Linux Mint: The Perfect Out-Of-Box Linux Experience

Learn everything you need to know about Linux Mint, an Ubuntu-based operating system with a user-friendly interface and user-centric approach.

Linux Mint is a popular, user-friendly operating system based on Ubuntu that has gained a loyal following among Linux enthusiasts and everyday computer users alike. So if you’re curious about this free and open-source OS, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about Linux Mint, including its history, features, and benefits. So let’s get started.

The History of Linux Mint

The Linux Mint story began in 2006 with Clement Lefebvre, a French developer who wrote reviews and tutorials for various Linux sites. To host his articles, he created a website called “Linux Mint.”

Over time, focusing on the desktop side of Linux, he gained a clear vision of what the average user expects from a desktop Linux OS. So naturally, the decision to build his own did not take long.

In August 2006, mainly developed and released by Clement Lefebvre, Linux Mint 1.0, codenamed “Ada,” sees the light, based on Kubuntu 6.06. Only three months after that, in November 2006, Linux Mint 2.0 “Barbara” was released, switched to the GNOME desktop environment and based on Ubuntu 6.10 “Edgy Eft.”

In the years afterward, the project has grown significantly in popularity among Linux users looking for a reliable Linux distribution with an easy-to-use desktop, hiding most administration activities traditionally done mainly in a terminal behind in-house developed friendly GUI interfaces.

This leads us to 2011 when GNOME developers drastically shifted the user interface by switching to GNOME 3, which implemented an unconventional concept of how a desktop environment should interact. Something that, to this day, is received with mixed feelings by the Linux community.

The Mint’s devs refuse to adopt this, citing the apparent lack of essential components such as a persistent panel, tray, menu, and so on, as well as the odd way of dealing with it, which contradicts user habits.

As a result, they made the bold decision to build their desktop environment. Thus Cinnamon was born, a desktop environment that has skyrocketed the distribution to new heights and, to this day, remains one of the greatest and most user-friendly desktop environments in Linux.

Cinnamon was shipped as an add-on for Linux Mint 12 “Lisa” in November 2011 and has been available as Mint’s flagship desktop environment since Linux Mint 13 “Maya,” released in May 2012.

In 2014, the developers of Mint decided to rely only on Ubuntu’s LTS (long-term support) releases. Both before and after, the accent is put on quality to please users with the best possible desktop experience. Something that, as of today, we can say has been achieved.

Linux Mint Editions

Linux Mint provides five variants of its operating system, with the main flagship edition being Linux Mint, with the Cinnamon desktop environment. Apart from this, Mint also offers two other editions with Xfce and MATE, respectively.

Because all three editions use the Ubuntu LTS versions as their foundation, they have no functional difference. Instead, as the names indicate, the primary distinction is the desktop environment with which they are provided.

Outside of those mentioned above three, however, we also have LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) and the Edge edition, which serve slightly different purposes, which we’ll go into in more detail below.

Cinnamon Edition

Linux Mint Cinnamon Edition
Linux Mint Cinnamon Edition

The Linux Mint Cinnamon edition is the distribution’s shining star, where the main efforts are focused and hence draw the most attention. At the same time, quite expectedly, it is also the most widely used and popular Mint edition among users.

It features a modern and intuitive desktop environment that resembles the traditional Windows desktop. In addition, Cinnamon offers a wide range of customization options, allowing users to tweak the appearance and behavior of their desktop to their liking.

Xfce Edition

Linux Mint Xfce Edition
Linux Mint Xfce Edition

Next, we have Xfce, a lightweight edition of Linux Mint designed for older or less powerful hardware. Xfce is known for its minimalistic interface and low system resource requirements, making it an ideal choice for users with older computers or laptops.

Despite its lightweight nature, Xfce still offers a range of customization options and features like a powerful file manager and easy-to-use panel.

MATE Edition

Linux Mint MATE Edition
Linux Mint MATE Edition

MATE is another edition of Linux Mint that is known for its simplicity. It is based on the GNOME 2 desktop environment and provides a familiar interface for users accustomed to traditional desktop environments.

As in the case of Xfce, the Linux Mint MATE edition is also lightweight and has low system resource requirements, making it an excellent choice for older hardware.

Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE)

Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE)
Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE)

LMDE, or Linux Mint Debian Edition, is a Mint edition based on the Debian stable branch. It often remains in the shadow of the main Mint releases, but out of the spotlight, it is one of the best things to happen to your Linux desktop. Why? Because it gives users the best of two worlds – Debian’s rock-solid stability and reliability and Mint’s pleasant desktop experience in one.

However, the intention of this edition has a different purpose. As we know, Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu. So, LMDE is being developed alongside the flagship Mint releases to guarantee that if something happens to Ubuntu, Mint can continue to exist and give the same experience to its users as before.

In other words, LMDE acts as both insurance and proof-of-concept in one. Yet, despite this status, LMDE is often the preferred choice among more experienced Linux users with an affinity to the command line and, at the same time, looking for a pleasant desktop experience.

Edge Edition

Lastly, we have the Edge edition of Linux Mint, which isn’t a full-fledged one – that is, not something intended to be used for everyday computing needs.

