5 Reasons to Use Linux Mint Instead of Ubuntu

Here is a question that is often asked in forums, on Reddit, and within chatrooms: Should I use Linux Mint or Ubuntu?

On the surface, there isn't much difference between Linux Mint and Ubuntu as Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu (except for Linux Mint Debian Edition) and apart from the desktop environment and default applications, there isn't really a difference.

In this article, we're going to list 5 reasons why you would choose Linux Mint over Ubuntu.

01
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Cinnamon vs Unity

Cinnamon Is More Customisable Than Unity
Cinnamon Is More Customisable Than Unity.  Screenshot

Unity is the flagship desktop environment which is installed with Ubuntu. It isn't everybody's cup of tea though and you either love it or loathe it.

Cinnamon, on the other hand, is more traditional, much like the Windows desktop that many users have become accustomed to over the past 20 years.

Cinnamon is more customizable than Unity and provides the ability to have multiple panels, a selection of applets and desklets.

Ubuntu users would argue that you don't have to use Unity and there are other desktop environments available such as the Xubuntu desktop or Lubuntu desktop.

The same is true of Linux Mint. The difference between Linux Mint and Ubuntu with this regard is that you can install the XFCE version, the KDE version, the MATE version or the Cinnamon version and whilst the actual controls used might be different the overall look and feel remain consistent.

Installing the Xubuntu desktop or Lubuntu desktop provides a completely different look and feel because they are aimed at different audiences.

02
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Linux Mint Is More Familiar for Windows Users

Linux Mint Desktop Familiar To Windows Users
Linux Mint Desktop Familiar To Windows Users.  Screenshot

Linux Mint will feel instantly more familiar to Windows users than Ubuntu.

It doesn't matter which version of Linux Mint you install, there will be a single panel at the bottom with a menu, quick launch icons, and system tray icons in the bottom right.

Without any changes to the setup, the menus for all the applications also appear at the top of the application window. Ubuntu has this as a setting which you can toggle on and off.

Linux Mint and Ubuntu have very similar applications so it is hard to argue the merit of one set of applications over another.

For instance, Ubuntu has Rhythmbox installed as a media player whereas Linux Mint has Banshee. They are both very good applications and this requires an article in its own right.

Linux Mint comes with the VLC media player installed whereas Ubuntu comes with Totem.

Both of these applications are very good and arguing the merits of one over the other shouldn't be used to make your decision as to whether to use Mint or Ubuntu.

Applications can be installed via the graphical package managers that come with each distribution anyway.

The point though is that Linux Mint provides a desktop experience which Windows users will be used to and applications that will appeal to the average Windows user.

03
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The Ability to Use Non-free Codecs

Linux Mint MP3 Audio Just Works
Linux Mint MP3 Audio Just Works.

Linux Mint comes with all the non-free codecs required to watch Flash videos and listen to MP3 audio pre-installed. 

When you install Ubuntu for the first time there is an option during the installation which asks whether you want to install Fluendo and other ​third-party tools.​

By selecting this option you will be able to play MP3 audio and flash videos. If you don't check this option you will need to install the Ubuntu-Restricted-Extras package to get the same functionality.

This is a minor point but it makes Linux Mint slightly more usable from the outset than Ubuntu.

04
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Privacy and Advertising

Here is an excerpt which highlights the Ubuntu Privacy Policy:

Canonical collects personal information from you in a number of different ways. For example, when you download one of our products, receive services from us or use one of our websites (including www.canonical.com and 
www.ubuntu.com).

So what sort of personal information is collected and who gets it?

When you enter a search term into the dash Ubuntu will search your Ubuntu computer and will record the search terms locally. Unless you have opted out (see the “Online Search” section below), we will also send your keystrokes as a search term to productsearch.ubuntu.com and selected third parties 

There is a switch within Ubuntu that enables you to prevent this information from being collected but within Linux Mint you don't have to worry about this in the first place.

Does this mean you shouldn't trust Ubuntu? Of course, it doesn't. If you read the full privacy policy you can see what type of information is collected and how it is used.

Ubuntu also has a lot of advertising built into the desktop experience which means when you search for something you will receive links to items from the Amazon store.

In some ways, this is a good thing as it integrates your shopping experience into your desktop but for some of you, it will be extremely annoying. Some people just don't like to be bombarded with advertising.

05
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Linux Mint Debian Edition and Rolling Release

One thing that puts people off Linux Mint is the fact that the upgrade path isn't always simple and that you will have to reinstall the entire operating system rather than upgrade.

This is only true of major releases. If you are going from Linux Mint 16 to 17 then you will have to reinstall but going from 17 to 17.1 provides a relatively easy upgrade path.

If the idea of upgrading and reinstalling puts a knot in your stomach then try Linux Mint Debian Edition. (LMDE)

LMDE is a rolling release distribution and therefore it remains constantly up to date without ever having to reinstall it.

Summary