Debian vs. Ubuntu vs. Linux Mint: Which Distribution Should You Use?

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linux distributionsOne of the hardest questions that every Linux user must answer is which Linux distribution they should use. There are so many out there that it’s become quite ridiculous to a handful of users, while others enjoy the massive variety of how Linux is served. In this case, you really can¬†be picky enough to mimic James Bond with “shaken, not stirred.”

Initial Advice

If you haven’t noticed yet, there are only three distributions that are mentioned in the title, while there are thousands of Linux distributions in¬†existence. Instead of sifting through all of them, we’re only going to look at the top 3 players on the Debian side of Linux (the other side being Fedora/Red Hat/openSUSE). Those, of course, being Debian itself, followed by Ubuntu and Linux Mint.


linux distributions
As the name would suggest, Debian is the big mother of the entire Debian family. Anything and everything that is considered to be in the Debian family is based off of Debian itself or some other distribution that is based off of Debian. In this article, we have both situations.

Debian is created by the open source community, and has two key focuses – stability and security. How do they achieve those goals? It’s actually quite simple. They let new packages come in whether they’re ready or not, and at some point they’ll freeze all packages so that no new versions come in. Then they take at least a couple months to scrutinize every package for stability and security flaws.

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Once they finally feel confident that they’ve met their goals for the whole release, they let it out into the wild. It also has a large repository of packages to choose from. So while it’s very stable and secure, the packages can be a little old, especially later on in the release cycle.


list of linux distributions
Ubuntu, on the other hand, is made to include a good combination of new and stable. Ubuntu is based off of Debian, and tries to make the distribution more user-friendly through ease of use and convenient features. Some of those features include the Ubuntu Software Center, which has been ported back to Debian without the Ubuntu branding. Ubuntu and Debian are not 100% binary compatible even though they share the same .deb format for packages. Therefore, people have to be careful. Some packages can be used on both distributions, while others are specifically for one or the other.

Ubuntu gets most of its packages from Debian’s unstable branch, so Ubuntu also has a ridiculously large repository. Additionally, there are plenty of other third party sources that make packages for Ubuntu as well that don’t go into the repository. Far more third party packages are made for Ubuntu than they are for Debian.

Linux Mint

linux distributions
Last but not least is Linux Mint, which has quickly climbed the ladder to one of the top spots on the “Most Popular Distributions” list. Linux Mint is based off of Ubuntu (although they also have another version that is based off of Debian, cutting out the middle man), and is binary compatible with Ubuntu, making all packages meant for Ubuntu¬†usable¬†in Linux Mint. While I may be oversimplifying my view of Linux Mint, it doesn’t add a whole lot to the original Ubuntu release aside from a very customized desktop.

Sometimes the Linux Mint team also decides which desktop environment to use (a previous release used GNOME 2 while Ubuntu was on Unity and other were on GNOME 3, and the current release uses GNOME 3 while Ubuntu still uses Unity). Linux Mint simply does what it was meant to do back when it was first created – to take Ubuntu and fix any usability problems that were perceived by users. A more customized desktop and codecs out of the box are a major part of that difference.


So why these long descriptions of what each Linux distribution is like? Picking a distribution isn’t about what’s termed to the the best (although there will be plenty of people who may tell you otherwise), but what works best for you. People can be nice and make¬†recommendations¬†instead of telling you that you have to use the most popular distribution, but at the end of the day it’s still your choice. If the descriptions I provided weren’t very helpful, you can always burn a couple of Live CDs for Ubuntu and Linux Mint, and try out Debian in a virtual machine if you don’t want to try it right away via an actual installation.

Which one out of the three Linux distributions do you prefer? Which do you prefer in general, including the RPM family and beyond? Let us know in the comments!

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179 Comments - Write a Comment



I prefer Ubuntu and Unity as it is very similar my setup pre-Unity. I had one bar at the top, and replaced the bottom bar with Docky to the left, so I felt right at home when I used Unity in Ubuntu for the first time.


I am using Linux since 1996 and 
I agree with you. I have the same experience using in the past Ubuntu and a Dockbar like Ubuntu 11.10 and Unity now. Beyond this i do like the approach putting, when the windows is maximized, all the menus and buttons on the top bar.Great work!  

Danny Stieben

That’s great! Why do you suppose do some others dislike Unity?


I am guessing it probably because the lack customization.  I at the point where I just want stuff to work, and it works for me.  I am done tinkering around with Linux, it was nice and cool when I first started to use it back in 2000.  Nowadays I just want it work so I can get things done.

One that note I am done with customizing Windows as well, not more dll hacks to get these custom made themes. :)

Charles Tryon

My problem with Unity is that (a) it changed a lot of things that were working just fine, and (b) LOTS of stuff just broke. ¬†I switched from Fedora to Ubuntu because I was tired of so many bleeding edge releases that kept not working right. ¬†I didn’t have to fiddle with Ubuntu to make it get out of my face and just do what I needed to do. ¬†Unity is slow, buggy, crashes, drops things in random unexpected places, won’t let me change simple things like fonts, and generally GETS IN MY WAY. ¬†I feel like I’m fighting with it all the time. ¬†I have tried the new Gnome3 on Fedora, and while I don’t really like it, at least I spend a lot less time scratching my head trying to figure out why things aren’t working. ¬†I’m seriously thinking of moving to Linux Mint because they aren’t changing things just for the sake of “changing things”.


Hi Charles,

When you say “LOTS of stuff just broke” and “scratching your head trying to figure out why things aren’t working” exactly what “stuff” just broke and what “things” aren’t working?



Install Cinnamon and in Ubuntu’s “Settings” -> “User accounts”, change automatic login to “off”. Then, logout, choose “Gnome Classic” before logging in. Then you’re good to go. I did this and am really happy. I added Docky to keep a set of favourite programs handy. Fantastic desktop! Nothing like the best of the old and the best of the new for the ideal mix!

WTB Minimal Grief

The first thing I want to do on a new distribution is always the same: open a shell. ¬†If I have to dig/search for how to do that, that’s a BIG Strike One. ¬†

Next thing I want to do is set it up so that the few things I use all the time can be launched with a single click.  If the distribution makes that difficult, Strike Two.

Lastly, I’ve had too many problems with graphics cards, so I want text only login, and want to run startx by hand. ¬†If that’s made difficult (and, yes, having to blacklikst the nouveau driver in grub, and find some way to get the traditional redhat runlevel 3 put in place by hand both count as difficult), Strike Three, and it’s time to move on. ¬†Not impressed with Ubuntu in ¬†general, and Unity in particular.

When I switched to pure X with XFCE, I got pretty much what I wanted.


But I can do all that stuff with Unity. Put my favorite programs in the sidebar, launch them with [windows]+[1..9]. Terminal was in the sidebar after the first login.

And I loved the Unity, even in its first incarnation :) It moves in the right direction IMHO.


