Linux Mint and Ubuntu are two of the better-known Linux distributions out there. Each has a dedicated community supporting their favorite distro because of the unique features and options of each distribution.
Because of the popularity of these distributions, many users (especially first-timers) often have a tough time picking one for their work. Fortunately, both Linux Mint and Ubuntu are excellent for all scenarios, including serious development, server administration, and day-to-day computing.
In this short guide, we’ll go into the details of the Linux Mint vs Ubuntu debate and highlight the major differences between the two popular distributions.
Let’s start with a brief introduction to Linux Mint and Ubuntu.
Linux Mint vs Ubuntu: Introduction
Both Linux Mint and Ubuntu have been around for more than a decade. Over this time, both distros have gone through significant upgrades, with major versions introducing new features, options, and support for FOSS apps.
Originally introduced in 2006, Linux Mint is a community-driven Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. The idea behind Mint was to give Linux OS a modern and elegant design that makes it more user-friendly. It is available as open-source software and can be used freely without any major restrictions.
The latest Linux Mint version 21 is named Vera and has several desktop options, including Cinnamon MATE, KDE, and GNOME.
Important Features of Linux Mint
- Free to use, with several UI options known for ease of use and compatibility with a wide range of hardware.
- Thanks to preinstalled applications, including LibreOffice, Mozilla, Chrome, VLC, and more, Linux Mint comes ready-to-use.
- Simple package management(download and installation) with Flatpak.
- Cinnamon MATE is elegant and user-friendly, with a design that’s closer to the Windows desktop.
- Linux Mint is very stable, with Long Term Support (LTS) versions supported for five years.
Ubuntu was introduced in 2004. It was intended to be user-friendly and position Linux as a great alternative to Windows and macOS.
These days, Ubuntu is one of the best-known Linux distributions with a growing user base. Two important reasons behind Ubuntu’s popularity are the simple installation process and a very friendly desktop that resembles macOS. As a result, the learning curve is gentle, and users start with a familiar interface.
Ubuntu comes with all the applications a user needs for everyday use and for more specialized usage scenarios such as development and video editing.
Important Features of Ubuntu
Ubuntu is available under a FOSS license, meaning anybody can use and modify it without paying anything.
- Users have the option of using thousands of free applications.
- Great out-of-the-box support for popular and legacy hardware.
- Ubuntu offers a dependable platform for development, video editing, and regular use.
- Ubuntu comes in dedicated Desktop and Server editions, optimized for their intended role.
Now that the introductions are over, we’ll now dive into the differences between the two popular Linux distributions. As you’ll go through the following comparison, you’ll discover that most of the differences mentioned in the Linux Mint vs Ubuntu are mostly about how these distributions handle user-focused tasks. Internally, both distributions are based on Debian (Ubuntu is directly based on Debian, while Linux Mint is based on both Debian and Ubuntu).
Linux Mint vs Ubuntu: The Major Differences
We’ll compare Linux Mint and Ubuntu on the following points.
The installer is the first point of contact for the users. Whether they’re switching over from other operating systems or Linux distros, the installation process and the installer is what sets the opinion of the users. While there’s not much difference between the installation process of the two distros, each comes with custom screens.
Linux Mint uses the Ubiquity installer that offers a wizard that walks you through the installation process.
Ubuntu also uses the Ubiquity installer with a set of customized screens. You also get the option to upgrade the base packages at the end of the installation process.
Desktop options are the most visible point of difference between the Linux Mint vs Ubuntu. Multiple desktop options give users the freedom to use their system the way they want. Since a significant number of users come to Linux from either Windows or macOS, the interface offered by the Linux Mint and Ubuntu mimics the UI of these platforms to reduce the learning requirements.
Cinnamon is the default desktop environment for Linux Mint. It resembles Windows, complete with a launcher (with the Start button-like popup) and a system notification area (located by default at the bottom of the screen). As such, if you’re switching from Windows, you’ll find Cinnamon a familiar UI. Another important benefit of using Cinnamon is the low resource requirements that make it ideal for older computers.
The recent versions of Ubuntu come with GNOME, which is a welcome change from UNITY, the in-house desktop environment for Ubuntu that resembled macOS. GNOME is an open-source desktop environment that has been maintained by developers all over the world. The current Ubuntu UI features a dock on the left side of the screen that shows all the open applications, along with an option for system apps and stores.
Upgrades and Version Control
Every app and software that you use on a Linux system is a package. Every Linux distribution comes with a package manager that helps you download a particular package and keep track of the current version of the installed packages on your Linux machine. Linux comes with several package managers, each with its own file types and update cycle.
Synaptic is the default package manager for Linux Mint. While it uses APT file format for the packages, it can also work with RPM format. It is versatile and offers a lot of flexibility in terms of package management. You have the option of using the GUI or commands in the terminal for package management.
Synaptic is a popular choice because it’s fast and offers a choice for the automatic update for core packages. However, many users considered it “dated” when compared to other package managers.
The recent versions of Ubuntu ship with GNOME Software, a user-friendly package manager that aims to speed up the process of finding, installing, and maintaining apps on Ubuntu systems. It works with several formats, including Ubuntu’s native Personal Packages Archives (PPA). GNOME Software has a better UI and works with all popular app distribution channels to present a single package management option for Ubuntu users.
Support is an important consideration when selecting a Linux distribution. While most of the distributions are maintained and supported by a core group and a global developer community, some businesses provide dedicated support for Linux systems. In case a user runs into trouble, they have the option of going through official documentation, forums, videos, and users who are happy to help out users.
It’s important to note that both Ubuntu (GNOME versions only) and Linux Mint have moved on to a five-year LTS release cycle that ensures stability and performance for the OS and the apps.
Note that both Ubuntu and Linux Mint are free to use, and you don’t have to pay anything to use them.
Linux Mint is supported by a dedicated community that helps update official documents and answer user questions on various public forums and social media. However, you won’t find any “official” support because there’s no official business that provides support for Linux Mint.
Ubuntu is maintained by Canonical, which offers paid support for Ubuntu. These services are delivered via support tickets, email, and phone.
In the end, both distros have their roots in Debian, and both have huge communities of dedicated fans. So which distro you opt for depends mainly on which features are most important to you.
Although Mint has a smaller collection of preinstalled apps, the software center is significantly faster than Ubuntu’s GNOME center. If you’re running an older computer model, Mint often runs faster and offers more options than Ubuntu. Additionally, Mint’s UI is similar to Windows, making it an easier transition option. On the other hand, Ubuntu has been developed and managed by Canonical and comes with an official support system for corporate customers.
Let us know which distribution you prefer and why?
1. Is Ubuntu better than Linux Mint?
Ubuntu is often said to be more user-friendly than Linux Mint in terms of the user interface and app compatibility. However, user-friendliness is dependent on your personal preferences. If you’re looking for an alternative to Windows, consider Linux Mint. If you want a more professional look, we suggest Ubuntu.
2. Which is the fastest: Linux Mint or Ubuntu?
This question often pops up in the Linux Mint vs Ubuntu debate. Essentially, if you’re running an older computer, you’ll be surprised to find Linux Mint performing faster than Ubuntu.
3. Why is Linux Mint so popular?
The reason Linux Mint is more popular than Ubuntu is its user-friendliness. If you’re looking to move away from Windows, Linux Mint should be the first option.
4. What’s the difference between Linux Mint and Ubuntu?
The primary distinction that exists between Linux Mint and Ubuntu is the manner in which Debian is implemented in both distributions. Although Linux Mint offers a more user-friendly and refined user experience, Ubuntu could be tough to comprehend initially because of its archaic interface.