Linux Mint is a distro focused on ease of use and traditional desktop layout.
This guide focuses on the Cinnamon version but its generally the same instructions for MATE and XFCE versions.
Most of this guide can be handled by graphical tools, especially if users follow the prompts that Linux Mint provides.
Why Choose Linux Mint?
With the many Linux distributions available, it can be difficult to decide which distro is the right one to use. Ultimately, the choice depends on user preferences, software requirements, and hardware compatibility.
Linux Mint offers three flavors based on different desktop environments: Cinnamon, MATE, and XFCE. They all offer similar experiences with a traditional Windows-esque setup. There is a taskbar along the bottom, an application menu at the bottom left, and system tray at the bottom right.
While Cinnamon is the most feature complete version, MATE and XFCE offer similar functionality while using fewer system resources. That translates into a better performance for older computers and improved battery life on laptops.
Since Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu which is built on Debian, it has access to LOTS of software. Nearly any Linux compatible program should be available. Flatpak support is also baked in which further expands the software library.
The Linux Mint team focuses heavily on user experience. The team has built several apps such as Web Apps and Warpinator to make Linux easier. The software manager is intuitive for installing new programs.
Linux Mint 21.1 is the most current and stable release as of December 20, 2022.
Update Manager is a graphical tool for updating the system. Search for it from the app menu (press Super key and type Update Manager). Click Install Updates.
You can also update via the command line. Open a Terminal and copy/paste.
sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade
If third party or proprietary drivers are required for your system, they can be installed from Driver Manager. Search for it from the app menu. Follow the prompts.
Enable Multimedia Codecs
During installation, Linux Mint prompts for third party codecs. These codecs allow the system to play music and videos. If they were not included in the installation, they can still be added later.
Search Software Manager for “Multimedia Codecs” and choose the above package. It can also be installed in the Terminal.
sudo apt install mint-meta-codecs
Display Battery Percentage
If you’re on a laptop, you’ll probably want to see battery stats.
To view battery percentage, time left, or both, locate the battery icon at the bottom right, by the clock.
Right click, choose Configure, then select your preferred option from the Display drop down menu.
As is typical in Linux, software is installed from a software store or manager. In Linux Mint, it is Software Manager.
Programs are divided into common categories with a search function available.
After searching for a title, choose the source for the program. In Linux Mint, DEB and Flatpak packages are displayed side by side in the Software Manager. Notice at the bottom left for each package, the source is labelled as LM Package or Flathub.
Alternatively, when the application is selected, there is another place to choose the installation source. Here its displayed as System Package or Flatpak (Flathub). Note that the sources may have different versions available.
Install via Terminal
Installing software from Software Manager is fine but sometimes using a command line can be quicker. A short list of popular software is included. Some of these are available exclusively as Flatpaks.
Bitwarden is a free password syncing utility. Note: the Flatpak is not an official release.
flatpak install flathub com.bitwarden.desktop
GIMP is the Graphic Image Manipulation Program, an open source Photoshop competitor.
sudo apt install gimp
Microsoft TrueType fonts includes many popular Microsoft fonts and can improve compatibility with Microsoft Office produced files.
sudo apt install ttf-mscorefonts-installer
Simplenote is a basic free cross platform note taking application.
flatpak install flathub com.simplenote.Simplenote
Spotify is the ridiculously popular music streaming service.
sudo apt install spotify-client
Steam is a popular place to download games for Linux.
sudo apt install steam-installer
QBittorrent is my favorite torrent tool but there are many options including Transmission, KTorrent, Deluge. Transmission is installed by default.
sudo apt install qbittorrent
Visual Studio Code is a lightweight source code editor.
flatpak install flathub com.visualstudio.code
VLC is an immensely popular media player that can play virtually anything. Celluloid is included by default to play videos.
sudo apt install vlc
Firefox is the de facto standard browser across Linux. The Mozilla team that produces Firefox strives to maintain a standards compliant, free and open source means of accessing the Internet. There are several other choices that may work better for particular users.
Google Chrome is the most popular browser. It is based on the open source Chromium with added Google bits. A Flatpak version is available but this command installs the DEB version directly from Google.
sudo apt install ./google-chrome-stable_current_amd64.deb
Vivaldi is yet another Chromium based browser with its own sync tool and tweaks.
Microsoft Edge originally used a Microsoft built engine but its now based on Chromium. Edge is still in development for Linux so some features may be lacking. I noticed progressive web apps don’t seem to work. Microsoft Edge Beta is also available.