I am considering a change from Windows 7 to any Linux distro. I prefer Linux Mint because it looks like Windows to some extent (in pictures at least, so I would like to give it a try).

I want to know whether I can change the Desktop Environment by downloading them to a USB stick from another computer and installing it on my PC because I do not have sufficient bandwidth to download them. If it is possible, then I would ask my friend to download them and install it on my pc.

Is it possible to download softwares to removable media and install them to other pcs?

  • Any Unix desktop may be made to look like the default on any other Unix, AFAIK. It's just a matter of installing the themes and the actual desktop software. Look instead at (package) management tools etc. when choosing a Unix.
    – Kusalananda
    Jul 31 '16 at 10:19

Recommendations are personal and liable to become out of date. That said, I would not disagree with your idea of Linux Mint Cinnamon - this is probably the prettiest (most elegant-looking) Linux distro at the moment. But whichever distro you select, I suggest you try it first in a virtual machine. You can download Virtual Box and then download a Cinnamon virtual machine to try (I did!)

When you have decided it can do everything you need, you can then look into installing it as dual-boot with Windows...

You can download all of this software from another computer, put them on a USB stick and then install them from the stick to your working machine.

  • Thanks for the reply. Is it possible to download the desktop environment to a usb stick?
    – RogUE
    Apr 3 '15 at 11:19
  • @RogUE - not sure what you mean?
    – gogoud
    Apr 3 '15 at 11:24
  • I would like to know that is it possible to download a desktop environment(like GNOME 3) to a usb stick and then install it in my pc?
    – RogUE
    Apr 3 '15 at 11:27
  • not to Windows I don't think. Many Linux distros support multiple desktops (Gnome 3, KDE, Mate etc) and it might be possible to install one by USB, but it is easier to start off with the desktop environment that you want.
    – gogoud
    Apr 3 '15 at 11:28
  • I don't like to use virtual machines, Does Linux Mint has Live CD option, I would prefer this?
    – RogUE
    Apr 3 '15 at 11:30

A desktop environment is just a set of bits like anything else you run on a computer - you can download your environment to a USB stick or DVD/CD - whatever. Download the .rpm or .deb and put it anywhere you want.

One thing I would say is that you should be more concerned about your machine resources than looking like Windows. The basics are identical for all graphical desktops.

If you can use Windows, then you can use any Linux desktop, except with Linux you can always fall back on a decent command-line interface. I've never used power shell so I don't know what Windows is like now, but Linux/Unix was designed for command line first, GUIs second.

I know that I use Xfce - lightweight, but I prefer that to heavy (i.e. slow) KDE or Gnome behemoths - but YMMV. Even decent machines can be swamped by the heavier desktops.

  • I use windows command prompt, never tried PowerShell. I have seen some commands for Linux which appears to be strange for me, that's why I have been avoiding linux till now.
    – RogUE
    Apr 3 '15 at 11:43
  • The Linux command line is infinitely more powerful than DOS. It may seem cryptic at first, but when you go to the trouble of learning it, it's like suddenly being able to read James Joyce instead of the free newspaper from the local supermarket. I'm not blindly knocking Windows here (never used Power Shell), these are the facts AFAIC. Check out the Art of Unix Programming here by Eric Raymond, a Linux evangalist. Apr 3 '15 at 11:49
  • What are the precautions I have to take before installing Mint?
    – RogUE
    Apr 3 '15 at 12:04
  • Dual boot or single OS? Apr 3 '15 at 12:06
  • I have seen many help requests saying that after dual booting linux distro with windows, they no longer can access windows. In replies, it is said that MBR or something has been lost and you have to recover it, so I am asking.
    – RogUE
    Apr 3 '15 at 12:07

I very much agree with gogoud's answer, and this is just expanding on it (too long to comment).

I am consodering a change from win7 to any linux distro

Good move. I did the same a few months ago and didn't look back.

I want to know whether I can change the envirnonment by downloading them to a usb stick from another computer and installing it in my pc (...) is it possible to download softwares to removable media and install them to other pcs?

It sure is. For Linux Mint, you can download packages in .deb format here: http://packages.linuxmint.com/

Each distribution has a command-line syntax for installing locally-available packages. I'm not familiar with Mint, but in Arch Linux the package manager is called pacman (yeah), so you would use the pacman -S <package_name> syntax to install from the online repository or pacman -U <package_file_name> to install from a local disk or USB drive. Using the Cinnamon package for illustrating:

pacman -S cinnamon

for online installing, and

pacman -U cinnamon-3.2.8-1-x86_64.pkg.tar.xz

to install from the cinnamon-3.2.8-1-x86_64.pkg.tar.xz file you have downloaded elsewhere - and you may prefer to specify the full directory path instead.

Bear in mind that Desktop Environments are very complex and usually not contained in a single standalone package. If you have a look at the Arch Repository entry you'll find that Cinnamon has a number of dependencies, and some of those are unlikely to be present in the system so you'll have to install them manually beforehand (except if using pacman -S which deals with everything for you). For Cinnamon specifically, they would be: cinnamon-control-center, cinnamon-menus, cinnamon-screensaver, cinnamon-session, cinnamon-settings-daemon, cinnamon-translations, cjs, muffin and nemo - at the very least.

Linux Mint is sure easier to set up and get going, and if you choose this distro, you should know (and already do, probably) that they offer different "flavors" when downloading from the website, each integrating a different Desktop Environment. The Cinnamon and MATE editions are more "traditional", while the newer ones sure have their niches.

Now that you know that switching between DE's won't be exactly easy - the Mint team puts a good effort in testing their integration and it's quite non-trivial-, if possible, do practice on a Virtual Machine before you make your choice.

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