Notes on Installing Linux Mint 21.1 (Mate Edition)

The following is a rough guide to setting up Linux Mint on a notebook, laptop or desktop PC. My installation was on an ASUS S200E VivoBook also known as the X202E which is fairly old now but is quite possibly the most reliable computer I have ever owned, and still looks like new after more than a decade! I openly admit that I like Linux Mint because it behaves very much like Windows and let's face it, if something is familiar and easy to use, there's nothing wrong with that. This particular 11.6" notebook (mine is the Celeron version) supports Linux Mint out of the box with just a small amount of tweaking required to get it just right, and the touchscreen works well too. The S200E requires the 64-bit version of Mint which can be downloaded here: http://www.linuxmint.com

DVD drives are becoming a thing of the past, but that's no problem. Linux Mint can be installed from a USB stick by using a utility called Rufus which can be downloaded here: https://rufus.ie/en/. The procedure for creating a bootable USB stick using Rufus is quite straight forward so will not be covered here. Your PC will need to be be set to boot from an external USB drive instead of it's own hard drive, by changing the boot order in the BIOS. With the ASUS, pressing the F2 key just after it is powered on puts it into BIOS mode, but the key used depends on what make of PC you have. Once in, you will be able to change the boot order to make the USB stick first and then the hard drive (or SSD) second. Mint can be run as a 'Live CD' which means you can try it first before permanently installing it onto your hard drive. The live trial has an install icon on the desktop which when clicked will guide you through the install process. Linux can be installed alongside a current Windows installation (dual boot), but I prefer to wipe the hard drive and just have the one operating system. If you find that your USB stick doesn't boot, it may need to be set as 'Active'. A free utility that can check if this is the case and correct it is MiniTool Partition Wizard


Note: If you find when trying to connect to a wireless network that it keeps asking for authentication, it could be because your wireless router is set to 'WPA/WPA2 mixed mode' instead of 'WPA2 mode only'

During installation

1) Select Connect to this network and log into your wifi to download additional software during install
2) Select Install multimedia codecs to add extra support for common multimedia file types
3) Select Erase disk and install Linux Mint to completely wipe the hard drive for a clean install (if you want to of course)
4) Select Log in automatically when you get to the name and password entry window. Only do this if you are the only person who has physical access to your PC and prefer not to enter a password to log in during startup, though you will still need to create a password for other system related things

After installation

Make sure you have an internet connection. If you didn't establish one during install, click on the network icon in the panel, select your wireless network and follow the prompts. Once connected, go to Menu > Control Centre > Update Manager to download any system updates that are required. On the window that opens, click the Refresh, Select All and Install Updates buttons. When you see the message 'Your sytem is up to date' you are ready to start customising things to your own taste. The following are my own personal preferences but you can of course do whatever you want

Customising the Desktop

Add system shortcuts to the desktop

Menu > Control Centre > Desktop Settings. In the window that opens, turn on the icons that you want to appear on the desktop. I have Home, Rubbish Bin and Mounted Volumes. Right clicking the desktop gives some options to keep them aligned and locked in position

Add application shortcuts to the desktop

Go to the menu, right click the application you want to appear on the desktop and select Add to desktop

Create desktop shortcuts to files and folders

Hold down Ctrl+Shift and drag the file or folder you want onto the desktop. A link will be created automatically

Installing custom wallpaper

In your home directory, if it's not already there, create a folder called .wallpaper and drag your custom wallpapers into it. Right click any wallpaper image you want to use and select Set as Wallpaper

Installing custom desktop icons

In your home directory, create a folder called .icons and drag your custom icons into it (.png format). To change a desktop icon, right click it and select Properties. Then, click the icon symbol and an explorer window will open where you can browse to the .icons folder

