back to article Sick of Ubuntu's bad breath? Suck on a Linux Mint instead

If the jump from the GNOME 2 desktop to the new GNOME Shell or Unity desktop in Ubuntu has left you feeling dissatisfied, one increasingly popular distribution just might offer something that turns out to be the best of both worlds - Linux Mint. Originally created as a spinoff of Ubuntu, Mint has long since come into its own …


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  1. Grease Monkey

    Sick of Ubuntu's bad breath? Use Kububtu or Xububtu instead.

    There fixed it for you.

    If you like the way Ubuntu works, but don't like the front end then the best thing to do is to move onto one of the direct spinnoffs that don't use that front end.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Like Mint, you mean? Seeing as it's based on Ubuntu, but has a different "front end"...

      1. Peter Mount
        Thumb Up

        yes & no

        Yes the default version is based on Ubuntu & even shares some of the repos but the development version is more debian based than ubuntu.

        I switched from Ubuntu to Mint just after 10.10 when the wifi drivers were unusable (usually with system hangs). Since then been using Mint on the desktop & not looked back, both wifi works out of the box & none of the Unity crap.

    2. johnnytruant


      The thing you like is Gnome. I really can't get on with Unity, KDE or XFCE, although I appreciate other people like them. I put most of my friends on one of the three main *buntus and they all seem fine.

      But I like Gnome. I even like Shell. I also like tinkering. So I went back to Debian a while ago. It's nice to have options.

      1. Neill Mitchell


        Now I like Gnome and I also like Shell, but which is better? There's only one way to find out...


  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank you

    "Mint ships with proprietary multimedia codecs already installed. Most people install them anyway, but that doesn't change the fact that it's technically not allowed in many countries. It's one thing if users install such codecs on their own - assuming any legal risk themselves - but it's another if the distro includes them, possibly without the user even being aware that they're there. "

    This is something I've been aware of for a very long time and which has made me reluctant to touch certain Linuxes with pre-installed but not universally legally permissible 3rd party software.

    It's the first time I've seen it mentioned round here.

    SuSe used to get around it with one-click codec install - try to play a file and if the codec isn't installed, up pops a box inviting you to download it from a repository.

    Thank you!

    1. Darryl

      And that's the (original) reason I switched from Ubuntu to Mint

      Personally, I like having the codecs pre-installed. Don't know if they're all legal or not, but I end up having to install most of them myself at some time or other - usually when I'm in a hurry to convert a video encoded with some arcane codec into something more 'user-friendly'.

      Plus, Mint seems to be more about evolving and fine-tuning the interface, rather than blowing it all up and starting from scratch like Ubuntu (and Windows 8, for that matter)

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Martin Maloney

      Wrong, Anonymous Coward!

      You and the article's author both got it wrong.

      All that you have to do is visit's download section, and you'll discover that you can download it as either a DVD or a CD. The page explicitly states that the CD version doesn't include the restricted multimedia components.

      And yes, I get pissed, when people are too lazy to do their own research and spout off misinformation.

      1. elderlybloke

        Martin Maloney is Right

        I may be a Technically ignorant ,81 year old wreck but I can read, Also able look at all the information provided clearly on the download section.

        A pity so many of the younger lot seem unable to do so.

  3. Ian Yates

    Minty fresh

    Mint is definitely the no-hassle desktop I'm touting more than Ubuntu recently.

    I love what Ubuntu has done to the "consumer" side of GNU/Linux, but the way they're going with UI is best described as "experimental" and is definitely causing some confusion with their original target market.

  4. Miek

    I look forward to Giving Cinnamon a Whirl

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well said!

    Yep agree 100%!

    I made the jump to Mint about 2 months ago and it's absolutely rock solid, runs exactly like Ubuntu and is much leaner upon installation. I use it for my admin work looking after Solaris servers running our production Oracle DBs.

    1. Schultz
      Thumb Up

      Same here...

      moved that diskless netbook over to minty freshness some two years ago and never looked back!

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Buzzword

    Maybe the reason Mint is so popular is simply because the taskbar & start menu look and feel very much like Windows. (Whereas Unity doesn't.)

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      If it ain't broke...

      Not just look & feel like Windows, but also Solaris and similar OS for the past 20 years or so.

