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Ubuntu vs. Mint: Which is the Better Linux Distro?

Linux Mint vs Ubuntu in 2022: Which Linux Distro Reigns Supreme?

Are you ready to dive into the world of Linux but can‘t decide between two of the most popular distributions – Linux Mint and Ubuntu? You‘re not alone! With so many different flavors of Linux available, it can be challenging for newcomers to know where to start.

As someone who has used both extensively over the years, I‘m here to give you an in-depth comparison of Linux Mint and Ubuntu in 2022. By the end of this article, you‘ll have a clear idea of the strengths and weaknesses of each distribution and which one is the best fit for your unique needs and preferences. Let‘s get started!

A Tale of Two Distros

First, a little background. Linux is a free and open-source operating system that powers everything from smartphones to supercomputers. Unlike commercial operating systems like Windows or macOS, Linux comes in hundreds of different distributions or "distros" – complete OS packages with the Linux kernel at their core but with different user interfaces, pre-installed apps, tools, and philosophies.

Ubuntu, first released in 2004, is the most popular Linux distro and is developed by Canonical, a UK-based company. It focuses on ease-of-use, regular release cycles, and commercial support for enterprise customers. Linux Mint, on the other hand, launched in 2006 with the goal of providing a stable, elegant, and user-friendly Linux desktop experience. Mint is community-driven and based on Ubuntu‘s long-term support (LTS) releases.

Over the years, Ubuntu and Mint have attracted legions of fans and consistently topped the charts as the most popular Linux distros for desktop users. Today, they remain two of the best choices for Linux newcomers. But which one comes out on top in a head-to-head matchup? Let‘s find out.

Round 1: User Interface and Ease of Use

One of the first things you‘ll notice about any operating system is its user interface and overall look and feel. In this area, Ubuntu and Linux Mint take somewhat different approaches.

Ubuntu uses the GNOME desktop environment by default (though other flavors with different desktops are available). GNOME has a very modern, streamlined appearance that has sometimes been compared to macOS. It features an "Activities Overview" that shows your open windows and workspaces, a dock for launching applications, and a global menu bar at the top of the screen.

While it may look foreign at first to Windows users, GNOME is intuitive to use and navigate once you learn the basics. Ubuntu also puts a focus on search, allowing you to quickly find apps, files, and settings by hitting the "super" key and starting to type.

Linux Mint, in contrast, has more of a traditional desktop interface that will feel immediately familiar to Windows users. It uses the Cinnamon desktop by default, which features the usual taskbar across the bottom, app launcher menu, system tray, and all the other elements you‘d expect coming from Windows.

This similarity to Windows is one of Mint‘s major selling points. If you‘re a first-time Linux user, Mint will likely feel more comfortable than Ubuntu‘s GNOME desktop. Things are generally where you expect them to be in Mint, with less of a learning curve.

That said, Ubuntu‘s GNOME desktop is by no means difficult to learn, and some users prefer its modern look and efficient keyboard-driven workflow. Choosing between the two is largely a matter of personal taste.

Both Ubuntu and Mint are easier for beginners than more advanced Linux distros like Arch or Gentoo. But for sheer intuitiveness and similarity to what most PC users are accustomed to, Linux Mint has a slight edge over Ubuntu in the ease-of-use department.

Round 2: Performance

Another key consideration when choosing a Linux distro is performance. How much of a resource hog is it? Will it run well on your machine‘s hardware? Here there are some notable differences between Ubuntu and Mint.

In general, Linux Mint is fairly lightweight. The Cinnamon desktop doesn‘t require a super beefy system to run smoothly. Mint also comes in versions featuring the ultra-lightweight XFCE and MATE desktops which can breathe new life into old hardware. Even with the flashier Cinnamon, Mint tends to be peppy and responsive in day-to-day use and gets out of your way.

Ubuntu with the GNOME desktop, on the other hand, requires a bit more horsepower. GNOME is more resource-intensive than Cinnamon or XFCE and Ubuntu itself comes with a heavier load of background services and pre-installed software. It still runs well on modern hardware but may feel more sluggish on older, under-powered machines compared to Mint.

So purely from a performance perspective, Mint gets the nod for being more flexible and capable of running on a wider range of hardware. It‘s one of the best Linux distros for reviving an aging computer.

Ubuntu‘s beefier system requirements come with some benefits, though. Under-the-hood, Ubuntu tunes a lot of settings and includes some performance optimizations by default. It‘s designed to eke out maximum performance on certified hardware. Power users who want to get their hands dirty tweaking things will have more options with Ubuntu.

Overall, Linux Mint is ideal if you have modest hardware or want a snappy, lightweight system. Go with Ubuntu if you have a more powerful machine or want to take advantage of Ubuntu‘s performance optimizations. But both distros are a massive upgrade over sluggish, bloated Windows installs!