Desktop icons can be downloaded here

Customising the Panel

I like the panel to look clean and tidy, so I start fresh by removing all the applet (small app) icons that I don't want by individually right clicking them and selecting 'Remove From Panel' (some may require you to untick Lock To Panel first). The Bluetooth, Network, Power, Volume and Clock items can't be removed in this way as they are incorporated into the Notification Area applet. If you get in a muddle and want to start over again, simply right click the panel and select 'Reset All Panels'. To add new items, right click the panel and select Add To Panel. A window will open where you can choose whatever panel items you want to add. The default items in the notification area mentioned above are actually the only ones I want anyway, with the exception of Bluetooth which can be disabled under startup applications (see later)

To move the position of an icon, right click it > untick Lock To Panel > right click it again > Move

To make the panel semi transparent, right click it > select Properties > Background tab > click Solid colour > set the Colour to black > set the Style slider to about halfway

Customising the Menu

To change the menu icon, right click it > select Preferences > click the logo to the right of Button icon > choose the icon you want. You can also browse to an icon image file if you have one. Text can also be added next to the icon but I think just the icon on its own looks cleaner

To change the menu background from light to dark, right click the menu icon > select Preferences > Appearance > under Theme choose Adwaita-dark

To reset the menu back to default, right click the desktop > select Open in Terminal > enter mintmenu --reset

To add or remove menu items, right click the menu icon > Edit menu

The Control Centre

Although the main menu is the 'Go To' place to access everything, the Control Centre is also a very convenient way to get to your settings

The control centre is accessed from the main menu, but if you want to create a desktop shortcut to it, right click the desktop and select Create Launcher. In the window that opens type 'Control Centre' into the Name box and 'mate-control-center' into the Command box (note the American spelling for center). The rather dull default icon can be changed to something better as described earlier

Things I like to change in the control centre are:

Mouse and Touchpad

Control Center > Mouse > Mouse tab > set Double-Click Timeout to > Long
Control Center > Mouse > Touchpad tab > set both Two-finger and Three-finger click emulation to Disabled (this brings back the right click menu)
Control Center > Mouse > Touchpad tab > tick Vertical two-finger scrolling and untick all the other scrolling options (I find this more natural)

Power Management

Control Centre > Power Management - Set screen brightness, screen timeout, laptop lid and power button behaviour


Control Centre > Appearance > Theme tab Mint-Y-Teal > select Customise > Controls tab Mint-Y-Blue > Window Border tab Mint-Y > Icons tab GNOME > Close > Choose a background from the Background tab > Close

Disable annoying popup notifications

Control Centre > Popup Notifications > in the window that opens tick Enable Do not Disturb


Control Centre > Screensaver - Set screensaver and computer lock screen timing

Add or remove startup programs

Control Centre > Startup Applications > uncheck items you don't need on startup (I just keep Power Manager and Update Manager)


There's a menu item called Software Sources. Don't be tempted to play around in the Maintenance section of it if you're not sure what you're doing as the system can get screwed up!

Installing Software

Option 1: Control Centre > Administration > Software Manager > choose the software you want to install

Option 2: Control Centre > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager > choose the software you want to install

Option 3: Use the 'apt-get' command. Open the terminal (Menu > System Tools > Terminal) and enter the following command: sudo apt-get install followed by the name of the software you want to install. Multiple items can be installed at the same time by separating their name with a space

Option 4: Install software directly from a website. My three favourite apps installed this way are:

Google Chrome is a good alternative to Firefox which can be downloaded here: https://www.google.com/chrome/browser/desktop/
A .deb package will be downloaded. It looks like a zipped folder but don't extract it, just double click it to install

Note: If you keep getting prompted for a password when opening Chrome, go to Menu > Accessories > Passwords & Keys > right click Login > Change Password > enter your password > Continue > ignore and continue through the remaining password prompts

VLC media player is really all you need for media playback which can be downloaded here: https://www.videolan.org/
Click Install and follow the prompts

XnView MP is a powerful but user friendly photo editor which can be downloaded here: https://www.xnview.com/en/xnviewmp/
A .deb package will be downloaded. It looks like a zipped folder but don't extract it, just double click it to install

In XnView, to open an image file fullscreen when double clicked > run XnView > Tools > SettingsGeneralMode when starting with a file > choose Viewer - Fullscreen

