Very newbie thinking about switching to Linux Mint from Windows.

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Maentriel
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Very newbie thinking about switching to Linux Mint from Windows.

Post by Maentriel » Sat Mar 05, 2016 7:39 pm

Hi everyone!

I hope you don't mind this thread. I have been dreaming to make the switch to Linux for over 10 years now and I swore 3 years ago that I would do it eventually. I pushed the deadline always a few months into the future and promised to myself that I would do it after the holidays, after summer vacation, after the spring cleaning etc. :) I recently had some hardware issues with my 4 year old Laptop, so I decided to buy a new one (with windows 10) and install Linux Mint (or perhaps Ubuntu) on the old one and test it out. If it works and I don't screw something up I might change the OS on both notebooks to Linux. I am planning on doing the reinstall on Monday/Tuesday next week).

I have a few very basic questions:
1. I watched several youtube videos about Linux Mint and Ubuntu and I was wondering what pitfalls I should avoid when installing it. As far as I could see it seems to be pretty straight forward. I never had to use DOS commands and I don't know any computer programming languages so I am not sure if anything of this is involved (using the "terminal etc.), but as far as I could see on youtube it seems to be pretty easy.
2. I am not sure how drivers will "work" when installing Linux Mint, I have a keyboard/touchpad/sd card slot/camera/printer... etc. on my old notebook, do I have to hunt down and download the drivers for these before I install the new OS or can I install it and hope it gets the drivers too.
3. Is there a good wiki or print book for Linux Mint with optimisation and setting options that you would recommend? (Or a wiki with keyboard shortcuts and things like that).
4. Could you suggest some audio editing programs for mp3 files (like setting a certain db level for all mp3s, cutting mp3s, removing meta data etc.)?
5. Could you suggest a basic image viewer like Irfanview?
6. Can I play old "Good old Games" games on Linux without Wine? If yes, does it make a difference?
7. Do I have to create partitions when installing Linux Mint if I plan to only have one OS? Does it make any difference?
8. How can I edit the keyboard layout on Linux Mint, if for example I would like to disable the caps lock key?
9. Is there a Skype type video chat program for Linux
10. Any advice, suggestion, pointers and criticism welcome. Especially tips for first steps and for a complete newbie in mind.

cryptotheslow
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Re: Very newbie thinking about switching to Linux Mint from Windows.

Post by cryptotheslow » Sat Mar 05, 2016 8:08 pm

1. There should be no requirement to use the command line when doing an install.

2. With an older notebook, you will probably find that everything just works - although some printers are unsupported - I'm sure if you advise what make/model your printer is, someone will advise.

3. That would really depend what desktop environment you intend to use (e.g. MATE, Cinnamon, KDE, XFCE etc.) A simple web search for "Linux Mint Mate Keyboard shortcuts" for example should provide something useful.

4. Audio editing - in the past I have used Audacity. There is a host of applications available for editing the meta-data tags on mp3 files either manually or in an automated way based on the file name if required. For normalising the playback volume across mp3 tracks, I would advise you take a look at a program called mp3gain - rather than actually alter the content of the mp3 file it applies the replaygain algorithm (which basically analyses a collection of mp3 files and tags each one with a positive or negative tag, which the mp3 player of choice will understand and raise or lower the playback volume automatically per track). Some reading https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ReplayGain

5. All the desktop environments come with a simple image viewer by default. e.g. MATE comes with Eye of MATE. There are a plethora or similar applications that you can install, from simple to complex e.g. the GIMP.

6. No idea.

7. There is certainly no "need" to create partitions manually. If you don't know why you would want to do so, then it's a fair bet that just going with the default partition layout done by the installer process will be fine and dandy. Just choose "Use full disk" when going through the install.

8. Hopefully someone else can answer this, as I've no idea.

9. Skype! Although very recently the linux version of Skype lost the ability to connect to clients on other operating systems and I have yet to hear of a fix being released.

10. As you are installing this as the sole OS on the notebook, my only advice would be maybe to take an image of the hard disk before you commence, so if everything really does end a complete mess at least you can re-image back to what you started with.

HTH
~crypto~

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Fred Barclay
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Re: Very newbie thinking about switching to Linux Mint from Windows.

Post by Fred Barclay » Sat Mar 05, 2016 8:10 pm

G'day Maentriel, and welcome to Mint! :) I don't know the answer to all of your questions but I'll give 'em my best shot.

1. What pitfalls should you avoid when installing Mint? First of all, you should always back up first that way if something goes wrong (you choose a wrong option during installation, for example) you haven't permanently lost anything.
Other than that I can't think of anything off the top of my head. Mint's installer is pretty fast (~10 minutes) and understandable.

You're planning on installing Mint completely over Windows on your older machine, right? If so, then I'd recommend that first you get the Windows activation key, write it down, and then reactivate Windows. That way, if you want to reinstall Windows or install it in Virtualbox, you (might!) have a good license and not have to buy another one. Microsoft is picky about their licenses, so there's not guarantee that this will work, but it might save you some time later.

2. Linux differs from Windows in that drivers are (usually) not downloadable from the internet. Instead, they're often built right into the system.