I have a tendency to be very utilitarian. I just want to get things done. The complaints I have with Unity are the are the same I had with Windows Vista and 7. They are very pretty and have lots of cool looking effects, but they use lots of resources and I can’t find any usability improvements. I find that it’s all just in my way. When I have told this to people I know that are fans, they immediately begin telling me about the keyboard shortcuts I should use. This tells me they are not really using the desktop. It just looks cool and they have found cool ways of avoiding it.

I moved to Lubuntu 11.10. It’s Ubuntu 11.10 with a LXDE windows manager. I like it a lot better. I downloaded a theme so it doesn’t look so much like Windows 95 and set it up so it looks almost like Ubuntu 10.04, but faster because LXDE is even lighter than Gnome 2.

Best of all I have a “taskbar” again, so I can jump around from window to window without having to sit down my coffee to type in shortcuts.

I’m thinking about going to Debian with LXDE. I like the idea of installing all the stuff that’s useful to me without having to uninstall a bunch of stuff that isn’t. It also sounds more stable so you can just get things done.


Clyde Atwood

I use Mint because I am a Linux newbie and it does everything I want an OS to do. ¬†It is easy, fast and isn’t Micro$oft!!!!!

Joel Lee

Linux Mint was my first distro when I started getting into Linux back in college. You chose well and I would recommend it for anyone who wants to give their hand at trying Linux.

shubham maheshwari

ubuntu is to very good for linux new bies to professional on which linux mint relies

Jonathan Chan

depends on your hardware. although they say ubuntu runs better on older machines, it isnt the case now. ubuntu’s new unity is very resource hungry and runs laggier than windows xp. i mean you can install lxde or gnome onto it but it will be a headache for a person new to linux.
i switched to lubuntu, a variation of ubuntu for the ubuntu support and its lightness.


IT Support Los Angeles

Hi guys.  We are trying to add linux to our support list.  I want to start learning the server side of linux.  Anyone know which linux server I should start playing with? Something that is close to Red Hat Linux Server edition.  Thank you in advance.

Roger Vandawalker

CentOS would be your best bet.


If you want something close to RedHat, there are usually one recommended for servers and that is CentOS. ¬†It’s based on RedHat, but free as in beer and also a bit after RedHat.

But if I would use one, I would use Debian, as I have experienced that it is more stabel than most other.  It is also a bit behinde the desktop versions, but that is not a problem for a server.  Stability is what you want, and that is what you get in Debian/stable.  Even more than Ubuntu:s server version.

For desktop, I use Ubuntu or Debian/testing. ¬†I prefere Debian myself, but for others I recommend Ubuntu. I have not tried Mint though, so I can’t really tell there.


taking a look on fedora (basically RedHat without proprietary components) won’t hurt… but there is no specific “server version”, like for ubuntu.

Justin Malcolm

¬†Fedora is like a unstable preview of what might be coming in RHEL (Red Hat) in the future. I would not use it on a server (because of the “unstable” part).


now that is a bit unfair, since fedora is based on RedHat and is not a development spin.

fedora delivers 100% free software, unlike ubuntu or RedHat. It is RedHat without proprietary packages (which could, of course, be installed when needed).

The main disadvantage I see in fedora is the relative short maintenance period of only 13 month…


Not more than Ubuntu or Debian. If you take a look at the FSF site, you’ll see Fedora is not listed as a free distro. Basically because no usable distro is considered free by the FSF. :)


Do you have specific examples of where Fedora was ‘unstable’?

snow man

Ubuntu does have a server build – a reasonable choice for a small/fast server. ¬†You should also take a look at CentOS and OpenSUSE. ¬†If you’re new to server support I’d point you at CentOS or OpenSUSE but Ubuntu server has a modest hardware requirement.

Dusten B.

I would recommend CentOS. RHEL is insanely popular in the server world, and CentOS is a 100% binary compatible free clone of RHEL. Its essentially RHEL, de-branded.

I prefer the Debian way of doing things, and use an old version of Ubuntu on my desktop and Debian for my home server. Things make more sense, to me, and the Debian package management tools are absolutely the best.

At work, we use mostly CentOS over several thousand servers, and some older RHEL releases.

Peter Ridgers

All linux variants – especially if installed without a gui – do well as a server, but I prefer freebsd in this role.

At home I use an old (circa 2000) Inspiron desktop as a windows pdc/ldap server/email (groupware) server and the only time I turned it off since 2005 was to change the battery and to upgrade freebsd to 2011. /home is on a usb raid array and / is on the internal ide – to upgrade the os I slip in another ide for the installation giving me a very quick fallback if any problems occur with the upgrade (never had a problem so far).

OK I could do all this with Centos or Ubuntu server or OpenSuse – I’m just familiar with the freebsd ports so that’s why I stick with it.

I have tried the Citadel groupware server on Centos, Ubuntu Server and OpenSuse, but have been more comfortable with it on my freebsd server – that could be down to familiarity or to the excellent and well maintained freebsd documentation.

Danny Stieben

As others have said, use CentOS or Fedora. I’d recommend CentOS over Fedora but if you’re ok with minor instability in order to play with newer tools, you can use Fedora too.

Charles Baker

When I want RHEL w/o the price tag I use Scientific Linux. It, like CentOS is built with RHEL sources w/ the RHEL branding and such replaced. SL seems to keep up with RHEL releases better than CentOS, IMHO.


CentOS. it’s basically a free Red Hat.

Chankey Pathak

Go for either RHEL6 or CentOS6.


Bob Henson

Plain Debian Stable is small, fast and highly suited to anyone with a bit of Linux know-how, so long as you don’t mind the menu bar at the top (I do!)¬† The Linux Mint Debian distro is a big improvement for the novice, with a much better front end. The Mint system of holding back the Debian updates and releasing¬† only in large groups at intervals, after they have been well tested, is good, and a good¬† compromise between having the newest updates and stability. The latest version (updated to the third service pack) runs Gnome 3 and the Debian 3.x kernel, and is my personal favourite at the moment. The Mint Ubuntu variants are a big improvement in terms of ease of use over plain Debian, but version 12 is very much in the testing/setting up stage, and whilst 10 and 11 are usable, I¬† would recommend the long support Mint version 9 for a newcomer, it being smaller, faster and simpler. On an old machine, it is definitely the one to go for – the latest Ubuntu and Debian versions are getting more bloated and slower, and are being aimed at fondle-slabs and mobile phones.

Billy Larlad

In what ways are their “big improvements in terms of ease of use over Plain Debian”?

Having to wade through a 1000 Mint “tweaks” to GNOME 3 isn’t easy for the new user.

Also, Debian isn’t “aimed” at tablets or phone at all. It includes GNOME from upstream, pretty much as always; I would also argue that GNOME 3 isn’t especially tablet-oriented, but whatever. It’s a fine desktop environment for, well, desktops.


