You are thinking in the right direction
Normally installing software in Linux, and Mint, is easier than in Windows. You just open a program (Synaptic or the like) select the program you want to install and authenticate - piece of cake...
Sometimes you download a .deb file if you don't find what you want in the repositories and double click.
Its first when you come to packages designed for another package manager (rpm maybe) or source code it gets tricky - but not even then unsurmountable (I hope)
In the wikihttp://www.linuxmint.com/wiki/index.php ... eb_package
you find two links and this one is really usefulhttp://monkeyblog.org/ubuntu/installing/#source
Remember that you must have build-essential, available in Synaptic
In essence you simply run a script....
sorry to appear so basic
You don't need to apaologize - you could run Linux for years without the need to do things like this