Linux Mint For Your Old Computer
Mr. A.G., referring to his old PC, newly installed with Linux Mint, in a text to me: “It went from unusable to very usable speed wise. Thanks”.
Have an old computer, and still want to use it? Maybe give it to the kids. Use it as a gaming system to run old DOS games. You can revive your old computer with an up-to-date operating system.
Linux Mint is an operating system for desktop and laptop computers. It is designed to work ‘out of the box’ and comes fully equipped with the apps most people need, including an office app suite. I recommend many free software packages that run on Linux Mint.
I use Linux Mint to program this website. I am a fond advocate. So much, that I include instructions on this website for how to install other software on Linux Mint. Linux Mint makes it easy to do.
Linux Mint works on most computers. It can also be run from a bootable USB stick to make sure everything works fine without having to install anything.
You can have both Windows and Linux Mint running on the same computer. A menu asks you which one to use when you start the computer. This gets a bit more complicated. I don’t show how to do that here. I will show you how to get started using Linux Mint on an old computer that was otherwise destined for the trash.
- 64-bit processor (if your computer was manufactured after 2007, then you probably have a 64-bit processor)
- RAM: 4GB recommended (2GB minimum)
- diskspace: 100GB recommended (20GB minimum)
- resolution: 1024×768
Get A Bootable USB Stick With Linux Mint
For this article, I will explain for somebody with a new PC and an old PC. You will install Linux Mint on the old PC. Have this article on your new PC or on a phone, whichever is close to the old PC.
First, get a USB stick. You will install Linux Mint on your old computer with it.
Option 1: Buy One
Buy a USB stick already loaded with Linux Mint – Cinnamon. You can get one here. Choose Linux Mint, but not the Debian Edition. Choose the latest version, which will have the highest version number. As of this writing, the latest version is Linux Mint 21 “Vanessa”. Click on that. Then, for desktop version, choose Cinnamon Edition.
Option 2: Make One
You still have to but a USB stick. But with this option, you will load on Linux Mint.
Go to the Linux Mint website at https://linuxmint.com/. Click the download button.
Scroll down to the Cinnamon Edition. Click the Download button. Insure that you have downloaded the official ISO image. See the web site for instructions.
You’re going to have to verify your download. If you don’t know how to do that, then first read Are Your Downloads Valid?.
You will need to make a bootable USB stick. Plug in your USB stick to your new PC. Download balenaEtcher (FOSS), install it and run it. Choose Flash from file and choose your ISO file in your Downloads folder. Mine was named
Select target, which is your USB stick. Follow the three steps to flash the USB stick, and wait.
When done, take out the USB stick from your new PC.
Boot Your Old PC With Linux Mint
If this is a laptop, plug it in. You don’t want to run out of power during this procedure.
Place your USB stick in your old PC, and reboot your old PC. On my Acer laptop, I have to quickly press the F12 key on my keyboard, in order to get into the Boot Manager / Boot Option or something that implies that it changes the boot order. Your Function key may be different. This usually appears on a black screen with white letters, but it passes quickly. If it doesn’t, check your documentation for your model, or Startpage search for your model, to know what Function key to press. Mr. A.G. had to choose F9 on his computer. Finding this information should be the most difficult thing that you do in these instructions.
From here in the Boot Option Menu, you can choose USB HDD / USB SDD or something with the phrase USB in it. If it doesn’t say USB, it may say the model of USB stick.
A black screen with white letters comes up. This is the GNU Grub. I selected Start Linux Mint 21 Cinnamon 64-bit with my arrow keys (on the keyboard). Then I pressed the Enter key. Soon, the Linux Mint logo appears.
Then you’ll see a desktop similar to the pic below.
If you want to try out Linux Mint, then you can do so now. I suggest that you install Linux Mint. This will destroy the old data. But, that is why you are doing this, to get a fresh new operating system.
The time will show the incorrect time, since it will show UDT time currently. We will fix that later.
Install Linux Mint
Double-click the icon Install Linux Mint shaped like a DVD.
Choose your language. I chose English. Click Continue.
Choose your keyboard layout. For me, I just chose English – US and English – US. Click Continue.
Choose Connect to this network (unlike the pic above), and choose your Wi-Fi network. I have them shaded out. Click Connect. A window will popup for Authentication required by Wi-Fi network. This will ask for your Wi-Fi password. Enter it here, and click Connect.
In the upper-right, a temporary window will popup saying Wi-Fi network Connection established. Linux Mint also found my network printer connected by Ethernet. It should also find a Wi-Fi printer, but not necessarily a printer connected by USB to a computer.
Click the checkbox for Install multimedia codecs, and then click Continue.
Unmount partitions that are in use? Click Yes.
Because I already had Ubuntu installed, this installation detected that, and gave me the first option. Choose Erase disk and install Linux Mint. The click Continue.
Click Install Now.
Popup window Write the changes to disks?. The warning on here looks ominous. This is to make sure that you don’t have any data on the drive that you want to keep. If so, the data will be destroyed if you continue. Click Continue.
Choose your time zone. Click Continue. From now on, the date and time in the lower-right will reflect your local date and time.
Fill that out.
Choose Require my password to log in and Encrypt my home folder. Create a Strong password. This should include at least one uppercase letter (A-Z), one lowercase letter (a-z), one numeral (0-9), and one other character. You will use this password to login to Linux Mint, and to install software, like we will later with the Update Manager. Click Continue.
You can now watch the slideshow teaching you more about Linux Mint, or you can just wait and do something else. Since this step took 28 minutes for me, my screen went blank, and I had to move the mouse to see the screen.
Remove the USB Stick from the computer. Click Restart Now. Make sure that you don’t need to power on your computer.
Wait while the computer reboots, and some black screens appear. The Linux Mint logo will appear. Then the screen will appear for you to login. Your name will be on the screen. Type in your password, and press the Enter key.
Close the window in the upper-right, and you will see the Linux Mint desktop. You’ve installed Linux Mint.
Now, the Update Manager will appear. Read it, and then click OK.
A new version of the Update Manager was available during my install, so I installed it by clicking Apply the Update.
“An application is attempting to perform an action that requires privileges. Authentication is required to perform this action.” Type in your Linux Mint password and click Authenticate.
Now, the Update Manager will appear.
You want to install all of the updates. Click Install Updates.
You will need to type in your password to allow this additional software to install. Type in your Linux Mint password, and then click Authenticate.
Reboot your PC, as recommended.
In the lower-left of the entire screen, click the Linux Mint start button, then the red Power button.
Then click Restart.
Once it reboots, go to this website on your formerly old PC, now new Linux Mint PC, and click to learn about multiple desktops or go to my Linux apps page to see free apps to install. If you want your Linux Mint computer to look like Windows XP, then read this.
When downloading software for Linux Mint 21.1, and you don’t find a Linux Mint version, you can download for Ubuntu 22.04.
If you want to do gaming on your new Linux Mint computer, you have a few options. One is to install DOSBox and run free DOS games on top of it. If you want to run Windows games, then you can install Playonlinux or Bottles (both a front-end for Wine).
To configure settings for Linux Mint, go to Linux Mint Config.
To learn more, you can watch this video: Linux Mint 21 Cinnamon Edition: A Great Linux Distro (but with a Few Rough Edges).