If you are not familiar with computers in general, or if you are coming from a Microsoft or Apple background, there will be a learning curve, but the general usage of the system is much the same (and often much easier and more user friendly).
Linux Mint will serve just about anyone admirably. It is based on the very popular Ubuntu (which in turn is based on the rock solid Debian), but includes an additional layer of testing, more conservative changes from each version to the next (every six months), and has an even more robust set of software installed by default.
If you are not sure if Linux Mint (or GNU/Linux in general) is right for you see my “A Case for Linux Mint.”
If you’re still with me, and wanting to give Linux Mint a try, then the resources below might be of some help. These resources are designed to be accessible by most anyone. Whether you’re new to Linux Mint, or whether you have some experience but might not be fully aware of all that is readily available to you, you should find some useful links below.
Directly below is the main information for the Linux Mint operating system, below that can be found supplemental information that is relevant to both Linux Mint and, often, GNU/Linux in general.
Below the main and supplemental information I provide a link to some alternatives in case Linux Mint just doesn’t work well for you.
Below, the Overview section provides information as to why switching to Linux Mint might be a good decision for you. From there I’ve listed Support information for finding help if you do indeed decide to make the switch (or if you already have). After that I’ve provided some training and certification information.
If you’re new to, or just learning about, Linux Mint read through these in order. Even if you’re more experienced consider hitting up at least the documentation.
- What’s New in Linux Mint
- Linux Mint Visual Tour
- Linux Mint Frequently Asked Questions
- Official User Guide
If you come to needing some help start with the Linux Mint Forums link and then, if that doesn’t meet your needs, decide which other link is most convenient for you and go from there. As Linux Mint is a community focused operating system, your best bet for help is going to come from the community itself!
No matter where you go start by searching or browsing. In all likelihood someone has already asked, solved or answered your question. All you need to do is find out where!
- Linux Mint Forums — The official community forums for Linux Mint.
- Linux Mint Community Tutorials — Tutorials written by and for the Linux Mint community.
- Google — If the community forum and tutorials didn’t have what you were looking for, you may want to browse the wider web.
- Ubuntu Help and other related resources — Since Linux Mint is based off of Ubuntu, searching for Ubuntu instead of Linux Mint may also provide you with further resources. In all but the rarest of cases, these results should work exactly the same for Linux Mint!
If you’ve decided to pursue Linux Mint, but would like a more structured (and likely faster) learning experience try the link below. This is specifically for Ubuntu, but the gross majority will also work for Linux Mint!
If you want more training as well as documentation regarding your skills, or if you want to move forward professionally with Linux Mint become an:
As with Training, this is focused on Ubuntu, but the similarities between the two are such that it will be applicable to Linux Mint as well!
Alternatively, there are vendor neutral programs such as:
So, while this wont be directly targeted at any one specific distribution, the knowledge that you gain should help you with any and all GNU/Linux distributions (including Linux Mint!).
I recommend downloading using a distributed network instead of directly from Linux Mint. This provides a number of advantages such as increased download speed, error correction, and reduced load on the Linux Mint servers. You will however need a BitTorrent client to download this way.
As to which version you should use? I recommend using the LiveDVD 64-bit version if your system supports it.
If you want more information regarding Linux Mint, or GNU/Linux in general, from news to performance, to history and philosophy, see below.
There are a ton of news outlets for Linux Mint and GNU/Linux, but these are pretty noise free and very informative.
- Ainer.org News!
- Linux Mint Blog
- Distribution Rankings and Weekly News
- Benchmarks, Performance, and Popular News
For further news sites see the Featured News & Community Sites section in the far right column of this site!
If you don’t have time to sit and read about Linux Mint or GNU/Linux listening to a podcast might be right up your alley.
For an educational leisure time watch:
- Revolution OS (watch it now here). It’s a bit dated, but really interesting for the history and philosophy of GNU/Linux.
- or Patent Absurdity — “How software patents broke the system”.
Linux Mint and GNU/Linux build on a rich philosophical background that is continuing to be argued (for the common good). Get an idea of its basis and the supporting organizations with the links below.
- Power and RAM usage of the top four Desktop Environments (DE’s).
- 32 versus 64 bit benchmarks.
- Additional Benchmarks
If you want to show your Linux Mint and GNU/Linux love grab some stickers or some other goodies.
If you want to let the world (and the world wide web) know that there’s another Linux Mint or GNU/Linux user see the site below.
If Linux Mint just isn’t for you but you’re still wanting to give GNU/Linux a go there are several awesome alternatives that I can suggest. Be ware though, these are just brief synopses, on the standard installs, from my perspective. For more specific information I suggest visiting the Wikipedia entry for each (linked below) and then their respective home pages (usually linked from the Wikipedia entry).