In XnView, to change the fullscreen background from light to dark > run XnView > Tools > Settings > under View select Fullscreen > Background color > choose black

Other useful software:

gftp - FTP client (great for uploading your website to a server)
puddletag - MP3 tag edtor (a Linux equivalent of the excellent Mp3tag in Windows)
Xournal - Touchscreen sketchpad (great for scribbling down ideas when you don't have a pen and paper to hand)

Use the terminal command: sudo apt-get install gftp puddletag xournal

Installing new fonts

To install Microsoft fonts, go to Control Centre > Administration > Software Manager > Fonts > Ttf-mscorefonts-installer

Alternatively, in your home directory, create a folder called .fonts and drag your fonts into it. The fonts will be available to select in all applications

Installing a printer

Plug a printer in and go to Control Centre > Printers. Highlight your printer and click the + Add button. In the window that opens, select your printer and click Forward (there may be a delay while it searches for drivers) > Apply > you can now Print Test Page

Uninstalling Software

Option 1: Control Centre > Administration > Software Manager > choose the software you want to uninstall

Option 2: Control Centre > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager > choose the software you want to uninstall

Option 3: Use the 'apt-get' command. Open the terminal (Menu > System Tools > Terminal) and enter the following command: sudo apt-get remove followed by the name of the software you want to uninstall. Multiple items can be uninstalled at the same time by separating their name with a space

Option 4: Menu > right click on the app that you want to remove > select Uninstall

Useful Terminal Commands

Show system information

Open the terminal and type sudo lshw -html > System-Information.html (this creates a nice HTML file in your home folder)

Free up some hard drive space

sudo apt-get clean (nothing appears to happen but that's normal)
and then
sudo apt-get autoremove (lists and removes unused software packages)

Shutdown Commands

shutdown -h +30 (shutdown in 30 minutes or change time to whatever you want)
shutdown -h 08:00 (shutdown at 08:00 or change time to whatever you want)
shutdown -c (shutdown cancel)
poweroff (shutdown)
systemctl suspend (suspend)

To make a shutdown command easily clickable, paste it into a text file and then save it with a suitable name (Shutdown in 30 for example). Right click the file and select Properties > Permissions tab. Tick the Allow executing file as program box and then Close. Now when the file is double clicked a window will open where you can choose either Run in Terminal or Run

Make a 'one press' suspend button

Linux Mint comes in three different desktop environments, Cinnamon, Mate and XFCE, but with time these, as with any modern operating system, have become more resource hungry as PC hardware gets better and faster (even the lightweght XFCE ran quite slow on my notebook). I chose the Mate version of Mint because it's easy to configure and works much like a Windows desktop. Admittedly, the boot up time is quite slow on my Asus and apps take a few seconds to open, but once open they don't seem slow at all. To help this situation I created a 'Suspend' command that can be run by simply pressing a key (I use F1). This effectively makes the machine appear to turn off when the F1 key is pressed, but when the lid is opened or the power button is pressed, it instantly comes back on and is ready to go. To make all this happen, see below:

Go to Control Centre > Keyboard Shortcuts > Add > in the window that opens click Browse applications and select Autorun Prompt > in the Command box type or paste systemctl suspend > a new shortcut will have been added the to list under Custom Shortcuts > to assign a key, double click it, then press the key you want to use > Close (normal operation keys won't be allowed for obvious reasons)

Other Useful Stuff

Create a password protected folder

Right click and select Create Folder (and give it a name) > right click the new folder and select Compress > in the window that opens, choose .7z from the drop down box (default) > expand Other Options > enter a Password > tick Encrypt the file list too > Create

A new zipped folder will be created (the unzipped original can be deleted). Now when the folder is double clicked, a password will be required to open it

Note: When the folder is first opened there will be another folder inside with the same name which if deleted will remove the password you've just created. Once more items are added to the folder you will then be able to delete this 'Ghost' folder without affecting the password

Disclaimer: I can't vouch for the security of these folders!

Desktop Screenshot