

    Ideally you should backup to an external hard drive or network drive or at very least DVDs.
  9. Click Next to continue.
  10. You will see another screen which asks you to confirm your backup. Click “Start” to backup the image.

Backup files and folders

You should consider backing up important documents and family photos to another device just in case the system image has not been created correctly and the more copies you have of something the less likely it is to be lost forever.

Copy the images and documents to a DVD, USB, external hard drive or via a service like dropbox.
If you have an iPod synchronise your music so that all your music is both on your computer and on your iPod.

Consider backing up your music to a series of DVDs, USB drives or an external hard drive.

For videos you will also need to back them up to DVDs, USB drives or an external hard drive.

Summary

Before continuing it is definitely worth trying your recovery disk out to make sure it loads to the recovery screen. Simply reboot with the DVD in the disc drive.

System Requirements

The following is a list of requirements that your computer must meet in order to be able to run Linux Mint with the Cinnamon desktop.
  • x86 processor (32-bit) or x64 processor (64-bit)
  • 512 megabytes RAM (1 gigabyte recommended)
  • 10 gigabytes disk space
  • DVD or USB support

How to get Linux Mint

The options available are as follows:

1. Download Linux Mint and burn to a DVD or USB drive
2. Buy a Linux DVD or USB drive

Downloading Linux Mint

If you have a good internet connection, a DVD writer or a USB drive, and you have no download limits on your internet connection then you can get Linux Mint for free.

The best place for information on downloading a Linux Mint image is the Linux Mint website.

Linux Mint comes in a number of varieties.

First of all you can choose to install a 32 bit or 64 bit version of Linux Mint.

Obviously you should only choose the 64 bit version if you have a 64 bit computer. You can however choose to install the 32 bit version on a 64 bit computer if you wish to do so. I'm not sure why you would want to do this though.

There are also a number of different desktop choices such as MATE, Cinnamon, KDE and Xfce.

Ideally you should choose the Cinnamon desktop as this is the ultimate desktop for Linux Mint. It has all the whizzy effects, gestures and style required of a top operating system.

If your graphics card is not up to running Linux Mint Cinnamon or you need something a bit more lightweight then you should consider the MATE desktop as an alternative as this will run on pretty much any machine.

This guide assumes that if you are running Windows 7 then your computer is probably more than capable of running Linux Mint with the Cinnamon desktop.

Another thing you will notice on the download page is the option for no codecs and this goes hand in hand with the “Multimedia Support+” heading.

Basically whilst Linux is free some of the components that are installed aren’t. If you want to use Flash or play MP3s then these require non free components to be installed. This doesn’t mean that you have to pay for them but some people would prefer not to have proprietary software installed on their machines.

Personally I think it is a good idea to install everything you need to get the job done and in that regard I would choose the option to have multimedia support.

As mentioned before this guide is written for Windows 7 and Linux Mint with the Cinnamon Desktop so find that option and click the link (either 32 bit or 64 bit, depending on your machine).

The next screen provides two ways to download Linux Mint. The first way is to use a bittorrent. Many people think that torrents are only used for downloading illegal software but torrent software is just as useful for distributing legal software such as Linux Mint.

You can either choose to download from a download mirror or from a torrent. A download mirror will give you the download speed made available by the server that it resides on at that download mirror.

A torrent will enable you to download the file from as many people as are serving the software. If there are 100 users with the Linux Mint software available as a torrent then you can download from all 100 people.

If you do not know how to use torrents then it might be a good idea to just choose the mirror that is closest to you geographically. 

Burn the Linux Mint image to a DVD

If you would prefer to use a USB drive skip to the next section as this section deals with booting and installing from a DVD

To burn the Linux Mint image to a DVD you will need a CD/DVD disc burning application such as Nero Express.

It is highly likely that you will already have a disc burning application on your computer but if not you can download a 15 day trial copy of Nero from http://www.nero.com/enu/downloads/.

This guide assumes you are using Nero Express. If you know how to use another application already feel free to use that application to burn the image to a DVD. If you don’t have Nero Express download it from the link above.

To burn the image to a disc:
  1. Open Windows Explorer (Press Windows button on keyboard and E on the keyboard or press “Start” and type “Explorer”, then click “Windows Explorer”).
  2. Navigate to the folder where you downloaded the Linux Mint image. 
  3. Right click the image file with the mouse and select “open with” and then “Nero Express”.
  4. Place a DVD into the disc drive.

  5. Check that the “Current Recorder” dropdown list is set to your DVD drive.
  6. Check that the “disc type” is “DVD”.
  7. Check that the “Image File” is the Linux Mint image that you selected.
  8. Click the “Burn” button.
  9. When the process has finished, click the “Next” button and then click the “Close” icon.

Make a bootable USB Drive

If you have already created a Linux Mint DVD to boot from then you can skip this section.

To burn the image to a USB drive you will need:
  1. A blank 2gb USB drive (or larger)
  2. UNetbootin
If you have a USB drive but it is not blank first of all make sure that there is nothing you need on the drive. If there is something you need on the drive copy it to another drive or a disk.

IMPORTANT: Remember that if you back up your USB drive to your Windows partition that your backup image will not contain these new files and so if something goes wrong you will lose these files. You should either copy the files to another drive, to a service like Google Drive, Dropbox or to a DVD.

Formatting the USB drive

  1. Insert the USB drive into your computer.
  2. Open Windows Explorer (Press Windows button on keyboard and E on the keyboard or press “Start” and type “Explorer”, then click “Windows Explorer”).
  3. Find the removable device that relates to your USB drive.
  4. Right click with the mouse on the drive and select “Format”.

  5. Make sure the file system is set to “FAT”.
  6. Check “Quick Format”.
  7. Click “Start”.
  8. A warning will appear telling you that the data on the drive will be deleted. If you want anything on the drive copied off then you should cancel and backup the data otherwise click “OK”.
  9. A message will appear telling you that the format is complete.

Get UNetbootin

UNetbootin is a free application that enables you to create bootable USB Linux drives.

To get UNetbootin:
  1. Open your web browser and navigate to http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/
  2. Click the “Download (for windows)” link.
  3. The sourceforge downloader will start and UNetbootin should start downloading.
  4. If you have a download blocker installed then you may need to authorise the download by clicking the yellow bar at the top of the page and allowing downloads from this site.

Burn Linux Mint to the USB drive using UNetbootin

To burn the image to the USB drive:
  1. Run UNetbootin by double clicking on the executable that was downloaded.
  2. If you have user account control set to on then you will have to authorise UNetbootin.

  3. The UNetbootin application has two ways to burn an image to a USB drive.

    a. Select a distribution from the list
    b. Select an image from your computer

    I think it is always a good idea to download the image from the place that the distribution links to as you are guaranteed to get the latest version and you can be sure that it is a good image.
  4. Click the “Disk Image” radio button.
  5. Click the button marker with “…”.
  6. Navigate to the folder with the Linux Mint image and select it.
  7. Ignore the “Space used to preserve files across reboots (Ubuntu Only)” as this install is for Linux Mint and not Ubuntu.
  8. Make sure the “Type” dropdown is set to “USB Drive”.
  9. Select the drive letter that corresponds to your USB Drive. Be careful to get this right so that you don’t accidentally overwrite the wrong device.
  10. Click “OK”.
  11. After a while the process will complete and you will have a bootable USB drive with Linux Mint.

Buy a DVD or USB drive online

You may not want to download an image of Linux Mint because you have download limits set by your internet service provider or because you have a poor download speed.

You may also prefer to buy a USB drive or DVD as you are then guaranteed to get media that works.

Click here to buy a Linux Mint USB drive or DVD visit

Try Linux Mint in Live Mode

Linux Mint runs in Live Mode.

What this means is you can test Linux Mint out by running it straight from the DVD or USB drive.

