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A few years ago I wrote a Linux Mint beginner's guide as part of a giveaway in support of Linux, with the aim of showing that Linux isn't difficult to use and to encourage & help anyone interested in Linux to give it a try. I've tidied it up and updated it to reflect changes since then and I intend to continue updating it every so often; the link to download it is below.

Once again I'd like to encourage anyone who is interested in Linux to try it out; when I started using Linux over six years ago I had no prior Linux experience and it's worked out much better than I expected. My new PCs are now Linux only and I have no plans to ever return to Windows.

It's a great time to use Linux; it's easier to use and better supported than ever, with more & more games now coming to Linux. And as the Linux userbase grows so does the incentive for hardware manufacturers and developers to support it, leading to even better support as time goes on.

Wine has also been seeing huge improvements, allowing many more Windows-only games and other software to run on Linux. DXVK has provided an amazing boost to performance and compatibility with Direct3D 11 games. Front-ends for Wine such as PlayOnLinux and CrossOver make it a lot easier to use as well. And then there are projects such as vv221's ./play.it project, my own Wine wrappers, Lutris and GameHub to make things even easier still :)

Valve have been doing a lot to support Linux, resulting in many improvements to Vulkan and the Linux graphics drivers in general as well as Wine. On Steam, SteamPlay now provides a seamless experience for running many Windows games on Linux using Proton (Valve's own fork of Wine), with new games being added to the whitelist every so often (and many non-whitelisted games also run very well). You can check compatibility reports for SteamPlay at ProtonDB.

In my experience the learning curve was roughly comparable to switching from Windows XP to Windows 7. Some systems may have issues (most often hardware/driver related) but things are improving as the Linux userbase continues to grow and things become better supported as a result. It's free to download and you can use the live environment and/or a virtual machine to play around with it without any risk, so there's nothing to lose.

Feel free to post in this thread if you have any questions or need any help- there are quite a few experienced Linux users on these forums :)

The download links are here:

Adamhm's Linux Mint 19.1 Beginner's Guide.pdf
Adamhm's PlayOnLinux Beginner's Guide.pdf

Read more about & download Linux Mint from https://www.linuxmint.com
Release Notes for Linux Mint 19.1 Cinnamon

Read more about PlayOnLinux at https://www.playonlinux.com
Also see https://www.winehq.org for more information about Wine.


----- Useful notes/links/other stuff -----


Common dependencies meta-package
This is a meta-package I created for Mint 19.x to quickly and easily install most commonly required dependencies - installing it should greatly reduce the likelihood of needing to identify & install any missing dependencies to get things running (especially 32-bit libraries, which are mostly not installed by default but are still needed by a lot of software). Download it here: common-libs-meta.deb

'Magic SysRq key'
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_SysRq_key

LGOGDownloader
http://www.gog.com/forum/general/lgogdownloader_gogdownloader_for_linux
There currently isn't any official Linux GOG downloader and there's still no sign whatsoever of the Galaxy client for Linux. Fortunately there is a community-developed open source Linux GOG downloader - however it's command-line only. Full details in the thread linked above.

Innoextract
http://constexpr.org/innoextract/
http://community.linuxmint.com/software/view/innoextract (Download from the repositories)
Command-line tool for listing & extracting the contents of InnoSetup installers, such as the ones GOG uses. Very useful if you plan on using a source port/engine reimplementation and need to extract game data for it, or to help identify any redistributables a game requires in order to assist with setting up Wine. Newer GOG installers require a newer version of innoextract than is available in the main repositories.

Linux source ports & engine reimplementations
There are a lot of these projects, in varying stages of completion... you can find more over at Wikipedia's "List of game engine recreations" page but here are a few worth looking at:

OpenMW - Reimplementation of Morrowind's game engine.
http://www.openmw.org

OpenXcom - Open source engine for Xcom / UFO: Enemy Unknown & Terror From The Deep etc.
http://openxcom.org/

OpenTTD - Open source reimplementation of Transport Tycoon Deluxe.
https://www.openttd.org/

Eduke32 - Enhanced port of Duke Nukem 3D
Unfortunately you currently need to compile it yourself and it seems to be in a permanent beta state. While I've not experienced any crashes, I have experienced a lot of small bugs such as both the player & enemies clipping through walls,
http://www.eduke32.com/

Xoreos - Reimplementation of BioWare's "Aurora" engine (used in games such as Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2, The Witcher, Dragon Age: Origins, amongst others). It's still very early in development but it's already showing a lot of promise - definitely one to keep an eye on.
https://xoreos.org/

REGoth - Another one to watch; open source reimplentation of the zEngine, used by Gothic and Gothic II.
https://github.com/degenerated1123/REGoth

The "Judas™ does this run in Wine" thread v1.173
https://www.gog.com/forum/general/the_judas_does_this_run_in_wine_thread_v1173
List of GOG games tested & confirmed working (or at least appear to work) in Wine, with details. If you want to know if a game will run in Wine you can ask in that thread.

