Linux Mint: The Beginner-Friendly Linux Distribution

Linux Mint: The Beginner-Friendly Linux Distribution

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Linux Mint a community-driven distro is one of my favourite Linux distributions based on Ubuntu. I used Mint a couple of years ago and it stands out as something truly unique in my distro-hopping journey.

Let us delve deep into the fascinating history of Linux Mint. Additionally, I'll put forth essential factors to help you determine whether Linux Mint is the perfect Linux distro for you.

History

Started by a French developer, Clement Lefebvre in 2006 the initial release of Linux Mint was based on Kubuntu. Later it switched to an Ubuntu base. Just after its release, it steadily gained popularity, particularly among developers in Europe.

 Clement Lefebvre

In 2011, Linux Mint witnessed a surge in popularity due to a significant change in the Gnome desktop environment with the release of version 3. This transformation led to a substantial number of users seeking alternative desktop environments, and Linux Mint became a favoured choice among those looking for an alternative to Gnome.

Another event that prompted a migration of Ubuntu users to Linux Mint was Ubuntu's decision to switch to the Unity desktop environment. Unfortunately, Unity was even more unwelcome by the community compared to Gnome 3, leading many users to seek refuge in Linux Mint.

Mint took advantage of this growing user base and created its own Cinnamon desktop environment as an alternative to Gnome 3, Mate was developed as an alternative to Gnome 2. They developed an alternative version based on Debian Stable, functioning as a semi-rolling release version of Mint. This demonstrates that Mint is entirely community-driven.

Purpose and Environment

The purpose of Linux Mint is to provide users with a user-friendly, stable, and elegant operating system based on Ubuntu. It aims to offer a seamless computing experience for both beginners and experienced users alike.

Linux Mint is designed to be a reliable and versatile platform suitable for various computing environments, including desktops, laptops, and servers.

Linux Mint comes in two main distributions. The first is the regular release version, which is based on Ubuntu. This version offers different images for each supported desktop environment, including Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce.

The second distribution is called LMDE, short for Linux Mint Debian Edition. LMDE is based on Debian and follows a semi-rolling release cycle. This means that instead of the traditional fixed release schedule, LMDE receives continuous updates, providing users with a rolling release experience while still maintaining the stability of Debian as its base.

Support

Linux Mint, a well-liked desktop Linux distribution, enjoys a substantial user base reaching millions of individuals. The distribution offers Long-Term Support (LTS) releases, ensuring continuous support for 5 years. Among these, Linux Mint 21.2 "Victoria" MATE Edition, Linux Mint 20.3 Cinnamon, and Linux Mint 21 Cinnamon are all LTS releases, with support extended until 2027 for the former two and 2025 for the latter.

User Friendliness

Linux Mint is renowned for its user-friendliness, particularly for those who are new to Linux or not well-versed in technical matters. One of its key strengths lies in its inclusion of sensible default applications that cater to various tasks like handling photos, connecting online, document processing, and multimedia playback, among others. What sets it apart is that it comes ready to use with built-in support for most multimedia content found on the internet, eliminating the need to install additional software to access such media.

Moreover, Linux Mint provides a non-intimidating Software Manager and Update Manager, simplifying the process of installing new programs and keeping them up to date. To ensure stability, Linux Mint takes precautionary measures by default, preventing the installation of risky upgrades that could potentially disrupt your system.

Across all editions, Linux Mint boasts a user interface that embraces the concept of a "classic desktop," making it a seamless experience for the majority of users to adapt to and navigate comfortably.

Stability

The stability of different versions of Linux Mint can vary. Some users have reported encountering no stability issues with Mint 20, while others have faced challenges with the new Cinnamon version in Mint 21.

Over time, Cinnamon has improved significantly, becoming more stable and robust. It now offers the advantage of restarting without closing any applications, providing a rock-solid experience. Linux Mint 19 "Tara" serves as a Windows alternative, delivering greater system control, simple operation, and overall stability.

