One of my older netbook computers, an Acer Aspire V5, is still being used by my partner. It still runs Windows 7, but it has been acting up very badly recently, and I finally decided that rather than spend a few hours trying to get it to limp along a while longer again, I would just trash everything on it and install Linux Mint for her.
Besides the obvious step of dumping Windows, there is another big step for me in this. I am not going to make my usual multi-boot Linux configuration on this netbook, I am only going to install Linux Mint, and let it use the entire disk as it sees fit.
The first step is to download the latest Linux Mint installation image, from the Download Linux Mint page. Because this is a netbook (read as: slow CPU and limited memory), I chose to install the Mint Xfce version. However, the actual installation time for any of the Mint versions (Cinnamon, MATE, KDE, or Xfce) are essentially the same.
After downloading the installation image, and verifying the checksum, I wrote it to a USB stick. I then booted that USB stick in the Aspire V5, which gave me this Mint Live screen:
This is pretty simple. It’s a Live desktop, you can try it out, see if all your hardware works, connect wired or wireless to the internet, whatever else you might want. When you are convinced that everything works and you want to install it, just double-click the Install Linux Mint icon on the desktop.
Not much to do here. If you want a language other than English for the installation and the installed system, select it here.
This is a list of the wireless networks that have been detected. If you want to connect to one of them, you may do so here. It is not necessary to have an internet connection during installation, so if you don’t want to fool with it, just click Continue.
If you want to have third-party software installed, such as multimedia codecs, proprietary graphic hardware drivers, wi-fi drivers and such, check the box here.
I believe that if you have an internet connection, the installer will also offer to download and install updates during the initial installation.
Even this screen is simple in this case. I don’t want to do anything fancy, I don’t want to preserve any installed operating systems, I don’t want to multi-boot anything. I just want to give the entire disk to Linux Mint and let it install however it sees fit.
This is just the Mint Installer being polite. It is telling me what it is going to do, and warning me that everything on the disk is going to be wiped.
When you click Continue on this screen, the installation actually starts in the background. The installation dialogue continues in the foreground.
Here, you specify the time zone you are in. If you’re in Switzerland, and you click the right place on the map the first try, I strongly suggest that you run out and play the lottery immediately, because it is your lucky day. If you don’t manage to click the right place after several tries, you can always just type the name in the input bar. (Hint: Don’t try to type Zurich, either with or without umlaut; you’ll have to type Switzerland)
Here you (finally) select the appropriate keyboard map. On one hand, this is kind of nice because the installer has made an educated guess about the map to use, based on your location given in the Time Zone step. On the other hand, it is kind of late to be doing this, because it means that if you have a non-US keyboard, you’ve been struggling with typing until now. Especially if you were trying to type Zürich or Switzerland in the previous step.
Enter the initial user account name and password. You can also choose to have the account logged in automatically on boot. Not a good idea, in my opinion.
This is the last input screen of the installation process. You can now sit back and watch the propaganda slide show while the installation runs.
The installation process took less than 10 minutes on this netbook, and the status bar at the bottom of the window kept me informed about what was being done.
When the installation has finished, you are prompted to reboot, or you can continue to work with the Live System.
Note the clock at the right end of the panel. It has been eight minutes since I booted the Mint Live image, and the installation is complete. (The time changed by two hours because the time zone was changed.)
The installed system, up and running. Be sure to click the Update Manager icon at the right end of the panel, so that you can get the updates that have been released since the installation media was created.
The first time you run the Mint Update Manager, it will ask you to choose between conservative, typical and aggressive update selection. Most people should be happiest with the ‘Let me review sensitive updates’ option.
That’s it: less than 10 minutes from start to finish. Life doesn’t get much easier than this — you don’t even have time to take a good coffee break while the installation is running! So what are you waiting for?
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