./play.it
http://wiki.dotslashplay.it/en/start
A project for easily installing & playing games on Linux via a set of scripts.
Also see [Linux] ./play.it, weekly news

Lutris & GameHub
https://lutris.net
https://tkashkin.tk/projects/gamehub
These are open-source game managers/launchers that offer support for a wide selection of games from a variety of sources (GOG, Steam, Humble Store etc.), various emulators and compatibility layers such as Wine.

Adamhm's Linux Wine wrappers
Adamhm's Linux Wine Wrappers - News, FAQ & Discussion
Wine wrappers I've put together for various games to make playing them on Linux much easier. The intention is to provide an experience that's as close as possible to playing a native Linux game, more like official Wine-wrapped releases.

Standalone open source driver/configuration tool for Steam controllers
https://github.com/kozec/sc-controller
Post edited June 17, 2019 by adamhm
high rated
Key for SOMA, expires tomorrow.

Third: 7DD5D

First: FDE4F

Fourth: FF9E9

Second: 5FF54
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adamhm: ----- Useful notes/links/other stuff -----

Common dependencies meta-package
This is a meta-package I created for Mint 19.x/Ubuntu 18.04 LTS to quickly and easily install most commonly required dependencies - installing it should greatly reduce the likelihood of needing to identify & install any missing dependencies to get things running (especially 32-bit libraries, which are mostly not installed by default but are still needed by a lot of software). Download it here: common-libs-meta.deb

'Magic SysRq key'
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_SysRq_key

LGOGDownloader
http://www.gog.com/forum/general/lgogdownloader_gogdownloader_for_linux
There currently isn't any official Linux GOG downloader and there's still no sign whatsoever of the Galaxy client for Linux. Fortunately there is a community-developed open source Linux GOG downloader - however it's command-line only. Full details in the thread linked above.

Innoextract
http://constexpr.org/innoextract/
http://community.linuxmint.com/software/view/innoextract (Download from the repositories)
Command-line tool for listing & extracting the contents of InnoSetup installers, such as the ones GOG uses. Very useful if you plan on using a source port/engine reimplementation and need to extract game data for it, or to help identify any redistributables a game requires in order to assist with setting up Wine. Newer GOG installers require a newer version of innoextract than is available in the main repositories.

Linux source ports & engine reimplementations
There are a lot of these projects, in varying stages of completion... you can find more over at Wikipedia's "List of game engine recreations" page but here are a few worth looking at:

OpenMW - Reimplementation of Morrowind's game engine.
http://www.openmw.org

OpenXcom - Open source engine for Xcom / UFO: Enemy Unknown & Terror From The Deep etc.
http://openxcom.org/

OpenTTD - Open source reimplementation of Transport Tycoon Deluxe.
https://www.openttd.org/

Eduke32 - Enhanced port of Duke Nukem 3D
Unfortunately you currently need to compile it yourself and it seems to be in a permanent beta state. While I've not experienced any crashes, I have experienced a lot of small bugs such as both the player & enemies clipping through walls,
http://www.eduke32.com/

Xoreos - Reimplementation of BioWare's "Aurora" engine (used in games such as Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2, The Witcher, Dragon Age: Origins, amongst others). It's still very early in development but it's already showing a lot of promise - definitely one to keep an eye on.
https://xoreos.org/

REGoth - Another one to watch; open source reimplentation of the zEngine, used by Gothic and Gothic II.
https://github.com/degenerated1123/REGoth

The "Judas™ does this run in Wine" thread v1.173
https://www.gog.com/forum/general/the_judas_does_this_run_in_wine_thread_v1173
List of GOG games tested & confirmed working (or at least appear to work) in Wine, with details. If you want to know if a game will run in Wine you can ask in that thread.

./play.it
http://wiki.dotslashplay.it/en/start
A project for easily installing & playing games on Linux via a set of scripts.
Also see [Linux] ./play.it, weekly news

Lutris & GameHub
https://lutris.net
https://tkashkin.tk/projects/gamehub
These are open-source game managers/launchers that offer support for a wide selection of games from a variety of sources (GOG, Steam, Humble Store etc.), various emulators and compatibility layers such as Wine.

