Linux Mint vs. Ubuntu: Which Is the Best Linux Distro?

Linux Mint vs. Ubuntu: Which Is the Best Linux Distro?

For information on the commissions we might earn, read our full disclosure.

When it comes to Linux-based operating systems, there are many options available—Linux Mint and Ubuntu are only two of the most popular.

When making the Linux Mint vs. Ubuntu comparison, remember that both distributions offer a robust set of features and are suitable for a wide range of users. However, there are some key differences between the two that may make one more appealing than the other. Dig deeper into this article to know more about it.

Key Points

  • Linux Mint vs. Ubuntu: Definition
  • The History of Ubuntu vs. Linux Mint
  • Ubuntu vs. Linux Mint: Main Features
    • Package Managers
    • Pre-Installed Software
  • User Interface
  • Performance and Speed
  • Cost
  • Productivity
  • Compatible Apps
  • Software and System Upgrades
  • Community Support

Linux Mint vs. Ubuntu: Definition


Linux Mint and Ubuntu are two of the most popular Linux distributions. Before digging into their similarities and differences, let’s get a better insight into what these two distros are. 

What Is Linux Mint?

Linux Mint is a community-driven Linux operating system based on Debian and Ubuntu that strives to be a sleek, modern, and easy-to-use operating system. Used by millions of users, Linux Mint placed third in popularity—right after Linux MX and Manjaro.

Linux Mint is being released periodically, with new versions coming out every few months. The most recent stable release is Linux Mint 20.3, released on January 7, 2022. Linux Mint is available in three main editions: Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce.

What Is Ubuntu?

The Ubuntu operating system is a Debian-based Linux distribution for personal computers, tablets, and smartphones. It is designed to be easy to use and install, and it includes a wide range of applications for productivity, entertainment, and education.

Ubuntu is being developed by Canonical, a company owned by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth. Ubuntu is released every six months—in April and October. 

The History of Ubuntu vs. Linux Mint


Linux is an open-source operating system that was rooted in the early development of modern computers. Ubuntu and Linux Mint are two popular variants, which both have numerous advantages over other operating systems.

The history of Linux stretches back to the 1960s when developers at AT&T Bell Labs first started working on the Unix operating system. After seeing some success as a research project, Unix was eventually released to universities and businesses as a powerful, versatile platform for computer workstations. However, access to Unix came with a prohibitively high price tag, putting it out of the reach of many smaller organizations looking for an alternative to proprietary operating systems like Windows and macOS.

In response to this need, Linux was eventually developed as an open-source replica of Unix. That means it can be distributed freely at no cost to users and developers alike. Since its release in 1991, Linux has seen widespread adoption by individuals and organizations worldwide, thanks largely to its robust features and a high degree of customization potential.

On the other hand, Ubuntu was the first OS to have scheduled releases, starting from the end of 2004. Created and developed by Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu was created to be a more user-friendly distro than Debian. In 2006, Linux Mint made its first appearance with a beta release named Ada, based on Kubuntu. The second version, known as Barbara, was the first one to ever use Ubuntu as its codebase.

Ubuntu vs. Linux Mint: Main Features


Now that you have an overview of Linux Mint and Ubuntu, it’s time to dive into their most common features.

Package Managers

Linux Mint and Ubuntu both offer a robust package manager that makes it easy to install and manage software on your system. While the exact UI may differ slightly between the two distributions, GUI tools like Software Manager make it quick and easy to find, select, download, and install new programs. 

For example, on Linux Mint, it’s possible to search packages with apt, apt-cache, and dpkg commands. On the other hand, the default package manager for Ubuntu is apt-get.

Pre-Installed Software

Linux Mint comes with some pre-installed proprietary software, such as Java, Flash, and VLC. However, the same cannot be said for Ubuntu. Only a few software like LibreOffice and Firefox are pre-installed in the Ubuntu operating system. Generally, pre-installed software makes it easy to get started with the OS right out of the box. 

User Interface

Another key difference between Linux Mint and Ubuntu is their respective user interfaces. While both use the same underlying technologies, Ubuntu offers a more modern and minimalistic default look. On the other hand, Mint features a more traditional desktop environment with buttons, scrollbars, and menus that resemble those used in Windows.

