bigj231 wrote:A heads up, Try to avoid Windows 8. It will make installing any other OS a royal pain.
At the moment that's at least partially true because of Secure Boot, which Microsoft demands be active on any non-server computer that bears a Windows 8 logo. A little knowledge goes a long way, though. The easiest way to deal with this issue is to disable Secure Boot, which is usually easy enough if you're comfortable navigating a firmware setup utility. See my Web page on the topic
for more information on how to do this (or deal with it in other ways).
This area is changing rapidly.
Ubuntu 12.10 was the first of the major distributions to ship with Secure Boot capabilities, but it's using a very early version of the software (known as shim
). Fedora 18 and whatever the next OpenSUSE will be will have a newer version with additional capabilities. The adventurous or desperate can install that version now by getting it from its author.
I recently released version 0.5.0 of my rEFInd boot manager,
which includes shim support, too. Currently shim and related Secure Boot tools are a pain to set up, but as distributions streamline it and developers write new programs to help manage it, I'm sure the situation will improve. Disabling Secure Boot, by contrast, is pretty straightforward right now, but it looks like shim-enabled distributions will win in usability within 2-6 months.
What I usually do when upgrading is leave my '/home' partition and format my '/' partition That way, all of my settings and documents remain untouched, but I have a newer version.
I very much agree with this -- separating /home from root (/) is very helpful. A separate swap partition (1-2x your RAM's size) is also a good idea, particularly if you expect to use suspend-to-disk/hibernate features. On an EFI-based computer (that's just about anything new), I also recommend a separate /boot partition of 200-500MiB. Use FAT, ext2fs, ext3fs, or ReiserFS on it, not anything more sophisticated like ext4fs or XFS. The point of this partition is that some EFI boot loaders (most notably ELILO and the kernel's EFI stub loader) require that the EFI be able to read the kernel. That's easiest if you store the kernel on a FAT partition, but there are EFI drivers for ext2fs/ext3fs and ReiserFS. If you use GRUB 2 (the default for Mint), a separate /boot partition isn't particularly helpful, but it also won't hurt. Thus, using a separate /boot partition can make it easier for you to try alternative boot loaders if you're not happy with GRUB 2.