Choosing the right distro is not easy. And when you have to choose between two strong contenders: Linux Mint and Ubuntu, it becomes challenging. After all, both are great picks for anyone just starting with Linux.
However, if you’re here, you’re unsure which one to pick.
In this guide, we’ll explore Linux Mint vs. Ubuntu. We’ll look at different aspects to ensure an impartial comparison, including ease of use, flexibility, security, reliability, and support.
Let’s get started.
What is Linux Mint?
Linux Mint is a Debian and Ubuntu-based distro. It offers a snappy user interface similar to Windows in many respects.
It is popular among new users as it markets itself as a great alternative to Apple MacOS and Microsoft Windows.
And why not? It offers a similar interface with excellent ease of use. The philosophy behind Linux Mint is to provide an elegant, modern, and comfortable operating system.
Once you install it, you’ll find it ready to use. It offers access to full multimedia support. Moreover, it doesn’t require the buyer to spend any money. Furthermore, its focus on a community-driven approach means constant improvements involving real users like you.
As for software collection, you get access to 30k packages. Lastly, it is safe with excellent security parameters, especially for new users.
The history of Linux Mint goes back to Aug 2006, when the early release of Linux Mint took place. After that, it is termed Linux Mint 1.0. However, it didn’t go long before Clement Lefebvre, a French developer and the creator of Linux Mint, released Linux Mint 2.0 in Nov 2006. This latest version shifted to the GNOME desktop, based on Ubuntu.
In the next few years, it became popular due to its approach. The next milestone was in 2010 when it shifted to a faster and more stable GNOME 2 desktop interface.
Mint is one of the most popular OS with three flavors: Cinnamon, Xfce, and MATE. It also offers long-term support releases.
Pros and Cons
In this section, we’ll list Linux Mint’s pros and cons.
Easy to use.
Cinnamon flavor offers a Windows-like interface, excellent for those moving from Windows to Mint.
Mint is community-driven. It enables anyone to send feedback to improve it.
It offers a reliable OS that works great out of the box.
Easy installation process.
Requires very fewer maintenance.
It doesn’t follow new technology changes, making it not so great for users who want to try new things.
Mint lacks Personal Package Archive(PPA). This means you need to add PPA manually. However, this approach is error-prone and breaks installs.
Even though Mint is based on Ubuntu, it doesn’t use the latest Ubuntu release version but lags by one or two releases.
Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distributions. This is because Canonical, a commercial, develops it. However, that doesn’t mean you need to pay to use Ubuntu.
Ubuntu is a free-to-use open-source Linux distro. And, if you’re thinking of using Linux for the first time, then Ubuntu is where you should start your journey.
It offers an easy-to-use GNOME environment. Like Linux Mint, it also offers many flavors, ideal for creators, servers, enterprises, and much more.
Ubuntu’s popularity is attributed to many reasons. Alongside ease of use, it offers robust security, decent customizability, tons of software options, and great privacy. It is also not heavy on the system’s resources.
Ubuntu’s journey started in 2004 when Mark Shuttleworth, a developer, and entrepreneur, aimed to create a more user-friendly Debian-based distro. Its first official launch was Version 4.10, released in October 2004.
Both Linux Mint and Ubuntu are based on Debian. And, if you look deeper, they both use Linux kernel. So, you get access to the command line, capable of running every single Linux command.
Apart from that, both offer Software Manager, which you can use to download many apps.
Also, they both are free to use and open-source. So, you can download and start using them without needing to pay anything. Moreover, you also get access to 5-years of security updates with both Mint and Ubuntu.
Lastly, both come with pre-installed apps and are great for productivity. Here, you get pre-installed Libre productive suite, Firefox, and Thunderbird.
Ubuntu vs. Linux Mint
Now that we have learned about Linux Mint and Ubuntu, it is time to see how they compare against each other in different categories.
If you’re in a hurry, check out the table where we list the differences.
Ease of use
Easy to use, beginner-friendly with a Windows-like interface
Easy to use and great for first-time Linux users
Desktop environment and Flavors
Offers various flavors, including Cinnamon, Xfce, and MATE.
Comes in lots of flavors, including Unity, Kubuntu, Budgie, Lubuntu, Kylin, MATE, and Xfce. It also offers Ubuntu Studio.
All three Mint distro flavors come with 5-year long-term support.
Ubuntu also offers 5-year LTS. However, some of its flavors, including Kubuntu and Lubuntu, offer three years of Long-term support.
Fast, lighter on resources.
Fast, Slightly resource hungry.
Offers a snappy and intuitive Software Center with access to many apps.
Its Software Manager is slow and has bugs.
Offers an Update Manager for easy system updates.
It comes with an Updater app that simplifies system and app updates.
Comes with a pre-installed Libre productivity suite.
Comes with a pre-installed Libre productivity suite.
Highly flexible and customizable.
Not as flexible as Mint.
It offers good security but can be improved.
Offers excellent security and privacy.
It offers paid support, which is ideal for businesses.
Excellent community and great documentation.
An old community accompanied by excellent documentation.
#1. Ease of Use
When it comes to ease of use, you’ll find both Linux Mint and Ubuntu easy to pick up, set up and use.
Linux Mint’s Windows-like interface makes it great for those shifting from Windows machines. On the other hand, Ubuntu doesn’t offer any Windows-like interface but doesn’t have a lot of a learning curve.
However, if you’re starting and want to try out Linux without any Windows-like impression, Ubuntu must be your choice.
#2. Desktop Environment and Flavors
Ubuntu and Linux Mint offer access to various flavors.
These flavors offer different desktop environments – components dealing with user-interface elements, including toolbars, icons, wallpapers, desktop widgets, etc. That’s why desktop environments play a crucial role in users’ experience.
