Showing posts with label Mint. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mint. Show all posts

Monday, February 15, 2021

Installing Linux Mint on a Virtual Machine

Linux Mint remains on of the best Linux distributions for new users. Learn on this tutorial how to install and test Mint on a Virtual Machine
Linux Mint's beautiful Cinnamon desktop

Before switching to Linux permanently, it's recommended to test it on a virtual machine so that you can feel the experience before making permanent changes on your system. On this tutorial, we will continue revisiting the best distributions for beginners in 2021 and install Linux Mint on VirtualBox in Windows 10.

Please note that this process should be pretty similar to accomplish in either VirtualBox or VMWare Workstation player.

Downloading Linux Mint

Head to Mint's download page an grab the ISO. On this tutorial we'll install Linux Mint 20.1 Ulyssa 64-bit with the Cinnamon desktop. The file should be around 2Gb in size so go grab a coffee while it downloads.

Click on the link closest to your region to download Mint's ISO
An ISO is simply an image of the installer containing all the files needed to boot and install that distribution in your system.

Installing Linux Mint

With the ISO downloaded, let's start the process. Open VirtualBox:

VirtualBox's main screen

Click New, enter the name of the VM and select its save location:

Choose the memory size (4Gb or more is recommended):

Create a Virtual Hard Disk:

Choose VDI (VirtualBox's default format):

Set it to Dynamically Allocated (slower) if you don't have much disk space or Fixed Size (faster) if you do:


On the File Location and size menu, make sure you set at least 15Gb for your VM:

After clicking Create, you should see a summary of your new VM:

Booting the VM

Okay, so it's now time to boot (load) our VM so we can install it in the virtual hard drive. On the screen above click on Start to have your VM initialized. We'll first need to attach our ISO as if it were a virtual CD-ROM. Click Add and select your downloaded ISO from your Downloads folder and click Create to set it:

Confirm on the next screen and click Start. Your VM should now boot. Select Start Linux Mint and wait for the boot to complete:

Installing Mint

Once the initial boot ends, you should see the following beautiful Mint Desktop:

What you see here is a live environment. It's meant for testing the system, checking if it's compatible with your hardware and if you like, install it. Click on the CD icon labeled Install Linux Mint to start the installer. Select your language and click Continue:

Choose your keyboard layout:

Enable multi-media codecs if you feel like using multimedia from your VM:

On the Installation Type menu, choose Erase disk and install Linux mint, click Install Now > Continue to proceed. At this point, the installer will format your virtual hard disk :

Choose your time zone:

Enter your basic information (name, username, password and host name) and the installation will start:

First Login

With the installation done, let's login the first time. Enter your username/password as specified during the installation on this beautiful login screen:

Default Desktop

After login, you should see Mint's beautiful Cinnamon desktop:

Linux Mint's beautiful Cinnamon desktop

Next Steps

There you are! Feel free to have fun with your new Linux Mint VM! We will cover some more interesting topics in the future but we recommend that you play with it in the meanwhile.


On this tutorial we learned how to install Linux Mint in a VirtualBox virtual machine (VM). Installing Linux on a VM is the first step you need to explore Linux in its multiple variations. The next step is obviously, replacing your Windows or Mac. But take your time!

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Monday, February 8, 2021

Getting started with Linux on Virtual Machines

Learn how to get started with Virtual Machines on Linux so you can test any Linux distribution on your computer without risking to lose your files 
Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

On a previous post we reviewed the best Linux distributions for new users in 2021. We also discussed that, before switching permanently to Linux, it would be good to try out some of those distributions. Today, let's learn a little more about virtual machines (VMs) and how to install them on Windows and Macs.

About Virtual Machines

More a less 20 years ago the tech industry saw a big growth in processing power, memory, storage and a significant decrease in hardware prices. Engineers realized that their applications weren't utilizing the resources effectively so they developed tools such as Virtual machines (VMs) and hypervisors to run multiple operating systems in parallel on the same server.

Source: Resellers Panel


Among the advantages of running VMs is the fact that you can better utilize idle resources of the host (compute, network, storage, etc), isolation, sandboxing, allowing to test different operating system, etc.

Host x Guest

The physical hardware running the VM is generally referred to as the 'host' and the emulated VM is generally referred to as the 'guest'. A host can emulate several guests, each of which can emulate different operating systems and hardware platforms.


A hypervisor is computer software, firmware or hardware that provides the guest operating system with a virtual operating platform and manages their execution. Hardware virtualization started circa 2005 on the x86 architecture with Intel VT-x (code-named Vanderpool) and AMD-V (code-named Pacifica).