There are two real advantages to this:
  1. You can make sure the DVD/USB drive works correctly
  2. You can test all the features to make sure that you can connect to the internet and play music/videos etc.

Boot from a DVD

  1. Put the DVD into the DVD drive.
  2. Reboot the computer.
  3. A message will appear stating that Linux Mint will boot in 10 seconds.
  4. If you press “enter” on the keyboard the boot will start straight away.
  5. If everything is ok then after a minute or so Linux Mint will have booted.

Boot from a USB Drive

  1. Put the USB drive into the drive.
  2. Reboot the computer.
  3. A menu should appear with options to try Mint or install Mint.
  4. Choose the default option which loads Linux Mint from the USB drive without installing anything.
  5. If everything is ok then after a minute or so Linux Mint will have booted.
  6. If your computer booted straight to Windows 7 then your hard drive is set to boot before a USB drive.

    If this is the case you have two choices.

    The first choice is to boot from a DVD and the second is to go into your computer’s BIOS and change the boot order of devices.

    You will need to read your computer’s manual or search online to determine how to change the BIOS settings as they are different for each make of computer.

Install Linux Mint

If you are happy that you have adequately backed up your Windows files and any other important files and you are suitably pleased with the Linux Mint live run then now you can install Linux Mint.
  1. Boot into the live version of Linux Mint 17.
    Click on the install icon on the desktop.



  2. Choose your installation language and click "Continue".


  3. You will be asked to connect to your wireless network. This is optional and to be honest I always choose not to connect.

    The installer will use your internet connection to download updates as it goes which means when you boot Linux Mint 17 for the first time after installation it will be completely up to date.

    If you have a slow internet connection this can take ages and if your connection drops then it is hard to know the state of your installation. I prefer to get the installation done first and then apply updates later.

    Select your preferred option and click "Continue".


  4. The next steps shows you how well prepared you are for installing Linux Mint. If you have three green ticks then you are good to go. (The only one you really have to worry about is disk space and if you are not using a power source make sure your battery is charged).

    Click "Continue".
  5. The next step is very important. You basically get three choices when it comes to installing Linux Mint:

    a. Install Linux Mint alongside Windows
    b. Erase disk and Install Linux Mint
    c. Something else

    For this installation I will be advocating choosing the option “Something Else”.

    The “Something Else” option allows you to choose how to partition your disks and because of this you can choose how much disk space to give over to the operating system and how much to keep for your own personal data.



    Look at the image above. This is an image of my disk before I installed Linux Mint. As you can see I have 4 partitions.

    The partition called “/dev/sda1” is a Windows system partition and should not be touched. The partition called “/dev/sda2” is the actual Windows partition and again should not be touched. When you run the Linux Mint install these are likely to be the only two partitions you see.

    In my case there are two other partitions. The partition called “/dev/sda3” is a backup partition. I use this to store a system image. It is not the only place I store the system image but it gives me instant access in case something goes wrong. If I happen to lose this partition then I can always go to my external hard drive to restore the image.

    The fourth partition on my drive is a data partition. I learned a long time ago to separate the operating system from the data on a drive and as such I created a data partition for storing documents, images, photos and videos.

    What you will also notice if you look at the image above is that there is a lot of free space. Over 100 gigabytes worth. This is the space I managed to retrieve by shrinking the Windows partition and this is where Linux Mint will be installed.

    At this stage it is important to talk about disk partitions. Each hard disk within a computer can have 4 primary partitions. Windows needs to run off a primary partition. Each primary partition can have logical partitions. Linux can run from logical partitions.

    If you look at the disk layout on my computer you will have worked out that I already have 4 primary partitions set up. The plan therefore is make logical partitions within the 4th partition.

    The setup will be as follows: Partitions 1 and 2 are for Windows and are primary partitions. Partition 3 will also be a primary partition and will remain as a backup partition. Partition 4 will be an extended partition and will contain 4 logical partitions.

    The logical partitions will be the existing data partition, a partition for Linux Mint, a partition for storing data and a swap partition.

    In your case you might only have 2 primary partitions set up as you may not have the backup or data partitions. This does not matter. You will be creating your logical partitions in the 3rd primary partition.

    Creating the root partition

    Select the “Free Space” and click “Add”.

    A screen will appear asking you to create a partition. In this step you will create the partition that will be used by Linux Mint.

    Initially the box marked “New partition size in megabytes” will show the full amount of free space. Realistically you only need around 20 gigabytes for the operating system allowing for software installations and so overwrite this field with 20000.

    Leave the radio button for “Location for the new partition” as “Beginning”. This will place the Linux Mint partition at the beginning of the disk.

    The “Use as” dropdown allows you to choose the file system that will be used by Linux Mint. The most commonly used file system in Linux is EXT4 and so I would always recommend using this type of partition.

    Change the mount point to / to make this the root partition. 

    Click “OK” to continue.

    Creating the home partition



    Now we are going to create the data partition or as it is called in Linux, the home partition. Consider the home partition to be the same as “c:\users\username” in Windows.

    Select the free space and click the “Add” button again from the “Installation Type” screen.

    The data partition will use up the rest of the disk space minus the amount you plan to use as a swap partition.

    How big should your swap size be?

    Now that is a really good question and everyone has differing opinions. If you plan to hibernate/suspend then consider using at least as much disk space as RAM.

    In the box marked “New partition size in megabytes” enter a value which is at least the mount of RAM less than the amount of remaining disk space.

    Again set the “location for the new partition” to “Beginning” and set the “Use as” to “EXT4”.

    You should set the mount point to “/home”. 

    Click “OK” to continue.

    Creating the swap partition

    The final partition to be created is the “Swap” partition.

    Select the free space and click the “Add” button again from the “Installation Type” screen.

    Enter the remaining disk space in the “New partition size in megabytes” box.

    This time change the “Location for the new partition” to be “End”.

    Within the “Use as” dropdown select “Swap area”.

    The “Swap area” is used when your machine has memory hungry tasks.

    The memory hungry tasks will start using disk space to store and swap memory. This is of course inefficient and if you hear a lot of disk activity when doing simple tasks then it probably means you don’t have enough memory in your machine.

    The “Swap area” is used by Linux Mint for hibernation purposes. If you don’t care about hibernation then you can make this partition a lot smaller.
  6. Now that all the partitions have been created the last thing to do from the Installation Type screen is to choose where to install the bootloader. This usually defaults to the correct place and should say “/dev/sda”. It is important to make sure this does not have any numbers at the end. (for example /dev/sda2).

    The bootloader determines the boot order of operating systems.


  7. The rest of the steps are very straight forward. Choose your location.


  8. Choose your keyboard layout.


  9. Create a default user and a name for your computer.


  10. Wait for the installation to complete which for me took less than 10 minutes

Test it out

Before booting into Linux Mint for the first time it is worth checking whether the Windows partition is still working properly.

To boot into Microsoft Windows reboot your computer (remember to remove your installation media) and a menu will appear with various options including “Linux Mint”, “Linux Mint (Recovery)”, “Windows 7 (sda1)” and “Windows 7 (sda2)”.

Press the down arrow until “Windows 7 (sda1)” is highlighted and then press “Enter” on the keyboard.

If everything has gone successfully Windows 7 should boot up without any errors. If Windows 7 doesn’t boot up then reboot and try the “Windows 7 (sda2)” option on the menu and press “Enter”.

If Windows 7 refuses to load then there is a problem and it is not now worth continuing with booting into Linux Mint until the issues have been resolved. Feel free to leave a comment and I will try and troubleshoot your problem. The worst case scenario would be reverting to the backups you made earlier.

if you are reading on it is assumed that you have a working Windows partition. Now it is time to try Linux Mint.

Reboot your computer and from the menu press the down arrow until “Linux Mint” is highlighted.

Now press “Enter” on the keyboard.

