5 Things Linux Mint 16 Does Better Than Ubuntu 13.10

Linux Mint vs Ubuntu

Which one is better, Linux Mint or Ubuntu? This question has been there ever since Linux Mint came in picture. And this article does not answer to this question, well, not entirely. So, what is this about then?

I have been an Ubuntu user for a long time. I stray to other Linux distributions but I keep coming back to Ubuntu, sooner or later. I tried my hands on Linux Mint 16 recently and I must say it is quite pleasant experience. As an old Ubuntu user, it was natural for me to compare my experience with Linux Mint with Ubuntu.

Top seats for beginner friendly Linux desktop are acquired by Ubuntu and Linux Mint, there is no doubt about it. While Ubuntu is based on Debian, Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu. Question is why use an Ubuntu derivative or a Debian derivative instead of using the source itself. The answer to the question is derivative is better.

The comparison which I am doing here is from the point of view of a beginner Linux desktop user who has just switched from Windows. The comparison is between Linux Mint 16 Petra with Cinnamon and Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander with Unity. The comparison may or may not be applicable to other versions.

Things that make Mint a better Linux desktop for beginners than Ubuntu:

There are few features which one expects in a desktop but unfortunately, Ubuntu has not been serious about them. I have earlier wrote about things I hate in Ubuntu 13.04, and its pretty much the same story in Ubuntu 13.10.

Format a USB disk:

USb format Linux Mint

When was the last time you did a right click on a mounted USB disk and was actually able to do a format? Until Ubuntu 13.04 there was not even an option of USB format in right click menu context. You had to put a lot of extra effort to format a USB disk in Ubuntu. It exists in Ubuntu 13.10 but does not work as Files (default file manager) requires to be run as root to do such operation. Oh, but it won’t ask you for that. You click on format and nothing happens.

In Linux Mint, Nemo does a fine job on USB formatting. It is surprising that such a basic feature does not work in Ubuntu 13.10.

Start up disk creator:

Live Image Linux Mint

When I downloaded the image of Linux Mint to try it via live USB, I tried to create a live USB using Start up disk creator program in Ubuntu. It was all well till the end when it gave error and live USB could not be created. A bug has been reported but it has not been resolved in past two months.

On the other hand Linux Mint 16 has introduced its own USB Image Writer that works like a charm. I created a live USB of Fedora and it did not raise any issue.

Themes, Applets and Desklets:

Themes in Linux Mint

I am not saying its a rocket science to install themes in Ubuntu 13.10. But Linux Mint does it better than Ubuntu. One can have several themes from the community at its disposal in Themes System Settings under ‘Get more online’ tab, a feature similar to Windows 7. Ubuntu, on the other hand, does not have this ease in installing the themes. You’ll have to look at places to download the zipped themes file and then install it.

Similarly, Linux Mint has quick access to online  collection of indicator applets and desklets (Windows like desktop widgets in Linux).

Codecs, Flash and plenty of applications by default:

You may have to struggle a bit to install Flash in Ubuntu but Linux Mint got it smoothly. And so is several other media codecs. Not that you cannot install it in Ubuntu. Ubuntu too gives the option to install codecs while installing OS itself. Its just that you don’t have to do this extra thing in Linux Mint. Mint also comes with plenty of applications such as GIMP, VLC etc that you need to install separately in Ubuntu.

The argument behind dropping several big programs like GIMP from Ubuntu disk image was to keep the size of ISO under 700 MB (standard CD size). But later on, they could not put all of it under 700 MB and increased the size of the ISO image. Which means Ubuntu cannot be installed in one CD any more. Ubuntu 13.10 image size is roughly 925 MB while Linux Mint 16 is 1.3 GB. In my opinion, since the main purpose of removing the default applications is no longer valid, Ubuntu should put it back in the bundle.

