Software & Apps Linux Ubuntu vs. Linux Mint Ubuntu offers a more full-featured distribution By Gary Newell Writer Gary Newell was a freelance contributor, application developer, and software tester with 20+ years in IT, working on Linux, UNIX, and Windows. our editorial process Gary Newell Updated February 06, 2020 Linux Switching from Windows Tweet Share Email Many arguments can be made for using Linux Mint and not Ubuntu, and there are counterarguments for installing Ubuntu. Both Linux distributions are relatively easy to use. Linux Mint was originally built on Ubuntu. However, the distributions have since diverged, and the choice between the two may not be clear. Discover whether Ubuntu or Linux Mint is the Linux that meets your needs. Overall Findings Ubuntu The GNOME desktop environment is easy to use. Loads of keyboard shortcuts. Audio, the internet, social media, and more are integrated into the desktop. Lenses and scopes integrate online and offline experiences. Linux Mint The Cinnamon desktop has a familiar look and feel to Windows. Media, the internet, and social media are standalone applications. Doesn't include shopping options in search results. Upgrades are limited to minor releases. If you're a Windows user making the switch to Linux, you'll like the familiarity of the Cinnamon desktop in Linux Mint. If you're willing to give Ubuntu a chance, though, it may surprise you. Desktop Experience: GNOME Is Easier to Navigate Than Cinnamon Ubuntu The launch bar will remind Mac users of the macOS Dock. Linux Mint Uses the Cinnamon desktop, which has a Windows look and feel. One argument for Linux Mint over the GNOME desktop environment in Ubuntu is that Windows users will find Linux Mint more familiar. The default Cinnamon desktop is much like the desktop Windows has used for the past 20 years. GNOME is a dream to navigate and use. The launch bar on the left side of the desktop provides instant access to favorite applications. Other applications can be accessed from the GNOME Shell. There's nothing wrong with Cinnamon. If you like a traditional desktop, it's perfect. But Ubuntu is breaking new ground and trying new things. If you haven't tried GNOME because you heard bad things, give it one month, and Ubuntu will change your mind. Keyboard Shortcuts: Ubuntu Is the Clear Winner Ubuntu Lots of shortcuts, all with clear documentation. Linux Mint Cinnamon lets you create shortcuts to favorite applications. One great thing about GNOME is the keyboard shortcuts it offers and how easy it is to pull up a window that shows them. Windows has loads of keyboard shortcuts. When you've learned them, you'll use them regularly. The trouble is, those shortcuts in Windows aren't clearly documented. In GNOME, you can press the super key (Windows key) and the Escape key on the keyboard to display a list of shortcuts—a feature that every desktop environment should add. Desktop Integration: Ubuntu for the Win Ubuntu Seamless desktop experience. Integration of media, the internet, and social media into the desktop. Linux Mint Each program stands alone. Set up shortcuts to your favorites. When you use Linux Mint, each program is a standalone application. In contrast, because of the way GNOME works, you can play music, watch videos, look at photos, update social media, and access the internet from the GNOME Shell. As a result, Ubuntu gives you a seamless experience and is a good example of improvements being made to modern desktops. Another interesting difference between these two distributions is in what each displays in search results. Unlike Linux Mint, Ubuntu includes links to shopping sites as part of search results. So, if you're searching for a song and you see an option to buy another track by the same artist, that's another point in favor of Ubuntu. GNOME Search Providers: Only in Ubuntu Ubuntu Seamless desktop experience. Integration of media, the internet, and social media into the desktop. Linux Mint Each program stands alone. Set up shortcuts to your favorites. GNOME search providers make it possible to integrate the best of the web into your desktop. If you're like most people, you probably spend as much time using online services such as Gmail and Reddit as you do offline applications. So, it makes sense to integrate online and offline results when searching for things on the desktop. The Upgrade Process: Ubuntu Crosses the Finish Line First Ubuntu Straightforward upgrade process. Linux Mint Upgrades minor releases only. Ubuntu is the base for Linux Mint, so Ubuntu is always one step ahead. And now, Linux Mint has aligned itself with the two-year Long-Term Support (LTS) release cycle of Ubuntu. This means that Ubuntu and Linux Mint will be different by the time the next LTS release becomes available. In addition, upgrading from one Ubuntu release to the next is straightforward and has been that way for years. In contrast, Linux Mint allows you to upgrade minor releases only. Final Verdict: You Can't Lose With Either If you're a novice Linux user or coming from Windows, you may be more attracted to Linux Mint. If you want a full-featured distribution, Ubuntu may better suit your needs. In the end, the best way to find out which of these Linux distributions meets your needs is to try them both.