The Perfect Desktop - Linux Mint 15 (Olivia)

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme , Christian Schmalfeld <c [dot] schmalfeld [at] projektfarm [dot] de>
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Last edited 11/29/2012

This tutorial shows how you can set up a Linux Mint 15 (Olivia) 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.

Linux Mint 15 is available in two flavors - one with the Cinnamon desktop and one with the MATE desktop. I will download and use the Cinnamon version (if you change your mind about what flavor you want to use after some time, you can still download the packages of the other one, install it and select it on the login screen).

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
  • 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 - 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 15 DVD iso image from, burn it onto a DVD, and boot your computer from it (four options are given in 32 bit and 64 bit versions - they differ in their desktop environment and in the packages that come preinstalled. I will use the Cinnamon 64 bit DVD with codecs, which is slightly larger than the one without. If you choose to get an image without codecs, you can later upgrade the system by installing the missing packages from the welcome screen):

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 15 installation (the system should have at least 6.1 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):

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 Cinnamon desktop looks like (on this welcome screen you can choose to Upgrade to the DVD Edition or to Add Multimedia Codecs if you have installed one of the versions without codecs. If you disabled the welcome screen, it is still available under Menu > Preferences > Welcome Screen):

Now the base system is ready to be used.

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12 Comment(s)

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From: Rdonovan at: 2013-06-20 04:10:09

FYI and FWIW, on my Acer, Linux Mint installed fine but I thought it was not booting to the hard drive with the UEFI disabled. It turns out that the backlight was turned off.

To fix it be aware that the boot spash screen in Mint is straight black.

As soon as the Syslinux text disappears, start banging on the tab key. This gets you to the boot options screen.

Make the boot line read:

linux   /vmlinuz-3.8.0-25-generic root=/dev/mapper/mint--vg-root ro   "quiet splash acpi_osi=linux acpi_backlight=vendor $vt_handoff"

and press the <F10> key. You can actually ad this anywhere between the quotes, I believe.

This will boot your system with the backlight on so you can see the screen.

Once you have booted the system, open the terminal and

cd /etc/default

Open the grub file in your favorite text editor and make the
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash" line read

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash acpi_osi=linux acpi_backlight=vendor"

Save the changes and then run

sudo update-grub

This will create a grub.cfg with these entries so you don't need to enter them every time you boot up.

From: Jimjim at: 2013-06-19 09:38:37

you might be interested in knowing about a site called  they make installing groups of windows and LINUX applications in one go much quicker and easier.

From: desQEDo at: 2013-08-27 10:42:53

The above installation instruction 'The Perfect Desktop - Linux Mint 15 (Olivia)' from Falko is very useful. Thanks for that Falko.

The subsequent post 'easier installation' is totally superfluous as Linux Mint uses the Synaptic Package Manager to install software whereby multiple packages can be installed simultaneously. For updates the OS has its own Update Manager that automatically shows when updates are necessary and with one click executes all updates and upgrades necessary.

This integration is the result of co-operation as opposed to profiteering.

From: Anonymous at: 2013-09-09 14:31:59

Ninite makes assumptions about your system but doesn't check whether they are right, it doesn't ask for confirmation about what it's going to do, or even inform the user about what it's doing, actually it redirects to /dev/null all the relevant information about the installation process. It's a bad idea. It's dangerous. Don't use it.

From: Scott at: 2013-06-07 17:32:27

The instructions on the page for downloading Kompozer are for 64bit systems.

If you have a 32bit system, you need the following


From: Lance at: 2013-06-17 05:45:20

Thanks for the code block and 32 bit clarification

From: Anonymous at: 2013-06-13 09:45:01

very nice description of the softwares. could you also comment on hardware compatibility? i had once that my network driver not supported. then it was impossible to do anything further after entering the system. also graphic card driver is a pain...

From: Anonymous at: 2013-07-18 18:44:14

The only times I've had problems like that was when i was trying to install a flavor of Linux does not use any non-free resources. Linux Mint and other Ubuntu derivatives have non-free drivers and programs included in their installation and therefore usually install much more smoothly than a distro like Debian, which does not use any non-free resources. So, I make no guarantees, but Mint should give you a smoother installation process than some other distributions. Make sure to thoroughly test everything in a live-cd/usb environment though before you install anything.

From: Samuel Cavazos at: 2013-06-16 05:25:44

For nightningale, I would recommend installing from the ppa. 

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nightingaleteam/nightingale-release

  sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install nightingale

From: Ramy Mamlouk at: 2013-06-20 12:39:46

I wouldn't recommend using nautilus-dropbox as Linux Mint comes with the slick Nemo as the default file manager. What I did on my system is remove (purge) nautilus and install nemo-dropbox.

From: redrock at: 2013-07-25 08:43:18

I don't who to thank; but whoever is responsible for the info on installing Kompozer to Linux Mint Olivia, you've done me a big favour. Thanks heaps. Works perfectly from what I've seen so far. As a old newbee, you've inspired me to learn more so maybe one day I can input to help some too.

From: Kzac at: 2013-10-18 16:08:33

I swapped over to this Linux version from Ubuntu 12.04 and I like it much better than Ubuntu, and way better than Windows.  Remember that I am not a strong gaming user, therefore this fits my needs very well.  The Linux distributions (especially Mint 15- Olivia) are now excellent replacements for Windows XP, 7 and 8.  I currently have this installed on an HP5850  with dual AMD processors, 4 Gig of ram, a railink (now media tech) 802.11b/g wireless adaptor and it runs exceptional.  Speed and operation are not an issue with this current version of Linux Mint. I will be loading it on my laptop later as I make the sift away from Windows.  If you have ever though about making the leap over to Linux, distribution 15 of Mint now makes that switch completely and painlessly possible.