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Knowledge Base > Operating Systems > Linux > Linux Installation Notes: Linux Mint

Linux Installation Notes: Linux Mint

This article is to provide information for those who are installing the Linux Mint distribution of Linux, and using BootIt BM as their boot manager.

Latest version tested: Linux Mint 17.1 (Rebecca), (Dec 2014 release)


Overall Summary: Linux Mint is a derivative of Ubuntu, which in turn is derived from Debian. Linux Mint 17.1 uses the Grub2 boot loader, and uses Cinnamon and MATE as its' two primary desktop environments. KDE and Xfce desktops are also available. Linux Mint shares the same graphical installer as recent Ubuntu versions (aside from the Mint-specific graphics), and the same basic installation procedure can be used.

Installing Linux Mint is reasonably straight forward, but please note the following 3 items. While these are also covered in the recommended installation procedure further down in the article, they are highlighted here to help ensure that they are noticed:

1. Create the Mint partitions and the Mint boot item with BootIt BM before starting the Linux Mint installation. Also, attempt to boot from the Mint boot item before starting the installation. This is covered in steps 3 through 6 in the procedure.

2. On the first "Installation type" screen, select the Something else option. This option allows you to choose the partitions you created in BootIt BM. This is covered in step 9 in the procedure below.

3. On the "Installation type" screen, specify that the Grub2 boot loader be installed to  the Linux root partition (or /boot partition if you have one). The MBR (/dev/sda) is the default location, and installing Grub2 there will completely overwrite BootIt BM.  This is covered in steps 19 through 21 in the procedure below.

For item 3 above, also note that installing the Grub2 boot loader to the MBR (the default) can lead to data loss if BootIt BM is configured to NOT limit primary partitions. For more information on this issue, and how to recover from it, please see Item 1 in the Additional Information section at the end of this article.

Grub2 Problems in Linux Mint 12 and later: None noted. Those seen in Linux Mint 11 (see below) have been fixed.

Grub2 Problems in Linux Mint 11: In this version, the Grub2 boot loader will not install to either a volume in an extended partition, or to a primary partition, if there is an unoccupied primary partition slot before the partition that Grub2 is being installed to. There is no failure message during the installation. The end result will be that BootIt BM will show "Bootable: No" on the Properties screen for the volume or partition from which it is trying to boot. Attempting to boot Linux Mint from the boot menu will fail with the error message "The Partition is not bootable". Attempting to correct this by installing Grub2 manually after the installation with 'grub-install' will also fail, even though there is no failure message.

If you are affected by this problem, a known workaround is to ensure that all primary partition slots that come before the partition that Grub2 is installed to (typically this is your root partition) are filled. To help clarify the point, here are 2 examples:

Example 1. The root partition is /dev/sda2, and there is is no partition in /dev/sda1. The result will be that Grub2 will not get installed to /dev/sda2 during installation, and Linux Mint will not boot from the BootIt BM menu. There will be no failure message during installation. To correct, make the root partition /dev/sda1, or fill /dev/sda1 with another partition.  

Example 2. The extended partition is /dev/sda3, and the root partition is /dev/sda5 in the extended partition.  Partition slot /dev/sda1 contains BootIt BM, but partition slot /dev/sda2 is empty. The result will be that Grub2 will not get installed to /dev/sda5 during installation, and Linux Mint will not boot from the BootIt BM menu. There will be no failure message during installation. To correct, make the extended partition /dev/sda2, or fill /dev/sda2 with another partition.

 

Warning: Working with partitions and boot loaders while installing any operating system can lead to data loss if mistakes are made. It is therefore highly recommended that all data be backed up before starting an installation.


Recommended installation steps for BootIt BM users:

1. This procedure was tested with the Cinnamon 64-bit DVD ISO as the installation media. However, the same steps should apply to all versions of the Linux Mint installation media.

2. Before the Linux Mint install, install BootIt BM first (if not already installed).

3. Important: Before the Linux Mint install, create the partitions for Linux Mint with BootIt BM. Linux Mint requires a root partition and a swap partition at a minimum.  All Linux partitions except the swap partition should be created as Linux Native (type 131/83h). The swap partition should be created as Linux Swap (type 130/82h). Do not be concerned with formatting the partitions at this time. This will be done by the Linux Mint installer during the installation.

4. Important: Before the Linux Mint install, use the Boot Edit dialog in BootIt BM to create a boot menu item for Linux Mint. Be sure to specify the partition to boot from (typically the root partition). This will be the partition to install Grub2 (the boot loader) to in a later step. Also be sure that all partitions created for Linux Mint are included in the MBR Details section of Boot Edit.

5. Important: Before the Linux Mint install, attempt to boot from the Linux Lint boot menu item created in Step 4. This boot attempt will fail, but it will load the Linux Mint partitions in the MBR partition table so that the Linux Mint installer will see them as you specified in the Boot Edit dialog. Skipping this step may cause one or more of your Linux Mint partitions to not be visible to the Linux Mint installer in later steps.

6. Important:  After step 5, reboot the system from the Linux Mint installation disc, without booting any other boot items in between.

