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HTG Explains: What’s the Difference Between Ubuntu & Linux Mint?

| Monday, June 4, 2012
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Ubuntu and Linux Mint are two of the most popular desktop Linux distributions at the moment. If you’re looking to take the dive into Linux – or you’ve already used Ubuntu or Mint – you wonder how they’re different.

Linux Mint and Ubuntu are closely related — Mint is based on Ubuntu. Although they were very similar at first, Ubuntu and Linux Mint have become increasingly different Linux distributions with different philosophies over time.

Ubuntu and other Linux distributions contain open-source software, so anyone can modify it, remix, and roll their own versions. Linux Mint’s first stable version, “Barbara,” was released in 2006. Barbara was a lightly customized Ubuntu system with a different theme and slightly different default software. Its major differentiating feature was its inclusion of proprietary software like Flash and Java, in addition to patent-encumbered codecs for playing MP3s and other types of multimedia. This software is included in Ubuntu’s repositories, but isn’t included on the Ubuntu disc. Many users liked Mint for the convenience installing the stuff by default, in contrast to Ubuntu’s more idealistic approach.

Over time, Mint differentiated itself from Ubuntu further, customizing the desktop and including a custom main menu and their own configuration tools. Mint is still based on Ubuntu – with the exception of Mint’s Debian Edition, which is based on Debian (Ubuntu itself is actually based on Debian).

With Ubuntu’s launch of the Unity desktop, Mint picked up additional steam. Instead of rolling the Unity desktop into Mint, Mint’s developers listened to their users and saw an opportunity to provide a different desktop experience from Ubuntu.

Read more: How-to geek
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