RT Cunningham


Linux Mint is My Preferred Linux Distribution and I’m Dual Booting It

Linux Mint As I mentioned more than a month ago, I intended to dual boot Linux alongside Windows 10 (not necessarily Linux Mint). I went through with it and finished the day before yesterday. Due to family commitments, I pretty much ignored everything computer related yesterday.

It wasn’t as easy to do as I thought it would be. Slow repositories caused everything to take longer than I expected. Still, difficult isn’t a word I’d use to describe the experience.

Choosing Linux Mint Once Again

I started this ordeal more than a week ago, foregoing the backup routine. If the Windows partitions got corrupted during the process, so be it. I never really liked any Windows version Microsoft put out, but I despise Windows 10. I’m only keeping it on this laptop computer for those rare occasions where I might actually need it. Lately, I’m starting to doubt I ever will.

I didn’t want to settle on Linux Mint without trying out a few other distributions. I tried a few other distributions and I still settled on Linux Mint. It’s just that easy to use compared to most of the others. Maybe that’s why it’s one of the top-rated distributions out there. Ubuntu itself is probably the best, but I don’t like the desktop interface, not even one of the alternate ones.

I’ll tell you exactly what I did, leaving out most of the minor details.

Making Room for Linux

The last three laptop computers I’ve owned have been HP notebooks. I’m sure the other manufacturers do something similar. HP puts recovery partitions in place, which are almost useless after a couple of big Windows 10 updates. Using the preinstalled HP Recovery Manager, I removed the recovery partition.

With MiniTool Partition Wizard, I shrank the Windows partition. It was easy to spot, being the largest one. I dropped it from around 400 gigabytes to 200. I then created a new “ext4” partition in the free space that became available. The new partition was now larger than the Windows partition. The next step was to find a suitable Linux distribution to fill that partition.

Testing Linux Distributions

With a USB flash drive in a USB port and a micro SD card (in an adapter) in the card reader port, I downloaded and created bootable devices from Linux ISO images. The Universal USB Installer was the tool I chose to use, mainly because nothing else works for certain distributions.

Most distributions wouldn’t boot from an external device without changing the BIOS settings to enable legacy boot (thus disabling secure boot). I skipped the tests for Ubuntu and any Ubuntu derivative, such as Linux Mint, because I knew they would be visible from past experiences.

I ended up using Linux Mint anyway, downloading the torrent file from here using qBittorrent. I’m familiar with it and it doesn’t have a ton of applications I’ll never use. I actually installed it from the micro SD card. Some other Linux distributions are probably as good as Linux Mint but I’m not ready to embrace any of them.

Installing Linux Mint

I’m using the Cinnamon desktop edition, the main one. The unofficial Google Drive client, overGrive, doesn’t seem to work well with the other desktop editions. The installation process was pretty straightforward. Installing it alongside Windows was the only choice I had to make. The installer saw the free space and chose it automatically.

Getting all the updates is what took so long. It was painfully slow because, for whatever reason, certain repositories wouldn’t connect all the time. After everything was done I decided to test a theory. I downloaded a huge torrent on Windows and then I downloaded the same huge torrent on Linux Mint.

My bedroom is on the second floor and the router is on the first. I expect the WiFi signal to be weak but not to frequently disconnect, which is exactly what it did with Windows 10. With Linux Mint it didn’t disconnect even once. The fault, it would seem, is with the Windows driver for the built-in network adapter. Since I don’t intend to use Windows regularly, I’m not going to worry about it.

Linux Mint vs. Windows 10

I’m almost convinced the reason most people stick with any version of Windows is because they don’t know any better. It came pre-installed on their computer and it’s all they know. Some people actually like Windows 10 but I’ve never met any of those people in person. Those who’ve told me they like Windows usually mean they like specific applications on Windows.

Certain applications seem to run better on Windows 10 but it’s really just an illusion. If you have two computers with the same hardware components, most applications will run better on the Linux system. That is, of course, if it’s an application that runs on more than just Windows. There are plenty of applications that will run on one or the other but not both.

Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu but it isn’t Ubuntu, although it uses the same repositories. Linux Mint is friendlier than Ubuntu. Having used variations of both in the past, I feel like I’m qualified to say it’s better for beginners than Ubuntu. If you want to switch from Windows 10 completely, Linux Mint is the better choice.

I’m using a dual boot system on this laptop computer but not on my other one. My other one is Linux Mint only. With this one, I have to hit F9 quickly before Windows kicks in or I’ll have to start over. Since I rarely reboot, it’s not really an issue. Yes, I know I can give myself more time by increasing the “post” setting in the BIOS (it’s set at 0) but I don’t want to do that just yet.

Image Attribution: merlwiz79 [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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By RT Cunningham
January 27, 2019

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