Fact Checked

What is Linux Mint?

Britt Archer
Britt Archer

Linux®, like other operating systems, has different versions available, including Linux Mint. Linux Mint is a version of Linux® that strives to become easy to use for the average person. Unlike other Linux® releases, such as Ubuntu, Debian or Fedora, Linux Mint has no set release dates for updated versions, but instead pushes quality over timely releases. Because updates are primarily overseen by users of the system, there are several different releases of Linux Mint, featuring several different software suites.

The world of personal computers is wide and varied, but many casual users are familiar only with the operating system that arrives already installed on their machines. Many people who purchase a personal computer are apt to use only that operating system, which is the collection of software that runs the computer's systems. Increasingly, consumers are becoming aware of other options that are available to run their computers, like the Linux® operating system. Linux® is a free, or open source, user-driven operating system that works on nearly all personal computers.

Linux is an operating system for personal computers.
Linux is an operating system for personal computers.

Linux Mint has releases that work on newer processors. In the past, most personal computers ran on 32 bit processors; however, as hardware technology grows, software must change to keep up with it. Many popular operating systems are 64 bit and provide a more intense and graphic interface than previous 32 bit operating systems. Linux Mint is also compatible with another Linux® release, Ubuntu®. This allows the operating systems to share components such as software and system files.

Unlike other open source software and operating systems, the distributors of Linux Mint charge money to mail you a disk containing the operating system. Previous Linux® releases were mailed to users on a CD, free of charge. Linux Mint is still available to download for free, but many users many not opt for this as it is tedious and time-consuming. Cost varies depending on how new the release is and how many discs are ordered. The discs can be found on the official website.

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Discussion Comments


@Soulfox -- That pretty well sums it up, but it is important to point out that there are a number of Ubuntu compatible distros. Linux Mint isn't the only one of them out there.

Linux Mint is a good one, but there is a problem with it. Users are encouraged to download and completely install new versions instead of just updated them twice a year as is normal with Ubuntu distros. Sure, you can back up your data and settings to make that process easier, but it is still a pain to deal with.


@Terrificli -- One of the reasons people go with Linux Mint instead of Ubuntu is because of the large number of desktops that are available right out of the box. The Ubuntu user interface (desktop) annoys some people because if is so radically different from the old "start menu" paradigm. The Unity desktop takes some getting used to and may be what desktops look like in the near future. Some people don't want to have any part of that future, however, so they download something like Linux Mint that is distributed with several different desktops.

As for the people who don't hate the Unity desktop, there is sheer horsepower to consider. A lot of Linux users want something that runs well on aging hardware. Ubuntu's desktop does require a considerable number of resources. Linux Mint users, however, can grab something like the XFCE version of the operating system and get something that is very lightweight.

Why not just get another desktop for Ubuntu? That can be tricky.


The fact that Linux Mint is based in Ubuntu is a major selling point. Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distro out there, so people new to Linux can easily find software and tap into the Ubuntu community for support (and they are a helpful bunch, let me tell you).

Here is what I don't understand, however. I have Ubuntu. Not something compatible with Ubuntu Linux but an honest to goodness version of the operating system. Why on earth would I want to go with Linux Mint? What advantages are there to that operating system when I already have Ubuntu?

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    • Linux is an operating system for personal computers.
      By: enens
      Linux is an operating system for personal computers.