GNOME 3 is made to be customized, and is barely usable without Mint’s MGSE.¬† You don’t need to wade through the tweaks, Mint works well right out of the box.


¬†there is no gnome 3 or gnome shell in debian stable. what “bar at the top” – that presumably can’t be moved – are you talking about? if it can be moved (gnome 2 panel) why mention it?
debian is powerful, versatile and secure. i’ve been running it for over a year, incredible stability and reliability. really gives linux a good name, separates it from other OS’s in precisely that department that matters the most. ubuntu is unstable, way too many bugs and regressions, and it’s gotten user-unfriendly (unity). mint is just getting too complicated for its own good, although it’s clearly trying to fix the many shortcomings of ubuntu. and kudos to them for that.
imo mint should just base on debian and choose xfce as the default DE. for godsakes if you’re gonna put so much effort in improving stuff, contribute to the xfce project. none of mint’s work (cinnamon, whathaveyou..) will ever be accepted by gnome.
gnome has gone about as autistic and plain daft as canonical, and that’s saying something.


LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) is based off Debian testing. ¬†It’s still on gnome 2, but once gnome 3.2 is in debian, mint will push 3.2 and MGSE to the LMDE users.

Danny Stieben

I tried updating my LMDE to that Update Pack 3 but it wasn’t successful. You had no problems with it?


LMDE and update pack 3 have not pushed gnome 3 as of yet to end users.  You must have debian repos still enabled in your repo list, I would suggest you open update manager and fix your repos.  LMDE will push gnome 3, but not until Gnome 3.2 gets pushed into debian testing.  



I love and use Debian testing.
I wanted something well supported, relatively stable and mature. Debian’s one of the oldest distros out there and it’s supported by thousands of devs / packagers / … ¬†GNU / Linux is the leading server OS and most of the people choosing it opt for Debian / CentOS ( excluding distros with commercial support ).¬†





Sonny Bass

Mint 11 64bit, Puppy lupu 528.003 are my favorites at the moment. Both my desk and laptop are triple booted with those and Windows 7 64bit, Easy BCD lets me use the Windows boot loader to handle the booting


Blind Tiger

Started w/Ubuntu,have tried many others, but use Mint now.  Unity, a misnomer, is not for me.  



After deciding against Ububntu and Mint for legal reasons, and Debian due to usability standards, we have begun using Unite! 2012 in our recycling shop.¬† We just can’t beet the automatic install and usability.¬† It also comes on as a “System Restoration DVD” so our customers leave with a fully functional PC and a way to restore it if they need.

It’s built on Debian -stable.

Danny Stieben

Does that distribution have a website?



I <3 Debian!



Well, if you don’t want to re-install/config your computer for every 6 months, must go Debian or Linux Mint Debian Edition (I am); but if you have plenty of time, then you can go the Ubuntu way…


I have had no problem upgrade Ubuntu or Debian to next level.  Even my old mother (66 years) manage to do that, without any formal computer training at all.
Have not reinstalled any of them, unless I felt to do that.  Just to see how a fresh installation looks like.


Have you ever heard of system-upgrade? Because I’ve been running it since 2008. Yes, to be fair I had to reinstall when I switched to 64bit.



Debian Sid FTW!



I think ubuntu with its updated gui’s provides good initiative for windows users to explore linux.also it is even powerful with its terminal and other apps



My experience with the last stable build of Debian (Squeeze) was: Uninstallable via LiveCD, because the Installwizard window was bigger than my resolution (1440×900) and I could not reach for the “next” button…
I laughed and switched back to ubuntu… So much for Debian beeing tested and stable when it is released.

Danny Stieben

Not sure what problems you’ve been having…usually installers should never have that kind of problem. What about the non-graphical installer?


Stable doesn’t mean it will work on everything. It means it won’t crash and will run smoothly.

Rajeev Jha

This is the first I have heard of Debian being un-installable. You laughed and switched back to Ubuntu which is itself based on Debian. So you are at the core still using Debian (so now we are laughing!)

Usually people install Debian where nothing else would install. Debian testing is more stable than released version of other products. Debian may not provide a nice desktop out of box but on every other front, nothing beats Debian,

These kind of general statements, “it sucks”, “it did not install” without backing of data does not prove anything.


Rambo Tribble

Some time ago Ubuntu announced their releases would be based in Debian testing, so your comments regarding it using the unstable branch would seem out of date. 

Danny Stieben

I’ve seen both appearing. However, Debian testing and Debian unstable are pretty similar in content, so it doesn’t matter too much.



The article needs to specify and/or clarify the criteria upfront. Even the 3 mentioned here serve different purposes.

If you’re looking for a fine and user friendly desktop: go with Linux Mint 11 (not the latest 12 edition). Things like reasonable app selection + codecs in the default install, Jockey to help out with drivers and Software Update tool that rates the relative safety of the updates are definite pro for Mint 11.

This is my personal subjective criteria: I can not stand blurry subpar font rendering of Debian (and Debian based distros) when compared to Ubuntu base.



I really like Linux Mint Kataya….. I liked Ubuntu 10:04, but the newer version I didn’t, so I tried Linux Mint that a friend suggested, and this is the one for me…


Sam Tuke

The second most important consideration for me regarding distributions is whether it supports Free Software, or whether it includes or promotes freedom-restricting software.

This is a difficult consideration because there are very few popular distros that do not bundle or promote non-Free software. Of the three you list, only Debian positively regards freedom (Ubuntu advertises non-Free Software alongside Free Software, and automatically installs proprieary packages, and Mint bundles Free Software in (at least) it’s non-Debian edition).

I find Fedora has better / easier hardware support for my machines, so I use that instead of Debian, those being the two best freedom-respecting options that I’m aware of.

It would be nice if your reviews took into consideration the issue of freedom however, as this is after all the principle which inspired and protected all the Free Software that you discuss.

Danny Stieben

Thanks for noting that, Sam! That would’ve been a good thing to cover.



“and above all else very easy to use”
Easier than Ubuntu?
Debian is great, and so are also Ubuntu and Linux Mint… but for a “normal” user you can’t say Debian is easier than the other two.


Practical man

Simple and powerful: Debian testing!



i have a feeling that Ubuntu will eventually come back up on top.

Linux Mint is offering what adults are used to. I am a teacher and I have converted all the computers in the library to Ubuntu with one running Mint 12. In general, when choosing which distribution to install on their own computers, all have opted for Ubuntu with Unity.

I guess it has to do with their being accustomed to smartphones and the UI on them. Having used Unity myself for some time, I find myself drawn away from the traditional menu system started by Windows.

Those who click into distrowatch are not today’s kids. In 3, 5 or more years later, I feel it will be the mobile UI that will dominate.

