Fed up with Windows, add Linux to your PC…

If you are tired of the slowness of Windows and viruses attacking your web life, install a version of Linux “alongside” your Windows system. Its free, simple and when you boot up your PC, you will have a choice of which system to use.

And, you can try Linux before you actually install it on your computer…

Note # 1: Although this is a long (or long-winded) post, it will only take about 15 to 20 minutes to install Linux alongside Windows, depending upon your computer’s speed and the speed of your internet connection. Click here. to skip the “Bla-bla” and get to the step-by-step installation section.

Note # 2: If you just wish to install a small, fast version of Linux for testing and emergency purposes, install “Peppermint 2.6”

Note # 3: If you have a old PC lying around, you can install Linux on it. The best option then would be to install Linux using the “whole hard disk” instead of installing it “alongside”.

Doing the following will not alter your computer in any way.

How to “try” Linux without actually installing it on your computer:

  • Download and save a copy of a Linux version (aka: Linux Distribution) to your Windows PC.
  • Burn this downloaded file to a DVD.
  • Insert the new DVD into to your DVD drive & reboot your computer – this will launch the Linux operating system from the DVD.
  • Your PC will now be, temporarily, a Linux PC!
  • Click on the ‘Menu’ icon, at the bottom left on the Linux desktop, to see the programs available to you.

Notes:

  • Because the Linux operating system is ‘living’ on the DVD (and not on your hard drive), you will find it to be slow. When you test Linux this way, it is to evaluate it’s desktop and programs – not it’s speed.
  • If your PC is not connected to the internet by a wire, you will need to set up a ‘wireless connection’ to surf the net. If your PC has a ‘wired connection’ to the internet, Linux will automatically connect.
  • To create a ‘wireless connection’, just click on the proper icon, at the bottom right on the Linux desktop, and create a ‘wireless connection’ – you’ll need you internet password.
  • To go back to a Windows PC, remove the Linux DVD and reboot.

 

Installing Linux “alongside” Windows means that, from that point forward, when you start up your PC, you will be presented with a menu from which you can choose to start your computer in either Linux or Windows – this is called a “dual-boot” system menu. You may select which operating system will start by default, if you do not manually select either.

Here is a non-technical overview of what happens when you install Linux “alongside” Windows:

The Linux install program will search your hard disk to see if any other operating systems are already installed and if there is sufficient disk space to install Linux. The disk space required for Linux is very small, about 4 GB to 9 GB. Don’t worry about this as the install program will figure it all out and will tell you if Linux can, or can’t, be installed.

Assuming that there is sufficient free space to install Linux, the install program will create “partitions” for the Linux operating system and the swap file on your computer’s hard disk. Partitions are segments of the hard disk reserved for use by a particular operating system. Before your install Linux, your hard disk will have at least one partition: the Windows partition known to you, generally, as c:\. If you have more partitions, you will know them as d:\, e:\ etc.

Linux can use (that is, access) any and all partitions on your hard disk, whereas Windows is limited to only the “Windows” partitions. This means that all your data on your Windows partitions is available to you when you start your computer by choosing Linux from the dual-boot start-up menu.

The Linux install program will safely “shrink” existing partitions to allow the Linux operating system partition (called the “\root partition”) and the Linux swap partition (called the “Swap partition”) to be created.

So, after you install Linux, you will have all the partitions that you had for Windows, plus two more.

If the Linux install program cannot safely do this – IT WILL TELL YOU! Just cancel out of the Linux install program and forget about installing Linux on your PC.

Before I explain how to install Linux “alongside” Windows, I think that I should explain what is involved to un-install Linux and put your computer back to a “single-boot”, Windows only system.

You really do not need to UN-install Linux, as it will take very little space. Personally, I’d just leave there and use it if ever you Windows system crashes or becomes inoperable due to viruses or Trojans, which has been know to happen. 🙂

If you must remove it, you’ll need to:

  • Remove the Linux partitions.
  • Re-allocate the free space back to the Windows system.
  • Re-set the computer to start up only in Windows.

None of this is difficult but you must do it correctly.

An excellent tutorial explaining how this can be done, for a Windows 7 system, may be found here.

Again, I recommend that you just leave Linux on your PC in case Windows screws up – at least you will be able to surf the net in search of solutions to your Windows problems!

Which version (aka: Distribution) of Linux to install?

Linux comes in many different versions known as “Distributions”.  Each distribution contains the same basic Linux core operating system but have a different mixture of additional programs included. Some distributions are packaged to be very “Windows-like”, while some are packaged for “speed”. The most popular distribution is “Linux Mint” and it is very Windows-like. The “Peppermint” distribution is designed to be very small and very fast. There are many other versions and you can read about all of them at the DistroWatch web site.

We will concern ourselves with “Linux Mint” & “Peppermint”. Both are very similar to install. If you want to just try Linux and leave it on your PC for “emergency purposes”, install “Peppermint”. If you think that you would like to use Linux more often, and maybe even stop using Windows often at all, install “Linux Mint”.

Both distributions contain a “Software manager”, within their menu system, which allows you to add more programs or delete ones that you do not wish to have. There are thousands of free programs available to you.

Doing the following will alter your computer.

How to install Linux “alongside” Windows on your computer:

For both Peppermint and Linux Mint, there will come a time in the install process where you will need to “confirm” that you wish to make permanent changes to your system by installing Linux – this will be the last point at which you can “abort” the process. If you select “continue”, Linux will be installed on you PC.

