Which one is better, Linux Mint or Ubuntu?

This question has been there ever since Linux Mint came in the picture, and this article does not answer to this question. Well, not entirely.

So, what is this about then?

I have been an Ubuntu user for a long time. I stray to other Linux distributions but I keep coming back to Ubuntu, sooner or later. I occasionally try my hands on Linux Mint also, mostly for the purpose of writing articles about it. I must say using Linux Mint is quite a pleasant experience.

As a die-hard Ubuntu fan, I come back from Mint to Ubuntu eventually but not before noticing that Linux Mint is better than Ubuntu for a beginner.

It’s because there are a few things that Linux Mint handles better than Ubuntu, by default. And this ‘by default’ matters when we are talking about a Linux beginner. Because an experienced Linux user will find his/her way. It’s the beginners who struggle with even a seemingly obvious thing.

Considering that I have used both of these popular Linux distributions, I am confident that I can make a fair comparison of Linux Mint and Ubuntu.

The comparison which I am doing here is from the point of view of a beginner Linux desktop user who probably has just switched from Windows or thinking to switch to Linux. But it should still be a good read for an experienced user.

5 Things that make Linux Mint better than Ubuntu for beginners

Why Linux Mint is better than Ubuntu

Ubuntu and Linux Mint are unarguably the most popular desktop Linux distributions. While Ubuntu is based on Debian, Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu. Question is why to use an Ubuntu derivative or a Debian derivative instead of using the source itself. The answer to the question is derivative is better.

Hardcore Debian users would disagree but Ubuntu makes Debian better (or should I say easier?). Similarly, Linux Mint makes Ubuntu better.

How come? I am going to list five things that Linux Mint does better than Ubuntu.

Note that the comparison is mainly between Ubuntu Unity and GNOME vs Linux Mint’s Cinnamon desktop. A few parameters might not be applicable to other versions while a few may still hold water. You can read this article to understand what is a desktop environment.

1. Low memory usage in Cinnamon

Linux desktop environment memory usage consumption
Cinnamon uses less resource than GNOME or Unity

As QuidsUp YouTube channel noticed, a base Cinnamon takes almost half of what Unity consumes. It is still a lot less than GNOME.

This makes Linux Mint a better choice than Ubuntu, even for computers with decent hardware.

Of course, if you have a core i7 with 16 GB of RAM, this won’t matter. But if you have a core i3 processor with 4GB of RAM, Cinnamon desktop beats Unity and GNOME both hands down.

2. Software Manager: faster, sleeker, lighter:

Software Manager in Linux Mint
Lighter, sleeker and better

Ubuntu Software Center still takes ages to load, heavily eats up resources, and is slow while interacting with the program. Comparing to that, Linux Mint’s Software Manager is lighter and quicker. Applications are broken down into categories and thus easier to navigate something that GNOME Software Center does as well.

3. Software Sources with several useful features

This is perhaps the feature that puts Mint far ahead of Ubuntu in terms of usability.

The Software Source tool in Mint is a lot better than its counterpart in Ubuntu. It provides the option to reset the repositories to default. Which is very useful when you have messed up your repository list.

Software Sources in Linux Mint
Option to restore to default is a lifesaver

It also separates PPAs so that you can manage them effectively.

Software Sources in Linux Mint
Option to fix common update error is very useful

Apart from that, this tool also provides a way to automatically fix common update errors you may encounter. Not that it is a herculean task but having a GUI tool to do that is surely a blessing for Linux beginners.

4. Themes, Applets and Desklets:

I am not saying it’s rocket science to install themes in Ubuntu. But Linux Mint does it better than Ubuntu.

Desktop customization in Linux Mint
Plenty of desktop customization out of the box

First, you don’t need to install a new tool just to change themes in Mint. It already has covered it in Settings. On top of that, you can have several themes from the community at your disposal in Themes System Settings under ‘Get more online’ option.

Ubuntu, on the other hand, does not have this ease in installing the themes. You’ll have to look at places to download the zipped themes file and then install it.

Similarly, Linux Mint also has a separate entry in Settings for applets and desklets. You can also access an online collection of indicator applets and desklets (Windows like desktop widgets in Linux).

5. Codecs, Flash and plenty of applications by default:

It’s not that you cannot install media codecs in Ubuntu. Ubuntu too gives the option to install codecs while installing OS itself. But if you don’t do at installation, you will find yourself struggling.

Ubuntu has a package named Ubuntu Restricted Extras that consists of most commonly used media codecs, including Adobe Flash.

While this package can easily be installed using a simple command, you won’t find it listed in the Ubuntu Software Center.

Linux Mint doesn’t come with codecs installed anymore. But if you search for codecs, at least it provides you the correct options.

codecs in Ubuntu and Mint
codecs are missing in Ubuntu Software Center

In addition to that, Mint also comes with plenty of applications such as GIMP, VLC etc that you need to install separately in Ubuntu. Not a big deal but still good to have ‘necessary applications’ installed by default.

What do you say? Mint or Ubuntu?

In the last, again, it is not a hate post against Ubuntu. I am a great fan of Ubuntu. Personally, I have never liked Cinnamon interface. It’s just too dull and small for me. I prefer the bold and bright colors of Unity and GNOME.

It’s just that Linux Mint seems to be a better option than Ubuntu for an absolute beginner to Linux. Considering that Cinnamon has an interface like Windows, it may also be a factor when choosing between Ubuntu and Linux Mint.

For users who have some experience with Linux desktop, it’s more of a personal liking between Ubuntu and Linux Mint. But if you ever wonder why Linux Mint over Ubuntu, these reasons may help you to decide.