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Linux Mint: Free Programs, Services And New User Guide

Linux Mint 🍀 is completely free and compatible with both Mac and Windows computers. Like Macs, there are practically zero viruses. 🦠 In my opinion it is the most privacy focused operating system there is! This article was last updated: 7/13/2023

The code is completely public ("open source") unlike MacOS or Windows which, although they use some open source code for certain things, also run proprietary code in the background. So we don't know 100% what Mac or Windows computers are doing with our data in the background.

Linux Mint is the version of Linux I like the most. 😍 You can even run Linux Mint off a USB drive, called "Linux Live", so you can try it out without having to install it on your computer! To do this, you only need to follow the first two sections ("Download" and "Live Boot") in the official guide.

Linux Mint can do the majority of things you need to do like internet browsing, Zoom, email, video streaming (Netflix, Hulu, etc), gaming on Steam, edit Word documents on LibreOffice, etc. But some specific applications are not Linux compatible yet.

Therefore, overall I feel the best computing setup is to have one Linux computer where you do all your personal stuff and a second computer (Windows or Mac) where you do your work-related stuff or things that aren't available in Linux yet. This way you don't compromise on privacy.

Or you can also install Linux alongside your current system (Windows or Mac) so that you can run either system from your computer. More information on this in the Linux Mint official guide under the "Install Linux Mint" section -> "Choose an installation type." Also, Linux Ubuntu has a guide on how to easily install Linux Ubuntu inside of Windows.

Below are some of my favorite customizations on a brand new Linux Mint install. 😍 Let me know if you have any questions! Simply click the contact button at the top of this page to send me a message. 😊



Install Linux Mint by using the official guide or follow one of the many guides on YouTube. During the install process I highly recommend enabling "Encrypt my home folder" when prompted so if your computer is ever lost or stolen, none of your personal data can be retrieved. On the other hand, if you forget your password... good luck! 😂 You'll lose all your personal data.


Once it's installed and you log in for the first time you'll see a Welcome screen. This is what I do on this screen:

First Steps >

  1. Choose a desktop color.

  2. Enable dark mode by clicking on the sun to moon sliding bar. This theme is easier on the eyes. 😊

  3. Panel Layout > I like the Modern look.

  4. System Snapshots > Launch.

    1. Select Snapshot Type > RSYNC. Then click Next.

    2. Select Snapshot Location. I leave everything as is then click Next.

    3. Select Snapshot Levels: Monthly 4, Weekly 4, Daily 7, Boot 5.

    4. Click Finish.

    5. Close Timeshift.

  5. Driver Manager > Launch > Install missing drivers.

  6. Update Manager > Launch.

    1. If you get a message stating there's a new version of update manager available, click Ok to install it.

    2. Edit > Preferences.

      1. Options >

        1. Hide the update manager after applying updates > check.

        2. Only show a tray icon when updates are available or in case of errors > check

      2. Automation > check everything.

    3. Install all updates. You might need to restart your computer.

  7. Uncheck "Show this dialog at startup" on Welcome splash screen to prevent this window from popping up next time you login.


Open the Software Manager app, search for and install the following essential programs. 😊

  • Bleachbit: Enables you to securely delete files instead of just moving them to the recycle bin. Also works on USB drives.

  • Freefilesync: Backup your files to your USB drive.

  • Gimp: Advanced image editor like Adobe Photoshop.

  • Libreoffice: Free alternative to Microsoft Office.

  • Signal: Privacy focused messenger that is much better than iMessage, Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp. Backed by Edward Snowden.

  • ungoogled-chromium: Like Google Chrome but without sending your internet browsing activity back to Google. Once installed, enable your address bar search engine by going to the three little dots at the top right, click on Settings, click on Search engine and select your desired search engine from the drop down menu. I like using DuckDuckGo which is a privacy focused version of Google search.

  • VLC: Play almost any video file format.

These are some other cool programs I like:

  • Autokey: Text expander. For example when you type "btw", your computer types "By the way". Useful for common things you type like your email, address, phone number, special characters, accented vowels, ñ, etc. Text expanders for Windows, Macs, iPhone, iPad and Android are available here.