Gnome vs. Cinnamon

One of the most significant differences between Linux Mint and Ubuntu is the desktop environment. By default, Linux Mint uses Cinnamon, while Ubuntu uses Gnome.

Cinnamon is a fork of Gnome 3 created by the team behind Mint after they found that Gnome 3 was too resource-intensive for older computers. As a result, Cinnamon is generally faster and more responsive, particularly on lower-end hardware.

Mint also offers an additional desktop environment called MATE, which was released as a continuation of Gnome 2. This provides an even more traditional user interface that some users prefer.

Performance and Speed

In terms of performance, Linux Mint and Ubuntu are both very efficient operating systems. However, Mint has an advantage in this area because of the Cinnamon desktop environment. 

As mentioned previously, Cinnamon was derived from Gnome 3, which was designed to be more lightweight and responsive than its predecessor. That said, when it comes to older computers, Mint may have better performance. 

Cost

One of the biggest advantages of Linux Mint and Ubuntu is that they are both free to download and use. This makes them a great choice for budget-conscious users who don’t want to spend money on a commercial operating system like Windows or macOS.

Productivity

Linux Mint and Ubuntu offer all the tools you need for productivity, such as a suite of office applications, web browsers, email clients, and more. However, if you regularly work with audio or video files, other operating systems like macOS or Windows may be better options due to their native support for professional-grade multimedia editing tools.

Compatible Apps

Linux Mint and Ubuntu both use a large, open-source developer community that makes it easy to find compatible apps. Whether you need specialized tools for web development, programming, system administration, or something else entirely, there’s a good chance that there’s an available Linux app to meet your needs.

Software and System Upgrades

Both Linux Mint and Ubuntu come with automatic updaters for easy and seamless software and system updates. These updates can be configured to check for new patches on a set schedule, so you never have to worry about missing out on important security updates or other bug fixes.

Community Support

Both distros have large and active communities of users who are always happy to help newcomers with any questions or issues they encounter. However, if you’re looking for technical support from a team of dedicated experts, Ubuntu may be the better choice due to its extensive official documentation and active forum community.

Linux Mint vs. Ubuntu: Our Takeaway


It’s not a secret that Ubuntu and Linux Mint are among the most popular Linux distributions based on Debian. Although they seem to share a lot of commonalities, this article showed how these two distros have some significant differences.

For instance, Linux Mint is more traditional in its approach, while Ubuntu has taken a more modern route. Additionally, Linux Mint is focused more on giving users a stable and reliable experience, while Ubuntu prioritizes delivering cutting-edge features.

Overall, both distributions are great options for those looking for a quality Linux experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Linux Mint good for programming?


Due to its versatility, Linux Mint is an excellent platform for creating and developing software. Linux Mint offers a wide range of development tools and programming languages, including C, C++, Java, and Python. 

In addition to its extensive selection of resources, Linux Mint also provides access to user-friendly documentation and tutorials to help its users build programs from scratch.

Best of all, it’s open-source, so you can customize it to suit your needs without purchasing an expensive license or subscription.

Is Linux Mint safer than Ubuntu?


Both operating systems are based on Linux—a free operating system known for its stability and security. However, some differences between the two may affect their safety on a technical level.

For example, Ubuntu favors updated and more user-friendly default software packages, while Linux Mint tends to take a more barebones approach to allow users to customize their software choices. Also, Ubuntu tends to adopt more recent patches for software vulnerabilities, while Linux Mint often takes longer to release updates to address newly discovered security flaws.

Ultimately, the relative safety of these operating systems depends largely on how they are configured and used by each individual user.

What is Ubuntu used for?


Ubuntu covers a lot of needs and purposes, from education and business to entertainment and other personal use. Commonly used software, such as an office suite, browsers, email clients, and media apps, are pre-installed, and the Ubuntu Software Centre has hundreds of additional games and applications.

What is the difference between Linux Mint and Ubuntu?


At their core, both are similar in that they are both open-source operating systems. However, upon making the Linux Mint vs. Ubuntu comparison, we can see some key aspects that set them apart.

One of the main distinctions between these platforms is their purpose. While Linux was initially designed as a universal programming platform, Ubuntu was created specifically as a user-friendly option for personal consumers. Additionally, while Linux utilizes one specific kernel type, Ubuntu’s kernel can be customized depending on the user’s needs.