I have started with distributions that are the most like Linux Mint and have moved on from there.
Ubuntu is the basis for Linux Mint and is the most popular GNU/Linux operating system. It provides a polished and easy to use experince just like Linux Mint but it differs in that Ubuntu is controlled by Canonical, a company founded to promote and oversee the Ubuntu distribution.
Canonical has their own objectives and they push toward the technology that will best serve those ends (sometimes causing intermittent problems for some of their user base). However, Ubuntu offers a wider selection of options (such as server and netbook specific releases). Ubuntu also has more supplementary resources that are directly targeted at their distribution.
It’s safe to say that without Ubuntu and Canonical, GNU/Linux would likely never have been accelerated so quickly to (if ever reached) such a polished system which we now have and which is entirely usable by hard core nerds and novices alike!
Debian was, and is, the basis for Ubuntu. Debian is arguably the example in community driven software. There is no company at the heart of Debian yet it has created the distribution with the most comprehensive software collection and has provided the basis for the most popular distributions around.
Debian is released on a much slower pace of about one stable release every two to three years and has very stringent testing practices in place. The upside of this is that the releases are generally considered much more stable than the bi-annual Linux Mint releases (which are stable in their own right!) this makes it an ideal candidate for a rock solid server installation.
Debian is generally more lean and responsive than Linux Mint but can also require more work to get it setup for daily use. However, if you’re familiar with Linux Mint you should feel rather comfortable under Debian as the underlying system and configurations are much the same.
Debian has a huge breadth of software available for it (larger than any other GNU/Linux distribution) and to add to that sometimes Linux Mint or Ubuntu targeted software will work under it.
The main drawback of Debian however, is also one of its strongest points, its slow release schedule and exhaustive software testing.
So, while this grants a high level of stability (over the already quite stable bi-annual distributions) it also means that the system and anything drawn from its repositories are not going to receive major updates (security and stability updates are regularly released) for, on average, two years. As an example, unless you update Chromium through another means, you will be using version 8 from now until Debian releases a new stable release in about two to three years! Suffice to say, if you want the latest features and hardware support a two year old Debian system does not a desktop make.
Recently Linux Mint Debian Edition has come about, and while it’s still fairly early on in its development, it is aiming to offer the benefits of Debian and Linux Mint all in one package (without either’s drawbacks)!
aptosid (intentional lowercase) is the opposite end of the stable Debian releases, literally. The “sid” in aptosid is taken from Debian’s unstable collection of software. aptosid rolls these software packages together with security and stability fixes to make a working, bleeding edge system.
Unlike the above distributions though, aptosid has no fixed release schedule as it is always releasing on what’s called a rolling release. This means you get the most up to date software available all the time (no waiting for the next release six months or two years away!). aptosid is just as lean and sleek as Debian but with the most up-to-date packages it is often even faster and will likely offer even better support for your hardware.
The big drawback of this rolling release is that you will regularly be subject to unknown bugs that might be in minimally or non-tested software. aptosid is also designed for someone who can follow directions, use the command line, and troubleshoot their own problems. aptosid will require a lot more time, understanding, and hands-on than Linux Mint and the other options above.
The good news is, if you have had some hands on with Debian, using aptosid wont hold too many surprises for you (but you will still want to read the documentation!).
Arch Linux, like aptosid, is a rolling release distribution and, as such, it gets the benefits and detractions of such a system. But, unlike aptosid, Arch Linux is not based on Debian and Arch Linux does not install a fully functioning graphical desktop environment for you.
Arch Linux was designed from the ground up with simplicity and end user control in mind. With Arch Linux the end user decides exactly what gets installed and how it gets configured on their system. An experienced Arch Linux user can get a full graphical system up and running in about the same time as it takes Linux Mint to install itself, but that system is going to be known to that end user inside and out.
Installing a system from the command line up may sound very daunting at first, but the documentation that surrounds Arch Linux is second to none (without hyperbole)! Also, as previously mentioned, Arch Linux is designed, from the ground up, to be setup this way and its developers have worked hard to make it as simple as possible to setup, configure, and administer the system from the command line.
Overall Arch Linux will take much more time to install, configure, and administer than any of the above systems (including aptosid) and there are no comparable distributions (like Linux Mint and Debian for aptosid) to ease yourself into it. Arch Linux is its own system and has its own way of doing things.
However, even if you don’t plan to run Arch Linux as your main operating system, you may learn a lot about the underlying systems in GNU/Linux by simply doing a complete install and once you’ve become comfortable with other, easier distributions I heartily recommend doing so!
If none of the above float your proverbial boat the links below might get you started in finding one that does: