My re-interest in Linux was brought about by the end of life of Windows 7, and wondering what options may exist for people who aren’t chained to the Windows Operating System.

Since I had used Ubuntu ten years, that was the first distribution I went back to play with, and it’s a great setup, but it does have quite a few differences if you jump on board fresh from Windows.

Enter Linux Mint — this distribution is very much like Windows and I don’t think any Windows user would be lost if they were put behind a screen and given a keyboard and mouse and asked to view websites, set up email, watch YouTube, etc.

I really enjoy the look and feel of Linux Mint. There’s Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce versions you can try. Cinnamon is likely a good one to try first. I wanted to get the “desktop cube” back that I enjoyed years ago and if you download the MATE version you can activate it with a few mouse clicks.

Installation is much like Ubuntu – go to their site, download the ISO, and either burn it to a DVD or USB Stick, then boot and do the installation. You can “try” the OS by booting into it, which is handy to ensure all your hardware is recognized, and then you can click on the Install icon on the desktop to actually install the OS. Being able to boot and use Linux Mint right from the installation media, without having to install it first, is kinda neat! You can play with it without harming your system.

I have my old HP AMD quad core box set up to dual boot between Ubuntu and Linux Mint and it spends the majority of the time in Linux Mint.

I’ve quite easily added all my email address into Thunderbird (which is what I use on my Windows machine for email too). I’ve added Google Chrome, Chromium, and a host of other software with the challenge being to set up a Linux box and have it do everything I do day to day on my Windows 10 computer.

For the most part this was easily accomplished (and also on Ubuntu). I was surprised by the amount of Vendors that offer Linux versions. In other cases there are just as good, if not better versions of programs to do other things. For instance, to replace my bought copy of Paint Shop Pro 7 on Windows I can use GIMP on Linux. IPVanish also had instructions on how to use my account on Ubuntu. I found Linux versions available for Visual Studio, Putty, Virtualbox, Dropbox, VLC, Pinegrow and Teamviewer. There are plenty of good programs to replace Office (I use Apache Open Office on Windows but Ubuntu comes preloaded with Libre Office which is fine).

With a little research on using WINE on Linux, I was able to copy over some install EXE files for a few other programs (like my accounting program) and get those Windows programs installed and working on my Linux box! Amazing stuff!

If you like games, STEAM installs and works great, and WINE offers plenty of easy setup options for popular Windows Programs and Games so you can continue to use them if there isn’t a Linux option available.

Probably one of the best advantages of Linux that I keep forgetting to mention is how FAST everything works. I’ve been testing on this old HP AMD Quad Core box with 6GB of RAM, that runs just as fast as my Intel i5 systems running Windows 10. I’d really like to get my hands on faster ‘test box’ to see how fast Linux Mint runs on a newer computer.

It was mentioned to me a couple months ago about upgrading an older client’s computer from Windows 7 to Linux (suggestion was made by his son). At the time I said No, and upgraded his computer to Windows 10 (and Microsoft let this happen for free I might add). But now, after getting my hands on Linux Mint, I would have said sure, I’ll get you running under Linux instead! This client just does webmail, browses the web, uses google earth, plays a few card games and Libre Office would take care of letter writing, etc. It would have been a pretty good [free] option for him.

Perhaps in the future I will set up the “dual boot” feature so the client can boot back and forth between Windows and Linux and figure out for themselves which operating system they prefer?