In the meantime, for myself and the students, Unity and Ubuntu serve us well as a PC, notebook or netbook desktop (we have all of these in the library) and none have complained. In fact, students are bringing in their netbooks (2 in the last week) and PCs (one coming tomorrow) to add Ubuntu and even to replace XP. None have asked for Mint 12.


james lagerman

Billy Larlad you like Gnome 3???Unity and Gnome are great….. they are great if your using (Unity and Gnome 3) on a tablet.I have a tablet and my tablet OS is Android which works for me so……….Why the HELL should I use a tablet shell on my desktop computer Hmmmmm. Can someone please tell me why??????? —————————————————————–I loved using Ubuntu now I hate it. My Linux OS is Mint. Thank you Linux Mint for saving the Linux Desktop.


So a dock with square icons means it’s for a tablet? I bet some OS X users will get offended by this vision. :P A tablet OS is one that is perfectly usable with “taps” and a bit of scrolling. Ubuntu is quite usable with single clicks, but it’s not perfect in that sense. It’s a bit better to use when you still have a mouse and a real keyboard. :)


yup, offended. long time mac os x user. Docky is a nice merging idea though, atleast for me….


Linux Canuck

I find it curious that no mention is made of KDE which can be installed in Debian, Mint and Ubuntu. It is as if users must choose between bad and worse.

Debian 6 is not user friendly in the least. It will not even install on my computer because it does not include drivers for my network card and I cannot download them with an internet connection. Duh! Who thought this was a good idea?

Linux Mint 12 tries to walk the line and satisfy everyone so the include Mate which is half baked attempt to emulate a dead DE that was successful, but ugly and not very customisable. It added MGSE also to try to disguise that users were using GNOME shell. They now have Cinnamon for those who want to live in the past. It is as if they cannot make up their mind. I say fish or cut bait and quit playing games.

Ubuntu uses Unity and includes two version 3D and 2D. It at least is trying to do something new instead of retreading the past. You may not like Unity, but it will grow on users and as time goes on I think that Mint and GS users will be envious. I am a KDE user, BTW.

I have used Mint 12, Fedora 16 with GNOME Shell, and Ubuntu 11.10 with Unity. GNOME Shell and Unity take some time to get used to, but are highly customisable. That is where I see Mint making its mistake. With GNOME shell extensions and Unity Scopes and Lens becoming very easy to add they are not able to keep up. GNOME shell is a solid base that you can build on. So is Unity. Mint just confuses users by adding old and new at the same time.

As for me, I am going back to the safe refuge of KDE where sanity reigns. It still uses the old desktop metaphor, but in the right hands it can become anything that you want. There are no arguments about who has the biggest or which works best. It is faster than Unity or GS. It is more customisable. All of the GTK applications run in it. You can still run applications from the system tray. The buttons have always been on the right. You can have as many virtual desktops as you want and can have different wallpaper on each desktop. You can add Activities to double your fun.

I appreciate giving Debian some kudos. They deserve it, but their strategy does not permit it to become popular. I think Mint is way over hyped. I think Ubuntu is on a good course. I think GNOME made some mistakes with GS and are trying to compensate. Everything is basically good. People have choice and it has never been better. 

You do not have to choose just this or that. You can have your cake and eat it too. You can install Kubuntu, add ubuntu-desktop, gnome-shell and add the Mint sources. Then with one installation you can try out KDE, Unity 3D and 2D, GNOME Shell, MGSE and Mate and switch between them as often as you lie at login. Or you could install Debian and stick with GNOME 2.x for as long as it is available.


I agree with most of your comment, but could you provide some data about the statement that KDE is faster? I have always believed GNOME was a bit more lightweight than KDE. Of course, this doesn’t mean KDE is bad. :) I personally believe that all of the 4 most famous DEs (GNOME and variants, KDE, XFCE and LXDE) are good in some aspects.



>but what works best for you?
Then how about putting a KDE up there as well?
Giving people ‘choice’ between two distros using GNOME (Im going to stay quiet about Unity since I have nothing good to say) isnt choice.

We installed close to 100 Linux installs at our Halloween and Xmas install fests.
We had stations set up where people could test drive GNOME, KDE, Unity, XCFE and we let the people choose which one they felt confortable with (we didnt give choice on older hardware and went for best performance).

KDE beat Gnome 2-1, Unity and XCFE tied.
Considering that almost everyone came over with a Windows machine, I dont find it too surprising.

Distros arent the dealbreaker when a newb chooses a Linux distro, the differences between most distros with same environment being very small.
Show them the top 3-4 desktops (im a great fan of E17 but  its not ready for prime time) and have them decide which paradigm THEY prefer.

Its all about choice and making the user feel comfortable.
Problem is our communitIES are EXTREMELY tribal: not liking ‘your’ distro or desktop or text editors is taken as a personal affront.



I prefer to use Ubuntu LTS server edition with only the base software installed. Then I install xubuntu-desktop by typing:
 sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop
Afterwards I install only the software that I need with the Synaptic Software Manager. This way I have a machine loaded with only the programs that I want.



The reason there are two panels is because MGSE was meant to be a stepping stone and was never meant as a permanent solution. It is already being replaced by Cinnamon which is much better than MGSE.

Also, you should actually read Clem’s (Linux Mint’s project leader) reply about Banshee. Originally, Ubuntu took 100% of the profits away from GNOME, but the link had to be rebranded in order to be used by Mint. However, the link that GNOME gave for where to send profits to was broken and because the proceeds only equaled about $4.00 a year, it was decided to just leave the link pointing to Linux Mint (It’s better than Canonical getting all the profits).


Justin Malcolm

My preference is Debian on my desktop and RHEL (Red Hat or Scientific Linux) on the server. Debian is also a fine choice on the server but I just prefer to hitch my star to the world’s leading Linux company (Red Hat) in the server room. They make sure everything you need in the real world (like virtualization) work well. Also, Red Hat does a great job of maintaining absolute stability while still managing to keep the system up-to-date enough to stay relevant and useful over the years.

I was a loyal Ubuntu user for quite a few years but Debain finally won me over because it is just so much faster on the same hardware. I also feel that Debian has become a bit less rough around the edges over the years, which removes much of the reason to use Ubuntu instead, but it could be me that has changed. I run Debian “unstable” because I find it more stable than Ubuntu and at least the packages are a little less ancient than they are on Debian stable. I am a developer and the age of the Debian packages is frequently a problem for me.

I find it difficult to use RHEL as a desktop system as there are not nearly as many packages available. At the very least, using RHEL means having to pull packages from multiple repositories and eventually that always leads to problems. At worst, it means having to compile a bunch of packages yourself which is not only inconvenient but also means that the package manager is unaware of a bunch of the software you have installed which leads to problems again.



I left Ubuntu for Mint long ago, and been using Mint Debian edition ever since they release the first .iso for it.



Favorite a fork of 10.04.3 Ubuntu. OZ Redux.¬† It’s LTS, no bugs and runs anything I throw at it. Wine 3 will run any MS I throw at it also.¬† Happy Linux family.