Instead, this special Mint ISO image comes with newer Linux kernel versions. It is supplied in addition to the regular Mint’s ISO images for circumstances in which you cannot start or install the distro because your hardware is too new and incorrectly detected.

Linux Mint Highlights

Below, we will highlight some of Mint’s key features and benefits that make it stand out from other Linux distributions.

User-Friendly Interface

Mint offers users its vision for the perfect Linux desktop – as easy-to-use, reliable, and elegant as possible. In this light, it provides a sleek and user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate and work with, making it an excellent choice for beginners and those new to Linux.

In addition, with a strong focus and attention on every detail, most seen in the in-house developed Cinnamon desktop environment, Linux Mint provides one of the best desktop experiences to its users.


Stability is one of the reasons why Linux Mint has gained such a loyal following among its users. But, of course, this is mainly due to the foundation around which the distribution is built – the Ubuntu LTS releases.

Being aimed at both home users and the business segment, these Ubuntu releases provide high reliability and stability, which Linux Mint inherits and benefits from.

Linux Mint Tools

Linux Mint offers a range of tools and applications to help users customize and manage their systems. These tools are designed to be user-friendly and accessible, making it easy for users to get the most out of their Linux Mint experience.

These include Software Manager, Update Manager, Menu, Backup Tool, Welcome App, System Reports, etc.

DEB Package Format

To install software, Linux Mint uses the DEB package format, the same format Debian and Ubuntu used.

This means that Linux Mint users can also take advantage of Debian and Ubuntu’s popularity, resulting in DEB installation packages’ software availability for almost every application available for Linux OS.

The packages can be installed using a GUI package manager like Mint Software or via the terminal using the APT command.

Flatpak Support

Linux Mint provides out-of-the-box support for Flatpak, a universal distro-agnostic packaging format that allows the software to be installed and run on different Linux distributions.

This means that users of Linux Mint can easily install and run Flatpak applications without needing to configure any additional software or repositories.

Fixes Ubuntu’s Flaws

Ubuntu is one of the best Linux desktop distributions. However, it shifted its focus from the average Linux user to the business segment in recent years. Consequently, it has made unpopular moves and rarely listens to its community’s voice.

Using Ubuntu as its foundation, Linux Mint removes many of Ubuntu’s flaws, such as unnecessarily included software or an attempt to impose one technology at the expense of another, acting entirely with and for the benefit of the average Linux user.

For example, Canonical’s Snap format for software distribution, which does not have good continuity in the Linux circles, has been completely removed in Linux Mint. Instead, Mint’s devs rely on Flatpak, which enjoys wide continuity and usage and has full out-of-the-box support in the distro.

Community-Driven Linux Distribution

The fact that Linux Mint is a community-driven distribution developed and maintained by volunteers means that, rather than following business interests, decisions concerning the direction of development are made exclusively with users in mind and listening to the community’s voice.

This minimizes the risk of making unpopular decisions to incorporate tools and technologies or removing them driven by business interests.

Release Cycle & Support

As previously stated, Linux Mint is based on the Ubuntu LTS releases, which are released every two years in April. For example, Ubuntu 18.04, 20.04, 22.04, and so on. Linux Mint follows this trend, delivering its major releases a few months after an Ubuntu LTS one.

However, unlike Ubuntu, the Mint’s version numbers are not set in the “year.month” format but increase – for example, Linux Mint 19, 20, 21, and so on. Also, as with Ubuntu, each Mint release gets a codename. What’s more interesting is that they are typically named after the female name, ending with the letter “a.”

For example, Linux Mint 19 is called “Tara,” 20 is called “Ulyana,” and 21 is called “Vanessa.” In addition, these code names are incremented alphabetically in each release.

Moreover, Linux Mint issues minor releases between two major ones, such as Linux Mint 21.1 “Vera,” the upcoming 21.2 “Victoria,” and so on.

Although these intermediate releases do not change the foundation upon which they are built, namely the most recent Ubuntu LTS release, they do include some significant changes, such as an updated version of the desktop environment, the addition of tools and features, and, of course, an updated package base.

Each major Mint release receives a five-year maintenance period, with interim releases reaching End-of-Life on the same date as the major one. You can find more about currently supported Linux Mint releases here.

Finally, unlike the flagship’s Mint releases, LMDE ones have a shorter maintenance period, usually a little more than two years, the same as the interval between the release of two major Debian versions.


Linux Mint is a reliable, stable, and user-friendly operating system based on Ubuntu. Its user-centric approach makes it ideal for beginners and advanced users who want a hassle-free experience.

With its vast array of features and customization options, nowadays Mint is one of the most popular Linux distributions in the world.

On top of that, it is becoming the natural first choice for users entering the Linux world and those who want a “just working” operating system without investing effort and time in it.

So, if you’re looking for a stable and user-friendly operating system that offers an intuitive interface and extensive features, Linux Mint is worth considering. You can find more about it on the project’s website.

Thank you for being our readers! You can leave your comments and impressions about Linux Mint in the comments section below.

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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One comment

  1. “Each major Mint release receives a five-year maintenance period”

    That is only as a result of the five year maintenance period of the underlying Ubuntu LTS framework base to which the custom Linux Mint additional packages have been added.

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