      You see I like things to work without too much effort, and I really dislike change just for the sake of it. That is why the Gnome 3 & Unity things piss me off so much, I see virtually no advantage for most (desktop) users, and a whole lot of pain and extra support calls as folk can't find/do what they always did.

      I really hope Mint succeeds with this, as I quite like Gnome 2 (few issues aside) and what Ubuntu has achieved (until they stopped fixing things and started braking the GUI instead).

      Tux, my friend and hopefully long term success partner.

    2. rich0d

      You can easily remove them, and replace them with gnome defaults.

      I myself switched from jumping between F14/15/16/Ubuntu to LMDE, purely because it's a rolling release, and it ships with Gnome2 as opposed to 3, as 3 in my eyes is an abomination.

  8. Steven Pemberton

    Don't like Unity? Install Gnome!

    I don't understand the fuss about Unity. If you don't like it, go to the Software Centre, type "Gnome" and install it. Done. Then at the log-in screen you can choose which you want to use. You don't need to install another distribution just to change the interface!

    As it happens I prefer Unity, but there you go.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Better yet...

      ...install Cinnamon:

    2. Ian Johnston
      Thumb Down

      Missing the point

      Gnome3 is only marginally less horrible than Unity. Gnome2 isn't available with current Ubunti.

      I've gone over to Lubuntu, which uses LXDE. Goes from the <return> after my password to fully functioning desktop in just under four seconds, faster than Gnome, uses less than half the memory. What's not to like?

    3. Goat Jam

      Install Gnome!

      Yes, because Gnome Shell doesn't completely suck balls too.

      Facepalm indeed.

    4. M Gale

      Go to software centre, type "Gnome" and install it... as it b0rks your system completely because you didn't tweak things to include GDM instead of whatever godawful thing Unity has, and you didn't reconfigure Compiz. Canonical have not made it easy and straightforward for you to divert from their Chosen And Holy Path.

      Oh and then you have to move the buttons to the right side.

      Not exactly a no-intelligence solution. A minty nuke+reinstall would probably be easier.

  9. M. B.

    Minty Fresh

    I like it. One of the first Linuxes I've been reasonably happy with out of the box, only some minor tweaking to get it to where I want it and be very productive with it. The only problem I had with it was some resume-from-sleep problem on an old T-series ThinkPad which was resolved a few months back as near as I can tell. Great Ubuntu alternative.

  10. Andy 17

    Nice article..

    I jumped ship from Ubuntu to Mint when they started trying to shove that colossal cluster fuck called 'Unity' onto my desktop.

  11. Mikel

    Stale Mint

    They use Bing as the default search engine. That's tainted enough for me to stay away.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      I thought...

      ...they'd switched to DuckDuckGo?

    2. Not That Andrew


      I understand how you feel! It's sooo difficult to change default search engines in Firefox. I mean, FOUR clicks! Get real!

      1. Mikel

        @Not That Andrew

        If you dance with the Devil, you WILL pay his fee.

  12. fishman


    I upgraded my linux machine to a Llano A3850. I had trouble with several linux distributions (SL6.1 bad sound, Ubuntu 11.10 wouldn't boot, Fedora 16 no sound), and ended up with Mint 12 w/ the latest Catalyst drivers. And KDE. Works fine, but seems a little strange coming from 13 years of RedHat.

  13. Tom Sparrow

    Tried mint for a month or so

    and I quite liked it, but found strangely that the repositories were lacking in quite a bit of software I wanted. I thought this was very odd, given from a quick glance they seemed to be using the ubuntu repositories, at least in part.

    Went back to ubuntu (and wavered between gnome3 and unity for a while, before sticking with gnome3). Never got on with kde for reasons I have never quite understood. I've got used to the new gnome now, so I'm quite happy.

    1. BitDr

      Gotten used to...

      "I've got used to the new gnome now, so I'm quite happy."

      I suppose one could get used to having a pail of cold water thrown on them first thing in the morning too... it does not mean they want to make such an adjustment, or that life would be better for doing so.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it possible

    Just to carry on the evolution and adjustment of my personal desktop, using things like Compiz, the Gnome colour picker, and all those small adjustment things that have made my life comfortable and my computer workable? I wonder it I can do that with Mint?

  15. Dave Bell

    The old netbook UI which Ubuntu supported suits the netbook I have Linux installed on. I wouldn't insist on a dead ringer for that, but it copes with the relatively small screen and amount of RAM.