After a short period the Linux Mint login screen should load.

Logging in to Linux Mint

If you chose not to login automatically then a login screen will appear.

You can login by clicking the username at the top of the screen.

Enter the password that you set up during the installation phase and press “enter” again to login.


Summary

If all has gone to plan you should now be able to boot into Windows 7 and Linux Mint.

I hope you have found this guide useful but if you spot issues along the way please leave a comment so that I can update the guide and so that other people can see how you worked around potential problems.

Thankyou for reading.

If you found this guide useful consider using one of the share buttons below to share the article so that other potential Linux Mint users will know where to go.

Posted at 07:30 |  by Gary Newell

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Introduction

This is the year of Linux for the everyday user.

I have already written reviews for Ubuntu 14.04 and Linux Mint 17 and they are both exceptionally good for the average computer user.

This review is about Netrunner 14.

There are two versions of Netrunner available. This article looks at the Standard Release which is based on Kubuntu 14.04. The other version is a rolling release based on Manjaro.

System Requirements

I am listing the requirements as stated on the FAQ - Installation page on the Netrunner website.

It appears the requirements have been set from the fact that they were tested on a netbook.

  • CPU - 1.6ghz Intel Atom
  • RAM - 1 gigabyte
  • Hard Drive Size - 10 gigabytes
  • Graphics Card - Intel GMA 945
  • Video Memory - 128 megabytes
I tested on a more powerful machine:
  • Intel i5 quad core 
  • 8 gigabytes RAM
  • 2 terabyte hard drive
Needless to say it worked like a dream on my computer.

How to get Netrunner

To download Netrunner visit http://www.netrunner-os.com/download/

There are 32 bit and 64 bit versions of both the standard and rolling release.

To create a bootable USB drive I used UNetbootin.

If you have a poor internet connection or you are unsure about creating a bootable USB drive you can always click here to buy a bootable DVD or USB drive.

How to install Netrunner 


First of all boot into the Live version of Netrunner by inserting either a live USB or live DVD into the drive and turning on your computer and then click on "Install Netrunner 14 LTS".

The Netrunner installer is linear, making it very easy to follow. You can see the steps that the installer is going to take you through.

The first thing you have to do is choose the installation language and click "Continue".























You can now set up your internet connection if you so wish. Setting up the internet automatically chooses your timezone, installs third party software and downloads updates.

It is an optional choice whether to connect or not. My preference, because I have a poor internet connection, is to not connect and download the updates later. The third party software is installed by Netrunner anyway.























The third screen shows how prepared you are to install Netrunner. As long as your computer is plugged in (or has enough battery life) and it has enough disk space you are good to go.























The disk setup screen isn't as easy to follow as the one provided with Linux Mint. If you read the options carefully though it is quite straight forward.

The options above are basically saying

1. Install Netrunner alongside Linux Mint (I had Linux Mint installed previously)
2. Replace Linux Mint with Netrunner (use entire disk)
3. Replace Linux Mint with Netrunner and use LVM
4. Replace Linux Mint with Netrunner and use encryption with LVM
5. Perform a manual installation and setup the disk layout yourself

I chose option 2 to replace Linux Mint.























Now you have to choose your timezone by clicking on the map or selecting from the drop downs.























Choose your keyboard layout.























Finally create a default user by entering your name, a username, a password and a name for your computer.























The files will now be copied and your hardware will be detected and setup.

First Impressions





















Netrunner boots into a plain looking desktop. As with Linux Mint everything should look familiar to most people who have used computers before.

There is a panel at the bottom with a menu and quick launch icons in the bottom left and a system tray in the bottom right.



There are also some icons on the desktop. The "My Computer" icon shows you details about your computer such as the processor, memory, disk usage and operating system. The "Network" icon lets you connect to network drives. Finally the "Readme" takes you to the Netrunner website which contains some useful tutorials.



The quick launch part of the panel has an icon which brings up the menu, access to the file manager and an icon for the Firefox web browser.



The system tray has a multitude of icons which by default are as follows:
  • a terminal window
  • audio settings
  • software updates
  • contacts
  • clipboard manager
  • bluetooth
  • network settings
  • clock
  • search bar
  • notifications
  • activities
The menu is crisp and clean with useful icons on the left and categories on the right. Hovering over a category brings up the applications within that category.

To add icons to the favourites list, right click on them in the menu and select "Add to favourites".

Customising the desktop

The KDE desktop is highly customisable and there is just too much to discuss for including in this review.

Starting off nice and easy though you can change the desktop wallpaper. Simply right click on the desktop and select "Netrunner Desktop Settings".


































There are a number of wallpapers available with Netrunner and they all appear to have a very blue theme to them.

You can choose your own wallpaper by clicking on the "Open" button and finding the image you wish to use or you can click the "Get new wallpapers" button to search online for more.





















You can adjust the items that appear on the panel by right clicking on the panel and clicking "add panel items". You can also add new panels to the display.

The KDE desktop also has the concept of activities which is like a new play on the virtual workspaces concept.





















The choice of activities isn't as expansive in Netrunner as it is for openSUSE but you can download more if you need to.

The above image shows the photos activity.

Connecting to the internet





















As long as you have a fairly standard network card, connecting to the internet should be as easy as clicking on the network icon in the system tray and choosing your wireless connection.

You will need to enter the security key if one is required.

The default web browser in Netrunner is Firefox.

Flash and MP3



























Netrunner has everything you need to get started installed by default and as such Flash videos work and you can play MP3 audio without installing any further software.

Applications

Netrunner has a really good set of applications installed at the outset.

Games


  • Burgerspace
  • Chess
  • Duckhunt
  • Frozen Bubble
  • glTron
  • GNUDoQ
  • KBreakout
  • KDiamond
  • KMahjongg
  • KDiamond
  • KMines
  • KPatience
  • KSnake
  • KDuel
  • STEAM
I have written an article previously about the default KDE games but Netrunner includes some extras that I never covered.

More importantly is the inclusion of STEAM. I think the thing that annoys me with STEAM (and this is the same with every distribution that includes STEAM) is that as soon as you click the icon it downloads 200+ megabytes of updates.

STEAM is the best thing to ever happen to Linux gaming and provides 500+ games for the Linux desktop.

Graphics


  • GIMP Image Editing
  • Gwenview Image Viewer
  • Kamoso Webcam Viewer
  • Karbon Vector Graphics Drawing Application
  • Krita Digital Painting
  • KSnapshot Screenshot
  • Skanlite Scanning Application

Internet

  • FireFox Web Browser
  • Kontact Address Book
  • Pidgin Instant Messenger
  • QTransmission BitTorrent
  • Skype
  • Telepathy Instant Messenger
  • Thunderbird Email Client
It is interesting that Netrunner has a mix and match approach to the applications installed as opposed to choosing all the default KDE applications.

Skype is a good default choice.

Multimedia 

  • Clementine Audio Player
  • KDenlive Video Editing
  • KMix Audio Mixer
  • Qmmp Audio Player
  • VLC Media Player
  • Vokoscreen Screencasting
The default audio application in Netrunner is Clementine. I mentioned in my review of Linux Mint that Linux has a plethora of music applications. Clementine is a great example of how an audio player should work.

I wrote an article not so long ago comparing Clementine with Amarok in which I mentioned the virtues of a clean easy to use interface. Clementine really is the best that KDE has to offer.




























For watching videos there is the VLC media player, which allows you to watch videos that are local to your PC or online.

Netrunner also includes a video editor and screencast tool which is something you don't see in many other distributions but which are welcome inclusions.

Office





















  • LibreOffice Writer
  • LibreOffice Calc
  • LibreOffice Impress
  • LibreOffice Base
  • LibreOffice Math
  • Okular
The full LibreOffice office suite is included with the excellent LibreOffice Writer and the very competent LibreOffice Calc spreadsheet package. For presentations there is LibreOffice Impress and LibreOffice Base is a clone of MS Access.