Adamhm's Linux Wine wrappers
Adamhm's Linux Wine Wrappers - News, FAQ & Discussion
Wine wrappers I've put together for various games to make playing them on Linux much easier. The intention is to provide an experience that's as close as possible to playing a native Linux game, more like official Wine-wrapped releases.

Standalone open source driver/configuration tool for Steam controllers
https://github.com/kozec/sc-controller
Mentions eduke32, but forgets Gzdoom for Doom. Tsk tsk.

In all fairness, though, good Mint Linux guide.
Post edited January 17, 2019 by TheBigCore
As mentioned elsewhere I recently installed a fresh version of Linux Mint 19.1 Cinnamon (from 18.2). This is probably a proper "beginner's" question, so it should fit :P

Some windows have overly large text for some reason, and it looks kinda weird. For instance when I play music in VLC, the text is pretty large. Same for the notification in the top left corner from VLC (on each new song) when I'm playing a game. How can I adjust this? It wasn't like this in 18.2. I've looked around, both in VLC and other settings, but can't find where to tune it.

Most text is normal-sized, but VLC looks 50% increased or something. Think I saw it somewhere else too, but don't recall, but it's definitely on VLC - like the attached screenshot (hopefully) shows.

Edit: I have one more question. Currently I'm running on a 4.15 kernel. Would it be reasonably safe to upgrade to 4.18, or is that more of a testing environment for now?
Attachments:
vlc_big.png (166 Kb)
Post edited February 18, 2019 by Pangaea666
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Pangaea666: Edit: I have one more question. Currently I'm running on a 4.15 kernel. Would it be reasonably safe to upgrade to 4.18, or is that more of a testing environment for now?
In my experience with Debian, when you boot the computer, there is an option to boot an older kernel; hence, if the newer kernel doesn't work for whatever reason, you still have an older one to fall back on (assuming you didn't uninstall the old kernel). In recent Debian versions, I believe it's under "advanced options" in the boot menu.

Since Linux Mint is based off Debian, I would expect kernel upgrades to be handled the same way.

Also, Linus has a strict "don't break userspace" policy for the kernel, so the programs you are using should not stop working because of a kernel upgrade. (This is in contrast to, say, systemd, where an upgrade *can* break things.)
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Pangaea666: Some windows have overly large text for some reason, and it looks kinda weird. For instance when I play music in VLC, the text is pretty large. Same for the notification in the top left corner from VLC (on each new song) when I'm playing a game. How can I adjust this? It wasn't like this in 18.2. I've looked around, both in VLC and other settings, but can't find where to tune it.

Most text is normal-sized, but VLC looks 50% increased or something. Think I saw it somewhere else too, but don't recall, but it's definitely on VLC - like the attached screenshot (hopefully) shows.
Try System Settings --> Font Selection. It should be something like in the attached screenshot, but if you upgraded from an older version of Mint then it might need to be adjusted a little.
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Pangaea666: Edit: I have one more question. Currently I'm running on a 4.15 kernel. Would it be reasonably safe to upgrade to 4.18, or is that more of a testing environment for now?
It should be safe to update to 4.18, and as Dtgreene said it's easy enough to roll back if it does cause any problems.
Attachments:
fonts.png (45 Kb)
I'd like to remind everyone: If you don't like the starter desktop that Mint comes with, you don't have to reinstall to get another one. You can easily use your favorite software manager or command line interface to install something else.

For example, I'd go mad if I had to live with Gnome, but installing KDE's Plasma is easy enough. There's also Mate, XFCE, Windowmaker and many others.
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Pangaea666: Some windows have overly large text for some reason, and it looks kinda weird. For instance when I play music in VLC, the text is pretty large. Same for the notification in the top left corner from VLC (on each new song) when I'm playing a game. How can I adjust this? It wasn't like this in 18.2. I've looked around, both in VLC and other settings, but can't find where to tune it.

Most text is normal-sized, but VLC looks 50% increased or something. Think I saw it somewhere else too, but don't recall, but it's definitely on VLC - like the attached screenshot (hopefully) shows.
avatar
adamhm: Try System Settings --> Font Selection. It should be something like in the attached screenshot, but if you upgraded from an older version of Mint then it might need to be adjusted a little.
Tried changing all of them, even text scaling, but nothing worked. And it would totally mess up all other text in various places (menus, headers, etc etc). Also tried a couple other commands I found, but that didn't work either.

