I use Mint Linux. What do I need to get in order to get started programming in java? Is there a particular IDE that is good for Java or should I just stick with vi(m)? My skill level is as follows. Iv succesfully written a date validation program in C++ and bash shell script and I've written "number input to sentence program" in bash and I'M currently writting it in C++ as well.

Technically all you need is the compiler and a text editor. In fact, it's usually recommended that you get comfortable doing everything from the command line before moving to an IDE because the IDE, while more productive, tends to hide things from you.