Okular is included as a PDF viewer.

Installing Applications

































For package management, Netrunner 14 uses MUON.

The MUON graphical package manager is fairly straight forward and isn't unlike the Mint package manager.
































If you know the name of the package or you have a particular type of package you can search by keyword or name.

If you just want to browse then you can select the category you wish to view and scroll down the list.
































Double clicking on one of the items brings up a description of the application, reviews and the file size.

To install the package all you have to do is click "Install".

If you prefer a more powerful package manager, Synaptic is available as well.

Issues

I used Netrunner 14 for a week before writing the review and I never really came across any issues.

Audio, video and basic functionality behaved themselves nicely.

Summary

For the Everyday Linux User the future is bright. Netrunner is another great example of how good Linux can be.

Users can get up and running with Netrunner in about 15 to 20 minutes. Most computer users should be able to perform the most common tasks such as browsing the internet, watching videos and listening to music without too much thought.

The most challenging aspect will be customising the KDE desktop and learning the finer points about activities. How much effort each user puts into this is up to the individual concerned and is certainly not mandatory.

All in all, Netrunner is definitely worth checking out.


Netrunner 14 - KDE for the Everyday Linux User

Introduction

This is the year of Linux for the everyday user.

I have already written reviews for Ubuntu 14.04 and Linux Mint 17 and they are both exceptionally good for the average computer user.

This review is about Netrunner 14.

There are two versions of Netrunner available. This article looks at the Standard Release which is based on Kubuntu 14.04. The other version is a rolling release based on Manjaro.

System Requirements

I am listing the requirements as stated on the FAQ - Installation page on the Netrunner website.

It appears the requirements have been set from the fact that they were tested on a netbook.

  • CPU - 1.6ghz Intel Atom
  • RAM - 1 gigabyte
  • Hard Drive Size - 10 gigabytes
  • Graphics Card - Intel GMA 945
  • Video Memory - 128 megabytes
I tested on a more powerful machine:
  • Intel i5 quad core 
  • 8 gigabytes RAM
  • 2 terabyte hard drive
Needless to say it worked like a dream on my computer.

How to get Netrunner

To download Netrunner visit http://www.netrunner-os.com/download/

There are 32 bit and 64 bit versions of both the standard and rolling release.

To create a bootable USB drive I used UNetbootin.

If you have a poor internet connection or you are unsure about creating a bootable USB drive you can always click here to buy a bootable DVD or USB drive.

How to install Netrunner 


First of all boot into the Live version of Netrunner by inserting either a live USB or live DVD into the drive and turning on your computer and then click on "Install Netrunner 14 LTS".

The Netrunner installer is linear, making it very easy to follow. You can see the steps that the installer is going to take you through.

The first thing you have to do is choose the installation language and click "Continue".























You can now set up your internet connection if you so wish. Setting up the internet automatically chooses your timezone, installs third party software and downloads updates.

It is an optional choice whether to connect or not. My preference, because I have a poor internet connection, is to not connect and download the updates later. The third party software is installed by Netrunner anyway.























The third screen shows how prepared you are to install Netrunner. As long as your computer is plugged in (or has enough battery life) and it has enough disk space you are good to go.























The disk setup screen isn't as easy to follow as the one provided with Linux Mint. If you read the options carefully though it is quite straight forward.

The options above are basically saying

1. Install Netrunner alongside Linux Mint (I had Linux Mint installed previously)
2. Replace Linux Mint with Netrunner (use entire disk)
3. Replace Linux Mint with Netrunner and use LVM
4. Replace Linux Mint with Netrunner and use encryption with LVM
5. Perform a manual installation and setup the disk layout yourself

I chose option 2 to replace Linux Mint.























Now you have to choose your timezone by clicking on the map or selecting from the drop downs.























Choose your keyboard layout.























Finally create a default user by entering your name, a username, a password and a name for your computer.























The files will now be copied and your hardware will be detected and setup.

First Impressions





















Netrunner boots into a plain looking desktop. As with Linux Mint everything should look familiar to most people who have used computers before.

There is a panel at the bottom with a menu and quick launch icons in the bottom left and a system tray in the bottom right.



There are also some icons on the desktop. The "My Computer" icon shows you details about your computer such as the processor, memory, disk usage and operating system. The "Network" icon lets you connect to network drives. Finally the "Readme" takes you to the Netrunner website which contains some useful tutorials.



The quick launch part of the panel has an icon which brings up the menu, access to the file manager and an icon for the Firefox web browser.



The system tray has a multitude of icons which by default are as follows:
  • a terminal window
  • audio settings
  • software updates
  • contacts
  • clipboard manager
  • bluetooth
  • network settings
  • clock
  • search bar
  • notifications
  • activities
The menu is crisp and clean with useful icons on the left and categories on the right. Hovering over a category brings up the applications within that category.

To add icons to the favourites list, right click on them in the menu and select "Add to favourites".

Customising the desktop

The KDE desktop is highly customisable and there is just too much to discuss for including in this review.

Starting off nice and easy though you can change the desktop wallpaper. Simply right click on the desktop and select "Netrunner Desktop Settings".


































There are a number of wallpapers available with Netrunner and they all appear to have a very blue theme to them.

You can choose your own wallpaper by clicking on the "Open" button and finding the image you wish to use or you can click the "Get new wallpapers" button to search online for more.





















You can adjust the items that appear on the panel by right clicking on the panel and clicking "add panel items". You can also add new panels to the display.

The KDE desktop also has the concept of activities which is like a new play on the virtual workspaces concept.





















The choice of activities isn't as expansive in Netrunner as it is for openSUSE but you can download more if you need to.

The above image shows the photos activity.

Connecting to the internet





















As long as you have a fairly standard network card, connecting to the internet should be as easy as clicking on the network icon in the system tray and choosing your wireless connection.

You will need to enter the security key if one is required.

The default web browser in Netrunner is Firefox.

Flash and MP3



























Netrunner has everything you need to get started installed by default and as such Flash videos work and you can play MP3 audio without installing any further software.

Applications

Netrunner has a really good set of applications installed at the outset.

Games


  • Burgerspace
  • Chess
  • Duckhunt
  • Frozen Bubble
  • glTron
  • GNUDoQ
  • KBreakout
  • KDiamond
  • KMahjongg
  • KDiamond
  • KMines
  • KPatience
  • KSnake
  • KDuel
  • STEAM
I have written an article previously about the default KDE games but Netrunner includes some extras that I never covered.

More importantly is the inclusion of STEAM. I think the thing that annoys me with STEAM (and this is the same with every distribution that includes STEAM) is that as soon as you click the icon it downloads 200+ megabytes of updates.

STEAM is the best thing to ever happen to Linux gaming and provides 500+ games for the Linux desktop.

Graphics


  • GIMP Image Editing
  • Gwenview Image Viewer
  • Kamoso Webcam Viewer
  • Karbon Vector Graphics Drawing Application
  • Krita Digital Painting
  • KSnapshot Screenshot
  • Skanlite Scanning Application

Internet

  • FireFox Web Browser
  • Kontact Address Book
  • Pidgin Instant Messenger
  • QTransmission BitTorrent
  • Skype
  • Telepathy Instant Messenger
  • Thunderbird Email Client
It is interesting that Netrunner has a mix and match approach to the applications installed as opposed to choosing all the default KDE applications.

Skype is a good default choice.

Multimedia 

  • Clementine Audio Player
  • KDenlive Video Editing
  • KMix Audio Mixer
  • Qmmp Audio Player
  • VLC Media Player
  • Vokoscreen Screencasting
The default audio application in Netrunner is Clementine. I mentioned in my review of Linux Mint that Linux has a plethora of music applications. Clementine is a great example of how an audio player should work.

