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Background

I got locked out of Windows 8.1 on my Toshiba Laptop and had no backup. Resetting the laptop or rebuilding Windows not an option.

Luckily previously within Windows 8.1 disk manager I had divided my hard drive and created an extra partition. It was in anticipation of installing Linux as a dual boot optional OS at a later date. Also my data was not encrypted so I would be able to recover it.

Fate forces change

Having researched it prior I settled on a Linux Distribution. I chose Linux Mint 18 Mate. The main website is at LinuxMint.com. See DistroWatch for information on all major Distros. Such as Linux Mint at DistroWatch or the Top Ten Distributions

Useful Documents

If you are installing get a copy of the Mint Mate english_17.3.pdf Or other languages and formats of Mint Documentation there. Also the Ubuntu 16.04 install guide (amd or intel 64bit) is very helpful. Other language or 32 bit guides are available from help.ubuntu.com. There are many other install guides also on the internet. Here's is one helpful site Easy Linux tips project - mint-install. Reviews from DistroWatch also often show installs. Dedoimedo has a lot of good information and links to posts elsewhere, for example How to Replace Windows XP with Linux for Free is also an excellent resource.

Out of Windows into Linux

Modern Linux Distros like Mint 18 do work on systems UEFI and Secure Boot disks. Just turn off secure boot. I do not need secure boot anyway.

Using a borrowed notebook I downloaded Linux Mint 18 Mate iso, (64bit version) for my Laptop which has 64 bit Intel Dual core. Having no DVD or CD drive I downloaded Win32 Disk Imager and inserted a 4 GB USB stick.

I Formatted the USB with fat32 filesystem and burned the image on it. This makes a bootable Live Mint USB stick. This Mint version can run Live from the disk and then after booting can also be installed.

Prior to using the now ready USB disk I entered the my Laptop's Bios Setup program to turn off Secure Boot. Checked another setting for the boot sequence and set USB device to boot first. Afterward I made sure I would have Internet. Router on, check. My laptop's Wireless device would be what I would use to connect if Mint would set it up OK.

I plugged in the USB into my Toshiba C-55 Laptop. I had my doubts about the install since Toshiba is not known as a particularly Linux friendly brand. I was not sure how smoothly it would install if at all. Especially with Intel Graphics which I've never used before on a Linux system. But my fears were unfounded.

Booting the USB stick went flawlessly and right into the Mate desktop in little time. Everything worked including wireless. Without exploring the live OS long I was impressed. Next I chose to Install.

From here on you might wish to follow along using the Mint Mate 17.3 User Guide sections “Boot the Live DVD” and “Install”.

Installing Mint

Dual Boot, partitions

I chose Install alongside the other OS, the second option on the menu for Partition choices. Since I have Windows 8.1 on the Laptop and intend to recover the data and not erase it. I did not chose options to use the tools such as LVM or the other to set partition scheme myself. Even with some Linux knowledge I have those tools are advanced and are not something to guess at. One mistake could cost the data or worse. Especially with UEFI and Secure Boot disks. A mistake with the EFI boot partition could brick my Laptop.

Normally to plan partitioning I would draw a map by hand of my drive scheme by looking at the drives in Windows itself. Then use Gparted Live boot disk to partition it. But in this case I was not fully prepared. However since I had previously shrunk the Windows C: drive, divided and partitioned (but not formatted) it earlier in Windows I decided to trust the Mint Mate Installer would find the obvious choice. And it did.

The schema it will use is shown by Mint install just after that. An example of that is shown in the Mate User Guide as well as other sites. I could resize the partition(s) but I did not, since I already had done that previously in Windows 8.1.

Additional options

I chose the option to Encrypt my Home folder. It is more secure. The trade-off is you might not easily be able to recover you data if you store it there. But after this event of losing my login in the future I will be remembering to back up any data I do not want to lose.

I set my Keyboard and language US English. For choosing a name I just use something like joe don’t put your real name unless you have to in a corporate environment. I make up a username different from the 'Your Name" to avoid confusion. Thus privacy issues can be avoided such as seeing your name in file paths and links etc. The same holds true for the computer name.

Don't skip this step! Install 3rd party software and drivers

Following the User Guide you will see more options. I chose an important option - Install 3 party software for graphics hardware, media, etc. This is something you will want to do. Because it contains some needed drivers and all sorts of codecs, etc. you never will figure out later how to set up. I don’t like that it also has Java and Flash, but those may be useful and can be removed after install later if not needed

Settings - not to do

At some point during the install or at the first boot you will see some options for 'root login' option changes, or make 'root' password for it. On newer Linux systems like Mint 18 we don't use a root account to login as 'root' itself, nor set a root password for 'root' account. Those are handled by the system itself. Just use the default setting. Your superuser password (the user and password you made during install) when used will have the needed 'root' priviledges to administer the system. Even if you are logged in on that account it will prompt you to authenticate when needed. Similar to Windows. It is a safer system that was developed for security reasons.

