linux mint vs ubuntu

Linux Mint 1.0 (codenamed Ada) was originally based on Kubuntu (a Ubuntu flavor) back in 2006. Through the years, Mint and Ubuntu have become two of the most popular Linux distros.

As Mint is a derivative of Ubuntu, the two share a lot of similarities from package management and release cycles to hardware compatibility. They both provide an excellent out-of-the-box experience which makes them the top recommendation for beginners.

However, Mint’s slogan used to be “Ubuntu done right” for a reason. The differences in philosophy have resulted in the distros developing in slightly different directions over time.

Linux Mint Vs Ubuntu – Main Differences

Linux MintUbuntu
Desktop Environment (DE)Mint’s default DE is Cinnamon. Ubuntu’s default DE is GNOME. 
FlavorsMint comes in 3 flavors – Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce.Ubuntu currently has 7 official flavors aside from the standard version.
PerformanceVanilla Linux Mint is slightly better for performance.Vanilla Ubuntu has slightly higher resource requirements.
Versatility & UsageMint is a general-purpose distro intended for everyday usage.Ubuntu works great as a daily driver, but there are versions like Ubuntu Studio or Ubuntu Server as well for niche usage.
Preinstalled SoftwareMint users consider Mint’s out-of-the-box experience to be comparatively better.Ubuntu’s out-of-the-box experience is great.
DevelopersLinux Mint is entirely community driven.Ubuntu is developed by Canonical and the community.
SupportMint’s community support is excellent.Ubuntu has excellent community support as well as vendor support.
SnapsMint doesn’t use snaps by default.Ubuntu is increasingly using more snaps.

Desktop Environment (DE)

Ubuntu ships with a customized GNOME DE that looks and feels similar to macOS. Thanks to this, Ubuntu’s GUI feels polished, organized, and accessible. While Windows users will feel some unfamiliarity due to the Mac-like interface, Ubuntu is still easy to use.

Linux Mint uses Cinnamon (originally forked from GNOME) as the default DE. The UI feels very similar to Windows which makes it the preferred option for users transitioning over from Windows.

Linux Mint 21.1 ‘Vera’ – Cinnamon Edition

Cinnamon’s focus on customizability while still remaining user-friendly and easy to use has made it a fan favorite. The one downside is that there are no current plans to incorporate Wayland support in Cinnamon.

We can’t recommend Ubuntu or Mint just because the default DE feels similar to Mac or Windows though. Their flavors must also be taken into account. The flavor also impacts other major differences such as performance and compatibility. 


Cinnamon is Mint’s flagship version, but there are also the MATE and Xfce flavors. MATE used to be Mint’s default DE until 2011. It’s not as feature-rich as Cinnamon, but it requires fewer resources. If resource usage is a major priority, Xfce is an even better option as it’s one of the most lightweight desktops.

Ubuntu’s lineup is a lot more extensive. There’s Kubuntu which uses KDE Plasma.

Kubuntu 22.10 Kinetic Kudu w/ KDE Plasma

The UI is similar to Windows and the DE is highly customizable. It’s the preferred Ubuntu flavor for transitioning Windows users. If you want a resource-efficient flavor, there’s Xubuntu (Xfce) and Lubuntu (LXQt).

Of course, you can always pick whichever distro or flavor and install the preferred DE afterward. But for those with a specific look, feel, or expectation in mind, there are great options to start out with on both sides.


The performance difference between vanilla Ubuntu and Mint is minimal. It’s not significant enough to be an important factor on modern rigs. But it’s common to try out Linux on older hardware. 

If your machine’s specs are on the lower end, Linux Mint has a slight edge. But do keep in mind that this is when comparing the standard versions. If you install the Xfce versions, you’ll have a similar experience with both Ubuntu and Mint.

Versatility & Usage

Freedom and customizability are two core tenets of Linux. You can pick any distro and customize it to your exact requirements with enough effort. But distros exist for a reason. It’s not easy to match what niche distros like Kali or Nobara offer.

