Clear Windows and install Linux Mint, in just 10 minutes

One of my old netbooks, an Acer Aspire V5, is still in use by my partner. It still works on Windows 7, but it has performed very poorly recently, and I finally decided that instead of spending a few hours trying to make it limp for a bit longer again, I would remove everything and install Linux Mint to it.

Besides the obvious step of removing Windows, there is another big step for me in this area. I’m not going to do my usual multi-boot Linux setup on this netbook, I’m just going to install Linux Mint, and let it use the whole disk as it sees fit.

The first step is to download the latest Linux Mint installation image, from the Download the Linux Mint page. Because this is a netbook (read as: slow CPU and limited memory), I chose to install the Mint Xfce version. However, the actual installation time for any of the versions of Mint (Cinnamon, MATE, KDE, or Xfce) is essentially the same.

After I downloaded the install image and verified the checksum, I wrote it to a USB drive. I then booted this USB drive into the Aspire V5, which gave me this Mint Live screen:


Linux Mint 18.2 Xfce Live Desktop

Image: JA Watson

It’s pretty straightforward. It’s a Live Desktop, you can try it out, see if all your hardware is working, connect wired or wireless to the internet, whatever you want. When you are satisfied that everything is working and you want to install it, just double click on the Install Linux Mint icon on the desktop.


Mint installation Welcome and language

Image: JA Watson

Not much to do here. If you want a language other than English for the installation and the installed system, select it here.


Network selection

Image: JA Watson

This is a list of wireless networks that have been detected. If you want to connect to any of them, you can do so here. It is not necessary to have an internet connection during installation, so if you don’t want to go wrong, just click Continue.


Preparing for installation

Image: JA Watson

If you want to install third-party software, such as media codecs, proprietary graphics hardware drivers, Wi-Fi drivers, etc., check the box here.

I think if you have an internet connection, the installer will also offer you to download and install updates during the initial setup.


Selecting the disk layout

Image: JA Watson

Even this screen is simple in this case. I don’t want to do anything fancy, I don’t want to keep the operating systems installed, I don’t want to multi-boot anything. I just want to give the entire disk to Linux Mint and let it install however it sees fit.


Suggested disk partitions

Image: JA Watson

It’s just that the Mint installer is polite. It tells me what it’s going to do and warns me that everything on the disk is going to be erased.

When you click Continue on this screen, the installation actually starts in the background. The installation dialog continues to the foreground.


Time zone selection

Image: JA Watson

Here you specify the time zone you are in. If you are in Switzerland, and you click the right place on the map on the first try, I strongly suggest that you run and play the lottery immediately, as it is your lucky day. If you fail to click in the right place after several tries, you can always just type the name in the input bar. (Hint: don’t try to type Zurich, with or without umlaut; you will have to type Switzerland)


Keyboard selection

Image: JA Watson

Here you (finally) select the appropriate keyboard board. For one thing, that’s pretty cool because the installer made an educated guess about which map to use, based on your location shown in the Time Zone step. On the flip side, it’s a bit late to do this, as that means if you have a non-US keyboard you’ve struggled to type so far. Especially if you were trying to type Zürich or Switzerland in the previous step.


User account information

JA Watson

Enter the name and password for the initial user account. You can also choose to automatically log into the account on startup. Not a good idea, in my opinion.

This is the last entry screen in the installation process. You can now sit back and watch the propaganda slideshow while the installation takes place.


Loading installation

Image: JA Watson

The installation process took less than 10 minutes on this netbook, and the status bar at the bottom of the window kept me in the loop.


Complete installation

Image: JA Watson

When the installation is complete, you are prompted to restart or you can continue to work with the Live system.

Note the clock at the right end of the panel. It has been eight minutes since I booted up the Mint Live image and the installation is complete. (The time changed by two hours because the time zone was changed.)


Desktop Linux Mint 18.2 Xfce

Image: JA Watson

The system installed, operational. Make sure you click the Update Manager icon at the far right of the panel to get any updates released since the installation media was created.


Configure Mint Update Manager

Image: JA Watson

The first time you run Mint Update Manager, it will ask you to choose between a conservative, typical, and aggressive update selection. Most people should be happier with the “Let me check for sensitive updates” option.

That’s it: less than 10 minutes from start to finish. Life doesn’t get any easier than that, you don’t even have time for a good coffee break while the installation is running! So what are you waiting for?

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