The Perfect Desktop - Linux Mint 7 (Gloria)

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme
Last edited 05/28/2009

This tutorial shows how you can set up a Linux Mint 7 (Gloria) 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. Linux Mint 7 is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu 9.04 that has lots of packages in its repositories (like multimedia codecs, Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Skype, Google Earth, etc.) that are relatively hard to install on other distributions; it therefore provides a user-friendly desktop experience even for Linux newbies.

I want to say first that this is not the only way of setting up such a system. There are many ways of achieving this goal but this is the way I take. I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!

 

1 Preliminary Note

To fully replace a Windows desktop, I want the Linux Mint 7 desktop to have the following software installed:

Graphics:

  • The GIMP - free software replacement for Adobe Photoshop
  • F-Spot - full-featured personal photo management application for the GNOME desktop
  • Google Picasa - application for organizing and editing digital photos

Internet:

  • Firefox
  • Opera
  • Flash Player 10
  • FileZilla - multithreaded FTP client
  • Thunderbird - email and news client
  • Evolution - combines e-mail, calendar, address book, and task list management functions
  • aMule - P2P file sharing application
  • Transmission BitTorrent Client - Bittorrent client
  • Azureus/Vuze - Java Bittorrent client
  • Pidgin - multi-platform instant messaging client
  • Skype
  • Google Earth
  • Xchat IRC - IRC client

Office:

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

Sound & Video:

  • Amarok - audio player
  • Audacity - free, open source, cross platform digital audio editor
  • Banshee - audio player, can encode/decode various formats and synchronize music with Apple iPods
  • 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
  • XMMS - audio player similar to Winamp
  • dvd::rip - full featured DVD copy program
  • Kino - free digital video editor
  • Sound Juicer CD Extractor - CD ripping tool, supports various audio codecs
  • VLC Media Player - media player (video/audio)
  • Helix Player - media player, similar to the Real Player
  • Totem - media player (video/audio)
  • Xine - media player, supports various formats; can play DVDs
  • Brasero - CD/DVD burning program
  • K3B - CD/DVD burning program
  • Multimedia Codecs

Programming:

  • KompoZer - WYSIWYG HTML editor, similar to Macromedia Dreamweaver, but not as feature-rich (yet)
  • Bluefish - text editor, suitable for many programming and markup languages
  • Quanta Plus - web development environment, including a WYSIWYG editor

Other:

  • 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

All desired applications are available in the Linux Mint repositories.

As you might have noticed, a few applications are redundant, for example there are two CD/DVD burning applications in my list (Brasero, K3B). If you know which one you like best, you obviously don't need to install the other applications, however if you like choice, then of course you can install both. The same goes for music players like Amarok, Banshee, Rhythmbox, XMMS or browsers (Firefox, Opera).

I will use the username falko 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 Linux Mint installer doesn't offer a lot of options to choose from, so you cannot go wrong.

Download the Linux Mint 7 iso image from http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php, burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it:

The system boots and starts a desktop that is run entirely in the RAM of your system (the Linux Mint installation CD is also a Live-CD) without changing anything on your hard disk. This has the advantage that you can test how Linux Mint works on your hardware before you finally install it.

This is how the Linux Mint desktop looks. Double-click the Install icon on the desktop to start the installation to the hard drive:

The installer starts. First, select your language:

Then choose your time zone:

Change the keyboard layout, if necessary:

Now we come to the partitioning of our hard disk. Usually Use the entire disk is a good choice, unless you need custom partitions and know what you're doing. Use the entire disk will create one big / partition for us:

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

The next screen shows us a summary of the installation settings. Click on Install to start the installation:

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

After the installation is complete, we must reboot the system to use it. Click on Restart now:

The Live-CD desktop shuts down. At the end, the Linux Mint CD is ejected. Remove it from the CD drive and hit the <ENTER> key to boot into your new Linux Mint desktop:

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

When you log in for the first time, you will see the following help window. Click on Close:

This is how your new desktop looks:

Now the base system is ready to be used.

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From: Relst at: 2009-05-31 18:48:32

Great tutorial for a great distro. You say to everyone that they should replace falko with their own username, but in commands you can also use ~ instead of /home/falko. Maybe good for the next tutorial.

From: James Watt at: 2009-05-31 15:39:17

I don't get the point. Why do people keep promoting KompoZer all the time only. There was no big/public update for the tool since ages (though interested might have a look at http://kazhack.org/?post/2009/05/04/KompoZer-0.8a3 which the latest one can have). I admit the tool is good but the are alternatives which are in some respect better. Have a look at Amaya ( http://www.w3.org/Amaya/ ). It comes with the same benefits as KompoZer does (open source, cross platform, support for CSS, web standards, …) but it is frequently updated and has a SVG editor. At least worth a look in my humble opinion.

From: savedin94 at: 2009-08-31 00:53:45

screensaver plays then monitor goes to sleep, is there a way to turn off the sleep mode using linux mint 7?