Mint also has a Driver Manager that will search for (and offer to install) additional drivers if they are available. For example, if you had an Nvidia graphics card, Linux Mint comes with the Noveau driver--which works, but isn't always the best. If there is a linux Nvidia driver available for your machine, Driver Manager will give you the option to install it and use it instead of Noveau.

3. https://sites.google.com/site/easylinuxtipsproject/ is an excellent website for Ubuntu/Linux Mint tips, tricks, and optimisations. I highly recommend looking into it.

4. For removing metadata, I use MAT (Metadata anonymisation toolkit). For changing metadata, "easytag" works well (though it's not immediately intuitive). To edit audio files, I use Audacity. Audacity has a lot of documentation on the web, so it's usually easy to find out how to do anything you need.

5.Mint comes with several image viewers, depending on which DE you choose ("DE" being "Desktop Environment": so Cinnamon, Mate, KDE, or Xfce). Here on Mate we have gThumb and Image Viewer; I tend to stick with Image Viewer.

6. I'm not really sure about GOG. Looking at the website it appears that there are some games that come for Linux, so you could probably play them. Gaming on Linux isn't my strong suite. :)

7. If you are only installing Mint on your computer (completely wiping Windows) then Mint will handle the partitions for you. :) Yay! Just choose "Erase disk and install Linux Mint" in the installation menu when prompted.

8. I'm not really sure how you would edit your keyboard settings, but this describes how to deactivate caps lock on Linux.

9. There is Skype for Linux! It's an old version (4.3 if I remember correctly) but it does work and still gets security updates.
There are several other programmes such as Tox, but I've never used them so someone else will have to chime in here.

10. The hardest thing for almost everyone when using Linux is to remember, "Linux isn't Windows!" There will be things you have to get used to, instincts to unlearn, and plenty of recursive backronymns. :) It's a fun journey, and definitely worth it, but don't expect a trouble-free move. Things will happen that you don't expect.

Don't let anyone tell you that you need to install antivirus on Linux! There are Linux threats, sure, but viruses aren't one of 'em. I'll be happy to post links backing this up if you like. :)

Finally, keep regular backups. I don't follow my own advice here :oops: but ignore my hypocrisy and back your system up!

I think that's about it. Remember, we're here to help! Ask about anything you don't understand!
Image
"Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy."
- Albert Einstein

Cosmo.
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Re: Very newbie thinking about switching to Linux Mint from Windows.

Post by Cosmo. » Sat Mar 05, 2016 8:12 pm

#1. Mint is easy to use. You need the terminal only in some few cases (although in some more cases you might find it very helpful after some time). If you have concrete questions, you can ask us.

#2. Depending from your hardware you will not even have to install drivers, because the Linux-kernel supports the hardware. But that cannot be answered with a general answer. The most likely case where a driver will be needed is the graphics card. Mint provides a driver manager, which offers you for the most usual brands of cards the driver. Installing them is a matter of 2 clicks. In general NVidia cards are better supported.

#3.E.g.: There is a keyboard settings dialogue, where you can look for the shortcuts and alter them if needed.

#5. Mint comes with an image viewer built in.

#7. You don't have to create partitions, if you do not want. The installer for Mint does all what is needed for you.

#8. In the keyboard settings you can add several keyboard layouts (up to 4) and you can easily switch between them. An option to disable caps lock is (at least in the Cinnamon edition) built in. You simply select the option, that's all. There are also a number of other options for that.

#10. The first question for you is the question for the edition of Mint: Cinnamon, Mate, Xfce or KDE. You can ask here but for usefull answers we need to know details about your hardware. Or you download te ISO-files with the editions of Mint and test them before you install. The downloadable ISO-files give you a live system, which you can boot from a dvd or a usb-stick without changing anything on your computer.

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Re: Very newbie thinking about switching to Linux Mint from Windows.

Post by Superannuated » Sat Mar 05, 2016 8:29 pm

1. It is easiest to install from a USB drive with a Linux ISO on it. Some old computers do not let you boot with USB, so check out in your BIOS (or other firmware) for that option. You may want to change the boot sequence before you get started.

If you don't already have a program to burn the Linux ISO from Windows, do a search for free ISO burners. Either burn to USB drive or DVD. The USB will operate faster.

10. Very clear and detailed instructions for installation, what to do right after installation, and more is found here. On those pages you will find modifications to Windows that you should do if you plan on creating a dual boot Windows/Linux computer.

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Re: Very newbie thinking about switching to Linux Mint from Windows.

Post by GreyGeek » Sat Mar 05, 2016 9:13 pm

#6 Playing Windows games on Linux without wine.

If you have an installable version of Windows (An XP install CD, for example) you can install that version of Windows as a guest OS under VirtualBox. However, the graphical environment of Windows as a guest OS may not be good enough to run very fast gaming simulations.

PlayOnLinux, which is in the repository, installs a WINE environment and comes with a complete list of Windows programs of all kinds that it can run, including games. You can learn more about it here.

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Re: Very newbie thinking about switching to Linux Mint from Windows.