    So I'm using the 10.04 LTS version of Ubuntu. With the support, it's fine.

    Is Mint an adequate substitute in that situation?

    1. Andrew Smith

      Not really, Mint majors on the 'traditional' Windows 95 style navigation and bases that on the new libraries for Gnome3. If you like the old netbook launcher found in 10.04, Unity is pretty much coming from the same direction, use the 2D version if resources are short.

  16. zanto

    upgrade to enlightenment

    no matter which distro i use, i always upgrade my desktop to enlightenment e16. only that's been around since the early 90's.

    imagine this:

    1) 100% of desktop available, i.e. no task bar / drag bar (perfect for smaller screens)

    2) multiple desktops that are a breeze to handle. so work in one, email in another, browse in another... (again perfect for smaller screens)

    3) everything you want is a just *single* mouse click away. that includes normal applications like firefox to system admin applications. you can also configure your own menu and sub-menus.

    4) minimized windows vanish (when the boss is around) but are a mouse click away when they're gone.

    apart from windowmaker, and fvwm2 which come close in functionality, i have yet to see another desktop as functional and user friendly.

    also all i need to do is tar my rc files and after a new install and a few tweaks, i am back to the familiar interface.

    and for a desktop that trumps all other desktops in terms of features, and looks, it's also extremely lightweight. which means more cpu/ram available for running more applications simultaneously in all those multiple and virtual desktops.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Bodhi is best...

      ...if you want E17 properly integrated into the underlying OS.

      1. Not That Andrew

        Its just a window manager and some utilities. It doesn't need to integrate with the bloody OS.

        I assume you mean setting things like a gtkrc-2.0 so your apps don't look like shit.

  17. Mr Anonymous

    If you don't want the codecs installed, download the CD no codecs version!

    Didn't you notice the following un-noticable notice?

    CD No codecs 32-bit 64-bit A version which fits on a CD, without multimedia support and extra applications. For magazines, companies and distributors in the USA, Japan and countries where the legislation allows patents to apply to software and distribution of restricted technologies may require the acquisition of 3rd party licenses*.

  18. Rombizio

    Mint and Mate

    I am running Mint 12 with Mate. Feels better than Cinnamon and much better than Gnome. It is not perfect but it is the best option for now. Mint 11 was near perfect, I have no clue why they had to touch it.

    And for now, Mint is the best desktop distro out there. By a long margin.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or a wide straw? ;)

      Anyway, sounds like a good starting point for me too. New virtual machine about to be born!

  19. AndyCapp

    Mint 12 not working with dual graphics heads

    While Ubuntu has worked with 2 independent displays running off one Nvidia graphics card, Mint 12 is not. The driver starts up and aborts. It's supposed to be the same Nvidia driver being downloaded by both Ubuntu and Mint, yet Mint is not working. It's back to Ubuntu for me.

  20. llewton

    "Ubuntu's bad breath"

    lol you're horrible!

    anyway i'm really looking forward to mint 13 when they ship with cinnamon. make or break time for them. will be the most anticipated release in the spring no doubt.

  21. Goat Jam


    I'm sticking with 10.04 for now while it still has support. Hopefully Cinnamon will be ready for prime time when 10.04 goes out of support in another year and a bit!

    1. zanto
      Thumb Up

      @Goat Jam

      10.04 kicks balls. i'll also stick with it as long as updates are available.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      10.04 is great, but...

      Long Term Support?

      All well and good for the commercial desktop, where things should be a bit fixed, but for those of us who want to download some nice piece of software we just read about, Long-term support is a joke, because the development community is only interested in the recent, or maybe latest and previous, versions.

      Yes, I know it's open source, and nothing is stopping me from porting something to any version I choose --- except the fact that I am not a programmer. Anything beyond tracking down a missing library or two if I /have/ to compile a package is beyond me.

  22. paulc

    Untried HUD and LTS!!!

    I hate it when Ubuntu stick bleeding edge into an LTS release... HUD should not, in my opinion, be allowed anywhere near the LTS release until it has been polished and the rough edges and other bugs and gotchas have been removed by at least two normal 6 monthly releases...

    ISTR they stuffed up with a previous LTS by changing fundamental items in the final few weeks

    1. Ben 42


      This is why I keep saying Ubuntu isn't really Linux for the masses. They are way too quick to include bleeding edge (and frequently broken) software for me to recommend it to Linux newbies. Beta software makes for a lousy introduction.