Software Manager: faster, sleeker, lighter:

Software Manager Linux Mint

Ubuntu Software Center takes ages to load, eats up resources heavily and it slow while interacting with it. This is why I was ecstatic when App Grid, a lighter alternative of Ubuntu Software Center was launched. Comparing to that, Linux Mint’s Software Manager is lighter and quicker. Applications are broken down in to categories and thus easier to navigate.

In the last, again, it is not a hate post against Ubuntu. I am still a great fan of Ubuntu. Its just that Linux Mint seems to be a better option than Ubuntu for an absolute beginner to Linux. For users who have even little experience with Linux desktop, its more of a personal liking between Ubuntu and Linux Mint. But if you ever wonder why Linux Mint over Ubuntu, these reasons may help you to decide.

  • Amarnath Reddy

    It’s pretty easy to get all the features we have on linux mint become live on ubuntu.
    Isn’t it?
    Debian is better than ubuntu, Ubuntu is better than Linux mint, I think because parent is always parent, kid is always a kid.
    It depends on how we like it.
    Kid likes Mint,
    Young likes Ubuntu,
    Parent likes Debian…
    I think we geek’s don’t stay too much on kids version. I hope you roll back to Ubuntu or debian soon ;)

    • http://www.computerandyou.net/ Abhishek Prakash

      Hi Amar,

      Of course one can do all these things in Ubuntu and Debian. My point is here that Linux Mint could be a better choice for an absolute beginner to Linux who is coming from Windows.
      I guess you agreed by saying Kids like Mint, Young likes Ubuntu and Parent likes Debian. Nice way of putting it :)
      I’ll switch back to Ubuntu soon. Just experimenting with other Linux distros :)

      • Amarnath Reddy

        Ya kidz like linux mint…..:)

        Observe it bro, linux mint lags after 1-2 weeks of usage. I don’t know if it happens to all, but i felt that.

    • John

      You might also replace “kid” with “inexperience” in your analogy – a less offputting term, esp. when we’re trying to encourage migration to open source.

      Consider: the day will come when the younger generation’s understanding of the new technology exceeds yours. And you won’t care because you have different priorities (career/kids). Will you take kindly to being referred to as a kid as you try to learn and adapt?

    • Dr_Unk

      This is the typical linux-thinking, also the one that made linux a curiosity for geeks. We are in 2014, an OS needs to be efficient and easy, even if this comes at cost of stability: 99% of users are in need of an OS capable of doing everything out of the box, not a server-grade performance. I love Debian philosophy, but it is completely out of time: a rolling release, always up to date, modern in graphics and easy to use is the future; hail to Mint.

  • Denis Bukenya

    Mint looks awesome. Its faster, beautiful and works out of the box. Thats what wins over most beginners. I wouldn’t have managed to convince my friends to switch to Linux had it not been for Mint. The only person I got to use Ubuntu switched back to Windows immediately. I however prefer Ubuntu because its easier for me to mess with. I only hope the unity dash is made optional or abandoned. Its so slow I hardly use it.

    • http://www.computerandyou.net/ Abhishek Prakash

      Unity scopes could be more useful on mobile device, on desktop, like you, I seldom use them.

  • Matt Tucci

    As you, I have tried other distributions and always end up back at Ubuntu. They always seem to lack something, Does Mint play DVD movies right out of the box? I had one friend (no money like many of us) using Ubuntu for a couple months, she called up and asked what was on her computer after I had extensivley explained to her what I was doing when I fixed it. “I need Windows XP” Why? Well one of my friends came over and said this is “No Good.” Me, “Have you had any problems?” Her, “No.”
    ” Did he know what it was?” She says, “No, but he said it was junk.” Me. “Ahh. OK Bring you’re box and 175 bucks, I’ll buy the operating system you don’t own, and install it.” Her, “Oh don’t you have one fer free?” Me,”No, That’s not legal, Mr. Gates frowns upon this, Matt doesn’t do bootleg installs.” She said, “well my friend…..”
    Me.” why doesn’t your friend fix your computer if he’s so talented? She,” well he’s going to computer school and says he doesn’t know how to do it yet…..”