Just a word for the “faint-hearted” among you: My PC has Windows 7, Linux Mint and Peppermint installed on it. I have gone through the process of installing Linux alongside Windows on about 25 PC’s and have never had a single problem – it has always “just worked”.

Installing “Peppermint 2.6”:

  • Recommended Requires:
    • 512 MB of RAM
    • Processor based on Intel x86 architecture
    • At least 4 GB of available disk space
  • Click here to go to the “Peppermint 2.6”  “User’s Guide” and browse through the topics.
  • Download:
    • Click here to download the 32 Bit version, or,
    • Click here to download the 64 Bit version, or,
    • If unsure, just download the 32 Bit version as it works fine on any computer.
  • Burn this downloaded file to a DVD.
  • Insert the new DVD into to your DVD drive & reboot your computer.
  • Select ” Install Peppermint OS ” from the menu.
  • The install will commence – just enter the info requested as you go along:
    • check off the box for “Download updates while installing” if you are connected to the internet
    • check of the box for ” Install this third-party software”
    • Just accept any and all further ‘defaults’.
  • Eventually it will finish and ask you to restart your computer – do so.
  • When the computer restarts, you will see the start up menu – Linux will be at the top of the list with Windows somewhere below. Arrow down to the Windows entry and press the ‘enter’ key – Windows will start!
  • Restart you computer and do nothing – Linux will start!
  • Read below to change the start up order so that Windows will start if you do nothing.

 

Installing “Linux Mint 17.1 Rebecca”:

  •  Recommended Requires:
    • 512 MB of RAM – 1 GB recommended
    • Processor based on Intel x86 architecture
    • At least 9 GB of available disk space – 20 GB recommended
  • Click here to go view the “Linux Mint”  “User’s Guide” including screen shots of the installation process.
  • Download from a “download mirror” near you:
    • Click here to download the 32 Bit version, or,
    • Click here to download the 64 Bit version, or,
    • If unsure, just download the 32 Bit version as it works fine on any computer.
  • Burn this downloaded file to a DVD.
  • Insert the new DVD into to your DVD drive & reboot your computer.
  • Wait for the “Linux Mint” desktop to appear and then click on the “Install Linux Mint” icon.
  • The install will commence – just enter the info requested as you go along:
    • Just accept any and all further ‘defaults’.
  • Eventually it will finish and ask you to restart your computer – do so.
  • When the computer restarts, you will see the start up menu – Linux will be at the top of the list with Windows somewhere below. Arrow down to the Windows entry and press the ‘enter’ key – Windows will start!
  • Restart you computer and do nothing – Linux will start!
  • Read below to change the start up order so that Windows will start if you do nothing.

 

How to change the start up menu to automatically start Windows, unless you purposely select Linux:

These instructions will work for either “Peppermint” or “Linux Mint” and will install a program called “Grub Customizer” in to your Linux system.

Once installed, you will use it to change the start up menu that appears when you start (aka: “power up”, “power on”,”boot”) your computer. You will set the “default” operating system (Windows or Linux) that will start on your computer, automatically. To start you computer in the other operating system, you must manually select it from the menu.

You will need to use the “Terminal” to do this – it is not difficult. The “Terminal” is a place where you type in specific commands to do something – it is like the ‘Command Window” in Windows.

  • To open the “Terminal”, click Menu, then click “Terminal” – a window will open on your desktop. This is called, believe it or not, a “terminal window” and will look something like this:
  • Terminal
  • Copy the following (without the quotes)and paste it into the terminal next to the “$” sign:  sudo add-apt-repository ppa:danielrichter2007/grub-customizer && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install grub-customizer
  • It should look something like this:
  • terminal2
  • Press the enter key and you will be asked for your Linux password – type it in and press enter again. From then on, just press the enter key in response to any question.
  • Once the install process for “Grub Customizer” has copleted, just close the terminal window as you will not need it again.

To use “Grub Customizer” to set Windows as the default operating system that will launch when you start your computer, do this:

  • Click the main “Menu” icon (lower left on desktop)
  • Click on “All applications”, scroll down to “Grub Customizer” and click on it, enter your Linux password – this will launch the program and you will see something like this:
  • grub1
  • Yours will be different from the image above but that is not important.
  • All that you need to do is move the menu entry for your Windows system to the top of the list and then click “Save”.
  • To move the Windows entry, click on it then click the “up” arrow until the Windows entry is a the top of the list – then click “Save”.
  • grub2
  • After you finish, the Windows entry should be at the top of the list as shown below – click “Save”
  • grub3
  • Close the “Grub Customizer” window and restart your computer – Windows will launch by default.
  • From now on, if you want to start your PC in Linux, you must manually select it on the dual-boot start up menu.

Up-dating your Linux system:

Linux does not automatically update itself – you must tell it to update. The reason for this is that “Linux Guru’s” want complete control over what happens to their Linux system – you, and I, could care less.

To update your Linux system, just click on the “shield” icon at the lower right of your desktop:

update

You will see something like the following. The first time you do an update, the list will be very large and will take a while to process but there after, it will be short and fast to process. You must click “Install Updates” and you will need to enter your Linux password to launch the process. Sometimes the process will halt and you must press the enter key to ‘accept’ some changes – unless you are one of those “Linux Guru’s”, just ‘accept’ whatever:

update2

From time to time the “shield” icon will look like this, with a “!” in the middle – this means that it is time to do an update again.:

shield

That’s it! You can go back to your life now.

 

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