However, Linux Mint 17.3 is considered one of the most stable versions due to its longevity and the resolution of past bugs. Despite the possibility of containing some closed code, Linux Mint remains highly secure.

Hardware Support

Linux Mint has made significant strides in providing advanced hardware support for users with newer hardware, with Mint 20.1 Edge and MX being the versions that offer this support. Particularly, Linux Mint 20.3 Edge comes equipped with kernel 5.13.0-25, introducing essential support for various hardware components, including Apple M1, preliminary Intel Alder Lake S graphics, AMD GPU Freesync/Adaptive-Sync HDMI, AMD Alderbaran accelerator, generic USB display, Loongson 2K1000, preparations for Intel discrete graphics, and Intel DG1 Platform Monitoring Technology.

Determining whether Linux Mint operates smoothly on your hardware can be challenging. A practical approach would be to create a USB stick bootable with a Mint live environment and boot it up on your hardware to see if it works properly.

Aesthetics

Linux Mint works hard to create an attractive and appealing appearance for its users worldwide. They have designed a customized desktop environment with aesthetics in mind. Every part of the operating system, such as colours, desktop layout, logo, icons, and wallpaper, is carefully chosen to provide a cohesive and visually pleasing experience. The consistent and harmonious design makes it easy on the eyes. Many users consider Linux Mint to be the most visually appealing among all distributions, though this preference may vary from person to person. Still, there is a general agreement that its design is captivating and well done.

Desktop Environment

Linux Mint provides users with three distinct desktop environments: Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce. Cinnamon is the original flavour of Linux Mint and is renowned for its sleek, beautiful appearance, packed with modern features. MATE is a classic desktop environment that continues the legacy of GNOME 2, which was the default desktop for Linux Mint from 2006 to 2011. Xfce, on the other hand, is the most lightweight desktop environment offered by Linux Mint, providing a simple yet flexible user interface.

Both Cinnamon and MATE prioritize safety and reliability, making them suitable for enterprise-grade usage. Cinnamon strives to strike a balance between modern aesthetics and a traditional user interface. However, it is recommended not to switch from Ubuntu to Linux Mint solely to try out a different desktop environment.

Init System

Linux Mint has adopted systemd as its init system, which is a contemporary and widely used system also favoured by popular Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Fedora, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Systemd is recognized for its flexibility, modularity, and performance, making it a suitable choice for Linux Mint.

Previously, Linux Mint 17 and earlier versions utilized Upstart as the init system. While Upstart was once popular, it is no longer actively developed, leading Linux Mint to transition to systemd starting from version 18.

Although it is possible to change the init system in Linux Mint, doing so is not recommended. Systemd is well-integrated and supported in Linux Mint, and switching to a different init system might lead to compatibility issues and potential problems.

Package Management System

Mint utilizes APT as its package management system, which is a command-line program. For new Linux users, there is a more user-friendly option available - the Synaptic package manager, which provides a graphical interface to work with APT, making package management easier and more accessible.

Conclusion

Linux Mint appears to be a favourable option for users, especially those who are new to Linux. The distribution offers a user-friendly package management system through APT, and the availability of the Synaptic package manager with its graphical interface further enhances its usability.

Linux Mint's emphasis on aesthetics and design, along with its various desktop environments, allows users to customize their experience to their liking. Moreover, the LTS (Long-Term Support) releases ensure consistent updates and support for an extended period, adding to the stability of the system.

If you are seeking a Linux distribution that provides ease of use, robust package management, and visually appealing desktop environments, Linux Mint is a viable choice worth considering. It caters well to both newcomers and experienced users, making it a compelling option for a wide range of users.

In conclusion, give Linux Mint a try and experience its user-friendly features and versatility. It's an excellent opportunity to delve into the world of Linux and expand your knowledge. So, till then keep reading, keep exploring, keep learning.