From: Anonymous at: 2009-05-31 22:39:47

I have 2 problems with Linux mint. First of all, even if you keep it updated, you will always have to install a new version when it comes out. With other distros, as long as you keep things updated, you do not need to install a new version, you already have it (with the exception of the default graphics, which are easy to install if you want them). Second, Gnome is the primary GUI. They do have a KDE version, but usually it's release lags far behind the Gnome version. And in my opinion, KDE4.2 with whatever problems etc...still is far far better than Gnome. For those switching from Windows, I have two distros to suggest. For those who are less computer literate, and prefere not to have to tweak things, Mepis is the best choice. For those more adventurous folks or those who want to be on the bleeding edge, sidux is the best choice. .

From: at: 2009-06-02 04:26:35

The last time I was actually able to install and use the 3D Nvidia driver was way back at Mint 4 (32 bit op-sys) Since then, on 5, 6 and 7 I've had no succcess. There is actually little real help in mint's forum or Ubuntu's for that matter as all the help speak much the same thing. It's not that I have a video card that is way out there or anything; it's listed as being supported on Nvidia's site (Gforce 7350LE). A stock install with no fiddling at all on my part will not engage the 3D driver. I've tried to compile it to the kernel as per Nvidia's site instuctions and tried ALL the different approaches from all help files with no luck. Yet in Mints documentation it states the drivers are fully tested and compatible. The driver DO install correctly in Mint's # 6 version in 64 bit mode from a stock install - go figure! So I wait for the nest version to come out..


 

From: Steve at: 2009-11-03 05:53:20

3rd problem:  I think it's dangerous to tell people that any Linux distro is a fully fledged M$ Windows replacement.  It is NOT.  There are many, many applications written for Windows that simply will not run on Linux.  No way, no how; not even under WINE or CrossOver (Windows emulators).  And to suggest that someone switching from Windows to Linux just trash their Windows installation and use the whole HDD is even more dangerous.  I use Linux (Ubuntu 8.04) as my primary platform, but still need to boot to Windows for some things.  I think a How To for a dual boot system is a far safer option for anyone migrating to Linux.

From: Fred Williams at: 2009-06-02 20:18:22

Thanks for sharing how you would setup Mint, please stop referencing Mono based applications.


Try bluemarine for a photo manager instead of f-spot.


 


Also when you first install an Ubuntu based derivative please run the following:


sudo aptitude purge mono-common libmono0


This is safe, it just removes the trojan called Mono.


 

From: bookworm1960a at: 2009-05-29 17:20:53

Very well written and easy to follow

From: Anonymous at: 2009-06-10 19:38:21

Why?!! Who these days would actually "go out and buy" full versions of Vista, MS Office, Adobe Phototshop and all the rest simply to see how long it takes to install such incredibly expensive proprietary software into a working configuration on a "clean machine"? ..Who gives a rip when you can do everything needed with today's free open source applications on Linux MINT 7 or any of the other high end distros that are available, all the while pocketing those dollars to spend on things that actually matter?!

From: Anonymous at: 2009-06-04 04:21:01

Now please do the same with MS on a clean machine with no OS installed. Go out and buy  MS Vista or its latest, MS office latest,  Photoshop, and all the other proprietary software mentioned. Let us know how long it takes to install and learn how to use all of it.

From: Anonymous at: 2009-06-18 17:56:30

I think they were being sarcastic.

From: Anonymous at: 2009-06-24 14:06:55

First time user of Linux. I wonder why there no antivirusprogram like AVG Free for Linux in the wanted program list? And how about firewalls?


Second: Most of the time there is a warning : "You are about to install software that cannot be authenticated etc".  Even in the tutorial. How save is Linux??

From: Anonymous at: 2009-06-29 19:08:51

Just for my own edification - what is the problem with mono?

From: Anonymous at: 2009-07-27 01:23:24

The reason you can't find any anti-virus program is because there pretty much are no viruses for Linux. A firewall shouldn't be necessary either. You probably don't have to worry about the authentication warning either. Good luck with Linux and don't be afraid to ask if you need help.

From: Anonymous at: 2010-01-03 18:46:12

There is a common perception that there are no viruses on the Linux platform - which to a large extent is true. But what happens when you get a mail attachment which you would like to forward to your windows machine so you can open it with your favorite proprietary software? And what if this attachment is infected by a virus? This is where the anti virus solutions for linux comes into the picture.

ClamAV is a free GPLed anti-virus solution which provides a lot of advantages when installed in Linux. Sticking to the philosophy of linux, it contains a set of command line tools which can be used to check if a file on your system is infected by a virus.

From: at: 2009-09-21 14:50:15

Thank you very much falko, it was very intersting and informative to read your article. Nice job!

From: Kilikopele at: 2010-02-23 02:17:11

Nothing at all.  There are just folks who will automatically hate it because it's bringing a M$ technology to Linux (thus the cliched "virus" comment.)

From: Anonymous at: 2010-03-11 02:05:53

This really helped a lot....thanks

From: Anonymous at: 2012-10-21 16:48:36

Hi,

 Um just curios with the linux Os and wanna try it out to find how it feels like. I knw Linux mint 7 is way old. But I just have the DVD and wanna install it.

1. Will it be problem if I select "Use the entire disk" when the installation is in progress.? I mean will it cause any damage or mess up the win 7 performance.? (I have a dual core machine) - I wanna have both Win 7 and Mint 7...

2. Is it possible to choose the OS when start up.? (I don't wanna run it through a DVD)