How to install Linux Mint on your XP PC

How to install Linux Mint on your XP PC

Summary: Installing Linux Mint on an XP PC is something any Windows power user can do.


Installing Linux Mint on a Windows 8.x PC with Secure Boot on can be a pain, but on an XP system it's easy. So, if you're considering switching out XP for Linux Mint, here's how you'd go about it.

Trying Mint:

Yumi is a handy Windows program for setting up USB pendrives for running and installing Linux.

First, if you don't already have them, you'll need to download a program to burn ISO images to a CD/DVD disc. Many programs can do this, but I recommend freeware the programs ImgBurn and PowerISO 5.9. To use PowerISO for installing Linux, you'll need to register it for $29.95.

If your PC can boot from a USB drive, you should get a program that will let you run and install Linux from a USB drive. My particular favorite for this job is Yumi for Windows. Other worthwhile choices are LinuxLive USB Creator and UNetbootin. All of these programs are free.

Given a choice between a DVD disc and a USB stick, I'd go with the USB option. Mint, and any other operating system, will install and run much faster from it.

Windows XP and Linux Mint: Brothers at the interface (Gallery)

Once you have a burning program, you'll need to download a copy of Linux Mint. You'll find more than half-a-dozen different versions, but the one you want is the first one listed: Cinnamon. If you have a 64-bit PC, download the 64-bit edition. Not sure? Just download the 32-bit version, it runs on both 32 and 64-bit computers.

When you get to the Mint download page, you'll see a selection of download mirrors. Pick the one that's closest to your location and start your download. In the top section, entitled "Information about this edition," you can also choose to get a copy of Mint via BitTorrent. The ISO image file you'll be downloading is about 1.2GB in size, so if you have a slow Internet connection, you might as well get some lunch while waiting for it to arrive.

Once you have the file in hand, use your burning program to burn the ISO image to your disc or USB stick. If you're using a DVD—Mint's too big to fit on a CD—use the program to check your newly burned disc for errors. As the years have gone by, I've found that more problems with running Linux and installing Linux from DVDs have come from bad discs than all other causes combined.

Next, place your disc or USB stick into your PC and reboot. Do not simply let it reboot. You're going to want to stop it during the boot-up process and get to the BIOS. What method your PC uses to do this varies. Look for a message as the machine starts up that tells which key or keys you'll need to press in order to get to the BIOS. Likely candidates are a function key or the Esc or Delete keys. If you don't spot it the first time, don't sweat it. Just reboot and try again.

After you get to the BIOS, look for a menu choice labeled Boot, Boot Options, or Boot Order. If you don't see anything with the word "boot" in it, check other other menu options such as Advanced Options, Advanced BIOS Features, or Other Options. Once you find it, set the boot order so that instead of booting from the hard drive first, you boot from either the CD/DVD drive or from a USB drive.

That done, insert your DVD or USB stick and reboot. Then, select Start Linux Mint from the first menu you see. Your machine should soon be running Linux. In this mode, you haven't installed anything on your PC yet. Use this opportunity to play with Mint to see if you like it at all.

Using a DVD drive it will run slowly, but it will run quickly enough to give you an idea what it's like to use Mint. With a USB stick, it will run fast enough to give you a much better notion of what working with Mint is like. Indeed, some people carry Linux with them on USB sticks and use that as their walk-around operating system for hotel, conference, and library PCs.

Installing Mint

Like what you've seen so far? Then you're ready to install Mint. First, make a complete backup of your XP system. Installing Linux in the way I'm going to describe shouldn't hurt your XP setup in the least, but why take any chances?

Next make sure your PC is connected to power—you do not want to run out of battery power during an operating system install!--and that you have an Internet connection and at least 7.8GBs of free drive space.

That done, reboot into Linux again. Once you have the Mint display up, one of your icon choices on the left will be to install Mint. Double-click it and you'll be on your way.

You'll need to walk your way through several menu choices. Most of these decisions will be easy. For example, the language do you want Mint to be installed in and the time zone are you in. The one critical choice will be how to partition your hard drive.

Partitioning a hard drive can become very complicated, but fortunately, there's an easy choice that will let you dual-boot both XP and Mint. Simply pick the first option on the Installation Type menu: Install Linux Mint alongside them.

This procedure will install Linux Mint next to your existing XP system and leave it totally untouched. When I do this, I usually give half the drive, or half the remaining drive space to Mint.You'll be asked to choose which operating system you want do boot by default.  No matter which one you pick, you will also have a few seconds to decide to boot into the other operating system. 

You will also be required to give your system a name, pick out a user-name for yourself, and come up with a password. You can also choose to encrypt your home directory to keep files relatively say from prying eyes.

Once the entire installation process is done, you can choose to boot into Linux Mint. The first thing you'll want to do after that is to update your system to the latest software. Unlike Windows, when you update Mint, you'll be updating not just your operating system but all the other programs you've installed on your system. To do this, click on the shield icon in the menu bar. By default, the bar will be on the bottom part of the screen and the icon will be on the right. It will then prompt you for your password and then ask if you really want to update your system. Say, yes, and you'll be ready to give your brand new Mint system a real try out.


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Topics: Enterprise Software, Linux, PCs, Windows

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  • How to install Linux Mint on your XP PC

    Free as in Freedom.