  • Avidemux: for clipping videos.

  • Brasero: for burning CDs/DVDs

  • Dropbox: common collaborative file sharing program like Google Drive and One Drive.

Google Chrome

  • Go to this page if you want to install regular Google Chrome:

  • Click "Download Chrome."

  • Make sure "64 bit .deb" is selected and click "Accept and Install."

  • Open the file you downloaded and continue with the install.

Install numlock.

This is so the "number pad" on your keyboard is automatically turned on when you turn on your computer.

  • Open the Terminal app.

  • Type the following code and press Enter.

sudo apt-get install numlockx
  • Enter your password when prompted and press Enter. You wont see it typing anything for security reasons but enter your password anyways, press Enter and it'll work. :)

  • Go to Super* > Administration > Login Window > Settings > activate numlock.

Here are some other programs I highly recommend:

  • HPLIP: Drivers to install your HP printer / scanner.

  • ProtonVPN: Free! Gives you a private internet connection so that your internet service provider doesn't keep a log of every website you visit on your computer. Go through all the steps in this page.

  • Steam: App store for games.

  • Veracrypt: Password protect your USB drives. Mint 21 uses the Veracrypt Ubuntu 22.04 version.


*Linux users call the "WIN" key or "Windows key" on the keyboard the "Super" key.

  1. Super > Administration > Login Window > Appearance > Background > Choose an image.

  2. Super > Preferences >

    1. Backgrounds > pick your favorite picture. :)

    2. Keyboard > Shortcuts >

      1. General > Show Desktop. Double click on "unassigned" under "Keyboard bindings." "unassigned" should change to "pick an accelerator." Press Super+M on your keyboard. This minimizes all your windows by pressing Super+M.

      2. System > Lock Screen, add Super+L the same way as in the previous step. This locks your computer by pressing Super+L.

      3. Launchers > Launch web browser, add F8. This launches your internet browser by pressing the F8 key on your keyboard.

      4. Sound and Media >

        1. Volume mute, add Super+Delete.

        2. Volume Down, add Super+PageDown.

        3. Volume Up, add Super+PageUp.

    3. Screensaver >

      1. Settings > Delay before... > never

      2. Customize > Always show the clock > uncheck. I don't like seeing the clock on the lock screen. :)

    4. Power Management >

      1. Turn off the screen when inactive for > Never

      2. When the lid is closed > Do nothing

      3. When the power button is pressed > Shut down immediately


  1. Disable desktop icon auto arrange. Right click an empty space on the desktop > Customize > Auto-arrange > uncheck.

  2. Personally, I don't like the clock on the bottom right. Here's how to remove it. Right click on the clock, then click "Remove Calendar."

  3. Pin your favorite apps to the Panel / Taskbar:

    1. Open the program you want to pin.

    2. Right click on it's icon when it shows up on the taskbar then click "Pin to Panel."

    3. I usually pin everything I installed in the INSTALL PROGRAMS section above.

  4. Make your panel ("taskbar") centered and completely transparent by using the "Transparent Panels" extension. 😊


Here's how to add shutdown and restart shortcuts to your desktop. 😊

1. Shutdown shortcut

a. Right click an empty space on the desktop, then click on "Create a new launcher here..."

b. Enter "shutdown" for the name without quotes.

c. Enter the following in the command field:

shutdown -Ph now

d. Click on the image. It usually looks like a "rocket."

e. In the search bar, search for "shutdown" without quotes.

f. Click on your favorite icon.

g. Click "Select."

h. Click "OK."

2. Restart shortcut

a. Right click an empty space on the desktop, then click on "Create a new launcher here..."

b. Enter "restart" for the name without quotes.

c. Enter the following in the command field:

shutdown -Pr now

d. Click on the image. It usually looks like a "rocket."

e. In the search bar, search for "refresh" without quotes.

f. Click on your favorite icon.

g. Click "Select."

h. Click "OK."

What are your favorite programs or services for Linux Mint? Comments, questions or suggestions? Click the contact button above to send me a message. 😊



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