How To 

How do I set up Linux Mint on a new system?

What is Linux Mint? Linux Mint is an operating system (OS), based on Ubuntu/Debian Linux. What's an OS? It's basically Windows 7, Mac OS X, etc. - software that runs on your laptop and desktop that exists as your base. Without an OS, you can't really do anything with your computer!

Linux Mint is a great OS, and is a great free alternative to Windows and Mac OS X. It has many of the features and applications that Windows has without the expensive pricetag!

Hyped? Let's get started!

We need to know a few things:

  • Is this a fresh install or an existing install? A fresh install is when you are starting off with a completely new system, with a blank hard drive. If your hard drive has an OS on it already, you are performing an existing install. This tutorial is only if you are doing a fresh install. If you are not doing that kind of install, see my other tutorial for instructions on how to set up a dual boot configuration for an existing system.
    Will you install another OS in the future? This tutorial only covers a single installation. If you plan on installing Windows on the side, this tutorial may not be for you.
Finally, we need to have:

  • ■A reasonably sized HDD to hold Linux Mint OS
    ■Installation media to install Linux Mint
    ■A CD/DVD drive or USB port if the installation media is in the form of a USB flash drive
This tutorial assumes that the system is working properly and does not have any problems. To be specific, your system should be able to display the BIOS screen, and end up at a prompt where it says something similar to "Boot device not found". If not, your system has problems and should be fixed before attempting these instructions.

That said, let's get started!

(Note: The screenshots below were taken in a virtual machine. Things should be pretty much the same as on a real machine, but there may be slight differences depending on your hardware configuration.)

1) Boot into the Linux Mint LiveCD.
Insert the Linux Mint installtion media into the computer, and boot into it. If it doesn't start the Windows Setup, change your BIOS settings to allow the CD/DVD drive and/or the USB drive to boot first.

You will likely see this screen:

Just wait until it loads. Do not hit any keys.

2) Start the setup!
Double click Install Linux Mint.

3) Proceed through the setup screens!
On the first part, click Continue (unless you are changing languages).

On the second part, make sure that each requirement has a checkbox. Internet is optional, but it's recommended. If you have a laptop, a power source is recommended, but not required. Setup may take a long time, so make sure to take that into consideration.

4) Select setup option!
Once at this screen, you can select two methods of setup.
The first option, Erase disk and install Linux Mint, allows you to automatically setup, without dealing with anything complicated. Choose this option if you are short on time, and/or don't want to manually partition.

The second option, Something else, allows you to manually partition the hard drive. Pick this option if you want to manually partition the hard drive, or want to learn something new!

If you picked the first option, simply click Install Now to begin the installation and skip to step 6.
If you picked the second option, click Continue.

5) Partitioning
Partitioning is where you create partitions on your hard drive. Partitions are really what they sound - actual partitions on your hard drive. (Still don't get it? Think of it as an acre of land, split up into sections for a farm, a lake, a house, etc... that's basically what is going to happen to your hard drive.) Different OSs operate within each partition. You can't install multiple OSs in one partition - it simply doesn't work. (In the farm example - imagine trying to build a house on top of your barn!) Therefore, we need to "partition" your hard drive so that we can install two (or more) Windows OSs on your system.

a) Figuring out size requirements
To figure out the partition sizes, we just need to know one thing: what is the size of your RAM?
If it is >=1 GB, multiple the number of GBs by 1024 and note it.
If it is <1 GB, just note the number of MBs.

Write these values down. Now we're ready to partition!

b) Actually partitioning...
NOTE: The setup for Linux Mint applies partition changes immediately, so beware!

To begin, click New Partition Table... to create a new partition table on the blank drive.

On the dialog asking you to confirm, click Continue.

Now it should look like this:

Select the free space and then click the [+] button near the bottom-left corner.

Now a Create Partition window should show up.

Do the following:

  • ■Change Size to the number of MBs you found in the previous step.
    ■Make sure the type of new partition is Primary.
    ■Change Location for the new partition to End of this space.
    ■Change Use as to swap area.
Once done, click OK.

Now your partitions should look like this:

Then select the free space again.

Then click the [+] button near the bottom-left corner.

Do the following:

  • ■Change Size to use all of the leftover space, if not already. (You usually don't have to change this!)
    ■Make sure the type of new partition is Primary.
    ■Change Location for the new partition to Beginning of this space.
    ■Change Use as to Ext4 journaling file system.
    ■Change Mount point to /.
Once done, click OK.

Now your partitions should look like this:

Once done, click Install Now to begin the installation.

6) Actually install Linux Mint
a) Select Location
Select your location - either type it in (and have autocomplete help you), or select it from the map.
Once selected, click Continue.

b) Select Keyboard Layout
Select your keyboard layout. If you live in the US and buy a standard US keyboard, you don't need to change anything.
Once selected, click Continue.

c) Set up user info
Fill out the boxes in this screen, and then click Continue.
Optionally, you may opt to log in automatically, or encrypt the home folder.

You should fill out all the boxes, like below.

d) Finally installing!
Allow Linux Mint to complete the installation.

e) Reboot!
When the installation finished, the reboot dialog appears. Click Restart Now.

7) Boot into your new system!

Once you get to the login screen, click your name.

Then type in your password.

8) Enjoy!
Your Linux Mint is now ready to go! Hopefully you learned a bit from this tutorial, and enjoy your new Linux Mint system!