LINUX MINT. Are you a Windows user? Why haven't you transitioned to Linux yet? Maybe you are decent with a computer and do not want to change, or you've only just recently been able to navigate a Windows PC and feel like the change to a new operating system would be too difficult. Well, I have news for you --it can be very easy and free. There are a multitude of Linux operating systems available, but for this instructional I would like to stick with Linux Mint since I have found it offers the easiest, most complete package (especially for new users) to use, and it's totally free. Getting started: 1. Download the latest version (or earlier build with long term support) of Linux Mint. Although it is not necessary, check the MD5 sum to ensure your download is intact. How? For old Win users (2000-XP any version) download from Microsoft here. If you're using a newer version of Windows, you can install a free tool here. Or you can search online for alternative MD5 tools for Windows. Can I just install it onto my hard drive? Certainly. You can either install along side Windows, or make a fresh install over your existing OS. Linux will reformat your drive and walk you through the process. --That's it! Now, go to step 3. - O R - 2. Make a bootable USB (thumb drive): UNetbootin - Homepage and Downloads You may also choose to make a bootable CD/DVD instead of a thumb drive. Whatever you use, be certain to make the device which reads it first on your boot menu located in the BIOS setup for your computer. How do I access the BIOS? Just hit the 'DEL' key on startup (or restart), or it may also be an alternative key such as F1, F2, or F10. Be certain you are pressing it before you boot into your operating system. Some systems will momentarily display a message or load/boot screen instructing you which button to press to enter your setup and BIOS. You may also turn this feature on from the BIOS if it does not currently display. Be sure to save and exit when you are finished. 3. Set up your new Linux Mint install and enjoy. You will find Linux Mint to be very user friendly, and the functionality is in some ways much like a "Windows" experience, with navigation bar and a menu. If you cannot decide which version of Linux Mint to install, just try a bootable version for a week to find out if it suits you. If you are wondering about the difference between "Cinnamon" and "MATE" versions, it's no big deal. The Cinnamon version is the fancier one which can use more memory. If you're on an older PC or do not have much RAM, just go with Mate. You may also install the KDE or XFCE versions, and they each have their attraction. You will need to try them out to see if any of these will suit you. If you do not know which release of Mint you should install, go with any (LTS) long term supported release. Honestly, any version and any release will serve you better than Windows. Latest build currently -- Linux Mint 18.1 "Serena" -- Download: Editions for Linux Mint 18.1 "Serena" - Linux Mint "Breaking in your new install" will be the next post, where I briefly try to explain the update process, how to download free software, and integration ideas for you to familiarize yourself with Linux Mint.