General

Okay, so I've been using Windows for as long as I can remember, and grew kind of fond of its interface. Of course, I've had my share of difficulties using the program manager, the weird way it handles certain security problems (do I really need to turn off a security option in Windows 8 to install IDLE?) but we've become good friends ever since 3.11. Over the years I have twice been tempted to try Linux. The first time was 5 years ago, when I was fed up with Windows during the final stage of my thesis. As I had my thesis on both my desktop and my laptop (XP and Vista) both crashed in one week, leaving me with no working pc's (thank god for safeboot which let me recover my files). Sadl, my encounter with Ubuntu did not let me connect to my network, and it seemed I had to learn BASH before I could get it in a working state, for which, due to my thesis, I did not have any time.

But now the feeling that there must be something better then Windows started again, I still have my old trusty laptop (an Acer Aspire 5520), but Windows seems to suck the life right out of it. Next to the performance issues I do not really feel like paying $ 60 for an upgrade anyway. So after having run Ubuntu for a few weeks (which worked perfectly) I decided I wanted to try Linux Mint (16). In this entry I will take you through my experience with Mint.

Download

The place to download Mint is, of course, the Linux Mint website. And already we are posed with a problem: there are different versions to choose from!

I've been reading up on Mint before attempting this install, however, I was not aware I had to choose an interface in advance. I do know that MATE is the more traditional interface, and Cinnamon is the more modern view of how the developers imagine Mint. The other 2 downloads KDE and Xfce, which I regard as less interesting to new users such as myself.

After viewing the screenshots and websites, I was happy to choose Cinnamon, which downloaded in a few minutes from the mirror in the Netherlands. So now I've got an ISO, which I should write to a DVD... some sort of obsolete medium mainly used for movies and games as I recall.

Installation

Yeah, so I could go on a 'treasure' hunt for empty DVD, which is bound to lay somewhere in the back of a closet, or use the excellent Linux Universal USB installer at Pendrivelinux.

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Using the USB device I've just created I was able to install Mint. At first though, the laptop seemed to jam, but after a restart and starting Mint in compatibility mode (hit any key during the Automatic boot in # - countdown and select compatibility mode) I was able to boot into Mint and go through the installation wizzard.

Tecmint can show you the installation screens of Mint 15 (Olivia), which are similar to Mint 16 (Petra) that I'm installing.

An interesting option is the full-disk encryption Mint offers, I decided to turn it on, as my laptop probably will travel throughout Europe and hopefully Asia in the coming years, so it's comforting to know that if (or should I say when) it gets stolen my data will be safe. I have no idea how this will affect performance though. But the installation went very rapid completing in about 15 minutes. After which I naturally forgot to eject the USB drive, so I restarted again.

First boot

Okay, so directly after the memory test I'm prompted for my encryption key. Well, prompted is kind of an overstatement as it showed just a padlock with an empty input field. After this, Mint booted just as expected. Mint even remembered my wifi password, and everything looked fresh but somewhat familiar.

The look

The fresh look Mint provides is clearly based on the pre-Windows 8 look and feel... on steroids. Everything is so polished, and the start menu works just great. Naturally, you might want to change the wallpaper to your dog, or maybe pick something a little more stylish at LinuxMint Art. Everything feels intuitive, and the update manager will assist you in updating the distribution and all its contents including both python 2.7 and 3.3. During updates you can click on details to see everything that's going on in the shell, which is a neat feature