Mark Maas

Simple! Ubuntu as my desktop and Debian on my servers!


John Schaaf

I started using RedHat, didn’t like Fedora very much so I moved to Mandrake (which was the ‘Ubuntu’ of the late 90’s, early 00’s) and moved to Debian in 2002. Started using Ubuntu when it came out and been doing so (on desktops) ever since. Tried mint a few times and although it’s quite good, I didn’t really like it.
But I also use Debian. On my home server, one web/mail-server at work and even some Desktops. In my experience, Debian keeps running until you mess it up yourself, Ubuntu is somewhat less rock solid.
For servers I choose Debian or CentOS (and I’m trying Scientific Linux which is also RHEL based). Both will keep running forever :). On Desktops or Laptops I use whatever works out of the box. First I try Debian, then Ubuntu, if that doesn’t work I’l try Fedora, Mandriva or OpenSuse. If nothing works i put Windows 7 on it wich as we all know has a far worse hardware support but a far better vendor support



Debian vs. Ubuntu vs. Linux Mint: Which Distribution Should You Use?



Jaakko Joki

I started using Linux when I was in senior high. The distribution was Fedora and since then I’ve tried out many of them including Mandriva, Red Hat, Suse and Gentoo. I never liked any of those to suit me best and when I installed Debian I thought it was good but not very suitable either: I really hate when things need to be configured before getting anything done. Ubuntu solved the problem and for many years (now five+) I’ve used Ubuntu. Now I’m struggling with the idea that I really don’t like Unity. I had it on my netbook for a while but it really did not suit for me at all. Not more than a month ago (when the current hype on Mint started) I installed Linux Mint 12 on my netbook for a try, and from the beginning really enjoyed the user experience. It’s easy to install and actually I didn’t have to configure too much at all. Now I’m planning to change the main computers of mine as well to Mint because there are everything I need: familiar Debian-Ubuntu feeling, Gnome (2-like…) X and all the software I’m familiar with. So my pick would be Mint.



Hard to pick, those are the best three horses I believe.



I have been a distro hopper for the past 8 years.
And to say that Debian is a friendly OS is full of it, coming from a windows newbie.
Mint was friendly at the beginning, but now they just keep fallowing Ubuntu.
They are trying to make it stable, and user friendly that is the reason for cinnamon.
But to make unity stable or even really useful that will take quite some time.
In my case I use Ultimate Edition it is at least more compatible with Debian core.
And it has all tweaks, drivers, and all codec, plus most software you will ever need.
It has all the eye-candy the you can muster, granted version 3 is base on Mint.
But it has always been based on ubuntu, but it has more stability than Mint.
Since version 1 to the present day, EU has always been outstanding and reliable.
Mint has KDE look will EU Gnome & KDE and they work side by side.
Don’t get me wrong Mint has done a lot for Ubuntu based OS.
But I find that EU is more stable and compatible to repositories than Mint.



I have been a distro hopper for the past 8 years.
And to say that Debian is a friendly OS is full of it, coming from a windows newbie.
Mint was friendly at the beginning, but now they just keep fallowing Ubuntu.
They are trying to make it stable, and user friendly that is the reason for cinnamon.
But to make unity stable or even really useful that will take quite some time.
In my case I use Ultimate Edition it is at least more compatible with Debian core.
And it has all tweaks, drivers, and all codec, plus most software you will ever need.
It has all the eye-candy the you can muster, granted version 3 is base on Mint.
But it has always been based on ubuntu, but it has more stability than Mint.
Since version 1 to the present day, EU has always been outstanding and reliable.
Mint has KDE look will EU Gnome & KDE and they work side by side.
Don’t get me wrong Mint has done a lot for Ubuntu based OS.
But I find that EU is more stable and compatible to repositories than Mint.
Plus EU has a lite , gamers , intermediate versions that cover KDE and others wild having gnome stable.
So there is always something for someone at any time, and there is a LTS version too.
Will there is no version for servers, I rather use BSD for that purpose.
Granted this is my personal view.
But if you like the unity look and feel there is Oz Unity 2.0 РOnyx 64 at least this one works better.   


R S Chakravarti

There are Debian Live CDs and also Knoppix and Mepis which are Debian-based live CDs. Knoppix was, I believe, the first live CD of all.



I use to recommend Ubuntu to everyone, but that was a mistake.  Linux Mint is much more complete right after installing.  Easier to use because Java, Flash and Codecs already installed.



After trying Ubuntu, LMDE Xfce, and Debian Testing Gnome I am now using Debian Testing KDE with the Liquorix Kernel. If Gnome 3 worked with ATI video cards I probably would have stuck with that, but after being forced into the classic mode for about a month I installed KDE and removed everything Gnome. I don’t see myself switching back anytime soon.


Sam W

debian! simple to operate, fast and stable. like any distro, the user decides how far down the rabbit hole they want to go.


RamaKrishna RK Veluvali

I prefer Mint, it is the best Linux even a Windows fan can try without any hassle.


Charles Baker

I have come to love CrunchBang Linux, the latest version of which is based on Debian. It takes care of a lot of the ease of use issues and uses OpenBox for the desktop environment. So fast! So pretty! So lightweight!


Danny Stieben

Good list of points, Billy. Seems that a lot of other people agree with you in saying that Debian is a solid choice.



If you know what you are doing Slackware which I have used since 1992.   If not then any of the others which best suit your box without too much hard work.  


James Christensen

I use all 3 of the OS’s in the article, I’m a little upset with Ubuntu since Unity, I really don’t like the unified menu. My main system is dual headed 23″ LED. It can be a long way from the program to the menu, and making sure you have the right program selected adds an extra step. However on a small screen it is quite nice. “Give us the choice Ubuntu”

I like that Linux Mint with Gnome 3 doesn’t use the unified menu. So on my desktop this is my choice.

For servers and development, I use Scientific Linux, based on RHEL, Debian is also a good solution for servers, if your more familiar with the Debian management, ie. used to using Ubuntu. 

I am also pursuing my RHCSA, Scientific Linux is similar to RHEL, so it does provide good practice for a career as a Linux Administrator.

My 2 cents.


Bojan Tomic

Not doing justice to Mint. With the advent of Cinnamon, Mint is no longer just Ubuntu with codecs.



Interesting article, thanks.¬† I got into Linux out of curiosity around 2000 and made the switch from windows about a year later.¬† Back then it was Redhat but around 2004 found Ubuntu.¬† I really thought I’d be with Ubuntu forever but found the new Unity interface just too buggy.¬† I stuck it out into 11.10 but just encountered way too many cliches (laggy mouse movements, hangs, etc.).¬† Then Fedora 16 came out and I decided I’d give it a try.¬† I had to work to get all of my applications working, but it runs very very well now.

