This chapter provides a step-by-step guide on how to install the Linux Mint distribution on your machine. I included a screen capture for every step so that the whole process is clear.
Download the ISO File
The first thing we need to do is to download the ISO file for the Linux Mint distribution.
An ISO file, or ISO image, is a type of file that contains data similar to what you would find in an optical drive ( Like CD or DVD).
Now to get the ISO, go to this download page. You will need to choose between three links. Each one corresponds to a desktop environment: Cinnamon, MATE, or Xfce.
Cinnamon is the most popular one and has more features than the other two, so we will pick the Cinnamon Edition, which will take us to a page that presents you with a list of download mirrors to choose from.
You should select the nearest location to you. If you are not sure, just pick the first one associated with ‘World’.
Another option is to download the torrent file using the link provided on that same page. For this, you should have a torrent client installed on your computer. But if you don’t have it, then no worries, the first option will do.
The download will take some time. Once it is complete, you can move on to the next phase.
Now to install Linux Mint, we have to choose between two different options: Virtual Machine(VM) or Dual-Booting.
If you choose the dual-booting configuration, the Linux Mint would be installed directly on your machine, and it would have direct access to hardware resources. As a result, it is much faster than the VM option and is a good option to choose if you intend to run resource-demanding applications.
If you choose this option, then whenever you start your machine, you will be prompted to pick the OS you wish to launch. And if you decide to switch to another OS, you would have to restart your computer.
On the other hand, if you choose the Virtual Machine option, the Linux Mint will be installed on top of your existing operating system. Although you won’t benefit from the same performance as the dual boot configuration, you will be able to easily switch between Linux and your existing operating system without having to restart your machine.
One other important advantage of a virtual machine is that it provides a safe environment where you can operate, test your programs, and learn Linux without running the risk of compromising your entire system.
Since we are all beginners here, and we are more susceptible to errors, we sure as hell do not want to risk having our system damaged as a result of that. Therefore, I recommend that we go with the Virtual Machine option and install Linux on a VM.
In this chapter, I will only cover the virtual machine configuration. However, if you still want to go with the dual-booting option, then you can follow this guide.
Now the first thing we need to do is to install VirtualBox. This is a virtualization tool that will allow us to install Linux Mint on top of our existing operating system.
To install VirtualBox, go to this download page.
Once you’re there, choose the appropriate link for your operating system. If you have Windows, simply click on Windows hosts as shown in the image below.
Once the installation file has finished downloading, run it, and keep following the instructions by clicking ‘Next’.
Setting Up the Virtual Machine
Now when you run VirtualBox, you should have a windows similar to the one below.
Note that since I’ve been using VirtualBox before this tutorial, I have one virtual machine already set up (Kali). However, this doesn’t stop me from installing a second one. In fact, you can set up as many virtual machines as you wish, provided that your computer has sufficient capabilities to support them.
After you click on “New” to create a virtual machine, you will have to type in the name of the machine as well as the type and the version of the OS. If you type in Linux Mint, the type and version should be generated automatically.
Remember that the Linux Mint distribution is based on Ubuntu. This is why the generated version in the image above is Ubuntu (64-bit).
In the next step, you will need to select the amount of memory to allocate to the virtual machine. I’ve chosen 4096 MB, you can do the same. Just make sure to stay within the green area.
Next, select “Create a virtual hard disk now”, and then click on create.
In this step, you can just leave the default option.
After that, you will have to choose whether you want to allocate fixed storage for the virtual machine, or you want it to be dynamically allocated.
Let’s choose “Dynamically allocated”.
Now we have to determine the size of the virtual machine. 16 GB looks reasonable to me.
Finally, when you click on create, the virtual machine will be created.
Installing Linux Mint
To install Linux Mint, press on “start” to launch the virtual machine you’ve just created.
You will then select the ISO file that we’ve downloaded earlier in this chapter.
The virtual machine will then start.
Choose Start Linux Mint (it should be selected by default) and press Enter. Wait a few minutes. Then when the desktop appears, run the installation file (Install Linux Mint).
The installation is quite simple. You will have to choose a language at first, and then, you will be asked for your keyboard layout.
After that, when you are asked whether you want to install multimedia codecs, just check the box and press continue.
The following step is related to the installation type, just keep the default option: Erase disk and install Linux Mint.
Don’t worry, nothing from your existing operating system will be affected if you choose this option (This is, by the way, one of the advantages of virtual environments. You are operating in complete isolation from your existing system).
Then, select your timezone.
And finally, type in your name, your computer’s name, as well as your password. Make sure to remember this password, you will need it afterward to access your machine.
After you click on continue, the installation will start.
After a few minutes, you will be prompted with a message indicating that the installation is complete.
Click on Restart Now, and… that’s it!
If you’ve reached this far, then good job! you should now have Linux successfully installed on your machine. In the next chapter, we’ll start exploring Linux and its command line for the first time.
Now brace yourself, starting from the next chapter, we’re going full Linux!