I wrote an article not so long ago comparing Clementine with Amarok in which I mentioned the virtues of a clean easy to use interface. Clementine really is the best that KDE has to offer.




























For watching videos there is the VLC media player, which allows you to watch videos that are local to your PC or online.

Netrunner also includes a video editor and screencast tool which is something you don't see in many other distributions but which are welcome inclusions.

Office





















  • LibreOffice Writer
  • LibreOffice Calc
  • LibreOffice Impress
  • LibreOffice Base
  • LibreOffice Math
  • Okular
The full LibreOffice office suite is included with the excellent LibreOffice Writer and the very competent LibreOffice Calc spreadsheet package. For presentations there is LibreOffice Impress and LibreOffice Base is a clone of MS Access.

Okular is included as a PDF viewer.

Installing Applications

































For package management, Netrunner 14 uses MUON.

The MUON graphical package manager is fairly straight forward and isn't unlike the Mint package manager.
































If you know the name of the package or you have a particular type of package you can search by keyword or name.

If you just want to browse then you can select the category you wish to view and scroll down the list.
































Double clicking on one of the items brings up a description of the application, reviews and the file size.

To install the package all you have to do is click "Install".

If you prefer a more powerful package manager, Synaptic is available as well.

Issues

I used Netrunner 14 for a week before writing the review and I never really came across any issues.

Audio, video and basic functionality behaved themselves nicely.

Summary

For the Everyday Linux User the future is bright. Netrunner is another great example of how good Linux can be.

Users can get up and running with Netrunner in about 15 to 20 minutes. Most computer users should be able to perform the most common tasks such as browsing the internet, watching videos and listening to music without too much thought.

The most challenging aspect will be customising the KDE desktop and learning the finer points about activities. How much effort each user puts into this is up to the individual concerned and is certainly not mandatory.

All in all, Netrunner is definitely worth checking out.


Posted at 07:30 |  by Gary Newell

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Introduction

I believe that there is a version of Linux out there for everyone. One of the hardest sells is trying to convince someone who is using Windows 7 that there is a version of Linux suitable for them.

I have already written articles giving 5 reasons why Lubuntu might be better for Windows XP users and that PCLinuxOS might be better for Windows XP users with more powerful machines and Windows Vista users.

For Windows 8 users, I would imagine that just about any flavour of Linux is preferable but I would probably lean towards Ubuntu as I think Ubuntu provides the killer new desktop that Windows 8 has tried to introduce but in a much better way.

Windows 7 users are not running out of support and there isn't all that much wrong with Windows 7, especially if you have used it for a while. Windows 7 is  probably the best version of Windows there has ever been.

The best Linux alternative for Windows 7 that I have found thus far is probably Zorin OS 8. That is up until now.

Today I am going to be reviewing Linux Mint 17 with the Cinnamon desktop environment which is the best that Linux Mint has to offer.

System Requirements

  • x86 processor (32-bit) or x64 processor (64-bit)
  • 512 megabytes RAM (1 gigabyte recommended)
  • 10 gigabytes disk space
  • DVD or USB support

Installation

Click here for my guide showing how to create a bootable Linux Mint USB drive.
Click here for my guide showing how to install Linux Mint as a virtual machine.
Click here for my guide showing how to dual boot OSX and Linux Mint 17 on a MacBook Air.

I will be writing a guide shortly showing how to dual boot or replace Windows 7 with Linux Mint 17.

For now though I am going to take you through the installation steps to show just how easy it is.

You will need to follow the guide showing how to create the Linux USB drive first.

Before you begin, backup your computer using the Windows 7 backup and recovery tools.

Insert the USB drive and reboot your computer.



Your computer should boot into a live version of Linux Mint 17.

Click on the install icon on the desktop.


Choose your installation language and click "Continue".

 

You are then asked to connect to your wireless network. This is optional and to be honest I always choose not to connect.

The installer will use your internet connection to download updates as it goes which means when you boot Linux Mint 17 for the first time after installation it will be completely up to date. 

If you have a slow internet connection this can take ages and if your connection drops then it is hard to know the state of your installation. I prefer to get the installation done first and then apply updates later.

Select your preferred option and click "Continue".

 

The next steps shows you how well prepared you are for installing Linux Mint. If you have three green ticks then you are good to go. (The only one you really have to worry about is disk space and if you are not using a power source make sure your battery is charged).

Click "Continue".

 

If you are running Windows 7 then the image above will look slightly different but basically you get the option to replace the current operating system, install alongside the current operating system or something else.

In the past I have always recommended choosing something else as this will help during upgrades but because Linux Mint 17 is a long term support release with a number of years support it is OK to choose the option to erase the disk and install Linux Mint 17.

Choose your preferred option and click "Continue".

 

The rest of the steps are very straight forward. Choose your location.


Choose your keyboard layout.


 Create a default user and a name for your computer.


and wait for the installation to complete which for me took less than 10 minutes.

First Impressions

The best thing about Linux Mint is that the developers haven't tried to be too clever. 

One thing that turns people off Ubuntu is the Unity Desktop because the user interface just isn't familiar to them.

Don't get me wrong, I really like Ubuntu and I like the user interface that Unity provides. I get what the Ubuntu developers have tried to achieve and I think they have done an amazing job.

A few years ago people heard the word Unity and they said "Yuck". Now more and more people ask how to get Unity for their Linux distribution.

Linux Mint bucked the trend and stuck with the same principles that made Windows XP and Windows 7 a success. The user interface is completely familiar to anyone who has used computers for the past 20 years.

Linux Mint is also incredibly consistent. Whether you use the lightweight XFCE version, KDE, MATE or Cinnamon the look and feel is pretty much the same. The only thing that changes is the programs used to achieve the look and feel.

The Cinnamon desktop is extremely well polished and more than matches anything that Windows 7 has to offer in terms of asthetics.


Everything is just where you would expect it to be. The panel at the bottom works in much the same way as the Windows 7 task bar. There is a menu, a set of quick launch icons and a system tray.




The quick launch icons allow you to show the desktop, load the default web browser, open a terminal window and open the file manager. The quick launch icons can be customised.


The system tray has icons for helping you to manage common system settings. 

The default icons are as follows:

  • Notifications
  • User settings
  • Bluetooth settings
  • Network settings
  • Audio settings
  • Power settings
  • Updates
  • Clock
  • Workspace selector



The menus used by Linux Mint are slightly different depending on the desktop environment that you choose to use.

The Cinnamon desktop environment doesn't try and confuse you with new interfaces but enhances on the experiences that you are likely to already have encountered.

The menu is fairly straight forward. 

The left column has a series of icons for the applications that you will use regularly. (Favourites). 

By default the icons are as follows: (From top to bottom)
  • FireFox Web Browser
  • Software Manager
  • Settings
  • Terminal
  • File Manager
  • Lock Screen
  • Log Out
  • Quit
The second column in the menu is a list of categories and by hovering your mouse over a category the third column changes to show the applications within that category.

Dragging an icon from the applications column to the favourites column will make it more accessible next time you open the menu.

Connecting to the internet





















Connecting to the internet with Linux Mint is generally incredibly simple. Assuming that you have a network card that is automatically catered for then all you need to do is click on the icon in the system tray and select the wireless network you wish to connect to.

You will then also need to enter the security details for the wireless network (assuming that it isn't an open network).

To browse web pages use the FireFox web browser.

Flash and MP3

Some Linux distributions do not include proprietary technology such as the ability to play Flash videos and listen to MP3 audio.

Linux Mint has everything you need installed from the outset, so you can watch your favourite Youtube videos, play your favourite games and listen to your music collection with no further setup required.

Applications

Linux Mint has a great selection of applications that are installed by default.

Linux Mint is in a better state when it is first installed than Windows is and for the most part requires no extra specialist software to be installed for the most common uses of home computers.

