Linux Mint 12 Installation Guide

Linux Mint is a simple, elegant distribution which aims to be very user friendly. Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu and is derived from the Ubuntu repository. The latest version is Linux Mint 12 (code named Lisa) and ships with a brand new GNOME 3 desktop and Linux Kernel 3.0.

Downloading Linux Mint 12

Linux Mint 12 is available as a 32-bit or 64-bit edition. In each edition, you have two options, you can either download the CD version which doesn’t contain codecs/MATE or download the DVD version which contains both. The recommended download is the 32-bit DVD which contains Gnome and MATE. You can download Linux Mint 12 from here.

Downloading Linux Mint 12

Boot your machine with the DVD created from the downloaded ISO file.

Installing Linux Mint 12

The DVD is a live DVD and immediately after booting you can start using Linux Mint 12. To install Lisa to your hard drive click on "Install Linux Mint" shortcut.

How to install Linux Mint 12

Select your preferred language and click on continue. Lisa tells you that for best results, you need the following,

  • At least 5.6GB of hard drive space
  • An active connection to internet

Note that 5.6GB is the absolute minimum you need and if you have large swap partition this is not enough. I suggest you install Linux Mint 12 to a partition which has at least 10GB free space.

If you don’t have any other operating system on your hard drive you will get the following options.

Installation types in Linux Mint 12

You can either let Linux Mint 12 to partition your disk automatically or you can partition manually. If you selected automatic partition, Mint will create a primary partition and a swap partition.

Linux Mint 12 Installation

Alternatively you can create partitions manually. For example, I selected the following options for a 500GB hard disk with 2GB RAM,

Manual partition - Linux Mint 12

Give a swap space which is at least twice the size of your system’s RAM. Also you can create additional partitions for boot and home mount points if you want them to be logically separated.

Click on "Install Now" to begin installation. During installation, you are prompted to select your location, keyboard layout and username/password. You can choose between automatic login or manual login. Select "encrypt my home folder" option if you need high security of your data.

Installing Linux Mint 12 - user creation

Click on continue. Linux Mint 12 will download language packs from internet if an active connection is available. During installation, a slide show of Linux Mint 12 features are shown. In my Intel i5 system with 4GB RAM, it took less than 5 minutes for Linux Mint 12 installation.

After installation, remove the DVD from drive and restart the system. You should see the new GNOME 3 based login screen. During login you can select one of the GNOME desktop types. Select GNOME to login with GNOME 3.

Linux Mint 12 Login Screen

Keeping Linux Mint 12 Secure and Stable

Once you login to GNOME, you are shown a welcome screen which lists various resources available for Linux Mint 12. On the top menu bar you will see a flashing shield icon which indicates that you have various patches available for download. Click on the icon to download and install all pending patches. These are updates to the system after the last DVD release. Updating the patches keeps your system secure and stable. It took me about half an hour to apply all the updates.

After Linux Mint Install

The DVD 32 bit installer comes with a good set of applications focusing mainly on Internet and Media players. Following is the complete list of applications under each category,

  • Graphics  – Gimp, LibreOffice Draw, gThumb Image Viewer, Simple Scan, Image Viewer and Document Viewer
  • Internet – Firefox, Pidgin, Thunderbird Emails, XChat IRC, Transmission BitTorrent client, Sun Java 6 Web Start
  • Office – LibreOffice Suite
  • Media Players – Brasero, Banshee, GNOME MPlayer, VLC media player, Movie Player and Sound recorder
  • Others – Sun Java 6, Standard Linux Tools

The centralized Linux Mint 12 repository has over 35,000 applications. Use the Software manager application to find and install these packages. The packages are well organized and are listed based on its popularity. Ratings and user reviews of the applications are useful in deciding on a download.

Adding software in Linux Mint 12

For example, the Eclipse IDE is available for download under the programming category,

Installing Eclipse IDE Linux Mint 12

If you are not able to login to GNOME 3 desktop, check whether your system has 3D acceleration turned on. This is common problem if you are installing Lisa on VMware or VirtualBox virtual machines.

Even after turning on 3D acceleration, sometimes the system booted to MATE desktop even when I selected GNOME 3 during login. It seems there are still some open issues with GNOME 3 integration.

The key new features in Linux Mint 12 include,

  • GNOME 3 with MGSE (Mint Gnome Shell Extensions)
  • MATE a fork of GNOME 2 which is compatible with GNOME 3
  • Improvements in visual interface
  • Linux 3.0 kernel
  • Ubuntu 11.10 updates
  • Duck duck go search engine
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