At reboot, you will login with the username and password you made during install. You can administer the entire system from that account. Anything that requires superuser password to authorize will prompt you for your password with a GUI box.

More information about not do's can be found at Easy Linux tips project - Avoid 10 fatal mistakes in Linux Mint and Ubuntu.

Account security and autologin

The superuser account itself is fairly safe to use on a daily basis. You can option to use 'autologin'. Although personaly I don't use it. It is safer to make a less priviledged account later to autologin but its not big issue. Mint 18 is fairly secure without any changes from the very first login. Another reason to like it.

Post Install Tasks

FireWall up!

After install and first login I turn on the Gufw firewall (Menu, Control center, Firewall). It will block incoming by default. Later I can set rules as I like. See the pic.

Update Policy Level

Next set the Update Manager Policy use the shield icon on the menu bar then 'edit' update policy or menu, control center, update manager. I chose a policy of Level 3. (Optimize stability and security) It is what you will want for all practical purposes, since it gives a lot of updates and some newer software. Level 1 is the safest though. You could set that then later change it. Avoid Level 4 and 5. They may break your system. Better to wait to see if those updates get processed over time and reach Level 3 or less. If prompt asks if you wish to switch to local mirrors, just say no, and use the default mint and ubuntu servers to do your updates. They may have newer updates than the mirror servers. You can again change that later if you wish. After that the updates will be checked, downloaded and installed.

Reboot

Restart the system after those updates (Menu, Quit) and 'shutdown the system' options window will show. Choose restart.

Menu workspace list annoyance fix

Now to fix the one annoyance I found I set my menu window list to avoid hiding some windows. Its hard to find the place to right-click to get to the settings but it is the rough spot on the menu bar between firefox or your last menu item and the space where any open program windows gets placed. Set preferences. Then you see another small window list preferences. See the pic. I do this because at one time I had about 20 windows open and didn't know it. Apparent the icons stack in the other workspace. I guess every desktop has its quirks. So do I. I do not like alternate workspaces.

Driver Manager

Get to Driver Manager via Control Center. It will show any proprietary drivers available. In my case only Intel Microcode. In your case you might have AMD or nVidia Graphics. This is where you can install the proprietary driver if available or wanted. Otherwise you just continue to use the driver it is currently using.

Possible problems

There are some things you have to be aware of. Like the some graphics drivers may not work. That could mean getting a black screen at reboot. In that case you would have to restart the system and option at the boot manager screen (grub) chose boot with special options such as nomodeset. I have not had the problem myself though. Check the Manuals. Internet search gets results like these - What does nomodeset do and Linux Mint with radeon.modeset=0. That should point toward the solution. Ask at the Mint Forum also.

File Browser settings

The file browser is called Caja. Its the like windows explorer with a lot more settings. Open your home folder on the desktop or use the menu bar icon to launch it. Its settings can be changed from its menu, Edit, Preferences. Or from each folder view. Some settings I change - Change to List View, Treeview. Also sometimes to "show hidden files and backup files" or folders. Due to complexities of the Linux system I do not set it here to make those visible and suggest you do not also. I can selectively do so when browsing any folder via its menu, View, 'Show hidden files' checkmark. There are a lot of system files you don't want to touch. Doing so can easily wreck your system. See the pics.

How to get to drives like Disks, CD, DVD

From the Desktop, Home folder. Or double-click Computer icon. Or menu, accessories, Disks or via menu, Control Center, Disks to examine drive details. In Linux you mount and umount Disks to use them. Very easy just double-click or mount, unmount in Caja file browser. You can also mount .iso's right from your files and use them like a drive. Such as downloaded iso's etc. Very Handy.

How I recovered files from my Windows 8.1 drive

Just opened Home, select Devices, drive name. Its mounted. Then simply browse. Double-click to unmount when done. I could have done this actually from the Live Mint disk, instead of installing then copied the files off to a USB drive, internet, etc.

Installing Software

Just use menu, Software Manager. Authenticate password then you see all the categories of available software. Featured software is best and then other categories. Software that is installed already has a checkmark on it's icon. Double-click icon to get to view page about it, and then you can install or not from there. See the pic. For example Wine. I installed it soon after I got Mint up and running. There's more about software in the manual and internert. Just remember use the Software manager first and foremost to avoid problems.

Wrapping up

This is the end of the tutorial. I think I have shown enough to get you up and running with Linux Mint 18 Mate. Good Luck!

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Click to show larger images

Choosing Install type

Mint Installer proposed partitioning

My Drive scheme after installation

Option to add 3rd party software, hardware, media - Yes. Do it!

Install superuser Who are you?

Mint authenticate

Gufw Firewall On

Update Manager preferences

Update Manager Optimize

Finding the Mint menu window list

My window list settings

Driver Manager icon in Control Center

Driver Manager drivers example

Caja Treeview

Caja show hidden

My Windows 8.1 drive files mounted

Mint Featured Software - Wine

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