Accessories

  • Archive Manager
  • Calculator
  • Document Viewer
  • Screenshot
  • Terminal
  • Text Editor
  • USB Image Writer

Graphics


  • GIMP image editor
  • gThumb image thumbnail viewer
  • Image Viewer
  • ImageMagick
  • LibreOffice Draw
  • Scan
For those of you that haven't heard of GIMP it is a fine picture editing tool. A lot of people liken it to Photoshop. Generally there is a debate to be had as to whether it really has everything that Photoshop has to offer but for the casual user it certainly is incredibly powerful.

Internet

  • FireFox Web Browser
  • HexChat IRC Chat Client
  • Pidgin Internet Messenger
  • Thunderbird Mail Client
  • Transmission BitTorrent Client

Office


  • LibreOffice Writer (think Microsoft Word but without the awful Ribbons)
  • LibreOffice Calc (think Microsoft Excel but without the awful Ribbons)
  • LibreOffice Impress (think Microsoft Powerpoint)
  • LibreOffice Draw
  • LibreOffice Math
LibreOffice complements Linux Mint very well as it provides the same sort of continuation and familiarity that Linux Mint provides. There are certainly none of those stupid ribbon bars making it impossible to find settings.

For home use LibreOffice definitely has all the features you will require and is perfect for children who have homework assignments or for parents to create budgets.

Sound and Video

  • Banshee Audio Player
  • Brasero DVD burning
  • Totem Video Player
  • VLC Video Player
One thing that Linux isn't lacking is good quality audio applications.

Off the top of my head there are Rhythmbox, Banshee, Amarok, Clementine, GMusicBrowser, DeadBeef, Noise and QMMS.

Linux Mint comes with Banshee. I have had problems with this application in the past but it works perfectly within Linux Mint 17.

Importing music is as simple as selecting the "Import Media" option from the "Media" menu. This allows you to select the folders on your computer that contain audio files.

Banshee lets you listen to music from your own collection or you can listen to online radio stations.

All the standard features are available such as the ability to create playlists.

Banshee works very well with external audio devices and picked up my Sony Walkman and Samsung Galaxy S4 without any issues.

The VLC media player can be used to watch online videos and also to watch videos stored on your computer.

Installing Applications

One area where Linux Mint is better than Ubuntu is the graphical tool used for installing applications.

The Ubuntu Software Centre is probably the biggest let down and the one area where Ubuntu really needs to improve.

Linux Mint's software manager is actually pretty decent.

The default view provides a list of categories and a search box in the top right corner.


If you just want to browse applications click on a category and a list of applications will appear.

The applications are listed by title, description, rating and number of people who voted.

To get more information about an application double click on the name.































The details page includes screenshots, version numbers, file sizes and reviews.

To install the application click "Install".

Gaming

One thing that isn't installed by default is games.

There are various ways of installing and playing games in Linux Mint.

The first way is to open the software manager and browse the games section.





The number of games listed in the software manager aren't incredibly extensive but there are first person shooters, platform games, racing games etc.

Another option is games emulation. The software manager has emulators for the Commodore Amiga, Atari 2600, Sinclair Spectrum, SNES, NES, Playstation One, N64 and many others.

If you already have a good selection of Windows games then the third option is to use PlayOnLinux which is also available from the software centre.
 

PlayOnLinux sits on top of WINE which allows you to run Windows applications within Linux Mint.









PlayOnLinux can be used for more than just installing Windows games and it can be used to install other Windows applications such as Microsoft Office.

The level of success with running Windows applications is improving but is still a bit hit and miss.

The games seem to work very well generally. I bought and installed Sensible World Of Soccer from GOG.com and it works really well.

The final but best option for playing games is through STEAM. More and more top quality games are provided for Linux via the STEAM platform.

You can install STEAM from the software manager.

Using STEAM you can buy, download and install games which can be used directly from your Linux Mint desktop.

Customising the desktop

The first thing that you might like to change is the default desktop wallpaper.

To change the wallpaper right click on the desktop and choose "Change Desktop Background".

Linux Mint comes with a nice selection of wallpapers but you can add your own by clicking on the "Add" icon.

Another thing you can add to the desktop is something called desklets. The "Add Desklets" option is available from the right click menu on the desktop.

By default there aren't that many desklets available but you can get more online. (Click the "Get More Online" tab.

The desklets for me look a bit clunky but they make it easier to view photos and provide instant access to your music collection etc.

Another thing you can customise is the panel at the bottom. You can add more items to the panel by right clicking the panel and selecting "Add applets to panel".

New features for Linux Mint 17

The release notes for Linux Mint can be found at http://www.linuxmint.com/rel_qiana_cinnamon.php.

The new features are as follows:

  • Improved update manager 
  • The driver manager can now install drivers without an internet connection
  • Refined MDM login manager and multi monitor support improved
  • HTML greeter comes with HiDPI support
  • MDM now has a recovery command
  • Language Settings tool added to make it easier to select your language
  • Improved Software Sources display
  • Welcome screen now uses less resources
  • Improved graphical interface for system settings
  • Power management and screen saver settings redesigned
  • Menu improvements
  • HUD and Hover Management Improvements
  • MPRIS support added
  • HiDPI and Retina display support added
  • The "WACOM" plug has been re-introduced
  • Windows opacity improvements
  • Better integration with Gnome
  • Better support for GDM
  • Support for MDM failback shutdown sequence
  • New shutdown hotkey
  • Lots of bug fixes
This list doesn't cover everything and may not make sense to new users so it would be beneficial to click the link above to get the full list.

What is important with Linux Mint 17 is the LTS strategy. Linux Mint 17 will receive support updates until 2019.

Until 2016 Linux Mint will use the same package base as Linux Mint 17 making it easier to upgrade.

Until 2016 the developers won't begin work on a new base and will be focus completely on the current base.

Hot Corners and Workspaces 

The Cinnamon desktop has a configuration tool called "Hot Corners" which lets you determine what happens when you move your mouse into the corners of your screen.

Before thinking about hot corners it is worth discussing workspaces first.

In Windows you only have one workspace. This means if you have lots of applications open then you either have to make windows smaller to place them side by side or have them overlay each other.

To switch between applications you have to either alt and tab or click with your mouse.

Linux has virtual workspaces which means you can have for instance one workspace which you use to do work and another for emails, chat, Facebook etc.

To use hot corners open the settings screen and select "Hot Corners".

You can specify what happens when you click or hover in a corner. The choices are to show all workspaces, show all windows, run a command or show the desktop.

All four corners can be customised to work the way you want them to.

For instance if I hover into the top left corner on my computer I will see the following screen:

By default there are two workspaces and switching is as simple as clicking the workspace. To add a new workspace click the plus symbol.

Issues

There are a number of known issues listed as part of the release notes:

  • The "Replace OS with Linux Mint" option doesn't just replace the operating system with the Linux Mint it erases the entire disk. This is important for people who dual boot. You need to use the "Something Else" option.
  • There may be an issue with Skype which can be fixed by installing "ia32-libs". 
  • If VLC does not find your DVD player, click on Media->Open Disc, and specify '/dev/sr0' as the disc device.
  • HiDPI is detected automatically. You can however force Cinnamon to run in low or in high DPI mode by going to Menu->Preferences->General.
  • If your system is using secureBoot, turn it off.
    Note: Linux Mint 17 places its boot files in /boot/efi/EFI/ubuntu to work around
  • Freeze issues with NVidia cards (there are workarounds provided via the release notes)
  • Booting with Non-PAE causes issues (refer to the release notes for the workaround)
Something that isn't on the list but that was reported via Reddit last week is that copying from a device to Linux Mint via the file manager can cause the file to get lost.

To try this out I plugged in my Samsung Galaxy S4 and moved files from the Samsung Galaxy to my Linux Mint 17 installation.














































As you can see from the images above I wasn't able to reproduce this issue.

