Earl from Levelland, TX writes:

You post plenty of tips on Ubuntu and how much safer and better it is than Windoze XP. That is, of course, very true; but how about giving tips on the more popular Linux Mint distro? It’s even closer in both appearance and use to Windoze, which would be beneficial to not only old farts like me, but most all of those having never used any other OS than Windoze.

 Earl, Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distro out there, that’s why we post plenty of tips about it.

 Linux Mint – which is based on and compatible with Ubuntu- is also a very popular distro of Linux. In safety, reliability and speed, Linux Mint is comparable to Ubuntu.

You can find several versions of Mint to dowload  here. Since a LTS (long term support release) version is more stable and supported by the developer, I suggest downloading the Maya distribution.

Following this link you will find that there are several files available for download, both for 32 and 64 bit architecture, built with different desktop environments.

Cinnamon

Note the user-friendly interface. Looks familiar, very much like Windows. Clicking the start button labeled “Menu” for a feature-rich rolling menu which lets you quickly access the most common tasks, like a web browser, applications and settings.

KDE

Although it doesn’t have the same Windows feel, this desktop environment is the one that I like the most. It has amazing video effects, like shading, transparency, windows animations and more. That eye-candy look just makes me feel better.

Clicking the start button reveals a beautiful sliding menu, which lets you choose between your favorite applications or pick them individually from grouped categories, You can also access your files by browsing the computer and  recent tasks. The graphical interface is fully customizable and you could play for hours fine-turning it.

Mate

 Not very different from Cinnamon desktop environment, Mate distribution has a more “serious” look and feel. While Cinnamon brings some modern design elements, Mate aims to be nothing more than functional. However, it remains a powerful candidate if you want to migrate from Windows to a Linux-based OS, as it’s easy to understand and work with.

XFCE

On a first sight, there is no noticeable difference with this distribution. Almost the same start menu and applications. The difference is somewhere underground, though. This is the most lightweight of Linux Mint distributions, meant to work even on older laptops and computers. While you will miss all those visual effects from a KDE environment, you will be amazed by its speed. If you want to bring back to life an old PC, this is the perfect choice.

 

Generally system requirements for all these Linux Mint distributions are: 

  • x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both 32-bit and 64-bit processors).
  • 512 MB RAM (1GB recommended for a comfortable usage).
  • 5 GB of disk space
  • Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
  • CD/DVD drive or USB port

Keep in mind that a XFCE desktop environment requires even less resources, while KDE is more resource hungry.

When you decide which one you want, download the file and burn it to a DVD using whichever software you like or the built-in Windows burner, then boot your PC from it. This will allow you to try the entire OS right from the DVD and install it if you like it.

Note: any changes or settings you make while trying it will disappear on installation.

~Adrian