Help choosing an installation--so many choices!


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Dec 27, 2023
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Hi. I'm a disgruntled Windows user and not real computer savvy. I've been procrastinating on switching to Linux for years, but overwhelmed by all the info and not knowing where to start. Well, I'm finally doing it. I decided on Mint. I've been reading all the info here and elsewhere, but I'm still overwhelmed and afraid of starting the process, screwing something up and not knowing how to fix it. (This wouldn't be a devastating loss. I use an old desktop and I have all my pics and docs saved.) But still I'm afraid because I hate getting into jams I don't know how to fix.

Reading up on all the options, I think I want to partition my computer. I guess 'cause it's the only option I think I could follow based on instructions I've found. I had some experienced Linux users explain other options to me, but they were talking way over my head. One told me not to partition my computer and instead just load Mint onto a separate drive, and then I can switch back and forth. What? How would I go about doing this? I couldn't find any info on this method. I'm just confused and need a little guidance on the easiest installation. My goal is to learn the Linux ropes until I'm comfortable enough to ditch Windows altogether.

I've gotten this far: I loaded Mint onto a USB to boot from. I did that, it worked, I navigated around on the internet, and so far I like it. Much smoother/faster than Windows! Then I tried to load Libre Office because that's what I use in Windows. The download didn't work. Can you not load software if booting from a USB? Will I need to partition my computer in order to save documents, load software, etc? Or another option?

I guess what I'm asking is for someone to tell me which installation I want, because the options are killin' me :). It's not off the table to do a full installation, wiping out Windows, 'sink or swim' style.


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I decided on Mint.

That's a fine choice to start with - or end with. It's a fine distro, based on Ubuntu.

You only have 4 GB of RAM. That will work, but you can do more at once with more RAM.
Welcome to the forums

your 2013 desktop will do fine for daily computing, Mint LMDE is a little lighter than Mint 21 [Ubuntu based]. With either you do not need to do any manual partitioning, when installing the mint installer will ask how you want to install. Choose install alongside windows. and it will do the partitioning for you,

How Do I Install Linux (A General Guide) • Linux Tips
Thank you! Bookmarked link and will give it a shot later on.
Welcome to the Forum.

The first thing you should do is plug in a Flash Drive or external HDD and copy across all your pictures and documents...if you intend to install Mint on this Laptop.

Here is the install guide...
As you are installing Mint to a Laptop you need to connect to the shown in the instructions.
When installing Mint choose...Erase Disk and Install Linux Mint...this creates one partition...that's all you need.

Libre Office is installed by default as are heaps of other software and you also have the Software Manager too.
You are going very've downloaded the Mint ISO...burnt it to a Flash Drive and Booted to it...that's much more than some people.

I have Mint Cinnamon 21.1 installed on my 11 year old Laptop that has only 4GB of runs well but I can't multi-task because I only have a small amount of Ram...whereas my Tower has 16GB of Ram.

Linux Mint Cinnamon is an excellent Distro...user friendly...easy to use...stable and has all the tools you need...of cause there's a little learning to be done but it's not hard...hope this helps.
Thanks for the help and encouragement! Getting ready to begin. I'm going with the dual boot. I have a laptop next to me with the instructions.

One question before I begin: In the link provided by Brickwizard, it says "if you are making a dual boot system with Win 8, 10 or 11, disable the windows quick-start (in the BIOS) and reboot before continuing." Will I be prompted to do this during the installation, or do I do it before I start? Sorry to say I don't know what this is or where to find it.
G'day UpNorth, Welcome to

Just a spot of advice.....take your time. What you have done so far is absolutely spot on. Good choice in Linux Mint (or LMDE6).....either one will take care of you.
I will start at the top of your first post....More Later....interrupted here

You are savvy without knowing it.
Thanks for the help and encouragement! Getting ready to begin. I'm going with the dual boot. I have a laptop next to me with the instructions.

One question before I begin: In the link provided by Brickwizard, it says "if you are making a dual boot system with Win 8, 10 or 11, disable the windows quick-start (in the BIOS) and reboot before continuing." Will I be prompted to do this during the installation, or do I do it before I start? Sorry to say I don't know what this is or where to find it.
Before you start.
  1. Power on the system by pressing the power button.
  2. Repeatedly tap the F1 key when the Lenovo, ThinkPad, ThinkStation, or ThinkCentre logo appears,
    • The computer may beep once to indicate that it will boot to BIOS.
    • Some models require users to continuously press Enter instead of F1 during power on; once the Startup Interrupt Menu displays, press F1 to enter BIOS.
When you find that setting in BIOS.....change it to disabled.....and then Save and exit
From your post...:
""I decided on Mint"".....Brilliant Choice......tons of support
btw...the old desktop....mine is around the same vintage......I gave mine a serous putting a i7700 cpu in it.....and increased the ram to 32 GB. The cost was not particularly high....I don't have a great number of dollars, so it had to be "cheapish"
For the record, it runs like a scalded cat.