My advice when moving files from one device to another would be to copy the files first and then when you are sure they have reached their destination delete the source files. This prevents the chance of the files getting lost.

I haven't had any other issues whilst running Linux Mint 17 and I have had it installed for around 2 weeks now.

Summary

Linux Mint 17 is a great choice for the everyday Linux user. It is easy to install, easy to use and has a good selection of applications.

There is nothing revolutionary about Linux Mint. It isn't like Ubuntu daring to enter new territory with a new user interface. It sits firmly in the camp of "things were and are working just fine so lets not change them".

The user interface for the Cinnamon desktop is visually pleasing and very professional.

The hardware support is extensive and the stability is incredibly good.

I would recommend Linux Mint for all users and not just Windows users looking to try Linux for the first time.

Linux Mint is a great example of how good an operating system can be.

Thankyou for reading.


Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon - The ultimate Windows 7 replacement

Introduction

I believe that there is a version of Linux out there for everyone. One of the hardest sells is trying to convince someone who is using Windows 7 that there is a version of Linux suitable for them.

I have already written articles giving 5 reasons why Lubuntu might be better for Windows XP users and that PCLinuxOS might be better for Windows XP users with more powerful machines and Windows Vista users.

For Windows 8 users, I would imagine that just about any flavour of Linux is preferable but I would probably lean towards Ubuntu as I think Ubuntu provides the killer new desktop that Windows 8 has tried to introduce but in a much better way.

Windows 7 users are not running out of support and there isn't all that much wrong with Windows 7, especially if you have used it for a while. Windows 7 is  probably the best version of Windows there has ever been.

The best Linux alternative for Windows 7 that I have found thus far is probably Zorin OS 8. That is up until now.

Today I am going to be reviewing Linux Mint 17 with the Cinnamon desktop environment which is the best that Linux Mint has to offer.

System Requirements

  • x86 processor (32-bit) or x64 processor (64-bit)
  • 512 megabytes RAM (1 gigabyte recommended)
  • 10 gigabytes disk space
  • DVD or USB support

Installation

Click here for my guide showing how to create a bootable Linux Mint USB drive.
Click here for my guide showing how to install Linux Mint as a virtual machine.
Click here for my guide showing how to dual boot OSX and Linux Mint 17 on a MacBook Air.

I will be writing a guide shortly showing how to dual boot or replace Windows 7 with Linux Mint 17.

For now though I am going to take you through the installation steps to show just how easy it is.

You will need to follow the guide showing how to create the Linux USB drive first.

Before you begin, backup your computer using the Windows 7 backup and recovery tools.

Insert the USB drive and reboot your computer.



Your computer should boot into a live version of Linux Mint 17.

Click on the install icon on the desktop.


Choose your installation language and click "Continue".

 

You are then asked to connect to your wireless network. This is optional and to be honest I always choose not to connect.

The installer will use your internet connection to download updates as it goes which means when you boot Linux Mint 17 for the first time after installation it will be completely up to date. 

If you have a slow internet connection this can take ages and if your connection drops then it is hard to know the state of your installation. I prefer to get the installation done first and then apply updates later.

Select your preferred option and click "Continue".

 

The next steps shows you how well prepared you are for installing Linux Mint. If you have three green ticks then you are good to go. (The only one you really have to worry about is disk space and if you are not using a power source make sure your battery is charged).

Click "Continue".

 

If you are running Windows 7 then the image above will look slightly different but basically you get the option to replace the current operating system, install alongside the current operating system or something else.

In the past I have always recommended choosing something else as this will help during upgrades but because Linux Mint 17 is a long term support release with a number of years support it is OK to choose the option to erase the disk and install Linux Mint 17.

Choose your preferred option and click "Continue".

 

The rest of the steps are very straight forward. Choose your location.


Choose your keyboard layout.


 Create a default user and a name for your computer.


and wait for the installation to complete which for me took less than 10 minutes.

First Impressions

The best thing about Linux Mint is that the developers haven't tried to be too clever. 

One thing that turns people off Ubuntu is the Unity Desktop because the user interface just isn't familiar to them.

Don't get me wrong, I really like Ubuntu and I like the user interface that Unity provides. I get what the Ubuntu developers have tried to achieve and I think they have done an amazing job.

A few years ago people heard the word Unity and they said "Yuck". Now more and more people ask how to get Unity for their Linux distribution.

Linux Mint bucked the trend and stuck with the same principles that made Windows XP and Windows 7 a success. The user interface is completely familiar to anyone who has used computers for the past 20 years.

Linux Mint is also incredibly consistent. Whether you use the lightweight XFCE version, KDE, MATE or Cinnamon the look and feel is pretty much the same. The only thing that changes is the programs used to achieve the look and feel.

The Cinnamon desktop is extremely well polished and more than matches anything that Windows 7 has to offer in terms of asthetics.


Everything is just where you would expect it to be. The panel at the bottom works in much the same way as the Windows 7 task bar. There is a menu, a set of quick launch icons and a system tray.




The quick launch icons allow you to show the desktop, load the default web browser, open a terminal window and open the file manager. The quick launch icons can be customised.


The system tray has icons for helping you to manage common system settings. 

The default icons are as follows:

  • Notifications
  • User settings
  • Bluetooth settings
  • Network settings
  • Audio settings
  • Power settings
  • Updates
  • Clock
  • Workspace selector



The menus used by Linux Mint are slightly different depending on the desktop environment that you choose to use.

The Cinnamon desktop environment doesn't try and confuse you with new interfaces but enhances on the experiences that you are likely to already have encountered.

The menu is fairly straight forward. 

The left column has a series of icons for the applications that you will use regularly. (Favourites). 

By default the icons are as follows: (From top to bottom)
  • FireFox Web Browser
  • Software Manager
  • Settings
  • Terminal
  • File Manager
  • Lock Screen
  • Log Out
  • Quit
The second column in the menu is a list of categories and by hovering your mouse over a category the third column changes to show the applications within that category.

Dragging an icon from the applications column to the favourites column will make it more accessible next time you open the menu.

Connecting to the internet





















Connecting to the internet with Linux Mint is generally incredibly simple. Assuming that you have a network card that is automatically catered for then all you need to do is click on the icon in the system tray and select the wireless network you wish to connect to.

You will then also need to enter the security details for the wireless network (assuming that it isn't an open network).

To browse web pages use the FireFox web browser.

Flash and MP3

Some Linux distributions do not include proprietary technology such as the ability to play Flash videos and listen to MP3 audio.

Linux Mint has everything you need installed from the outset, so you can watch your favourite Youtube videos, play your favourite games and listen to your music collection with no further setup required.

Applications

Linux Mint has a great selection of applications that are installed by default.

Linux Mint is in a better state when it is first installed than Windows is and for the most part requires no extra specialist software to be installed for the most common uses of home computers.

Accessories

  • Archive Manager
  • Calculator
  • Document Viewer
  • Screenshot
  • Terminal
  • Text Editor
  • USB Image Writer

Graphics


  • GIMP image editor
  • gThumb image thumbnail viewer
  • Image Viewer
  • ImageMagick
  • LibreOffice Draw
  • Scan
For those of you that haven't heard of GIMP it is a fine picture editing tool. A lot of people liken it to Photoshop. Generally there is a debate to be had as to whether it really has everything that Photoshop has to offer but for the casual user it certainly is incredibly powerful.

Internet

  • FireFox Web Browser
  • HexChat IRC Chat Client
  • Pidgin Internet Messenger
  • Thunderbird Mail Client
  • Transmission BitTorrent Client

Office


  • LibreOffice Writer (think Microsoft Word but without the awful Ribbons)
  • LibreOffice Calc (think Microsoft Excel but without the awful Ribbons)
  • LibreOffice Impress (think Microsoft Powerpoint)
  • LibreOffice Draw
  • LibreOffice Math
LibreOffice complements Linux Mint very well as it provides the same sort of continuation and familiarity that Linux Mint provides. There are certainly none of those stupid ribbon bars making it impossible to find settings.

