Ubuntu vs. Linux Mint

Ubuntu offers a more full-featured distribution

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. In fact, Linux Mint was originally built on Ubuntu. The flavors have since diverged, however, and the choice between the two distributions may not be clear. Discovery whether Ubuntu or Linux Mint is the Linux that meets your needs.

Ubuntu vs Linux Mint

Overall Findings

Ubuntu
  • The Unity 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 enable you to integrated online and offline experiences.

Linux Mint
  • The Cinnamon desktop has a familiar look and feel if you're coming from Windows.

  • Media, the internet, and social media are stand-alone 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 just may surprise you.

Desktop Experience: Unity 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 Unity desktop environment in Ubuntu is that Windows users will find Linux Mint more familiar because its default Cinnamon desktop is much like the desktop Windows has used for the past 20 years.

Time has moved on, however, and whether people like to admit it or not, Unity is a dream to navigate and use.

The launch bar down the left side of the desktop provides instant access to all your favorite applications. Any other application can be access from the Dash.

There's nothing wrong with Cinnamon, of course. If you like a traditional desktop, it's perfect. But Ubuntu is breaking new ground and trying new things. If you haven't yet tried Unity because you've 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 your own shortcuts to favorite applications.

One great thing about Unity 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 Unity, you can hold down the super key (Windows key) on your keyboard to bring up a list of shortcuts—a feature that every desktop environment should consider adding.

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.

  • You can set up your own shortcuts to favorites.

When you use Linux Mint, each program is a stand-alone application. In contrast, because of the way Unity works, you can play music, watch videos, look at photos, update social media, and access the internet straight from the Dash.

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.

Scopes and Lenses: Only in Ubuntu

Ubuntu
  • Seamless desktop experience.

  • Integration of media, the internet, and social media into the desktop.

Linux Mint
  • Each program stands alone.

  • You can set up your own shortcuts to favorites.

Lenses provide a way to integrate different types of data, such as documents, music, videos, and photos, into the desktop. Several lenses are provided as part of the default Unity setup, but custom lenses made by third-party developers are also available to add to the Ubuntu experience.

Scopes 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
  • You can upgrade 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, which means that Ubuntu and Linux Mint will be quite different by the time the next LTS release becomes available.

In addition, upgrading from one Ubuntu release to the next is fairly 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 an experienced Linux user or coming from Windows, you may be more attracted to Linux Mint. If you want a more 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.