How to replace Windows 7 with Linux Mint?

When the time comes, you will have the choice: either you run it without being sure to get the essential security patches (that would be really stupid), or you pay the Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) per device, the price increases every year. We do not know what the cost will be, but we can assume that it will not be cheap. Otherwise, you can also migrate to Windows 10. For now, you can still upgrade to Windows 10 for free from Windows 7.

That said, Windows 10 came out in July 2015. If you have not done the upgrade yet, I’m sure you do not want anything from Windows 10.

For my part, I really appreciate Windows 10. Yes, really. Well, that was the case when he came out the very first time. My appreciation then decreased with each failed update of Windows 10. Take the infamous Windows 10 update in October 2018, aka version 1809. When it was released, it deleted user files, sometimes failed to unzip files compressed and could fail to open files on network drives.

Quality assurance, What is that?

It was not until last January, three months later, that Windows 10 October 2018 was finally deployed automatically for users. It is therefore quite possible that you are not very inclined to “upgrade” to Windows 10 for now. In this case, I have another suggestion: Linux Mint.

Pros and Cons of a Linux Desktop System

Suppose you need Microsoft Office. Is. In this case, run Office Online. Indeed, welcome to 2019, where you do not need to be on Windows to run “Windows” programs.

For all your other desktop software needs, there is usually a free open source program that can do as well. For example, Gimp instead of Photoshop, Evolution instead of Outlook or LibreOffice for the full Microsoft Office suite.

That said, there are programs that you can not replace under Linux. If I made videos, for example, I would use Corel’s Pinnacle Studio, which only runs on Windows. If you are dependent on such a program, you will need to upgrade to Windows 10.

In addition, the Linux desktop system tends to be much more secure than Windows. Yes, you may have problems, but it’s not like Windows where it’s important to have an antivirus program.

Preparing to install Mint on your Windows PC

There are many good Linux desktop systems and I have used a lot of them. I recommend Mint, but you can also consider openSUSE, Manjaro, Debian and Fedora, among others. I have a very good reason to think that Mint is good for Windows 7 users. Mint’s default Cinnamon interface looks a lot like the Aero interface of Windows 7 and works almost the same. There is certainly a learning curve, but it has nothing to do with the one you will encounter if you upgrade to Windows 10 or macOS.

Another benefit Mint share with other Linux distributions is its lightweight on your system. Mint can run on any Windows 7 PC. All that Linux Mint needs to run is an x86 processor, 1 GB of RAM (although you will be more comfortable with 2 GB), 15 GB disk space, a graphics card that can accept a resolution of 1024×768 and a CD / DVD drive or USB port. That’s all.

Like other Linux desktop systems, Mint will not cost you a single penny. You do not have to commit yourself either. You can try it first and, if you do not like it, just reboot to get back to Windows. It’s as simple as that.

You are ready? Let’s go!

After downloading the ISO file, which is about 2 GB, you have to burn it to a USB stick or DVD. I recommend the use of a USB key because it is easier to test. Running from a DVD can be quite slow.

If you do not have an ISO burning program, download one. I recommend free software ImgBurn (for optical drives) and Yumi for Windows (for USB drives). Other good choices are the LinuxLive USB Creator and UNetbootin. These are all free programs.

Once you have installed the burning program and you have the latest Linux Mint ISO file, burn the ISO image to your DVD or USB key. If you are using a DVD (Mint is too large to fit on a CD), check that your newly burned disc has no errors. Over the years, I have had more problems running and installing Linux from failed drives than all other causes combined.

It is better to use a USB stick with persistent storage. You can store your programs and files on the key. In this way, you can take Mint with you and use it as a nomadic operating system for a PC in a hotel, conference or library. I found this very handy and there is always at least one Linux key in my laptop bag.

Then reboot your system, but stop the boot process before Windows appears. Access the UEFI or BIOS settings of your PC. The process varies depending on your system.

When you start your computer, a message indicates which key (s) you must press to access the BIOS or UEFI. You can also search on Google for your specific PC or PC brand and “UEFI”. If your PC is older, look for your computer brand and “BIOS.” For example, on Dell PCs, you press the F2 key to access the system configuration. On HP, you press the spacebar every second. On Lenovo systems, you must press the (Fn +) F2 or (Fn +) F1 key 5 to 10 times after pressing the power key to access the system configuration.