Full Virtualization

Multiple technologies are available for full virtualization using software, including  Parallels Workstation, Parallels Desktop for Mac, VirtualBox, Oracle VM, Hyper-V, VMware Workstation and VMware ESXi.

Hardware-assisted Virtualization

In hardware-assisted virtualization, the hardware provides architectural support that facilitates building a virtual machine monitor and allows guest OSes to be run in isolation. The most popular technologies are KVM, VMware Workstation, VMware Fusion, Hyper-V, Xen, Parallels Desktop for Mac, Oracle VM Server, VirtualBox and Parallels Workstation.

Graphics Virtualization

Graphics virtualization is not part of the x86 architecture. Intel Graphics Virtualization Technology (GVT) provides graphics virtualization as part of more recent Gen graphics architectures.

Operating-system-level virtualization (Containers)

Another important thing to note is that VMs are substantially different from operating-system-level virtualization. On the latter, all instances (usually called containers) share a single kernel, though the guest operating systems can differ in user space, such as different Linux distributions with the same kernel.

We will discuss containers at length in future posts, keep tuned

Most Popular Solutions

The two most popular (and free) virtual machines applications in use today are Oracle VirtualBox and VMWare Workstation Player. Windows 10 users can also use Hyper-V and on Macs, Parallels is also very popular (albeit expensive) solution. Let's see how to get started with them.

Installing Oracle VirtualBox

Installing Oracle VirtualBox should be straightforward for both Windows and Mac users. The first thing to do is to downloaded the latest installer from VirtualBox's website and install it on your machine.  After installed, it should look like this:

Oracle VirtualBox after installed

To learn to install VirtualBox on your Windows box following a detailed tutorial, check this video.

Installing VMWare Workstation Player

VMWare Workstation Player is also a pretty popular virtualization tool and fortunately, its installation is also straight forward. Download the installer and run to install on your machine. After installed, it should look like this:

For more information on how to install VMWare Workstation Player following a detailed tutorial, check this video.

Installing Hyper-V (Windows 10 Pro only)

Those using Windows 10 Pro (or better) can also use Microsoft's in-house virtualization tool, Hyper-V. We've been testing Hyper-V and it's decent enough for the most use cases so, feel free to try it out too if you like. Installing Hyper-V on Windows is done by: 

  1. Right clicking on the Windows button and selecting Apps and Features.
  2. Selecting Programs and Features on the right under related settings.
  3. Selecting Turn Windows Features on or off.
  4. Selecting Hyper-V and clicking OK.

For more information on Hyper-V support on Windows, check this page.

Installing Parallels on Macs

Apart from VMWare Workstation Player and Oracle VirtualBox, Mac users can also create virtual machines using Parallels. Please note that Parallels is not free as the alternatives above but, since it's a popular solution, it's worth mentioning.

To learn how to install Parallels on your Mac, check this video.


On this article we learned about virtual machines and how to get started with the most popular options. We hope you are now excited to install one the virtualization tools above and start testing some of the best Linux distributions of the year.

Keep tuned, in future posts we will cover how to setup Ubuntu, Fedora, Elementary OS and Pop!_OS in virtual machines. Good luck!

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Monday, February 1, 2021

The best Linux distributions for beginners in 2021

Looking for the best Linux distributions for beginners in 2021? Check our top 5 picks
Photo by XPS on Unsplash

Once you understand the benefits of Linux and decide it to try it out, the next point in your open-source journey is to choose a Linux distribution that best suits your needs. Since there are so many variables in this equation, we prepared a list of the best Linux distributions for beginners to try in 2021.

How we got to this list

But before, let us explain how we got to this list. Since new Linux users have different needs than say, advanced users and developers, here are we we consider the most important for new users:

  1. Installation - how simple it is to install a distro
  2. Features - Which features are included by default
  3. User Friendliness - how friendly is the distro for new users
  4. Customization - how customizable is the distribution
  5. Software - how extensive and up-to-date its software is
  6. Community - how easy will it be to get help from the community

So let's get to work.

Linux Mint

Linux Mint is one of the most popular distributions among new Linux users. It may be due to its similarity to Windows, it may be due to its solid foundations, Mint is still one of our favorite choices when it comes to newcomers.


Here's how it scores:

Installation Features User Friendliness Customization Software Community Final Score
8.5/10 8/10 9/10 8/10 8/10 8.5/10 8.33


Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution and is based on the venerable Debian operating system. Ubuntu is also pretty popular on the server, cloud and containers and is usually a distribution that works well for everyone. Ubuntu gets a non-LTS version every 6 months and an LTS every two years.