Ubuntu offers a lot of flavors. Their default GNOME-based flavor is known as Ubuntu Unity. It comes in both 2D and 3D. Apart from it, you also get access to Kubuntu(KDE and Plasma), Lubuntu(LXQt), Ubuntu Budgie(Budgie desktop environment), Ubuntu Kylin(Kylin User Interface), Ubuntu MATE(MATE desktop environment), and Xubuntu(Xfce).
Lastly, they also offer Ubuntu Studio aimed at content creators such as graphic designers, engineers, video producers, etc.
As for Mint, it offers Cinnamon(default), MATE, and Xfce. The Cinnamon flavor is windows-like. It is also modern and innovative in its approach.
The MATE desktop environment is traditional but offers a faster working environment. Lastly, we have Xfce – a fast, lightweight desktop ideal for low-spec machines.
As you can see, you have plenty of options across the board. However, if you’re a beginner, Linux Mint Cinnamon is the best pick, followed by Ubuntu’s default desktop flavor, Ubuntu Unity.
#3. Long-Term Support
When you start using an operating system, you want to use it for an extended period. That’s why long-term support (LTS) is essential.
The good thing is that Ubuntu and Linux Mint come with 5-year long-term support. It means that you’ll get system updates, and after that, you may want to upgrade to another LTS version.
However, Ubuntu’s other flavors, such as Lubuntu and Kubuntu, only offer 3 years of LTS.
For Linux Mint, you only get 5-year support. And that applies to all its flavors: Cinnamon, Mate, and Xfce. So, you get updates for five years without worrying about security or new features.
For simplicity’s sake, we will compare Linux Mint and Ubunutu’s default desktop environment, i.e., Cinnamon and Gnome.
Both Cinnamon and Gnome are fast. There is not much difference in performance. However, Mint’s Cinnamon tries has lower memory consumption, making everything faster.
So, the first time you install any of these two distros, you’ll find Linux Mint faster out of the box. But the difference fades if you’re using an adequately faster machine with a quad-core processor, tons of RAM, and a fast SSD.
Note: The performance depends on the apps or processes you run on your distro. The computer specs also affect the overall performance.
Ubuntu and Mint are open-source projects. Therefore, they’re free to download and use. However, there is one big difference.
Linux Mint is community-driven, whereas Canonical, a commercial company, develops Ubuntu. So, you can use both of them for free, but you need to pay for any support for Ubuntu.
However, if you’re a non-business user, it doesn’t matter.
On the other hand, if you’re a business user, getting Ubuntu is beneficial, as you can access professional support.
#6. Software Managers
Modern Linux distros like Linux Mint and Ubuntu come with software managers. It makes software easily accessible, especially for new users.
In Ubuntu, you get its Software Center. It is intuitive but can be slow and resource-hungry. On the other hand, Linux Mint offers access to a lighter Software Manager. It is responsive and lets you install the software in minutes.
In short, Linux Mint’s Software Center is way better than Ubuntu’s.
Upgrading Ubuntu or Mint is super easy. Ubuntu offers a nifty Software Updater app. The app, once opened, searches for updates, downloads them, and installs them for you.
Similarly, Mint also offers an Update Manager app that updates the system and installed apps.
Productivity-wise, Linux Mint shines, especially if you look at out-of-the-box experience. It offers the Libre Office productivity suite, along with the Firefox browser.
However, Ubuntu offers a similar experience as it offers access to the Libre Office suite.
The other apps both OS offer include Thunderbird email client and Transmission, a BitTorrent client.
Mint offers a better productive suite, as it offers VLC, GIMP, and Pidgin.
When it comes to different Linux distros, the difference is small. That’s because, at the core, you get access to the Linux kernel. However, its flexibility and customizability separate Linux from Windows and Mac.
In this criteria, Ubuntu doesn’t do well. That’s because they are pushing a unified experience for desktops, mobile, and PCs with Unity. This is similar to what Microsoft tried to do with Windows (Windows 8, to be specific).
Linux is about “freedom.” And that’s what Linux Mint understands pretty well. Also, it is community-driven, making it open to changes.
However, you can install other Ubuntu flavors, such as Xfce or KDE, if you want more flexibility.
Linux is a secure operating system. However, it still needs constant security updates. That can include day-one fixes or regular updates. That’s why Ubuntu and Mint offer an LTS version with 5 years of support.
Ubuntu takes security seriously. For example, they have a dedicated security team that anyone can contact if they find any vulnerabilities. In contrast, Linux Mint doesn’t have any security advisory.
Also, if you use a non-LTS version, you only get nine months of security support.
If you require a secure OS environment, Ubuntu is the way to go, especially if you’re working in a business or enterprise setting. However, this doesn’t mean that Linux Mint is not secure. On the contrary, many users may find Ubuntu’s constant security updates annoying. In that case, Linux Mint is a better choice.
Ubuntu is the best choice for anyone looking for professional support. They offer paid support and help resolve issues. That’s because Canonical manages Ubuntu development. But, of course, as a regular user, you can always use their community support.
Linux Mint doesn’t offer any such paid support. Instead, it is community-driven; if you need help, you must go the community route.
The fact that Linux is open-source makes most distro’s community an integral part.
That’s why Ubuntu and Linux Mint have vibrant and large communities with no clear winner.
There is no clear winner. Both have their pros and cons. Choosing a Linux distro for yourself is personal, so you should go forward with the one that fits your needs.
In any case, you must try the distro that you want to use. These distros come with their own Live USB version. So you can try them without the need to install them first. And, if you have never used Linux before, you can use Web-browser Linux services to try out different distros.
I am a C1 Advanced(CEFR) certified writer with a master’s degree in computer science (B Level from NIELIT, India) with seven years of writing experience. My experience includes writing for the Web and covering diverse topics including Web3,… read more
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