As for deciding which works for you I think it comes down to:

1) What will run the applications you need to be “productive” (whether that’s presentations/documents/spreadsheets, like me …. or surfing …. or gaming, etc.)
2) What runs well on your machine … one operating system does not run the same on all machines (desktop, laptop, tablet)
3) What is visually interesting/appealing … let’s face it, we in the Linux community are a bit geeky and want a cool looking desktop/laptop!

Thanks again for the article!

Danny Stieben

Thanks for the tips!


Miquel Mayol i Tur

i think you forgot to say something about MATE like this …

Mint12 uses also MATE – old Gnome2 fork – and that was the reason I switched from Ubuntu. But now Mate can also be installed on Ubuntu via PPA. And the Mint software center is faster and better than USC built in, at least in my computer, but USC has a new web service that is amazing, better than the app.
PPAs in Ubuntu and Mint12 are an amazing way of prove new software at your desktop, Unity lens for youtube from el atareao more or less arrived at the same tiem than Ubuntu TV and it is simiiar. 

But Debian and LMDE – I have LMDE installed too – need some tricks to be able to use PPAs and – as you write – not always the packages are compatible.




SalineOS. Debian with a shot of soap to knock out The Great Fear of “non-free” necessities.

Danny Stieben

Is there anything else that you like about SalineOS that isn’t in Debian?



Hmmm i think the major question first is server or desktop – then later the distro qustion comes

personally on a server ubuntu vs debian is a nobrainer for debian
redhat vs fedora vs centos vs scientificlinux –
SL or redhat all the time

redhat is costly – sl is a bit behind but free
as some others mentioned fedora is to unstable for productive and centos hasits own problems

also interresting is that centos is even behind Sl in release cycles

but interresting note on the side – the reason why cern uses SL isnt because its more stable – it was an economic desicion – but even there some people start thinking loud about debian

personally i can tell that no distribution was ever that stable as debian – but of course its always behind what can also be a trouble on server (i just say libvirt and kvm :)

ife also made 2 weeks performance test on virtual guests in different distris – guess – debian got the best IO rates even as a guest – ubuntu got some serious troubles as a guest

so atm – on server i would go with debian then redhat/SL

everything lse is just a desktop – so more or less a toy :)


Justen Robertson

This is sort of like asking whether you’d like vanilla, french vanilla, or vanilla bean ice cream :)

Danny Stieben

Yet they’re all different. :)



I use Debian Stable for servers (in the past I upgraded production servers from 4.0 to 5.0, and 5.0 to 6.0 without problems). And for desktop/laptop I use Debian Testing, upgrading the packages every two weeks or so.



I have tried and experimented with lots Linux OS. I particularly like Racy Puppy but must admit the one I use most is LinuxMint 11. I have not upgraded to LinuxMint 12 but have set up LinuxMint Debian Edition on another PC to see how  it goes for me and if works well for my requirements and I feel comfortable with its various behaviours it may well become my daily OS.



The best distribution is Ubuntu ! 

Cloud computing and virtualization has been around and with ubuntu one can easily install any application he wants or build a new kernel needed for the distro or customize the distro and install any services needed to get all your vm running.



Since we like to be picky like James Bond, we should say that actually Debian is not a single distribution, but actually 3 distributions: stable (squeeze, atm), testing (wheezy for now) and unstable (sid), while the name give you an idea how packages are updated:
– In stable there will be no new versions after release, just security and bug updates.
– Testing will be the next stable when ready, and updates will come fast but not as fast as possible, since they need to stay in unstable for a while, and they are rolling continuously, unless we are near the release of the next stable, while everything is freezed for the release.
– Unstable/sid is continuously rolling with new versions of everything, so it changes almost every day.

Danny Stieben

All of that is true, but I wouldn’t say they’re different distributions. They’re different releases. Even Debian’s site says so.



Switched from Mandriva to Debian-6.0, and I could not have been more pleased.¬† For years I used and thought Mandriva was the Bomb, but Debian, only in my opinion is “All of that”.¬† This distribution has indeed been “Rock Solid Stable”.¬† Even as a dual boot WindowsXP/Debian System, I really can not ask for or expect too much more.¬† Coming from Mandriva took a bit of adjustment, but the transition has been great.¬† DEBIAN … “ROCK ON !!!”

Danny Stieben

Great that you’ve had such a nice experience!



I like both Kubuntu and LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) as far as layout goes.¬† For Kubuntu I like how customizable the desktop is with the widgets, and with LMDE I really like the start menu layout.¬† With LMDE I think that is how Gnome 3 should have turned out instead of the screenhogging colossus that Gnome 3 and Unity have both become.¬† I never have and probably never will like Unity with the zero customization and the fact that the “menu” always covers the screen and is near impossible to navigate for me.


Rahul Shelke

I prefer Ubuntu as it is user friendly as well as reliable. It comes handy when I need to install or try any new package, as most of them are available with Ubuntu.



I am a KDE user because I rely 100% on KDevelop for my personal (and in-progress Р)   small enterprise resources control project, coding in C++.
KDE as the most easiest and complete configurability and integration of the desktop. No one ( gnome, xfce, blackbox, E17, ¬†etc…) is near.¬†

For Debian flavour, I use Kubuntu.
For slackware as free and total control, I use Arch linux because of its AUR and pacman, very close to apt-get.

Today’s computers have so much resources – it is no more a reason to complain against the resources angry of KDE.
Btw, OpenSuSE is the best KDE distribution – but it is out of this topic :-)


Bradley D. Thornton

Hm… The “Other” camp? This was referred to as fedora/RH/SuSE (Paraphrased, of course). I would tend to break things out by the packaging systems, since these are the things that most distinguish the distributions. Yes, we covered the debian GNU/Linux family in the article above, although I think more attention could have been given to LMDE, rather than the Mint mentioned in the article. But the next camp I’ll call the Redhat camp – which includes Fedora/RHEL/Unbreakable/Scientific/CentOS. Now, SuSE was a fork of Slackware, and is now a distribution in it’s own right, so I would put that camp (the Yast camp) into it’s own category, while the debian camp uses *apt-get*, and the Redhat camp uses *yum*. Now we have three camps, the other two I would add would be the Slackware camp, which includes Salix, Slax, and other great variants, and uses the pkgtool package management system, including installpkg, upgradepkg, slackpkg, and SBo’s either manually or via sbopkg. Salix uses additional package managers with dependancy checking capabilities, which is why some folks proudly exclaim that it is, “Slackware for lazy people.”. The final two groups that I would add would be the Arch camp (Pacman installation system), and the true source based distros like Sorcerer Linux and Gentoo, with it’s *emerge*. Like Salix, I would personally categorize LMDE as debian for lazy people, and ubuntu??? Well, my daddy always told me if you can’t say something nice… :) I hope that helps :)



Tried them all. My two cents is that if one is using from a dev point of view, go for debian with gnome; some development and general (power) usage ubuntu/kubuntu/medibuntu are great. Mint fits that profile too but more I’m happy to put that for older relative :)) It is very good too!



all of these operating systems are just as unstable as hell is on fire. The solution? Windows… Derp. The fact that linux is so unstable is the reason so many virus creators avoid it. Also another reason is because they’re brain-dead dumb-asses. Linux to me is almost as fucking bad as mac but not quite, more like in the middle.