Linux Mint is intended for general usage, and that goes for all three of its versions. Ubuntu has a lot more flavors which means users have more preconfigured options to choose from. There are even niche options like Ubuntu Studio which is intended for multimedia creation.  

Aside from flavors, Ubuntu Server is also a common choice for personal servers. Linux Mint doesn’t even have a server version, so Ubuntu is easily the winner in terms of use cases and versatility. 

Preinstalled Software

Overall, both Ubuntu and Mint provide an excellent out-of-the-box experience. Both include a range of packages and configurations useful for the everyday user. But the exact preinstalled software differs (e.g., Mint’s warpinator).

We’ve found that Linux Mint’s pre-installed coded selection and proprietary driver support are deciding factors for many users. Ubuntu scores decently as well in this category, but Mint has a slight edge.


Ubuntu is partly developed by Canonical and partly by community devs while Linux Mint is entirely community driven. 

The upside to Ubuntu being published by Canonical is premium support. This isn’t that important for personal systems, but enterprise environments are a different story. As an aside, this is also how Canonical generates most of its revenue.

The downside is that Canonical largely determines Ubuntu’s direction. Many of Canonical’s decisions have been received poorly by the community (Amazon integration, switch to Unity & Mir, Snap, etc.).

Comparatively, community feedback plays a larger role in Mint’s development. And although there’s some bias in this, many users also feel that the difference in the distros’ philosophy has led to Mint being more user-experience-focused.

Objectively, the last point doesn’t carry much weight as it’s mostly anecdotal. But it is true that Canonical’s decision-making is a major reason why many users turn away from Ubuntu (usually in favor of Linux Mint). 


As the two most popular distros, both Ubuntu and Linux Mint are top-tier in terms of community support. 

Ubuntu has a huge user base and online community. Most topics users get curious about or issues that they encounter are already documented through official means or in the community forums.

The Mint community is comparatively smaller but they have a very friendly reputation. Most of Ubuntu’s documentation and forum posts are applicable to Mint which also helps.

Vendor support is a different matter. As mentioned earlier, you can go for premium support with Ubuntu, whereas there’s no such option with Mint.

Finally, version support is a bit nuanced. Ubuntu LTS releases are supported for 5 years. You can get a further 5 years of support as a paid service, resulting in up to 10 years of support. But this is only for the standard GNOME version. Other flavors like Kubuntu or Budgie only get 3 years of support.

Mint offers 5 years of support for all three versions. In a way, this is better as non-standard Ubuntu versions only have 3 years of support. But from another POV, Ubuntu’s 10 years of support is better. Ultimately, the winner depends on what your exact needs are.


As distros from the Debian family, Ubuntu and Linux Mint both use apt/dpkg for package management. But Ubuntu additionally also uses snaps while Mint doesn’t use it by default.

Ubuntu Snap Store

Snaps are a pretty divisive topic. Some users like that it makes a larger range of programs easily available. Snaps are self-contained. The packages auto-update and the versions tend to be newer.

Other users dislike snaps as they often require more space compared to the Deb alternative. The packages are slower to launch after booting, and some are not as stable. Canonical has been working on all of these though, and snaps have improved a lot compared to a few years ago.

Verdict – Linux Mint vs Ubuntu

Ultimately, Mint and Ubuntu aren’t all that different. Picking one over the other is mainly a matter of personal preference. If you already have preferences regarding factors like the DE, developers, snaps, etc, you should be able to make your decision at this point.

But if you’re a new Linux user with no preexisting biases, you can pick either. I recommend trying out both using a VM or with a live USB. Maybe you’ll prefer Mint’s Nemo over Ubuntu’s Nautilus for file management. Or maybe you’ll like how easy the snap store makes installing and maintaining programs on Ubuntu. You won’t truly know your inclinations until you actually experiment.

Anup Thapa

Senior Writer

Anup Thapa is a Linux enthusiast with an extensive background in computer hardware and networking. His goal is to effectively communicate technical concepts in a simplified form understandable by new Linux users. To this end, he mainly writes beginner-friendly tutorials and troubleshooting guides. Outside of work, he enjoys reading up on a range of topics, traveling, working out, and MOBAs.