In this series of articles I will talk about the operating systems I install on people’s PCs. The OS I choose for each individual depends on what they want to do with their system or how comfortable the are with software. So in this article I will talk about the merit of each operating systems.
If I am installing GnuLinux on the PC of a Windows-to-Linux convert, someone who just wants it to work without having to spend much times on making it to work then I choose Linux Mint Cinnamon edition.
There are many reasons to use Linux Mint – the most notable being its ease of use and simplicity. Linux Mint focuses on what users want instead of driving their own agenda. They have also steered clear of the turn-desktop-into-mobile craze and instead developed technologies (Mate, Cinnamon) that offers the good old interface designed for a keyboard and mouse device.
You won’t have to relearn how to use your computer if you are coming from Windows background due to similarities in the interface. It’s more or less like if you have driven one car you can drive every car.
Due to it’s Ubuntu base it has a very good driver and codec support (the fact is now every GnuLinux distribution is very well supported in terms of drivers and codecs and it’s not exclusive to Ubuntu – the credit goes to people like Greg KH who have worked hard to bring better hardware support for Linux and Ubuntu benefits from his work).
Linux Mint will work out of the box on most hardware. You can easily install drivers for printers or other such devices in Linux Mint.
So the chances are that Linux Mint will just work fine on you current hardware.
Just keep one thing in mind – something Mac users also do, when you buy new hardware make sure it supports GnuLinux.
In case you are not comfortable with diving into the unknown waters by erasing Windows and moving to Linux Mint, you can also do a dual boot where both Linux Mint and Windows will be installed on the same system. So if you are not comfortable you can switch between Linux Mint and Windows.
Running Windows apps
We use applications and not the operating systems. So an operating system no matter how good it is without apps is as good as a library without books. It’s useless.
Luckily the world have moved on from Windows 95 era. Now most of what we do happens inside a browser. You can do almost everything that you need through Google’s Chrome web apps running on Linux Mint. However at times we do need native apps. The good news is most popular services and applications are available for Linux Mint.
If you do use some proprietary applications, the good news is that there are Open Source alternatives of proprietary applications which does the same work, but are available for free of cost. Here is a quick list of some alternatives:
- Microsoft Office -> LibreOffice
- Photoshop -> GIMP, Krita
- Lightroom -> DigiKam, Darktable
- Windows Movie Maker – Kdenlive
- Internet Explorer – Firefox, Chrome
- Windows Media Player – Rhythmbox, Amarok, VLC
So you are very well covered.
If you do need some legacy Windows applications for strange yet justified reasons then there is a tool called Wine which allows you to install some Windows applications in Linux Mint. Wine is available for free of cost and its website lists all the Windows applications that can be installed on Linux Mint.
There are thousands of native applications available for Linux Mint but the OS also benefits from it’s Ubuntu base as everything that’s available for Ubuntu is also available for Linux Mint. You can easily install Steam client or LightWorks, which were made available exclusively for Ubuntu, on Linux Mint.
Installing applications is extremely easy in Linux Mint and can be done directly from to Software Manager that comes built-in, so unlike Windows, you don’t have to hunt the web to find the right software.
Out of the box experience
Linux Mint comes pre-installed with most of the popular applications such as LibreOffice, VLC, FireFox, etc, and you can start your work as soon as you are finished installing it.
Linux Mint is more secure and privacy respecting than Ubuntu which now tracks every thing that happens inside its Dash and sends that data to Canonical servers. No one knows if NSA or GCHQ is tapping into that data – thanks to gag orders. There is no such backdoor installed on Linux Mint by default so you are quite safe.
Getting Linux Mint
You can grab Linux Mint from this link. There are many editions available, but if you are looking for something easy and modern I will recommend the Cinnamon version.
If you need help in getting started with Linux Mint, you can check out this guide.
In the next article we will talk about another GnuLinux based operating system that I recommend.