  23. Alan Bourke

    I stuck it on a laptop only last weekend ...

    Went fine apart from having to manually install Wifi drivers despite the install stage finding them OK. Also, can't use any sort of suspend or hibernate as it locks the thing hard.

    Linux distros really have to sort these sorts of niggles out, and in a way that doesn't involve faffing with conf files and the like.

    Aside from that, I like it a lot. Certainly would use it over Unity.

  24. DanceMan


    Read an explanation of HUD a couple of days ago, and it sounds interesting. The author took pains to point out that it would *not* replace menus.

    Aside from that bit of FUD, enjoyed the article. Mint will be my next foray into linux.

    1. Adrian Challinor

      HUD - the spawn of a mad devil?

      Just looked at Shuttleworths blog on HUD and watched the video. Not impressed at all.

      What it is asking is that I do something (not quite sure what) to get a typing prompt, then take my hand off the mouse, move to the keyboard, type something, move back to the mouse to select the option I want (hopefully I spelt it right and its there, and then click.

      I got as far as watching someone type "undo" and lost all interest. Unless your using voice commands, this is madness. As a productivity winner it is just plain wrong. Oh, I admit it is clever, but take a day in a high stress workplace where the goal is minimise key click and minimise keyboard/mouse transitions.

      This is dreamt up by someone with far too much time on their hands and who has not studied UI.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    for the win.

  26. dz-015

    Time to stop fighting the future

    I'm sure this is a perfectly decent distro, but isn't it about time the Linux world tried moving on from the sub-Windows-95 Gnome interface that's been doing the rounds for years? At least Ubuntu are having a go at moving ahead with something new and exciting that might actually appeal to the world outside the IT Department - I think they deserve more support for that personally.

    1. teebie


      I want my desktop to do the stuff a computer should do - programs, media, internet - with the minimal amount of effort on my part. If it does that it is working. If trying to look like a Mac makes this any more effort then don't do it.

      If you can't add visual effects to an OS without breaking something or making it harder or the user to do what they want to do then don't do it. If I want 3D-effect wankery I'll go watch a bad film. If I want to look at something beautiful I'll go find a sunset or a painting.

      1. Fatman Silver badge

        RE: If I want to look at something beautiful

        In my case, it was to get a nice frame grab from an Alicia Keys video, and use that as wallpaper.

        This Penguin box can boot anything from Karmic through Precise, chosen from a boot screen. After installing Natty, Oneiric and Precise, the first thing I did was to get rid of Unity.

        For a desktop, Unity sux bigtime!!!

  27. Jon Green

    Mint Debian Edition is the mutt's nads!

    I've a long association with Linux - I started with kernel 0.12 - so I've tried most of the distros at one time or another. I'd settled on Ubuntu in recent years, as it was stable, effective, and wasn't "needy": I could just install it and get on with it.

    Unity changed that. 11.04 was nigh-on useless for a power-user, and 11.10 didn't improve things that much. Classic worked for me for 11.04, but with 11.10, Gnome3 was profoundly broken against my pretty extensive desktop settings. I switched back to Unity, and forced myself to use it for almost a whole week (work time, so 8h/day), but it ended up as a survival contest between Unity and my remaining molars, and I'd like to keep my teeth.

    In desperation, I switched to Mint Debian Edition. Ye ghods, what a (minty) breath of fresh air! All my old settings worked exactly as they should, and it was actually nicer to use - and quite a lot faster - than pre-Unity Ubuntu.

    Canonical's going to have to do something pretty remarkable to win me back. I've been talking to their people at CES and one or two other trade shows, and I have the impression something's brewing, but I rather doubt it'll be enough.

    Canonical's metatarsal target practice will be its downfall.

    1. Adrian Challinor

      ...ended up as a survival contest between Unity and my remaining molars...

      I feel the pain and agree!

      I switched to Docky and its OK. Not great, but better than Unity. I am dreading HUD.

  28. kissingthecarpet

    They're all based on Debian

    I use Debian Testing. Derivative distros will rise and fall, but Debian will still be there. Wheezy has recently move to Gnome3 - I'm prepared to give it time, especially as they've just upgraded to 3.2, because I want to try out Gnome3 Shell extensions. At least its an attempt to get away from the mock W95 style that became the default style for some distros.

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