7. When booting from the Linux Mint installation disc, letting it boot automatically (with timeout), or pressing a key and selecting "Start Linux Mint" from the initial boot menu, will automatically boot up to the Live Desktop. From the Live Desktop, double click on the "Install Linux Mint" icon to start the installation.

8.  Proceed through the subsequent screens until you get to the first  Installation type screen.

9. Important: On the first Installation type screen, select the Something else option, and then select Continue. The Something else option is similar to the manual partitioning choice offered in previous Linux Mint versions, and will allow you to choose the partitions created in BootIt BM to install Linux Mint to. Note that if not limiting partitions in BootIt BM, using any of the Linux Mint installer's automatic partitioning methods, or using it to create, move, or resize partitions can cause it to overwrite existing partitions that it is not aware of. Doing this can lead to data loss.

10. On the next Installation type screen, you should be able to see the drive that you created your Linux partitions on, as well as the partitions that you created. If you do not see all of your Linux Mint partitions at this point, you will need to go back and ensure that you followed Steps 3 through 6 correctly.

11. On the Installation type screen, identify and highlight your Linux Mint root partition, and then press <Enter>. This will bring up the Edit partition dialog.

12. In the Edit partition dialog, set the "Use as" value to the file system of your choice. This will typically be ext4, although ext3, reiserfs, and others can also be selected from the list. The ext4 file system is recommended.

13. In the Edit partition dialog, ensure that the "Format the partition" check box is checked.

14. In the Edit partition dialog, set the "Mount point" value to "/". This tells the installer to use this partition as the root partition.

15. In the Edit partition dialog, choose OK. This will take you back to the Installation type screen.

16. On the Installation type screen, identify and highlight your Linux Mint swap partition, and then press <Enter>. This will again bring up the Edit partition dialog.

17. In the Edit partition dialog, set the "Use as" value to "swap area" and choose OK. This will take you back to the Installation type screen.

18. If you are using any additional partitions, such as for /boot or /home, repeat the steps above to configure those partitions. Be sure to choose the correct mount points. For example, always choose /home as the mount point for the /home partition, or /boot as the mount point for the /boot partition if you choose to have one.

19. Important: On the Installation type screen, note the "Device for boot loader installation" item near the bottom of the dialog box. This is where you specify where to install the Grub2 boot loader. By default, it will be set to be installed to the MBR (typically /dev/sda). Change this item to specify installing Grub2 to your root partition instead. For example, if your Linux Mint root partition is /dev/sda2, then choose /dev/sda2 from the drop down list.

20. In step 19, if you have a /boot partition (optional), you could also specify to install Grub2 there. The important thing is that you don't install Grub2 to the MBR, and that you do install Grub2 to the same partition that you selected as the partition to boot from in the BootIt BM boot item.

21. On the Installation type screen, carefully review all of the information to ensure that you have your partitions and boot loader configured as you want them to be. When ready to start the actual install to the hard drive, select the Install Now button. This will bring up a "Write the changes to disks?" summary screen where the impending changes to partitions will be listed, including which partitions will be formatted. Review this information carefully. Select Continue if satisfied that all is correct, otherwise select Go Back.

22. When installation completes, you will be prompted to restart the system. Note that as long as Grub2 got installed to a partition (not the MBR) as described in steps 19 and 20 above, BootIt BM should appear normally on reboot, without any need to reactivate or reinstall it. Choosing the Linux Mint boot item (created in step 4) from the menu should start Linux Mint.

23. If Linux Mint does not boot from the BootIt BM menu as expected, recheck that the boot item is correctly configured in Boot Edit. Another item to check is whether or not the partition you are booting from (usually the root partition) is considered to be bootable by BootIt BM. To determine this, go to Partition Work, highlight the Linux Mint root partition (or the /boot partition if you have one), and select Properties. It should say "Bootable: Yes" in the Additional Information section. If it says "Bootable: No", this indicates that Grub2 did not get installed to the correct partition in step 19. If this is the case, you can either repeat these installation steps, or you can attempt to install Grub2 manually by following the steps in the KB article linked to below:

Grub Article #4 - How To Reinstall Grub2

24. If Bootit BM does not appear on the first reboot after the installation, but the Grub menu does instead, this means that Grub2 got installed to the MBR by mistake.  If this is the case, see item 1 in the Additional Information sector for a way to proceed.

Additional Information:

1. If you configure the Linux Mint installer to install Grub2 to the MBR by mistake, it will completely overwrite BootIt BM, including the EMBR area on HD0. This will require that BootIt BM be reinstalled from scratch. If you are NOT limiting primaries in BootIt BM, this situation can also cause some partitions on HD0 to disappear (get deleted), although in most cases, they will be recoverable by using the BootIt BM undelete feature. For more information on this situation, and how to recover from it, please refer to the following KB article:

Grub Article #3 - How to recover from Grub being installed to the MBR

2. There is a significant chance of data loss if you are not limiting primaries in BootIt BM and you use the Linux Mint installer to make any partitioning changes, such as creating, moving, or resizing them. The reason for this is that, with primaries not limited, the installer can overwrite partitions that it is not aware of because they are not present in the MBR during the installation. As recommended above, the safest choice is to create the partitions you need ahead of time in BootIt BM, and then choose them during installation.

 


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