    • Alexander Skwara L’AzyBum

      Yes, Mint DOES everything out of the box. You may customize it, but all codecs are already there, moreover updates don’t do a mess with your installed packages as Ubuntu does. I used Ubuntu for years, now Im happy with Mint and don’t look back! :-)

    • http://www.computerandyou.net/ Abhishek Prakash

      I did not try playing DVDs in Linux Mint but as Alexander confirmed, it works out of box. Even without Medibuntu, you can play commercial DVDs in Ubuntu by installing libdvdcss2 with VLC.
      For your ‘XP fan’ friend, I just feel pity for her.

  • sivakumar bharadhwaj

    Somehow I still like Ubuntu (and Kubuntu) better than Linux Mint – installed Nadia – and my ( and my son) feeling is Ubuntu is much better than Linux Mint ‘Nadia’ – since it is much easier with Ubuntu & Kubuntu. This is my feeling. (Using from Jaunty onwards)

    • http://www.computerandyou.net/ Abhishek Prakash

      Yes! Once you are a bit experienced with Linux, its more of personal choice to chose one Linux distro or other. I too keep coming back to Ubuntu. Probably because its my first ‘love’ as a Linux distribution :P

  • http://socialwebtools.info/ Charnita Fance

    I’m currently a Xubuntu user myself, but I do love Mint better. The only reason I’m not using it now is because it performs terribly on my old desktop for some reason. I run the OS from an external hard drive because my internal one died on me, and I haven’t been able to get another yet. I think it may have something to do with that…..

    • http://www.computerandyou.net/ Abhishek Prakash

      Hmm.. may be because Xubuntu is lighter than Mint with Cinnamon. Lighter OS perform better on old desktops.
      P.S. I like your articles :)

      • http://socialwebtools.info/ Charnita Fance

        Thanks :)

    • Tom Phillpotts

      Try Mint XFCE, it’s the same desktop as Xubuntu (the ‘X’ in Xubuntu comes from XFCE). Probably faster than Xubuntu. At least on my new laptop Mint XFCE boots in about 3 seconds.

      • http://socialwebtools.info/ Charnita Fance

        Thanks @tomphillpotts:disqus, I’ll try it!

  • Myles Fister

    How legal is it to include all these codecs out of the box?

  • anupam

    i have used linux mint for about one nd half month but soon realized no matter how sleek,stylish mint may be,ubuntu is better than mint.

  • Doug Corbett

    Yeah Matt, too many of us have had similar “you need to replace this
    with windows” exchanges. I don’t even buy licenses myself, much less
    give them away. Back to points of the column and another who commented,
    I too have found Xubuntu far smoother than the Gnome and Unity versions
    of Ubuntu. Configuration is very intuitive, and the single task bar is
    familiar to those coming in from other operating systems. I use Mint
    16 too but for most of my systems I stick with Xubuntu. I will say,
    Ubuntu 13.04 and 13.10 had rather notorious problems setting up the
    Geforce 6600 I have. I was able to fix things from the repair menu, but
    Ubuntu initially left me with a black screen whereas Mint brought me to the

    What I don’t warm up to is the RPM-based distributions
    like Fedora. I’m able to run them fine, just the Debian-Ubuntu side
    seems to handle dependencies better etc. This is personal bias and not
    necessarily fact, however I started with Fedora and didn’t get won over
    until Ubuntu 10.04.

    • Andrew Teeluck

      So, have you tried Mint Xfce? How does that compare to Xubuntu? I leave an old laptop at my in-laws’ house out of town, and need a lightweight distro for it. I have Bodhi on it now, but I’m not satisfied, so I’m going to install either Xubuntu or Mint Xfce next time I’m there.