For home use LibreOffice definitely has all the features you will require and is perfect for children who have homework assignments or for parents to create budgets.

Sound and Video

  • Banshee Audio Player
  • Brasero DVD burning
  • Totem Video Player
  • VLC Video Player
One thing that Linux isn't lacking is good quality audio applications.

Off the top of my head there are Rhythmbox, Banshee, Amarok, Clementine, GMusicBrowser, DeadBeef, Noise and QMMS.

Linux Mint comes with Banshee. I have had problems with this application in the past but it works perfectly within Linux Mint 17.

Importing music is as simple as selecting the "Import Media" option from the "Media" menu. This allows you to select the folders on your computer that contain audio files.

Banshee lets you listen to music from your own collection or you can listen to online radio stations.

All the standard features are available such as the ability to create playlists.

Banshee works very well with external audio devices and picked up my Sony Walkman and Samsung Galaxy S4 without any issues.

The VLC media player can be used to watch online videos and also to watch videos stored on your computer.

Installing Applications

One area where Linux Mint is better than Ubuntu is the graphical tool used for installing applications.

The Ubuntu Software Centre is probably the biggest let down and the one area where Ubuntu really needs to improve.

Linux Mint's software manager is actually pretty decent.

The default view provides a list of categories and a search box in the top right corner.


If you just want to browse applications click on a category and a list of applications will appear.

The applications are listed by title, description, rating and number of people who voted.

To get more information about an application double click on the name.































The details page includes screenshots, version numbers, file sizes and reviews.

To install the application click "Install".

Gaming

One thing that isn't installed by default is games.

There are various ways of installing and playing games in Linux Mint.

The first way is to open the software manager and browse the games section.





The number of games listed in the software manager aren't incredibly extensive but there are first person shooters, platform games, racing games etc.

Another option is games emulation. The software manager has emulators for the Commodore Amiga, Atari 2600, Sinclair Spectrum, SNES, NES, Playstation One, N64 and many others.

If you already have a good selection of Windows games then the third option is to use PlayOnLinux which is also available from the software centre.
 

PlayOnLinux sits on top of WINE which allows you to run Windows applications within Linux Mint.









PlayOnLinux can be used for more than just installing Windows games and it can be used to install other Windows applications such as Microsoft Office.

The level of success with running Windows applications is improving but is still a bit hit and miss.

The games seem to work very well generally. I bought and installed Sensible World Of Soccer from GOG.com and it works really well.

The final but best option for playing games is through STEAM. More and more top quality games are provided for Linux via the STEAM platform.

You can install STEAM from the software manager.

Using STEAM you can buy, download and install games which can be used directly from your Linux Mint desktop.

Customising the desktop

The first thing that you might like to change is the default desktop wallpaper.

To change the wallpaper right click on the desktop and choose "Change Desktop Background".

Linux Mint comes with a nice selection of wallpapers but you can add your own by clicking on the "Add" icon.

Another thing you can add to the desktop is something called desklets. The "Add Desklets" option is available from the right click menu on the desktop.

By default there aren't that many desklets available but you can get more online. (Click the "Get More Online" tab.

The desklets for me look a bit clunky but they make it easier to view photos and provide instant access to your music collection etc.

Another thing you can customise is the panel at the bottom. You can add more items to the panel by right clicking the panel and selecting "Add applets to panel".

New features for Linux Mint 17

The release notes for Linux Mint can be found at http://www.linuxmint.com/rel_qiana_cinnamon.php.

The new features are as follows:

  • Improved update manager 
  • The driver manager can now install drivers without an internet connection
  • Refined MDM login manager and multi monitor support improved
  • HTML greeter comes with HiDPI support
  • MDM now has a recovery command
  • Language Settings tool added to make it easier to select your language
  • Improved Software Sources display
  • Welcome screen now uses less resources
  • Improved graphical interface for system settings
  • Power management and screen saver settings redesigned
  • Menu improvements
  • HUD and Hover Management Improvements
  • MPRIS support added
  • HiDPI and Retina display support added
  • The "WACOM" plug has been re-introduced
  • Windows opacity improvements
  • Better integration with Gnome
  • Better support for GDM
  • Support for MDM failback shutdown sequence
  • New shutdown hotkey
  • Lots of bug fixes
This list doesn't cover everything and may not make sense to new users so it would be beneficial to click the link above to get the full list.

What is important with Linux Mint 17 is the LTS strategy. Linux Mint 17 will receive support updates until 2019.

Until 2016 Linux Mint will use the same package base as Linux Mint 17 making it easier to upgrade.

Until 2016 the developers won't begin work on a new base and will be focus completely on the current base.

Hot Corners and Workspaces 

The Cinnamon desktop has a configuration tool called "Hot Corners" which lets you determine what happens when you move your mouse into the corners of your screen.

Before thinking about hot corners it is worth discussing workspaces first.

In Windows you only have one workspace. This means if you have lots of applications open then you either have to make windows smaller to place them side by side or have them overlay each other.

To switch between applications you have to either alt and tab or click with your mouse.

Linux has virtual workspaces which means you can have for instance one workspace which you use to do work and another for emails, chat, Facebook etc.

To use hot corners open the settings screen and select "Hot Corners".

You can specify what happens when you click or hover in a corner. The choices are to show all workspaces, show all windows, run a command or show the desktop.

All four corners can be customised to work the way you want them to.

For instance if I hover into the top left corner on my computer I will see the following screen:

By default there are two workspaces and switching is as simple as clicking the workspace. To add a new workspace click the plus symbol.

Issues

There are a number of known issues listed as part of the release notes:

  • The "Replace OS with Linux Mint" option doesn't just replace the operating system with the Linux Mint it erases the entire disk. This is important for people who dual boot. You need to use the "Something Else" option.
  • There may be an issue with Skype which can be fixed by installing "ia32-libs". 
  • If VLC does not find your DVD player, click on Media->Open Disc, and specify '/dev/sr0' as the disc device.
  • HiDPI is detected automatically. You can however force Cinnamon to run in low or in high DPI mode by going to Menu->Preferences->General.
  • If your system is using secureBoot, turn it off.
    Note: Linux Mint 17 places its boot files in /boot/efi/EFI/ubuntu to work around
  • Freeze issues with NVidia cards (there are workarounds provided via the release notes)
  • Booting with Non-PAE causes issues (refer to the release notes for the workaround)
Something that isn't on the list but that was reported via Reddit last week is that copying from a device to Linux Mint via the file manager can cause the file to get lost.

To try this out I plugged in my Samsung Galaxy S4 and moved files from the Samsung Galaxy to my Linux Mint 17 installation.














































As you can see from the images above I wasn't able to reproduce this issue.

My advice when moving files from one device to another would be to copy the files first and then when you are sure they have reached their destination delete the source files. This prevents the chance of the files getting lost.

I haven't had any other issues whilst running Linux Mint 17 and I have had it installed for around 2 weeks now.

Summary

Linux Mint 17 is a great choice for the everyday Linux user. It is easy to install, easy to use and has a good selection of applications.

There is nothing revolutionary about Linux Mint. It isn't like Ubuntu daring to enter new territory with a new user interface. It sits firmly in the camp of "things were and are working just fine so lets not change them".

The user interface for the Cinnamon desktop is visually pleasing and very professional.

The hardware support is extensive and the stability is incredibly good.

I would recommend Linux Mint for all users and not just Windows users looking to try Linux for the first time.

Linux Mint is a great example of how good an operating system can be.

Thankyou for reading.


Posted at 15:42 |  by Gary Newell

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