I was an early adopter of Ubuntu (Ubuntu user # 2136) with Warty Warthog and was a regular advocate until the advent of Unity.  I now use Debian once again and forevermore.


ItBms Biz

Hi Danny,
Good introduction to the blog as a young student. Here is my turnoff that occurred within the the first sentence. It was the use¬† of the word “hard”.¬† That word should be “difficult”.¬† Wood and cement are hard but decisions are difficult to take¬≠. In French you say “take a decision”, in English you say “make a decision”.

As a follow up, you might indicate why one would choose a distribution over another.  You could have given your opinions such as one distribution offering the easy transition of a computer beginner from a Windows environment to Linux.  Another opinion or consideration could be a program or group of applications that would help a person with a problem, such as design, statistics, or other. A third consideration could be that a particular Linux distribution allows a person to maintain an older computer, instead of sending it to the trash.

Danny Stieben

Thanks for the tips!

I suppose I could’ve been a little more specific about the benefits of each, but I mainly wanted to talk about what each one is about. As far as distributions for the right purposes, there’s now our Best Linux Distributions page [1] that you can check out.


So, it’s not perfect. Who cares. I enjoyed the post greatly!

(I just hope the grammer police (no offence intended) don’t read my posts!)

Tuhua Tarakona

…lol… Although I have the same horrible habit of correcting grammar – – I think (humble opinion only) that ItBms Biz may have been commenting on this because of the language barrier more than the actual grammar! :^) I suspect if I spoke only Spanish or French, and used a translator to understand a page, the wording could be construed as ‘difficult’ versus ‘hard’. So – totally understood what you were getting at, ItBms Biz. And, understand your comment on the ‘grammar police’, too, Stephen! …big grin…


Olaf van Kooten

I’m a happy user of Linx Mint on my Netbook! However, I stick to Windows on my Desktop ;)


Michael Peyton

Unfortunately, I have recently switched from Ubuntu to Debian due to Debian being more “free”. I do not agree with Ubuntu not only encouraging users to install non-free software but selling it as well.

I’m surprised this aspect was not discussed in the article. Debian is the most free out of the three listed. It’s also important to refer to the operating system as GNU/Linux. Linux is just the name of the kernel. If you do not understand why this is important you should take a look at the free software foundation. If you don’t care then you are missing the point of free software entirely.

Stephen Reed

Yes, I do understand why this is supposed to matter. However, to me it doesn’t. There is nothing wrong with proprietary software in itself. The issue is draconian licence terms.

I love open source, don’t get me wrong, but people, and companies have every right to charge for software, and to own the code that they spent their time and effort working on.

My issue with proprietary software is the “you don’t own the software, it’s licenced to you. We don’t have to let you use it, and you can go to prison for trying to modify it for peronal use.”

In other words, I think software licences often restrict your use of software to much. However, I see nothing wrong with a developer saying you can’t sell an app he wrote!


Jon Hulka

“Debian is created by the open source community”

Don’t you mean “the free software community”?


Danny Stieben

Ah, nice find, Jon. I suppose so…I’ve been interchanging those two terms more than I probably should.



If you really want to stick with the FSF definition, Debian is NOT free software. I’m sorry to repeat this again and again, but people should be aware of this useless hate and discrimination the FSF does against Debian. :)


Jon Hulka

@Lazza I missed your other comment the first time I read this.¬† I’ve been distro-hopping for quite a while, came to Debian in the last year or so, and I’ll be staying. I think I’ll go with the Debian Free Software Guidelines for my definition of ‘free’.


Jon Hulka

Its complicated :D I think the main distinction between the Open Source Initiative and Debian is that the OSI is business focused where Debian is community focused.

Debian’s main repository is free (by FSF standards) and the only way to get non-free software from Debian’s software manager is by explicitly choosing a non-free repository, so a default Debian installation is free.

I agree that the FSF comes off as a bit too militant sometimes, it tends to alienate people from the idea of free software.

Anyway, Ubuntu, Mint and Debian are all Debian based, and a lot of people get started using GNU/Linux on one of the ‘easier’ distros, so they all play an important role, both in bringing people to GNU/Linux, and in educating people on the importance of free software.



Unity sucks and I quite using ubuntu. I actually installed will.dowsing 7. Come to find out there is nothing written for windows 7 and not device drivers.

So ill installed mint with gnome 3 and see.


Shreya Dahal

I first started Linux with Fedora.. Not bad.. The went to Ubuntu.. I was with it through 9.10 to 11.10, then Unity put me down. It just started crashing a lot. I am thinking of moving to Mint now. Sounds pretty promising.


I agree I thought Ubuntu 11.10 was pretty cool but got turn off of the behavior of Unity, it acts kind of finicky I also like to run the Cairo Dock along with it, and sometimes they get angry at each other and one time Unity will open the program and sometimes it won’t. So now that I read this article I think I’m going to try Mint as well.


if you replace ubuntu with mint do you lose everything, i.e. email, gnucash files, etc. with the new installation?

Danny Stieben

You will lose your programs, yes, but you can save your personal files and settings if you have a separate home partition or back up your home folder.


what i hate…


– prop. codecs not installed out of the box
– theme. its not bad but not appealing to me; Zukitwo is better despite not being dark
-unity. i prefer gnome-shell for usability though not feature rich; I am not Linus ;)

mint and deepin

– mono and/ wine installed by default
– python based mint menu(MATE)
– cinnomon and MATE (gnome-shell is better)
– I remember python based mintmenu eating memory(may be past)

Personal preferences


1) Ubuntu
2) Linux Mint Debian


1) Debian / Ubuntu Server
2) CentOS


Terrance Mohead

You, my pal, ROCK! I found exactly the info I already searched all over the place and just could not locate it. What a perfect web-site.



I myself am probably not welcome in this discussion because I kicked wincrap 7 to the curb only 6 months ago, but I find that Ubuntu 11.10 has a lot of cool things to offer but isn’t there yet, it’s seems very buggy and I find myself restarting my computer more than I should have to. And what’s with the laptop over heating problem, my other laptop is slow and choppy because of this over heating issue, with the latest distro of Ubuntu, it shut itself down ever since then it’s been really slow when doing anything. So now I’ll try the Linux Mint 12 and see how it behaves.

Now don’t get me wrong Ubuntu 11.10 has some interesting programs, like running the software centre and other apps. It has promise but for now I think I’ll try out Mint.

On the brighter side at least GNU/Linux users get a choice, not like the world of Microsoft, where you do what your told, or ELSE!