    Life is good.
    • RickLively: "Free as in Freedom."

      No, free as in free beer. Linux Mint ships with Adobe's Flash Player, which is proprietary software. You're confusing it with a default Debian or gNewSense install.

      Am not saying that free beer is bad. Most Windows XP users will appreciate running an operating system where Flash Player and Java (in this case, the OpenJDK JRE and IcedTea) are not under near constant attack.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • One is free to install Mint and Cinnamon with No codecs

        "A version without multimedia support. For magazines, companies and distributors in the USA, Japan and countries where the legislation allows patents to apply to software and distribution of restricted technologies may require the acquisition of 3rd party licenses*."
        • Codecs: libdvdcss, etc.

          With Debian, one must add the unofficial repository to install these codecs.

          I'm talking about Adobe Flash Player which is included in Debian's non-free repository.
          Rabid Howler Monkey
        • it is funny

          how linux fans are predicting the end of microsoft from 2 decades.. and yet microsoft is growing every year, but linux cant break the 2 % market share.. and will never do, because linux is for browsing and servers only..

          Search in google and si how windows phone for example makes 4M Downloads Daily, The Windows Store Has Grown 135% Since October. It is second major player on many markets in Europe and Asia, and will be in America soon. Where are the haters who predicted the crash ?!
          • It's actually a really simple perspective problem...

            See, it works like this.

            Some Linux fans don't merely dislike Microsoft - they have a near pathological hatred of the company and all things they make.

            Some non-Linux types, use Windows XP for various reasons like cost of upgrade, proprietary software, etc. They can't upgrade.

            Some Windows users don't like Windows and would rather use something else.

            The Linux fanatics stitch this together as "since some Windows users are like us, and don't like Windows and since obviously WinXP people either don't like Windows enough to upgrade - or dislike it because they can't upgrade... clearly, ALL WinXP users really want to upgrade to something else.. and since they're frugal - Linux solves all their problems. Ergo - everyone who is running WinXP will switch to Linux!!!"
      • @RHM

        Careful RHM, never be complacent with AFP and Java irrespective of OS.

        As a side point I'd recommend to XP user to try KDE as they will probably find it easier to transition to. But hey I'm a biased KDE user.
        Alan Smithie
        • Alan Smithie: "never be complacent with AFP and Java"

          It's rather hard to be complacent with Adobe's Flash Player (AFP) and OpenJDK (including IcedTea) on GNU/Linux. That's because all the top distros manage both AFP and Java updates with the distros update manager. That leaves one at risk to AFP and Java zero-days.

          Whereas, with Windows 8, Adobe Flash Player for Internet Explorer is updated by Microsoft. However, if one chooses to use Firefox, as an example, on Windows 8, the users remains responsible for installing Adobe Flash Player for Firefox as well as keeping it updated.

          Oracle's proprietary Java is also the responsibility of the user to keep updated across all Windows versions. Whereas, with GNU/Linux, one only has to deal with Java updates if they use Oracle's proprietary Java either in addition to or in lieu of open source OpenJDK and IcedTea.
          Rabid Howler Monkey
  • typeographic error in next to last paragraph

    "...files relatively say from prying eyes".

    "say" should be "safe".

    Looks almost like a spelling corrector picked the wrong word..
  • How to install Linux Mint on your XP PC

    That is a lot of steps just to wipe a working system (Microsoft Windows XP) and install a half-arsed system (linux). I have better things to do with my time than spending all day downloading isos and burning them then fight with the linux installer. Its easier to just keep Microsoft Windows XP or upgrade to Microsoft Windows 8. Linux will not run your Microsoft Windows based applications, will require you to tinker with it every day by tweaking config files, compiling the kernel, and downloading patches daily. Too much maintenance for the user. It just wouldn't make any sense to install linux on a Microsoft Windows XP machine.
    • Correction

      "That is a lot of steps just to wipe a half-arsed system that is no longer supported (Microsoft Windows XP) and install a fully working system (Linux)...". There, I fixed that for you!
      • Correction to your correction

        No you didn't fix it. Tee hee hee.
        • spending all day downloading isos and burning them

          Still on dial up?
        • What's the matter?

          Afraid your NSA backdoors will get closed?

          No one wants their OS spying on them.
    • Your funny

      Its funny, albeit sad that you think making up lies and constantly trolling zdnet is a better use of your time than acctually trying out Linux (a quick and easy experience) and being enlightened by the experience.
      • Funny and truthful

        Tell me where I lied. See, you can't.
        • When

          Your first post
        • your standard lies are:

          "... will require you to tinker with it every day by tweaking config files, compiling the kernel, and downloading patches daily."

          Right there.
          • the daily patch story

            Isn't actually very far from reality and you know it. Even on server systems with minimal number of libraries and programs and no GUI whatsoever.
          • Not really, not anymore.

            But I don't find that I've had to patch less than Windows. I find it about the same. Where linux has a distinct advantage is that you don't have to reboot as often (almost never). That's a huge advantage for a server.

            I have never re-compiled the OS, never.

            Tweaking config files. Yes I've had to do that and have had to do it recently. I agree that linux still requires a significant amount of technical expertise if you do anything slightly outside the box. But it has come a long way. Windows is much more forgiving that way. That said, on a laptop you are probably golden with Linux.

            I still prefer windows.