      Regarding your comment about RPM-based distros… that’s what chased me from Fedora. Trying to install anything back in the day (early 00′s) was painful as it didn’t handle dependencies well. But I persevered, trying different distros. After Fedora, I tried Gentoo. An update killed my USB functionality after a year or so, so that was the end of that. Tried Debian next. Then decided I’ve had enough of all the manual installing, and wanted something that just worked out of the box, so Ubuntu it was starting with 7.10. Stuck with 10.10 for a while until I decided to switch again (I wasn’t interested in Unity or Gnome 3), and I’ve had Mint 14 since it came out. I’ll be upgrade to 16 shortly.

      All that to say I’ve been a constant Linux user for a long time. Windows 98 was my last full-time version. :P

      • Phil048

        Andrew, I have just dipped my toe in the water with Linux because of the pending demise of Windows XP. I have an old HP laptop from 2005, with a Celeron processor running at 1.3 GHZ, a 512MB cache, one GB of DDR2 RAM and a 40 GB hard drive. I just installed 32-bit Linux Mint 13 (Xfce) and it runs very well so far. (I chose Maya (13) because it is supported through 2017 – so I won’t have to keep reinstalling Linux Mint every six months.) I did run into one problem; I chose to erase my hard drive at installation and thereby lost my Broadcom wireless LAN driver. Thus, I was initially forced to use a wired connection to reach the Internet. However, I had a leftover Netgear USB wireless b/g adapter, so I plugged that into the computer. It was recognized and installed, with no further action on my part, in about 30 seconds. 30 seconds later, I was connected to my Wi-Fi network. Since my built-in Broadcom adapter is also only b/g, I have lost very little with this work-around.

  • Matt Tucci

    I have been using Cinnamon for about 3 weeks, I don’t see myself going back to Ubuntu until they get rid of or make Unity better(?).

  • David Bird

    I’ve used Ubuntu on and off for a couple of years in dual boot with Win XP or Win7. I recently got more serious due to the imminent demise of WinXP. I tried all the Ubuntu flavours and all the Mint flavours along with a few other distros. I don’t like Unity and have now installed Mint 16 Cinnamon on my Win7 desktop and laptop. It works a dream out of the box and I now mainly use Mint. I rarely ever log in to Win7 now except for some specialist software that only runs under Windows as I’ve not got to grips with Virtualbox yet. I installed Mint 16 xfce on my 6 older laptops and desktops. Fantastic. Again, works out of the box and runs much faster than XP did. For me Mint is simple to use, looks good and just works. With Ubuntu there always seemed to be something I had to tweak or add to get things running.

    Just a point about codecs. All my machines were originally Windows so as far as I’m concerned I have already paid for codecs through the WIndows licence. However, it would be nice if there was a simple way to download paid for codecs for all those who need them.

    • http://www.computerandyou.net/ Abhishek Prakash

      Wow.. you have 5 laptops and desktops :)
      I cannot suggest anything for paid codecs. I have no experience with them, unfortunately.

      • Andrew Teeluck

        I counted 8: a Win7 desktop and laptop; 6 older laptops and desktops.

  • Sebastian

    Great article… helped me a lot to make a decision! Thx

    • http://www.computerandyou.net/ Abhishek Prakash

      Welcome Sebastian :)

  • Dr_Unk

    I tried to give Ubuntu so many chances, but since it became popular (and I’m talking of about three years ago) the decrease in quality has been evident. The last version, 13.10, is the worst I ever tried and the only one i’ve managed to crash completely even if I’ve been completely windows free since 2003. Linux Mint is better in every meaning, from a cleaner interface to a better hardware optimization.

  • Nirav

    My pc configuration are dual core processor 3.2Ghz , 1.2Gb of ram.
    I installed Linux Mint olivia and i found that it used 100% of my cpu.
    So using 100% of cpu can cause problem to my pc? Then i switched back to ubuntu which is using 10-15% of the cpu when idle whereas linux mint used 100% cpu usage.

    • Shaun

      Thats due to a bug. mint will use around the same unless there is something glitching out as in your case.

  • André Correia

    another garbage article

  • Hilts

    Simple question: Is Mint petra faster than ubuntu 13.10 on a old notebook (2007 dell XPS 1300) ??