A brand new Ubuntu desktop

Here's how it scores:

Installation Features User Friendliness Customization Software Community Final Score
8/10 8/10 8/10 8/10 8/10 9/10 8.17


Fedora is a cutting-edge Linux distribution, base for the enterprise distributions such as CentOS Stream, Rocky Linux, Cloud Linux and RHEL and incubator of new technologies in Linux and Open-Source. Fedora is a very solid distribution that works well for everyone (including Linux's creator himself). Together with Ubuntu, Fedora can increase your employability due to its roots in enterprise software. Fedora also counts with a very friendly community (albeit smaller than Ubuntu) ships more up-to-date software than all of the other distributions in this list and gets a new release every 6 months.


Here's how it scores:

Installation Features User Friendliness Customization Software Community Final Score
8/10 8/10 8/10 8/10 8.5/10 8.5/10 8.17


Pop!_OS is the newest distribution on this list (and the weirdest name). Based on Ubuntu and shipped by default on System76 hardware, PopOS is seeing a spike in its user based due to its polishedness, segmentation and default customizations.

Source: System76

Here's how it scores:

Installation Features User Friendliness Customization Software Community Final Score
8/10 8/10 8.5/10 8/10 8/10 7/10 7.92

Elementary OS

Elementary OS is a beautiful and powerful Linux distribution that focus on speed, privacy and is a replacement for Windows and macOS. As Mint and Pop!_OS, Elementary is also based on Ubuntu and is a popular choice among macOS users due to its similarities with that system.


Here's how it scores:

Installation Features User Friendliness Customization Software Community Final Score
8/10 7/10 9/10 7/10 8/10 7/10 7.66

Final Thoughts

As you can see, it's a very tight race. On a quick glance, you may question how these distributions differ from each other. And it's a valid question. There's indeed a lot of equivalence between these systems as they are based on the same open-source software.

However, under the hood, there are lots of moving parts which, for new users shouldn't be relevant for now. Choosing a Linux distribution is a continuous process. Most of us, tried, 3, 5 or even 10 different distributions until we settled on something we like. Take your time!


In the end, choosing your distro will come down to preference. So take your time, read about each distribution, test them in virtual machines before installing on your system. And remember, Linux is about choice. You will always be able to reinstall and test as many times as you want. Most people, never settle down on the first one. Good luck!

See Also

Monday, October 26, 2020

What is a Linux Distribution (aka. Distro)?

New Linux users often encounter the expression "Distribution" (or distro). Learn what that means.
Photo by Derek Oyen on Unsplash

When getting started with Linux you'll often hear the term distribution (aka distro). But what does it means and how a Linux distro is made? First off, let's review how Wikipedia defines it:

A Linux distribution is an operating system made from a software collection that is based upon the Linux kernel and, often, a package management system. Linux users usually obtain their operating system by downloading one of the Linux distributions, which are available for a wide variety of systems ranging from embedded devices and personal computers to powerful supercomputers.

What's included in a Linux distribution

A Linux distribution (or distro) is composed of thousands of software packages which are usually built by the community or by the company maintaining that distribution, packaged and assembled in a live-CD (or iso) so it can be deployed somewhere (usually VMs or bare-metals).
Today, most distros (desktop or server) are composed of:
  • an installer: the tool you'll use to install the distro.
  • a boot loader: the tool that will initialize your system via its kernel.
  • the Linux kernel: the kernel is software that's responsible for interacting with and managing your hardware resources.
  • kernel modules: also known as drivers.  for common hardware: 
  • an init system: also known as PID 1, it's the first (and only) program executed by the kernel when loading your system. Today, systemd is the most widely used init system.
  • a daemon service: a service to manage background processes. systemd can also be used to be managed daemons (services).
  • a package management system: tooling to manage software (add/remove/search/etc). The most common package managers are Apt (Ubuntu/Debian/Mint), Yum/DNF (Fedora, CentOS, RHEL, SUSE) and pacman (Arch/Manjaro) are the most popular
  • general tools: general tools to interact with your system (ex. ls to list files, mkdir to create directories, ps to list the running processes, etc)
  • libraries: libraries (software extensions) that can be used and shared by multiple programs
  • documentation: software in Linux usually comes with its own documentation that can be consulted without access to the internet.
  • development tools (optional): depending on the vendor, development tools can be pre-installed with the system.
  • a graphical user interface (optional): if you're running a desktop install, most likely your system will be running GNOME or KDE. Servers frequently run GUI-less to reduce their attack surface.

