The Perfect Desktop - Linux Mint 13 XFCE

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme , Christian Schmalfeld <c [dot] schmalfeld [at] projektfarm [dot] de>
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This tutorial shows how you can set up a Linux Mint 13 (Maya) desktop (with the XFCE desktop) that is a full-fledged replacement for a Windows desktop, i.e. that has all the software that people need to do the things they do on their Windows desktops. The advantages are clear: you get a secure system without DRM restrictions that works even on old hardware, and the best thing is: all software comes free of charge.

The software I propose as default is the one I found easiest to use and best in their functionality - this won't necessarily be true for your needs, thus you are welcome to try out the applications listed as alternatives.

I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!


1 Preliminary Note

To fully replace a Windows desktop, I want the Mint desktop to have the following software installed:


  • Pinta - open source drawing application modeled after Paint.NET
    • KolourPaint - paint application with elemental functions
    • MyPaint - paint application with a large variety of brushes
  • The GIMP - free software replacement for Adobe Photoshop
  • Shotwell Photo Manager - full-featured personal photo management application for the GNOME desktop


  • Firefox
    • Opera
    • Chromium - Google's open-source browser
  • Thunderbird - email and news client
    • Evolution - combines e-mail, calendar, address book, and task list management functions
  • Deluge - free cross-platform BitTorrent client
    • Transmission BitTorrent Client - Bittorrent client
    • Vuze - Java BitTorrent client
    • qBittorrent - free alternative to µtorrent
  • Marble - desktop globe similar to google earth
    • GoogleEarth - Google's desktop globe
  • Flash Player 11
  • FileZilla - multithreaded FTP client
  • Pidgin IM Client - multi-platform instant messaging client
  • Skype
  • Dropbox Client - cloud storage
  • Gwibber Social Client - open-source microblogging client (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)


  • Adobe Reader
    • Evince - document viewer
    • Okular - document viewer
  • LibreOffice Writer - replacement for Microsoft Word
  • LibreOffice Calc - replacement for Microsoft Excel
  • GnuCash - double-entry book-keeping personal finance system, similar to Quicken
  • Scribus - open source desktop publishing (DTP) application

Sound & Video:

  • Banshee - audio player, can encode/decode various formats and synchronize music with Apple iPods
    • Amarok - audio player
    • MPlayer - media player (video/audio), supports WMA
    • Rhythmbox Music Player - audio player, similar to Apple's iTunes, with support for iPods
    • gtkPod - software similar to Apple's iTunes, supports iPod, iPod nano, iPod shuffle, iPod photo, and iPod mini
    • Sound Juicer CD Extractor - CD ripping tool, supports various audio codecs
    • Nightingale - audio player similar to Winamp, but not yet as feature rich (Songbird fork)
    • XMMS - audio player similar to Winamp
    • Clementine - Amarok 1.4 fork
    • Exaile - audio player
  • VLC Media Player - media player, plays all kinds of videos (video/audio)
    • Totem - media player (video/audio)
    • Xine - media player, supports various formats; can play DVDs
  • Winff - free video converter
    • SoundConverter - free audio converter
    • Soundkonverter - free audio converter
    • XFCA - free video/audio converter and ripper
  • K3B - CD/DVD burning program
    • Brasero - CD/DVD burning program
  • Audacity - free, open source, cross platform digital audio editor
  • Kino - free digital video editor
  • dvd::rip - full featured DVD copy program
  • Multimedia Codecs


  • KompoZer - WYSIWYG HTML editor, similar to Macromedia Dreamweaver, but not as feature-rich (yet)
    • Bluefish - text editor, suitable for many programming and markup languages
  • Eclipse - Extensible Tool Platform and Java IDE


  • VirtualBox OSE - lets you run your old Windows desktop as a virtual machine under your Linux desktop, so you don't have to entirely abandon Windows
  • TrueType fonts
  • Java
  • Read-/Write support for NTFS partitions
  • gedit - simple text editor
  • gdebi - package installer taking care of dependencies

Lots of our desired applications are available in the Ubuntu and Mint repositories, and some of these applications have been contributed by the community.

The software provided in the above list covers most of the basic tasks one may need to do on their desktop computers, sometimes there are multiple choices for same functionality. If you know which one you like best, you obviously don't need to install and test the other applications, however if you like choice, then of course you can install more than one.

I will use the username howtoforge in this tutorial. Please replace it with your own username.


2 Installing The Base System

The installation of the base system is easy as 1-2-3 because the Mint installer doesn't offer a lot of options to choose from, so you cannot go wrong.

Download the Mint 13 XFCE DVD iso image from, burn it onto a DVD, and boot your computer from it :

You will boot directly into the live environment where you can either test Linux Mint or install it. Install by double-clicking Install Linux Mint:

Select your language and click the Continue button to start the installation:

On the next screen you see a few requirements for the Mint 13 installation (the system should have at least 5.3 GB available drive space and should be connected to the Internet). Click on Continue:

Now we come to the partitioning of our hard disk. Usually Erase disk and install Linux Mint is a good choice, unless you need custom partitions and know what you're doing. Erase disk and install Linux Mint will create one big / partition for us (all installed operating system and all other files present on the disk will be deleted if you proceed):

Select the hard drive that you want to use for the Linux Mint installation:

Then choose your time zone:

Change the keyboard layout, if necessary:

Type in your real name, your desired username along with a password, and click on Continue:

Afterwards, Linux Mint is being installed. This can take a few minutes, so be patient:

After the installation, you will be asked to reboot the system. Click on Restart Now:

At the end of the shutdown process, you are asked to remove the Linux Mint installation DVD from the drive. Please do this now and press ENTER:

Your new Linux Mint system starts. Log into the desktop with the username and password you provided during the installation:

This is how your new Linux Mint XFCE desktop looks like:

Now the base system is ready to be used.

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4 Comment(s)

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By: syncdram

I've been noticing more and more from articles that discuss the perfect desktop concerning anything ubuntu, the one common denominator is the all carry XFCE. This really says a lot. Kinda makes you wonder if canonical is intentionally destroying ubuntu?

By: Rob

Tasty tasty!!!!!

By: Mint user since version 9

I have been using Mint since version 9. No install problems works great. Then with version 12 Cinnamon and Mate caused some issues but got it working. Then with 13 tried to install Mate and XFCE. Both would boot to live CD but both crashed during the install process. Seems that the install slideshow was the culprit. So you have to do sudo apt-get remove ubiquity-slideshow before the install and then run install and will work fine. Another annoying problem is with audio. Previous versions had the audio porting to the normal green audio out jack. However some bright cookie somewhere changed the driver and sound only comes out the black port. I will note that the PC hardware has not changed since first installation of Mint 9. I have to say that XFCE is much lighter on resources and works better then GNOME on older systems. It took me some time to find the solution to these problems and I hope this helps someone.

By: Joe Lunchpail

I installed Mint13 Mate Maya yesterday and went through all the update rigamaroll. I know it's 2016 and 13 is outdated but I'm running it on a beat-up Dell Dimwnsion 2400 that's stock other than the RAM boosted to 1.25 gigs. It went on to install about 500 updates, there was some kind of GRUB problem. Anyways... I waited for 6 hours for it to complete, and when I rebooted... Crash!!

Oh well. I just did a complete re-install and will go from here