Linux Mint setup and configuration – Part one

How I setup and configure a new Linux desktop/laptop OS build, step by step from downloading the .iso through daily use.

This is more for me than for you, to assist me is remembering… :)

Linux Mint version 13 should be out this weekend, and I am writing these instructions with Linux Mint 12, as I do the installation. After I complete this (or maybe in the middle, depending on if I finish this weekend or next week on writing this up) I will update it with Mint 13 notes if anything changes (Mint 13 release could also be delayed… you never know).

Part One

Installation

  1. Let’s start by downloading the Linux Mint DVD
    • I am using the standard Mint install, not Cinnamon nor any other flavor.
  2. After the download completes, burn the disk at a minimal speed
    • For DVDs I always use 8x to burn, a slower speed gives a successful issue free disc more often than high speeds will, not saying that burning at high speeds causes issues, but issues are more common when doing so, and with an OS install you want as few issues on teh disc as possible!
    • Since most of my systems are Mint based now, I used Brassero to burn the DVD, it auto detected that the .iso file was a disc image and did not try to burn it as a data disc with one file, thankfully.
    • I like to do a pre-burn test as well
  3. Boot the DVD to the Live Desktop
  4. Connect to your wifi if you are using wifi
  5. Open Gparted from the application menu
    • Configure your hard drive partitions
      1. Set the partition table to GPT
        • Under the advanced button when selecting new partition table
      2. Create a 48MB partition
        • Set 1MB preceding
        • Align the partition the MB
        • Set the partition label to “EFI”
        • This will be partition sda1
      3. Create a 61440MB partition
        • Align to the MB
        • Set the label to “root”
        • This will be partition sda2
      4. Create a 128000MB partition
        • Align to the MB
        • Set the label to “home”
        • This will be partition sda3
      5. Create a partition with the remaining space
        • Align to the MB
        • Set the label to “VM” if you are going to have Virtual Machines, or “NTFS” if you wish to have a windows readable partition on the drive, I use it for VMs
        • This will be partition sda4
      6. Apply the changes using the edit pull down menu
      7. Set the partition flags on sda1 to “boot”
      8. Exit Gparted
  6. Start the installation by clicking on the install icon on the desktop
    1. Setup your drives to match the previous configuration
      • Set sda1 to fat32
        • This is the EFI boot partition, without it you cannot boot or install linux on a GPT disk
      • Set sda2 to ext4
        • Set the mount point as root “/”
        • Check the format box, Gparted uses a massive amount of space on the partition after formating
      • Set sda3 to ext4
        • Set the mount point as “/home”
        • Check the format box, same reason as above
      • Set sda4 to ext4
        • Set the mount point to “/home/{username}/VM”
      • Enter the primary user account ID that you will be using daily
      • I prefer all CAPS for VM as it is an abbreviation, you will note I primarily use lower case all the time
    2. Follow the installation guide
      • Make sure you set the user ID the same as the one used in the above mount point
    3. At the end of the install process remove the DVD when prompted and reboot
  7. Congratulations, you just installed Linux Mint on your system!
    • To note, I did this on a Dell Latitude Laptop with an i7 mobile CPU and 4GB of Ram
      • with the intent on running at least one VM nearly constantly

If you were paying attention, you will notice I did not setup a swap partition, nor a /tmp ext2 partition. I am planning on running those as tmpfs partitions (RAMDisk), as neither needs to be constantly accessing the HDD with a VM running off the same HDD on a laptop. I will configure a job to keep the /tmp partition sync’d periodically incase of a crash (power failures not likely as it is a laptop and a new one at that).

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