Round 3: Software and Package Management

What‘s an OS without software? Any good Linux distro needs to make it easy to find, install, and update a wide variety of applications. And both Ubuntu and Linux Mint have very robust tools for doing just that.

Under the hood, both distros use the APT package management system. So right off the bat, thousands of free and open source apps are installable from the command line through the apt command.

Of course, most desktop users will want to install software through a graphical app store. Ubuntu uses the GNOME Software center (called "Ubuntu Software") while Mint has its own Software Manager. Both essentially do the same thing: provide an easy way to search for, install, and update apps without touching the command line.

In terms of the actual software available, Ubuntu has an advantage. It has a massive official repository with more packages than Mint. Mint‘s selection is still very extensive – you won‘t lack for software. But Ubuntu‘s software repos are some of the most complete in the Linux world.

That said, Mint takes the approach of including more stuff by default. Out of the box, it comes pre-loaded with some proprietary media codecs, fonts, drivers, browser plugins and other goodies. So for common computing tasks, Mint may provide a better "just works" experience without requiring additional software installs.

A lot of folks in the Linux community are also big fans of Mint‘s Software Manager. Subjectively, it tends to feel faster and more responsive than Ubuntu‘s GNOME Software. For quickly finding and installing apps, Mint‘s Software Manager is top-notch.

Another consideration is Windows-compatible software. If you need to run Windows programs on Linux, Mint is more likely to have a working alternative available in its software repositories. However, Ubuntu has an edge if you use Windows apps in Wine or virtualization.

At the end of the day, both Ubuntu and Mint have excellent tools for installing just about any Linux software you could want. Ubuntu has a larger selection overall, but Mint makes day-to-day software management a breeze.

Round 4: Release Cycle and Stability

When it comes to receiving updates and new features, Ubuntu and Linux Mint differ significantly in their approach. This has major implications for the overall stability and maintenance of each OS.

Ubuntu is famous for its predictable release cycle. Every six months, Canonical releases a new version of Ubuntu with updated software, new features, and a quirky "adjective animal" codename (Jammy Jellyfish, anyone?). Every two years, Ubuntu releases a new long-term support (LTS) version that is supported with updates for 5 years. Non-LTS releases are only supported for 9 months before requiring an upgrade.

So Ubuntu users can choose between rock-solid stability with an LTS release or a faster moving system with more frequent updates. LTS releases are great for those who don‘t want to disturb their setup too often. But they can lack the latest software versions and features. The interim releases are fun for Linux enthusiasts but require more frequent upgrades to stay supported.

Linux Mint takes a very different tack. It bases each Mint release on the packages from the most recent Ubuntu LTS, releasing about a month after Ubuntu does. But Mint is less aggressive with updates, preferring a "if it ain‘t broke, don‘t fix it" approach. Mint generally does major releases about once per year, but they are tested and focused purely on stability and usability rather than new features.

The result is that Mint is a great "set it and forget it" distro. Once you install it, you don‘t need to think about upgrading for a very long time, if ever. Mint is updated to fix bugs and security issues and that‘s about it. So it‘s a great choice for those who value rock-solid stability and minimal system maintenance.

While Mint releases work well for many users, they lack Ubuntu‘s flexibility in choosing between long-term stability or frequent feature updates. And Mint‘s conservatism means the latest versions of apps may take longer to filter into the distro compared to Ubuntu interim releases.


So after 4 hard-fought rounds, which contender takes the prize as the supreme Linux distro of 2022? The truth is, there‘s no wrong answer. Both Ubuntu and Linux Mint are phenomenal OSes that are a joy to use. It really comes down to your specific needs and preferences.

If you‘re brand new to Linux, especially if you‘re coming from a Windows background, Linux Mint is hard to beat. Its familiar user interface, great selection of default software, light resource usage, and stability make it the distro that "just works" for most people. Mint is also ideal if you are putting Linux on an older PC.

On the other hand, if you have a newer, higher-spec machine, want to use the latest software versions, get automatic updates for longer, or need official commercial support, Ubuntu is the way to go. It‘s an incredibly polished distro that is also easy to pick up but gives you a bit more control over when and how your system gets updated.

Ultimately, you can‘t go wrong either way. The good news is that both Ubuntu and Mint are completely free, so you can easily try both and see which one you prefer. And even if you start with one and decide to switch to the other, both use the same base so most of your apps and knowledge will transfer over.

No matter which distro you choose, you‘ll be using a secure, efficient, and endlessly customizable OS backed by a vibrant worldwide community. With each new release, Ubuntu, Mint and the larger Linux ecosystem only get better. In 2022, it‘s an exciting time to dive into Linux and discover how far the open-source revolution has come.

I hope this in-depth comparison has helped you pick your starting point. The world of Linux awaits!