I suspect the issue is that I recently bought a home cinema, so right now the computer monitor is hooked up to the receiver instead of directly to the computer. Reading some of the articles, this seems the most likely cause. But I had it like this while still on Mint 18.2, and there it worked correctly.

However, GOOD NEWS EVERYBODY /futurama
Just now I stumbled upon another suggested solution, and it actually worked. Go into the Qt5 Settings and change the Fonts. They were on 12 by default. I'm trying 10 now, and it looks more reasonable. I don't know what potential knock-on effects this has for other applications, but at least VLC looks decent again.
I have another query, related to /home.

Right now I have a 240GB SSD disk with all Mint partitions, including /home. But size has become a bit tight, with games and suchlike installed in various parts of /home. A few months ago I bought a 1TB SSD disk which is still sitting in its nice package. I'm thinking about changing things around so that the normal Mint partitions are on the 240GB SSD, and using the 1TB SSD purely for /home.

This means the need to copy or backup some/all of the current content of /home. What is most important are various Thunderbird and Firefox stuff: settings, open tabs (20 or so "I'll read this later"), bookmarks, and a giant heap of emails, and email settings.

Other things are probably easier to just backup, like games/saves, various downloads and media files.

I *could* back a backup of the whole thing with backintime for instance, but I was thinking this could be a good time to clean up /home as well, so I'd prefer to just get what I *need*, and not outdated wine and playonlinux folders and probably heaps of other stuff I've crammed up over the years.

Therefore, do you have suggestions for me? For Firefox and Thunderbird, would it be enough to simply backup .mozilla and .thunderbird folders?

I'd be fine with re-installing Mint to do this as I installed it just a few days ago anyway.
Does anyone know the percentage for games that run on Linux that are on the market?
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adamhm: It should be safe to update to 4.18, and as Dtgreene said it's easy enough to roll back if it does cause any problems.
Went ahead with the changes mentioned above, and thankfully everything seems to have gone well.

1. Bought another 1TB SSD in addition to the thus far unused one
2. Backed up most of /home with backintime to one of the SSDs
3. Installed Mint 19.1 again, changing the partitions. Way too much, but the whole 240GB SSD is now used as /root (and I dropped the /swap partition) ------> what size would you normally recommend for / ?
4. The 'other' big SSD is set up as /home
5. Updated kernel and packages, installed backintime and restored most of the content to the new /home

This should mean a cleaner /home, and a much bigger one too. And with the extra SSD, I can backup a lot of important music, images, documents and videos that is currently on a SATA.

Now to re-install a few games using adamhm's scripts, and the very useful meta package.

I've chosen to *not* restore Lutris or PlayOnLinux. Will opt for adamhm's script instead, where they exist. Thankfully it worked fine to simply restore .mozilla and .thunderbird :)

It still kinda boggles the mind how easy and fast it is to reinstall a Linux system (including all updates and software) compared with the "watch grass grow" process in Windows. Haven't used Windows (at home) for years, but those often day-long re-install processes still haunt me.
avatar
adamhm: It should be safe to update to 4.18, and as Dtgreene said it's easy enough to roll back if it does cause any problems.
avatar
Pangaea666: Went ahead with the changes mentioned above, and thankfully everything seems to have gone well.

1. Bought another 1TB SSD in addition to the thus far unused one
2. Backed up most of /home with backintime to one of the SSDs
3. Installed Mint 19.1 again, changing the partitions. Way too much, but the whole 240GB SSD is now used as /root (and I dropped the /swap partition) ------> what size would you normally recommend for / ?
4. The 'other' big SSD is set up as /home
5. Updated kernel and packages, installed backintime and restored most of the content to the new /home

This should mean a cleaner /home, and a much bigger one too. And with the extra SSD, I can backup a lot of important music, images, documents and videos that is currently on a SATA.
How much you need for the root partition really depends on your needs... it's entirely possible to get by with <20GB.

On my system the entire SSD aside from the EFI system partition is used for the root partition and I have some HDDs for additional storage mounted under /mnt/hdd and /mnt/hdd2 (no separate home partition)

BTW, Mint now uses a swap file, found at /swapfile - if you want to disable/remove it there are instructions for doing so in my guide.

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Pangaea666: It still kinda boggles the mind how easy and fast it is to reinstall a Linux system (including all updates and software) compared with the "watch grass grow" process in Windows. Haven't used Windows (at home) for years, but those often day-long re-install processes still haunt me.
When I used Windows I used to hate having to reinstall as it always needed an entire evening to get fully set up, with all the updates (requiring multiple restarts) & the number of tweaks required etc. - and even then I'd still be finding things I'd missed over the following week or so.

