Mint Download Link: http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php
. Step-by-step primer on installation basics, here: http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.p ... 8#p1027978
. The hardest thing about installing Mint, is deciding what colors and options you want, which is pretty much the same as for XP. And, as enjoyable, enfin.
As you'll also see from that link, Linux (here, Mint) installs DIRECTLY to an external drive or USB stick as if an internal hard drive. No driver problems, nor do you have to go online.
Shorter step list is: 1) download the iso, 2) burn to DVD (3 gig+ files), and then 3) boot from the DVD, 4) click 'install Mint' icon after inserting the external drive or USB stick. Takes an hour for initial install, only two questions about your location and partitioning. Sweet.
LOTS of customization. Quick intro here (I'll do better videos later):https://vimeo.com/132150857
Linux Firefox works just as it does in Windows, so you can Sync it and immediately have all your links. So you can surf within minutes, even before you explore all your customization options. You can copy a file of pictures from your Windows hard drive and make them your Desktop. Load up Dolphin, find your hard drive (it will have a separate 'name' or 'size' to denote it), navigate to your pictures folder, then just as in Windows, CtrlA Ctrl C to select all the pictures in a folder, then find the 'Pictures' folder in your 'home' directory (which will have your username on it), then get into that directory, then Ctrl V paste (or right click and select Paste).
Then rightclick on Desktop, select Change Desktop Background, click 'Add' button, to select that same Pictures folder you just pasted into. Then, click on the lower left corner of the screen (activates Menu), find 'All' and click on it, then scroll all the way down to 'Screensaver', to configure it.
It's wonderful to be able to praise something, and baby, Mint-Mate 17 is 'it'. If you're weaning off Windows or stuck on XP and never want to leave it, this Mint-Mate is the nearest thing, and XP's best friend! Seriously, it saves XP and XP saves it...
I keep saying 'Mate' because there are FIVE desktops to chose among (aka 'GUI'), and all are interesting. But Mate is most intuitive for Windows users. Plus, it has the slickest installation and update system I've ever seen. I just hit the button and then looked at its progress every now and then. Slow but stable and gives you good feedback. No problems at all. I installed it to a 64 GB Kingston 2.0 stick, but could go 128GB or even more.
Now if only I can get its 'Wine' to run my Office 2003 (which it's supposed to do but alas I've not had luck yet) -- then I will just stay on Mint til the cows come home.
Only two big things I don't like: a) the constant Vista-like prompting for password when writing to drives (in Vista you can turn that OFF) and b) their equivalent of Explorer doesn't easily tell you file byte sizes. A smaller kvetch is that it's a pistol to master their lingo, which is not at all intuitive.
Oh: and of the many 'packages' (software) you can download, be sure to get Xfe file manager (most like Windows Explorer), RecordMyDesktop and Kazam (to make onscreen vids using one or more monitors at the same time), Dolphin file manager (slightly different, you can't have too many file managers), Clonezilla (which can run inside Mint also, and you want to do it that way when cloning non-Mint stuff to other non-Mint stuff like your Windows drive to a stick); also Calligra (far better than Libre Office), WINE (WINdowsEmulator). Most of whatever else you'd want will already be in the 'package'.
Oh: and the best cursors on the planet are called 'blueglass' or 'redglass' aka 'x-cursor' but be sure the 'glass' is mentioned. Just open the 'Package' or 'Update' or 'Software' manager (you have all three) and search on those terms to find these cursors. Or, click on Control Center, Appearance, Theme, Customize, then Pointer, and you'll seen an option to download cursor themes. Use the 'x-cursor' or 'glass' to get a list of the available 'glass' cursors (nice and big, okay).
Oh,and one caveat: DO download (it should already be there) the 'man' pages (Linux Bible manual). You can buy Linux for Dummies, but I find that book horrifically disorganized. Trial and error works better, and you always have Clonezilla to fall back on.