""Worried about screwing up"" need for that. When you have it fully installed alongside windows, we can point you towards Timeshift. It is already included in the mint install...all you need is an external drive to save the 'snapshots' to.
More about that later. Easy to set up and use. (And it works like a dream)

Mint on usb and booted is Really....GOOD work. AS time goes on and you become more familiar with the forum, you will note just how many people have a great deal of trouble doing that. Well Done.

fwiw....I started my Linux experience by installing Linux Mint only. It was a rough ride for a while, But I eventually got there. Timeshift was an absolute gift from heaven.....I bricked/demolished the system many, many times. (not a typo)

Libre already installed on Linux Mint....and on linux Mate and I think on Linux xfce....and it is definitely on LMDE 6

click on menu...type in Libre ....and choose whichever one you wish from the list which will appear.

btw....if there are particular apps which you frequently rely on ion in windows, they will not work or be available in Linux....they are .exe files and those files are not compatible with Linux. So........

has an exhaustive list of apps, which is searchable...each one has a notation which system it will work, mac or Linux...well worth keeping that url.

In Linux, click on menu and type in Software Manager.....(this is also called the Repository)... this contains thousands and thousands of apps....which will all work on Linux.
small trick....when I find an app, usually in Menu.....if I will use it frequently, I right click on it and select 'add to panel'
That will put a shortcut in the panel (taskbar) click on that and whatever it is will open

Let us know when you have achieved the full install....or if it goes south, give us a yell. This site operates 24/7, with members all over the world...therefore different time ....people coming and going like flies. BUT....signal that you want/need help and you will get it.

There is no question that you may ask that has not been asked before.....I may not know all the answer, but I can guarantee that someone here, will.

EDit to add:. If you just happen to decide to change distros...maybe from Linux Mint to Linux Mint can still "try it out" in the same mannare you did before....put it on a usb and boot to it. Take a look around it
if you decide to dump Linux Mint cinnamon) 21.2, and install eg Linux Mint xfce....or whatever, that can be done with no great drama.

Linux Mint is about having CHOICE
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It's done! I am now using Linux. Ahh, the air is so much cleaner here! Thanks all for your help.

Had some struggle figuring out which key brings up the boot menu and had to restart multiple times. But I finally got it. It's F12. When my computer boots, should a boot menu automatically come up where I choose Windows or Mint? Or do I have to sit there and wait for the logo to hit F12? It's OK if I do, just wondered if there's more I need to do. Below is a pic of what I'm seeing. Also wondering why are there 2 ubuntus showing there?

I would like to add that I transferred this pic from my camera to Mint with no difficulty. SO EASY!!!

Condobloke, I see your post came up as I was typing, so I'll post this and then read it.
Thanks Condobloke! I found LibreOffice.

I know I have much to learn, but so far it's been easier than I thought. It really is faster than Windows. For several months now, my primary monitor has been blinking sporadically. I tried everything to fix it (refresh rate, etc.) and gave up. So far with Mint, no blinking. Fingers crossed.
Condobloke, just adding that I did bookmark the Crowdsourced software link and will check out the software manager. I would've just edited my prior post, but that apparently sends my thread back to the mods for review.
Have a peek at in timeshift

Do you have an external drive?.....
When my computer boots, should a boot menu automatically come up where I choose Windows or Mint?
I missed that:. I have zero clue, but if you get a grub menu screen while it is booting (usually a black and white screen with white print against the black background) may come and go quickly......but just tap the down arrow on your keyboard and that will keep it on the screen long enough to read it. You may be able to use the arrow key to select windows there.

@Brickwizard, or @wizardfromoz, or @osprey, will know....their names here will tell them to come and have a peek
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Do you mean this? This comes up after booting from USB or choosing Mint, but I can't read what it says. The left edge is cut off. I've just been doing nothing here and then it launches Mint.


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That's unusual, not seeing the whole thing.

Does tapping the down arrow just once, produce anything that you can see ?
Nope. Also tried the escape key and that blacked out my screen and I had to do a force shut down.
That problem you had with windows and the stuttering screen, may be presenting itself in a different form

that is a huge guess, btw....I am by no means sure.

Does turning the screen completely off, and then back on after a 10 second pause.... make any difference ?
G'day @UpNorth and welcome from another Aussie :)

I am 66 and Brian @Condobloke would probably like to be 70 again, lol.

If we can handle it, anyone can handle it and I am sure you can. You've made a good start.

Some of the input we may provide is better digested when you are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, so if you are US-based, mid to east, maybe sleep on it.

I'll come back with more a little later in my afternoon/evening.

Meantime, only question I would ask is, with that screenshot at #15, was that just a part of the screen or the full screen, it looks like the instructions at the bottom of a Grub Menu, which is what you want?

One more instruction if that screenshot was incomplete is to, from within your Mint, go to Terminal (Ctrl-Alt-t) and type in and enter

sudo update-grub

type in your password, wait for it to complete and then reboot.


Chris Turner
Condobloke - I've never tried turning the monitor off, but I will try it next time. It did blink once tonight using Mint, but only once.

Wizardfromoz - Yes, that is the full screen. I did what you suggested and rebooted. No change, unfortunately.

Despite this issue, really liking Mint so far. Had to go back to Windows for a bit to look up my mail settings. It was back to slow and annoying. I couldn't wait to boot back into Linux. Appreciate all the help!

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