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Linux Mint – The different methods of installing Linux Mint

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Most operating systems are typically installed on your primary hard disk, and that’s pretty much your only option. Linux (including Mint) is much more flexible and offers more options to install and use any given distribution. In the case of Mint, it can also take over your entire hard disk just like any other OS, but the fun doesn’t stop here. Mint can also be installed on a USB flash drive (either as boot media or even as a full-fledged installation), which then becomes an operating environment in your pocket that you can take with you and use on any PC. Mint can also be installed on a virtual machine or alongside another operating system, thus allowing you to select between them when your computer starts up.

In fact, Mint doesn’t have to be installed at all. The installation media you’ll create is useful for more than just installing the distribution; you can even run Mint from the DVD or USB flash drive itself without installing it. This is known as the live mode, and it contains an entire operating environment that you can use without installing it onto a hard disk. The main downside of a live environment is that none of your changes are saved unless you configure something called persistence (otherwise, everything runs from the disc and is stored in RAM). Also, there is a considerable lag in the launching of applications since the access times are much slower than those of a standard hard disk. However, one of the biggest benefits of a live environment is that it can be used as an emergency boot media, which will enable you to access computers that will not boot their primary operating system. So, a live DVD or flash drive is something you’ll always want to have in case you experience problems.

Note

If you choose to burn a Linux Mint image onto a blank DVD, you’ll want to make it a practice to recreate the live media at least once a year. Recordable DVD media does not last forever, and the data will actually fade over time. This is not the case with commercially produced DVDs, such as movies and games, that are manufactured via a completely different process.

The first step in our Linux Mint adventure is to create bootable media from which we can run and then later install the distribution. The bootable media that we’ll create will contain an entire live environment, so you’ll be productive with Mint very soon. However, before you jump into the installation of Mint onto your hard drive, take some time to use the live environment and see how it works on your hardware. In the following two activities, we’ll create our very own installation media.

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