Sustainability Model

It obviously requires money, time a lots of resources to built everything and to guarantee that everything will work on the users and companies' machines. So how do the distributions sustain themselves?

There are essentially three sustainability models for distributions today.

Community-based distributions

Community-based distributions are entities that survive off of donations and often require help from volunteers. The most popular ones these days are:

Commercially-sponsored distributions

Commercially-sponsored distributions are those distributions that receive grants from commercial companies to support the development and maintenance of those systems. Note that there's nothing wrong with this category since most of the distributions tend to run completely independently from their commercial institution. The most popular distributions today are:

Commercial/Enterprise distributions

The last category is the commercial/enterprise Linux distributions. Those are distributions that require a financial commitment from the user or organization that plans to use them. The advantage is bulletproof software and usually a dedicated support to help troubleshooting production issues. The most popular today are:


    On this post we reviewed what's usually called a Linux distribution, also know as a distro. We also reviewed which components are included in a distribution and the most popular options on the market today. Is your favorite distribution on that list? Let us know!

    See Also

    Monday, October 12, 2020

    Why is Linux free?

    Linux is secure, fast, reliable and.. free? If that seems too good to be true you need to know more about Linux.
    Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

    On previous posts, we discussed why use Linux and one of our most compelling arguments to use Linux is that Linux is free. But since Linux is so secure, fast, reliable, how can it be free? Let's understand what that means and how it happens.

    A little history

    Avoiding jumping too much back in history, it's important to understand the contribution model in which Linux was built. Once upon a time, there was a developer named Linus Torvalds who wanted to build a kernel to run a free Unix clone at home. He named the project Linux (Linux + Unix) and sent a message to the world looking for volunteers.

    That project attracted so much attention that soon, hundreds of other developers joined that cause forming a big network of contributors. Linux, the kernel was the missing piece to produce a completely free operating system as most of the tools were already built on the GNU operating system.

    The first distributions

    With all the pieces to build a free and open-source operating system available, developers started creating the first Linux distributions. Some of them you may have heard of: Debian, Red Hat and Slackware, the most popular ones.

    What about now?

    The fact that Linux runs everywhere and that thousands of successful products are built on top of it, is the biggest motivator to use it. It's estimated that today the Linux kernel be worth $5 billion dollars. Given its licensing model, companies building new products today (for example, Tesla, Google or even Microsoft) can leverage Linux and more quickly reach the market saving them literally millions of dollars.

    Today, Linux's development is supervised by Linus and sponsored by the Linux Foundation which employs Linus, Greg Kroah-Hartman (and others) to coordinate and foster the development of Linux around the world.

    But this model does not only apply to Linux itself. The GNU project and thousands of other larger and smaller projects are being developed every single day by anonymous contributors worldwide following the same methodology.

    But why is Linux is free?

    Because the Linux kernel, the GNU operating system and all other tools needed to create a free operating system are available as open-source software respecting the premises of the free-software movement fostered by the GNU foundation, it's guaranteed that, as long as there are volunteers to build the distributions, you'll have a free/open-source operating system to run wherever you want.

    And this is exactly what happens.

    Linux Distributions

    Today we have two different lines of Linux distributions being built and available for free: community-based distributions and enterprise-sponsored distributions. Let's review them.

    Community-based distributions

    Community-based distributions are Linux systems built by volunteers and living of donations. The most popular these days are:

    Commercially-sponsored distributions

    For brevity, let's define as commercially-sponsored, those distributions that receive grants from commercial companies to support the development and maintenance of those systems. Note that there's nothing wrong with this category since most of the distributions run completely independently from their commercial institution. The most popular are:

    But one could charge for it, couldn't they?

    The short answer is a definitely yes! And indeed some companies charge for it one way or another. And how do they make money? Well, read the next section to understand.

    How companies make money with Linux

    Differently from this blog, Linux is not all about charity. There's lots of money being made on it today. Essentially, companies can use Linux in virtually any line of business. Just to illustrate some:

    • support
    • training
    • certification
    • licenses
    • building products around it
    • cloud services
    • storage solutions
    • networking solutions
    • ads
    • social networks
    • cars
    • TVs
    • Watches
    • and more, much more! 😊


    On this post we reviewed briefly how Linux was created and how it's license model guarantees that it will remain free for future generations. We also touched briefly on how companies leverage Linux to get faster to the market and to make money. Regardless of who builds your favorite distro, all of us benefit from this massive chain of anonymous contributions.

    Hope it helps!

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