My GRUB menu after installing Linux Mint. Five OS in the menu! [photo: Henrik Hemrin]

Exploring Linux OS: Linux Mint 19.3 Tricia, Cinnamon desktop. First part of my exploration.

  • Hardware: Lenovo ThinkPad T430s; CPU 2.60 GHz Dual core, RAM 8 GB and SSD 250 GB. 14 inch screen with 1366x768 resolution.

A full hand of operating systems on same machine for my different moods. Well, this machine is for time being intended for my self learning to learn, compare and explore operating systems.

So a couple of days ago I installed Linux Mint 19.3 with Cinnamon desktop on the T430s laptop. Yesterday the Mint team announced that Mint 20 is released - in July the team will tell how to upgrade from 19.3. The other four operating systems I already have on this machine are Linux elementary, Linux Ubuntu Studio, Linux Debian and Microsoft Windows 10 Pro, all installed on the same SSD hard drive! With Mint is my selection complete for time being.

So, some words about the installation process of Linux Mint 19.3 Cinnamon:

I started Linux Mint with the Live USB I had prepared with a download of the "ISO-file" from Linux Minte website. WiFi was detected when the live version started and I connected to my network (my password took some extra seconds to type due to my Swedish keyboard which was not yet known by Mint). Then I almost directly went for the installation icon of Mint. 

The first installation screens handles the settings of Swedish, Swedish key board etc. On the key board setting screen, it is possible to type and check that myself and Mint have agreed upon which key board I actually have; good! 

I said yes to install third part software including proprietary. 

I know Linux Mint have options for encryption of the full drive or of the home directory, or no encryption at all. I wondered how the full encryption works when I have more operating systems on the same drive. The answer was given when I selected to install Linux Mint alongside the other operating systems; the encryption tick box was greyed and not possible to select. I have this is a laptop mainly for my own education for time being, else I had preferred to have the drive encrypted. In a later intsallation process setup screen, I had to split volume size between Linux Mint and the previous allocated area for Debian, i.e. the operating system I installed before Linux Mint. A more advanced interface was also possible. And I decided not to encrypt my home folder. 

Then the installation process started. I did not check, but I estimate the installation itself took less than ten minutes. No issues. During the installation, Linux Mint displays a couple of screens telling about some of the softwares that are included. Smart to welcome the user with this info while waiting. 

The so called GRUB menu was updated accordingly, see the photo above. The GRUB menu is created by the Linux installation and is the screen that welcomes me when I turn on the machine. If no action is taken within a few seconds, Linux Mint will start, else I can start one of the other operating systems. Directly when I power on the machine, I can interrupt as normal with e.g. the F12 key and the Boot menu will start. 

After the installation, I restart Linux Mint. Before I forget to tell, I have also checked that all the other operating systems starts as expected. 

Linux Mint has a welcome screen at start up. The welcome screen gives an introduction to Linux Mint with suggestions of first actions to take; like starting firewall, update drivers and consider backup settings. This will next to do for me, including update of software in the software manager. I will also look into some other suggested actions, which are mentioned in the Swedish manual and other resources.

The welcome screen also tells where I can get support. Linux Mint not at least has a big support forum. 

This welcome screen and the set of included software are two things I like with Linux Mint. The selection of software is complete for the basic needs. And it includes tools like firewall, backup and TimeShift (to backup primarily the system to assist roll back if something unexpected occur). So, the basic installation gives basically everything needed to start off. The software center of course have much more softwares as well as alternatives to the included softwares. 

Now I must confess this is not my first Linux Mint installation. In my article Cheap laptop reborn, I wrote when my almost new laptop got a new life in autumn 2018 when I swapped out Windows 10 for the Linux Mint Cinnamon. Later, in September 2019, I swapped out Linux Mint Cinnamon for Linux Mint Xfce; Mint 19.2 Xfce installed on my laptop. I changed to Xfce because it requires less resources, and the cheap laptop has very limited resorces.

Linux Mint is available with three different desktops: Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce. Cinnamon is developed by the Mint team. So although I like and have no problem with Xfce on the other laptop, I wanted to again try Cinnamon on this better laptop. 

Linux Mint itself is based on Ubuntu, and Ubuntu is based on Debian. Linux Mint also have a separate "LMDE"; Linux Mint Debian Edition with Cinnamon desktop, based on Debian "directly". 

This means that all four Linux operation systems I have selected for this laptop are relatively closely related to each other on the Linux tree. 

No it is time to configure Linux Mint, go back and do more configuration on the other three as well, and test, play, install more software and increase my knowledge level of GNU/Linux. A long term strategy goal is to consider a GNU/Linux as my main operating system for all my computing needs. 

Henrik Hemrin

28 June 2020

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