With Mint I actually prefer to just do a clean install when new versions are released rather than upgrade - getting it installed, fully updated & set up is only a ~15min job :)
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adamhm: How much you need for the root partition really depends on your needs... it's entirely possible to get by with <20GB.

On my system the entire SSD aside from the EFI system partition is used for the root partition and I have some HDDs for additional storage mounted under /mnt/hdd and /mnt/hdd2 (no separate home partition)

BTW, Mint now uses a swap file, found at /swapfile - if you want to disable/remove it there are instructions for doing so in my guide.
Cheers, wasn't aware of the swapfile. Followed your instructions and removed it. Part of the reason I didn't use /swap is to prolong the life of the SSD, and I've never seen it used anyway. Only have 8GB RAM in fairness, but I removed it anyway. I'm thinking about buying more memory, but need DDR3 and low-profile so options aren't all that many.

On that topic btw, although it's not really Linux-specific: is it okay to run different RAM modules, as long as they are in its right "pair" on the motherboard? For instance right now I have Crucial Ballistix 2x4GB. Can I buy e.g. Corsair 2x8GB and it will work well?

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adamhm: When I used Windows I used to hate having to reinstall as it always needed an entire evening to get fully set up, with all the updates (requiring multiple restarts) & the number of tweaks required etc. - and even then I'd still be finding things I'd missed over the following week or so.

With Mint I actually prefer to just do a clean install when new versions are released rather than upgrade - getting it installed, fully updated & set up is only a ~15min job :)
Yep, hated those long evenings re-installing everything and then downloading probably hundreds of updates (very slowly too), and restarting every so often. With Linux everything is so easy (at least these days) that it's still hard to wrap my head around it due to the previous awful Windows experience. Like this time, I misunderstood the question about UEFI, so the Mint install crashed twice. But it only took 10-15 minutes to install the system three times. Then another minute or two to download and install *all* the required updates (including kernel). And there you are. Everything up and running in well under half an hour.

Linux Mint is such a professional distro now, the team has done a marvellous job. Even a pretty big noob like myself can run it without any issues, and everything works out of the box. Extra bonus: There won't be a gazillion background processes spying and phoning home.
I have a question about backing up/copying large amounts of data. What is the best way to go about this - rsync?

A 2TB SATA disk contains about 150GB of music and videos of my favourite band that I've collected over years and years. I'd like to copy it over to a SSD in full. It probably only needs to be done once. Would it be fine to just drag the folder over to the new destination, or isn't there any error checking/correction then? If I am to use rsync (or something else more befitting), what command do I use?

Also, if I were to setup a synchronisation between them, probably (in the future) with the 'main' location being the SSD and the backup on the SATA, how would I go about that? Is backintime the most appropriate tool?

The SATA is using the NTFS system btw (a leftover from the dual-boot days). I'd prefer to convert it to ext4, but simply don't have the required space to back it all up first.

Edit: I tried this, which seems to have done the trick:
rsync -ahv "/mnt/BigGun/0 ACDC/" /mnt/SSD/ACDC
Post edited February 21, 2019 by Pangaea666
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Pangaea666: Cheers, wasn't aware of the swapfile. Followed your instructions and removed it. Part of the reason I didn't use /swap is to prolong the life of the SSD, and I've never seen it used anyway. Only have 8GB RAM in fairness, but I removed it anyway. I'm thinking about buying more memory, but need DDR3 and low-profile so options aren't all that many.

On that topic btw, although it's not really Linux-specific: is it okay to run different RAM modules, as long as they are in its right "pair" on the motherboard? For instance right now I have Crucial Ballistix 2x4GB. Can I buy e.g. Corsair 2x8GB and it will work well?
The new modules would need to have identical specs to the current ones for them all to work properly together - mixing different sizes/speeds/timings/voltages etc. will cause problems.

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Pangaea666: I have a question about backing up/copying large amounts of data. What is the best way to go about this - rsync?
I usually just drag+drop in the file manager to copy/move files, but as you've posted already rsync works well too (it's especially suited for creating & maintaining backups).

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Pangaea666: Also, if I were to setup a synchronisation between them, probably (in the future) with the 'main' location being the SSD and the backup on the SATA, how would I go about that? Is backintime the most appropriate tool?
I haven't used backintime so I can't offer much help there.