Thursday, June 30, 2011

Installing Linux Mint 11

If you are a beginner computer user wishing to learn something different from Windows 7 and don't want to wait for Windows 8 next year to improve your computer knowledge, then you could probably be interested by Linux. Yes, Linux, you heard right. Linux is a powerful Operating System which Windows users sometimes hesitate to install because of its mystical aura of an OS for nerds and geeks. But this is not true today. No more. New Linux distributions are quite easily installed and run without ever touching to its obscure features (the Kernel, the Terminal and so on).

Today many Linux distributions exist. Some are harder to use, some are definitively easier (maybe easier then Windows I daresay). Some are for the IT expert wishing to have full control on its installation (like Slackware, Fedora or Debian, the grandpa of Ubuntu), some are oriented to please the common person using its personal computer for Internet browsing and  listening to music.

Easy desktop distros are, for instance, Ubuntu (mainly for its wide hardware compatibility and its ease of installation) or Linux Mint (mainly due to its familiar GNOME interface).

If I were to define in a few lines the Linux distributions as I see them today, I would say:

  • Ubuntu 11.04, Mandriva, Linux Mint is for real beginners
  • Fedora 15 and Slackware 13.37 is for skilled geeks
  • Puppy Linux 5.2.5 or Xubuntu 11.04 (based on Xfce) is better for installation on older hardware
  • Linux Mint 11 or Ubuntu 11.04 is good for your home computer
  • Jolicloud 1.2 or MeeGo 1.2 is good for your brand new Netbook
  • Debian 6.0.1 is for sysadmins
  • OpenSUSE 11.4 is the right one for office automation
  • CentOS 5.6 is good for enterprise servers and web servers
  • Ubuntu Studio 11.04 or PureDyne 9.11 is for your multimedia station and for creativity

None of these distros is perfect, but they will fulfill various purpose, as you will learn using them. Picking a first Linux distribution to use isn't always easy so I have chosed for you: install Linux Mint 11. The reason for this choice is that Linux Mint is the Linux distribution of the moment, having just pushed Ubuntu (and its Unity interface) out of DistroWatch’s No. 1 spot.


So, let's start the installation. The CD, 64-bit version, which you can download from here, contains the Ubuntu's Ubiquity installer, which then can guide the user through the permanent installation process.

The following procedure is going to be executed in a VMWare environment (specifically on a Proliant DL370 G6 running vSphere 4) where I have configured a new virtual machine with the following settings:
  • 1024 MB of RAM
  • 2 CPUs
  • a video card with 16 MB of video RAM
  • a controller LSI Logic SAS
  • a small 8 GB virtual hard disk
  • a E1000 network adapter
Let's now see all the steps to install Linux Mint 11 in a Virtual Machine.

Choosed Virtual Machine version 7 for ESX 4.0

Select Linux kernel 2.6 for Linux Mint 11

Configure virtual processors

Specify the amount of RAM - I suggest 1 GB for the 64-bit version

Add a virtual network adapter

Add a LSI Logic SAS adapter, improved for virtual machines version 7

Create a virtual hard disk drive

Choose the size of your hdd

Attach the hdd to a SCSI virtual device

Review your VM configuration
Once your virtual machine is ready, mount the 64-bit ISO of Linux Mint (filename: linuxmint-11-gnome-dvd-64bit.iso) and start the VM. Linux Mint will load as a Live-CD and be ready to use withing two minutes as you can see from the following screenshots.

Linx Mint preparing to load

Casper generating an initramfs capable to boot live systems

Linux Mint 11 running from the CD
At this point you have to click on 'Install Linux Mint' to shift to quit the Live CD and start the real installation process. Beware, if you are trying to install the 64bit version and configured your VM with just 384 MB of RAM, you could get an error message saying "MINTMENU has quit unexpectedly". If so, just increment the amount of RAM for the VM up to 1 GB and this problem will be solved. Some Linux distros are not so light as they say... If you have a PC with so little RAM then you should use 32-bit version... or go for PuppyLinux.

Once you click on 'Install Linux Mint' the process will effectively start the installation.

Choose your language

Double check your basic configuration

Allocate drive space

Ready to install

Choose your time zone

Configure your keyboard layout

Configure your user account

Wait for the installation process to complete

While waiting discover how you can run Windows software in you Linux Mint box with Wine

Restart and disconnect the ISO image

Login

Welcome to Linux Mint 11
Once the installation is completed you might have to configure your LAN connection in order to fully use your new Operating System. Nothing easier on Linux Mint thanks to the easy interface. Click on the lower right network icon and select 'Edit Connections'. Set your IP address and confirm by entering your account password.

Edit Network Connection

Enter your IP address, netmask, gateway and DNS servers

Confirm... Ehy, but this looks so much Windows UAC, guys!!!
Now that you are on the network if have to face the last big step: configure VMWare Tools! This is a little bit more tricky than with a Microsoft Windows virtual machine. In the main menu of the VMware Console, click Inventory, Virtual Machine, Guest and select "Install/Upgrade VMware Tools". This action will mount the image of the DVD containing the file VMwareTools-.tar.gz.

VMwareTools-8.3.7-341836.tar.gz
Extract the source archive to /var/temp then open a Terminal and navigate to /var/temp/vmware-tools-distrib. Once there run
  • sudo ./vmware-install.pl
The Perl script is very friendly although very chatty. It asks questions, with default answers already selected. Just read and then hit 'Enter' each time you are asked to.

Running vmware-install.pl
The script will end with the following message:

The configuration of VMware Tools 8.3.7 build-341836 for Linux for this running
kernel completed successfully.

You must restart your X session before any mouse or graphics changes take
effect.

You can now run VMware Tools by invoking the following command:
"/usr/bin/vmware-toolbox" during an X server session.

There we are. The basic installation of Linux Mint in a VMWare environment is completed. The system is ready to entertain you.

Enjoy and leave a comment if you have found this tutorial easy to use or if you want to share any customization, hint or improvement to this procedure. Feel also free to suggest packages to install to make the system smarter.

2 comments:

  1. Very helpful, thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Linux Mint 12 Preview:

    http://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=1851

    The next release Linux Mint 12 "Lisa" is expected in late November 2011!

    ReplyDelete

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