Linux Mint – Meet Linux Mint

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Welcome to Linux Mint Essentials; your exciting journey into the world of Linux Mint starts here. There’s no better place to start your adventure than Mint. Its user friendly nature along with its scalability caters to both beginners and power users alike; the out-of-the-box Mint includes everything you need to work and play. In this tutorial, you’ll discover how to master this amazing distribution from the initial installation all the way to maintaining and troubleshooting it. We’ll start with an in-depth look at how to complete the installation, and then we’ll proceed through each of Mint’s core technologies to help boost your knowledge. Along the way, we’ll work on some fun activities to put your new knowledge to use.

Before we get started though, it’s very important that you understand the core concepts behind Mint and what makes it so great. In this chapter, we’ll explore key concepts such as the Linux kernel, what a distribution is, and some reasons why Linux Mint is so awesome. If you are already aware of these concepts (or you’re itching to get your feet wet), skip ahead to Chapter 2, Creating Boot Media and Installing Linux Mint, where we’ll set up our very own Linux Mint installation.

In this chapter, we will cover the following topics:

  • What is Linux?
  • The difference between Linux and a distribution of Linux
  • What makes Mint such a great distribution?
  • Sign up for forum and community accounts

While getting accustomed to Linux, there’s most likely a great deal of things that you’ll want to learn. Mint comes equipped to help you handle most tasks, such as checking e-mail, working with files, editing documents, and sharing files. We’ll tackle most of the common use cases in this tutorial to help you become productive with Mint.

Linux isn’t only about getting work done. Whether you enjoy listening to music, watching videos, or just having fun with your leisure time, we’ll cover those concepts as well. In fact, Chapter 7, Enjoying Multimedia on Mint is dedicated to consuming multimedia, and I may throw in a Linux game or two for good measure.

As we reach the end of our journey, we’ll go over concepts of how to maintain our installation as well as how to troubleshoot it. Most of the troubleshooting and maintenance tasks in Mint aren’t distribution specific, so you’ll learn some real-world skills that you can take with you to other platforms.

Why choose Linux?

It may surprise some to discover that they use Linux every day, even if they don’t realize it. If you checked your e-mail today or posted a social networking status update, you’ve used Linux. Since Linux servers make up a large portion of servers on the Internet, chances are you interacted with a site or service hosted on a Linux server and you probably do so every day. If you own a smart TV, chances are it’s powered by a stripped-down version of the Linux kernel. In fact, if you are reading this tutorial on an e-reader, the device was most likely built on top of Linux. And even if you purchased a print copy, the point of sale software used to facilitate your purchase of the tutorial quite possibly ran on Linux. Linux is everywhere! And on the desktop, it’s a powerful alternative to proprietary operating systems.

To be fair, most computer users don’t care which operating system is installed on their computer or what underlying software the websites they visit runs on. When someone purchases a computer and powers it on for the first time, they are typically presented with a license agreement; they type in their desired user name, and then they’re ready to connect to the Internet so they can check their Facetutorial account and watch cat videos. Even though there are several different operating systems that one can install on a computer, most of the users aren’t aware that there is a choice. When a typical user thinks of an operating system, they immediately think of Windows since it’s what the majority of PCs ship with. When an Apple user thinks about a Mac, the OSX operating system is largely assumed. This is why when two people have an argument regarding Mac versus PC, they are actually arguing over which operating system is superior since Windows isn’t the only operating system available for the PC, much like the fact that OSX isn’t the only operating system you can install on a Mac. They aren’t aware that there is a choice other than what comes preinstalled from the factory.

While Linux isn’t technically an operating system (we’ll discuss more on this later), it represents another choice for installation on your computer. Linux comes in many flavors (also known as “distributions”), each catering toward a specific purpose, and some of which aim to be a full-featured replacement for proprietary operating systems such as Windows or OSX on your PC or Mac. And many of them do a very good job, with distributions such as Mint and Ubuntu leading the pack.

Why use Linux in place of what came with your computer? The answer to that question varies depending on who is asking it. Some may be frustrated over the multitude of Windows viruses in the wild. While no operating system or kernel is completely immune to viruses, there is no question that Linux is the more secure choice when compared to Windows as it suffers far fewer intrusions and viruses. The reason why Linux is more secure is open to debate. Some believe this is due to its lack of popularity on the desktop, while others believe that its security is inherent.

Regardless of the reason, using Linux on your desktop or laptop is a very fulfilling (and liberating) experience. While there is no one “best” operating system (as each has its own purpose for existence), Linux distributions such as Mint give you more control over your computer than you may have thought possible. The modular nature of Linux distributions allow you to easily swap out components you don’t like and swap in those that you do, for example, if you’re not fond of the file manager that ships with Mint, remove it and install a different one instead. In fact, if you decide that you don’t enjoy the user interface (desktop environment), install another one as there are many to choose from. The possibilities in customizing your own environment are limitless. Also, the proven stability and security of Linux are welcoming aspects as well. Installing Linux can open your eyes to a whole new world. Linux Mint is a great gateway into this world as it is a wonderful example of a user friendly Linux distribution done right.

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