Post by sdibaja » Sun Mar 06, 2016 9:51 am

Welcome! just a few quick comments and thoughts:

2. I am not sure how drivers will "work" when installing Linux Mint, I have a keyboard/touchpad/sd card slot/camera/printer... etc. on my old notebook, do I have to hunt down and download the drivers for these before I install the new OS or can I install it and hope it gets the drivers too.
*** in my experience you will Not need any additional drivers. almost anything you need is included and activated when you install.

3. Is there a good wiki or print book for Linux Mint with optimisation and setting options that you would recommend? (Or a wiki with keyboard shortcuts and things like that).
*** this would depend a lot on which Desktop Environment you use when you install.

5. Could you suggest a basic image viewer like Irfanview?
*** a couple are included in the basic install

7. Do I have to create partitions when installing Linux Mint if I plan to only have one OS? Does it make any difference?
*** Highly Recommended!!! Use the installer option to install along side your existing Windows.
That way your existing setup still works so you can use it while you are becoming acclimated... You can learn how to take better advantage of multiple partitions later...

9. Is there a Skype type video chat program for Linux
*** install and us Skype, it works fine in Linux.

10. Any advice, suggestion, pointers and criticism welcome. Especially tips for first steps and for a complete newbie in mind.
*** make a DVD/USB, boot with it. Play around, get familiar. Try SEVERAL Desktop Environments, find one that works for you. Full functions and Speed will be had with an actual install on your hard drive, but you can try it first.

PS: Re: youe item #7. Dual Boot is Ideal. some proprietary software designed for Windows (or Mac) will Not Work, and there may Not be an adequate Open Source Linux replacement. I use Autocad and a few other tools in my work. I keep Windows 7 installed alongside my LMDE Mate for those times I need it. There are others...
Peter
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Debian GNU/Linux operating system: https://cdimage.debian.org/images/unoff ... -firmware/

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Re: Very newbie thinking about switching to Linux Mint from Windows.

Post by I2k4 » Sun Mar 06, 2016 4:45 pm

My basic advice to people interested in switching from Windows to Mint (any Linux) is to preview how well it works on specific equipment and try out the desktop environments (you'll learn what they are) and the available third party software using a LIVE PERSISTENT USB THUMB DRIVE install. Mint will install and run only marginally slower on a good quality 8gb thumb drive, and "persistence" will retain configuration changes and software installations between reboots. Here is Windows software that will create a good Mint booter - read the instructions:

http://www.pendrivelinux.com/universal- ... -as-1-2-3/

Once you create and boot the thumb drive, there are few hints to use it for several weeks before deciding if you want to go on to a regular install: a) you can install third party software to try it out, but don't do major system upgrades / updates or large (e.g. LibreOffice) updates on the thumb drive, and b) the File Manager will recognize the Windows partition, but to access data on it you have to "mount" it by double clicking.

I can't recommend dumping Windows without knowing for a proven fact that Mint will run satisfactorily on your unique hardware configuration and that software exists to do what you want to do.
TRUST BUT VERIFY any advice from anybody, including me. M18.3 XFCE (Dell 1520) 64 bit. Dual booting M19.1 XFCE / W7 (Acer netbook) and M19.1 Cinnamon / W7 (Lenovo desktop) 64 bit. Persistent live USB pretesting M19.2 Cinnamon and XFCE.

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Re: Very newbie thinking about switching to Linux Mint from Windows.

Post by Oreally » Sun Mar 06, 2016 7:05 pm

hi, newbie here myself. windows guy over 20 years, IT work and personal. Just try it out, only way to know. I started with the Live CD of Mint 17.2 in Sept 2015 when my old winxp had hard drive failure. Booted up the LIve CD and liked it, found spare harddrive and installed it, was easy install. Never looked back. Mint is running on my old gaming rig from 2007 and runs faster and better than my Windows 7,which is on much newer hardware.(win7 machine not powered on in 4 months now) Mint is my main OS ever since Sept.
Mint also helped me clean out 20 years of stored hardrives (dozens of them) of various windows os's. not need for all that baggage anymore.
**Mileage may vary here**(depends on your usage of course.)
I can do everything on Mint, that I did on windows (Documents,image editing,music, video,gaming,web stuff), except play the new star wars game from EA. My steam games work, and War Thunder has a linux client that works great. I don't use wine.

The forums here are an excellent source to learn about Mint as is the link in the second reply "linuxtipsproject"
Software manager in Mint has access to tons of programs.

Pitfall to avoid former windows user - don't use the administrator log on for everyday use, create a standard user!
Take the leap,try it out and see if it meets your needs.

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Re: Very newbie thinking about switching to Linux Mint from Windows.

Post by Superannuated » Thu Mar 10, 2016 4:01 pm

Oreally wrote:don't use the administrator log on for everyday use, create a standard user!
Why? (that is a genuine question, not sarcasm)
I understand the precaution with Windows (at least XP), but it that necessary for Linux?

Cosmo.
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Re: Very newbie thinking about switching to Linux Mint from Windows.

Post by Cosmo. » Thu Mar 10, 2016 4:07 pm

You don't need a standard user type account in Linux, there is no reason for not using the first account for daily usage and this also does not bring any security advantage.

I had described the background just today here.

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