Once you have accessed the BIOS or UEFI, look for a menu option labeled “Boot”, “Boot Options” or “Boot Order”. If you do not see anything with the word “boot”, check other menu choices such as “Advanced Options”, “Advanced BIOS Features” or “Other Options”. When you have found it, set the boot order so that instead of booting from the hard drive, you boot from the CD / DVD drive or a USB flash drive.

Once your PC is set to boot from the alternative drive, insert your DVD or USB flash drive and reboot. Then select “Start Linux Mint” in the first menu. A minute or so later, you will be running Linux Mint.

Experiment with it for a few days if you want it. Windows is still here. Every time you restart without the DVD or USB key, it will come back directly. Do you like what you see of Mint? So install Mint on your PC.

Installing Linux Mint

Like any serious upgrade, you will start by making a full backup of your Windows system. Installing Linux according to my instructions should not hurt your Windows installation, but why take risks?

Previously, installing Linux on Windows PCs with UEFI and Secure Boot was very painful. It can still be tedious, but Ubuntu and Mint have made starting and installing with the Secure Boot system no problem. All preintegrated binaries that are to be loaded as part of the boot process, with the exception of the init image, are signed by the Canonical UEFI certificate, which is implicitly trusted by being integrated with the Microsoft signed shim loader.

If, for one reason or another, you can not install Mint with Secure Boot on your PC, you can still disable Secure Boot. There are many ways to disable Secure Boot. All involve accessing the UEFI Control Panel during the boot process and disabling it.

Now let’s move on to the actual installation. Make sure your laptop, if any, is plugged into the AC outlet. The last thing you want is to have no battery while installing an operating system! You will also need an internet connection and about 8 GB of free disk space.

Then restart on Linux again. Once the Mint screen appears, one of the icons on the left suggests you install Mint. Double click on it to start the installation.

You will then have to navigate through several menu choices. Most of these decisions will be easy to make; for example, the language you want Mint to use and your time zone. The only crucial choice will be how to partition your hard drive.

Partitioning a hard drive can be difficult, but not necessarily for our purposes. We will configure your PC so that you can have a dual boot Windows and Mint. To do this with the partition command, simply select the first option in the installation type menu: “Install Linux Mint alongside them”.

This procedure will install Linux Mint next to your existing Windows system leaving it totally intact. When I do that, I usually allocate half of the remaining disk space on my PC to Mint. You will be asked to choose the operating system that you want to start by default. Whichever you choose, you will have a few seconds to switch to the other operating system.

You will also need to give your system a name and choose a username and password. You can also choose to encrypt your home directory to protect your files from prying eyes. However, an encrypted home directory slows down the systems. Even if it seems counterintuitive, it is faster to encrypt the entire disk once Mint is operational.

The Mint 19.1 setup menu allows you to automatically run multiple processes. This is to set up a snapshot of the system with Timeshift. In this way, if something goes wrong later, you can restore your system files and return to a working system. I highly recommend it. While you’re there, schedule a regular Timeshift run.

Then you can ask him to check if your computer needs additional drivers. I advise you, before installing proprietary multimedia codecs such as drivers to watch DVDs. It’s also a good idea.

Also configure your system update to the latest software version. Unlike Windows, when you update Mint, you update not only your operating system, but all of your other programs such as the web browser, the office suite, and any other programs that you later install. from the Mint Software Manager.

To do this manually, click on the shield icon in the menu bar. By default, you will find it in the menu bar at the bottom of the screen and the icon will be on the right. After clicking, you will need to enter your password and confirm that you really want to update your system. Confirm and you can then take full advantage of your new Mint system.

The installation routine also allows you to view system settings and find new programs with the software manager, but since you are probably a new user, you can ignore them for now.

That’s all there is to it. I have installed Linux hundreds of times; I usually need about an hour between the start of my download (benefits of a 400 Mbit / s internet connection) and the personalization of my new PC under Mint. If you’ve never done it before, give yourself half a day.

Even though Windows 7 will still be missing in the beginning, I think you’ll quickly appreciate all that Mint can do for you.