Safely installing Linux Mint

I have been reading a lot about Linux and it’s advantages, especially since I’m Computer Engineering student and my university has Bash scripting in the third year (I’m in the second). I figured I would install and dual boot it on my Acer TravelMate P-243M but it would require me to delete or shrink a partition on my hard drive, of which I’m wary, having never done it before. There also seem to be issues with hardware for people installing Linux as well as problems with Windows booting if someone uninstalls Linux.

My question is: what’s the safest way of installing Linux Mint and what precautions should I be taking before going about it?

I’m aware of the steps, having read the Mint manual and several sites, but I would love feedback from someone with an Acer laptop who has Linux installed. Mine has four partitions (in order from left to right on disk management tool) a system drive (66/100 MB), the C drive (called Acer with 131/232 GB), a recovery drive (450/450 MB) and a D drive (Acer Data: 0/232 GB).

I’m wary of doing anything to the D drive even though it’s empty outside of a folder containing ‘vcredist’, but it seems that there isn’t much choice. I don’t think I should touch the C drive or the recovery drive anyway. What’s the best tool for handling the fragmentation process? Should I delete the entire D drive or should I shrink it to a sizable amount?

Option 1: get a hold of a old or spare computer with at least a intel core2 duo or similar with at least 2gb of memory and a 80gb hard drive.

Option 2: get another hard drive thats has nothing important on it and take your windows hard drive out and install it on the spare harddrive no data loss and your windows drive is safe.

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If you don’t want to partition your hard drive you could run Linux off of removable hardware or on a virtual machine.

There are only two problems I’ve ever had with dual booting Windows and Linux: the system clock resetting (I think this got fixed) and upgrading Windows. If you install or upgrade Windows on a dual-booted system, it will kill your Linux partition.


I’d strongly recommend creating a backup before trying it out, at least of your personal files that you can’t replace. I’ve never had data loss from resizing partitions, but bad things may happen.

Use the windows disk managment utility (type diskmgmt in the search bar) to shrink your D partition. It’s not necessary to format it. 100 or even 50GB is plenty for a linux system. If you wish to resize it later, you can do so.

it’s also a good idea to have a bootable windows dvd that you can use to boot/reinstall window’s boot loader, in case you want to get rid of linux at some point. Alternatively, you may be able to do that when booting from the recovery partition, I can’t say.


Before you decide to stick with the Mint flavor, may I suggest trying Ubuntu Mate 16.04?

  1. Download and install Unetbootin in Windows and download Ubu Mate 16.04 LTS.

  2. Connect a formatted USB drive (> 2GB) to a USB port, then run Unetbootin.

  3. Next, choose the USB drive you plan to install to and add the Mate iso file you downloaded.

  4. Click the final button to create a new bootable USB with a full install of Ubuntu Mate so that you can run and try before committing.

If you think you want to keep running it from a USB, then use a larger USB >32GB. I will check back later and respond to your partition concerns and make helpful recommendations.


I suppose I should simply shrink the D drive. However, it turns out my system probably uses MBR, I found this by going to the Disk Management tool, then checking the Disk 0 properties. According to the Internet, this means I’m limited to 4 primary partitions. Should I consider deleting the entire D: drive or is there a way to work around this? Should I delete the recovery drive too? Also I guess I should mention that my laptop came pre-installed with Windows 7 Pro and I got the free upgrade to Windows 10, which I went through with.

@ArielLeslie I don’t have an external hard disk and I believe USBs aren’t great for high frequency access, so I would prefer having Linux installed internally. I don’t have another PC or laptop. Being a student means I can’t exactly afford SSDs (which are pricey in my country). I may look into getting an external HDD, if nothing works out.

@jon-starnes I am open to trying any Linux distro that a beginner will be able to use easily. After a bit of Googling, Ubuntu Mate actually looks great, so I definitely am open to getting it over Mint if the partition thing works out.

Thanks to everyone for the replies.

EDIT: I read that you can have more than 4 logical partitions even on a BIOS-MBR system. Is this true, and is it fine for running Linux Mint Rosa or Ubuntu Mate 16?

I would get your Windows 10 code, backup your files, and then nuke it all to install just Mint. It may seem dramatic, but if you’re resizing partitions, you’ll likely have to reinstall Windows anyways, and total immersion is the best for learning Linux. So long as you have your Windows 10 key (I think Microsoft associates it with your account now) and a backup of your data, you’ll always be safe. Of course, this advice is worthless if your school somehow forces you into using Windows, though you may consider VirtualBox or WINE if it’s just a small app or two.

As far as partitions, you may be reinstalling Linux a lot, so I suggest a separate home partition. This video should help (I haven’t watched it, so maybe it’s crap).

You can use cloud-9 services if there is availability of Internet! Its completely hassle free and mantainence free. Its a powerful Linux system running on cloud… Try it once before installing Linux on your machine.
Like you, I’m also a computer science engineering student, currently in 2nd year, I always wonder why programmers switch to Linux, I never found a single reason to do so! As I’m a design inclined person, I frequently use products of adobe which don’t work on Linux I guess! Likewise, you will have to compromise with many other utilities and applications, so give it a second thought before migrating to Linux.

Sorry for the late reply. Yes, you can have more than four partitions, either four primary partitions or three primary partitions and one extended partition. Extended partitions can contains multiple logical partitions.

For Linux, you should have room for at least two partitions, root ("/") and swap. Root is the top directory of the file system and swap is used as virtual memory. Windows 7+ also needs at least two partitions, System (usually C:) and System Reserved for the bootloader and bitlocker, I think.

So your hard drive should contain three partitions,right? I forgot the recovery partition, that makes four. In that case you’ll need to delete D: and create an extended partition. I suggest you recreate D: as a logical partition and use the rest for linux. If you want to make your data available to Windows and Linux, it’s a good idea to have an ntfs partition that is not the Windows system partition. Before you delete D: check for hidden system files and migrate them if possible/necessary, like pagefile.sys, hiberfil.sys etc.

Oh, and windows needs to be on a primary partition, but Linux does not.

Thank you for the replies everyone. I got a 1 TB external HDD and managed to install Ubuntu MATE on it. It works fine, apart from wifi issues.

On the internet startup screen doesn’t it suggest you do various things, among them Check to Download Hardware Drivers? I could only connect initially over ethernet cablin but after the Driver download auto-check WiFi works like a Charm!

Which program you used for burning Ubuntu ISO? i am also on the way for learning linux.


Dedicate the machine to Linux unless you have a reason to do otherwise. If you’re going to Dev and you’re going to make a serious go of making money with it this choice is inevitable. However, that being said if you’re just tooling around it’s better to run Linux in a virtual environment and not bother with doing a weird split partition system. If you go with that split scenario you will eventually need it back for the windows or need it larger on the linux side.

So, two options:

  1. Delete the whole thing and load the Linux. (recommended option, if this is your dev machine)

  2. Run it in the Windows 10 virtual machines (Windows 10 Pro required @ $199) or install VirtualBox and put it in there. Requires no deleting or partitions… Do that if you’re unsure whether you want to fully commit the machine to Linux or you’re not working on Dev full time.