Jeff, what sweeping statements you make.
I use all three. I have been in IT since before it was called IT and I can honestly say that Windows 7 is one of the most stable OSs I have ever used. Up to the present, MS have not once told me to do anything, by the way. The advantage of MS is that it still has just about the widest range of software and hardware available. I have tried many times to make the switch to Linux permanently, but some stuff is just not available – like the route-planning software and update for my aviation GPS, for example.

I love Linux, but it cannot do everything I want, and I do not see that day approaching any time soon.

Just as a parting comment to the Linux community – don’t you think we’re losing sight of some of the original goals? Ubuntu is so bloated now, it seems to take as long as Windows to start up, certainly slower than my iMac.


Maybe little off-topic we are, ahem?


No not at all. You probably don’t know what “reply” is..

Shreya Dahal

Exactly.. That’s why I keep both Windows and Linux. And btw, i gave up my plan to move to Mint. Something just didn’t look right. Besides, I found unity 2d is much more stable, and im happy with it.



I loved Ubuntu 10.04. Then I used another computer for a while and then decided to reinstall the OS. I installed Ubuntu 11.10. The UI immediately pissed me off. It was also incredibly slow for some reason. I am now using Linux Mint, and I love it.


I’m perplexed that it is so hard for people to install the interface they like….seems undoubtedly and uncanny that it is so hard to ‘apt-get’, use synaptic, or the default package manager to load another interface…Now in saying that, I too am also perplexed that Canonical did not give an option to choose interface upon start up for I also do not care for Unity (and know not many that do). But why is is so easy to through in the towel on a good distribution??


You don’t have to use unity, I don’t know anyone that actually does.. Unity is nice but the bar is just not made for the side at all! It’s made for the bottom it’s a super bar basically.

Just install Gnome3 using sudo apt-get gnome3, also install the gnome tweak tool and docky(make sure expand is selected or use it like a dock).

You don’t have to use docky you can just right-click+add another panel but it’s not as effective imo.

For the actual desktop however I would just use arch linux with gnome 3 in fallback(the smallest the panel can be is 19 pixels..), compiz, docky, and the ambiance theme with some cool icon sets.

Arch and Gentoo are the only Linux distros I actually use on the desktop environment, for servers I use ubuntu server as gentoo or arch are rolling releases and you shouldn’t upgrade very often unless it’s an update to ruby, python, sqlite/mysql/posgresql, php, or an update to the OS itself but with gentoo/arch that’s every week not a good practice.



linux mint is the best.



I played with all 3 and even though Unity is pure evil… I prefer Ubuntu I just like the flow and how it runs yes Mint reconized my gpu out the box however I used XP over it… when I had Ubuntu I found myself always on it except when I played a game unsupported by wine…. Yes Unity can take a bit to follow over what we are use too, however you can easily change it to another (Gnome 3 or 2.2 with shell extention) my laptop was designed for 7 (I prefer XP due to less resources and support….) it runs all of them flawlessly but Ubuntu always caught my eye any problem google provide an answer faster than 7. Also the Unity keeps close to 7 UI for those transitioning to a linux distro. Hopefully this helped people, as this knowledge would have helped me, I have dual boot for mmo purposes and some games I still play on XP if you want newer games dual boot with 7 and it’s worth it I only have 40 out of 500gbs to this and it’s worth the security and the fun learning. If your content with windows but want more stability roll back to XP with SP3 other wise most drivers won’t work… Simple all distributions are fun and easy to learn :) any questions google is your best friend, serious there forums can lack on a response or be one sided….



Hi-My brother installed and got mu PC ready–I’m computer illitrate as I have little time to lear about these things. After using Windows forever, I now need to learn a whole new system.
Are ther any simple tutorials that explains in both laymens and real terms re: how the programming works, where to get downloads etc. What the termanoligies mean and as much simplified info as possible? I really appreciate all the help I can get.

Danny Stieben

Well, since you say that you’re computer illiterate, programming probably isn’t a topic that you’re interested in. Maybe programs? They work just like Windows programs. They are just installed via packages (either .deb files for Ubuntu/Debian or .rpm files for openSUSE/Fedora), which you can get from your package manager (look for something like Software Center or Add/Remove Software). The key difference is that all the software you’ll need is found in one central location, so you don’t have to go to many different websites to download each program. Again, as far as use goes, it’s basically the same.

I hope that was helpful!



I’ve used Ubuntu a lot over the years. Ubuntu live cd is one of my go-to tools for troubled windows machines.

lately, i run into problems – ubuntu with nvidia card, can’t have all the pretty gui effects with dual monitors.
video playback problems and a few more things.

i’ve tried ubuntu 10 – 12 (btw, trying to install gnome on 12 is a pain in the butt and didnt work well for me)

anyways, so i decided to test drive linux mint… o.m.g. wow
this is GREAT!
using Linux Mint 10
i have FULL gnome desktop GUI effects, full HD playback, seamless VMWare workstation unity mode; the works.

here is prime example of what linux mint can do on my computer that windows and ubuntu haven’t been able to keep up with:
drag HD video window between dual monitors and no skipping, etc.
i have wobbly windows and desktop water effect going – i can shake the video window all around and in between monitors, but wobbly window and video playback do not hesitate even for a millisecond.
when switching between desktops (i have cube effect for desktop switching), video playback remains flawless.

in windows 7 and ubuntu 10 – 12, when i would drag the playing video between windows it would lock up the video playback, sometimes the video player itself. this is among many different programs for playback.

vmware workstation is FLAWLESS in linux mint – i didnt really have problems with it in windows, but i did in ubuntu (it won’t even install on ubuntu 12)

i’m sold on linux mint now. i use it as my primary OS and whatever windows programs i need to ru, i just use the XP virtual machine I have set up.
(this is my work workstation, so no gaming going on)

i know the video playback performance may seem trivial, but to me it shows the stability and powerfulness of linux mint; that it can maintain HD playback with full gui effects dragging across dual monitors and never miss a beat.

even the VMWare unity windows are flawless on the wobbly windows and water effects. i guarantee Windows (any version) could not maintain this.

Danny Stieben

Interesting to see that Linux Mint is working so much better for you since most of their packages are simply borrowed from Ubuntu.



Ajem…Ubuntu was goood until 12.04 came out. It Began to look like windows, that was a very wrong step

LinuxMint is like a sister of Ubunto, it’s based on ubuntu. but the graphics weren’t that eye candyish. When LinuxMint12 came out, the Graphics began to look like windows, just like ubunto

Debian is just fine, i have it, it’s fast, and it has no eye candy’s, of course if you want to have eye candy’s you can change it, i wouldn’t do it, it’s bad for the monitor.


Canonical is the Micro$oft of Lunix. They are pure evil.
Unity Uber Alles they cry.
Ubuntu removes choice. It is neo-fascist.
Debian is the only pure Linux out there.

Danny Stieben

How does Ubuntu remove choice?

Danny Stieben

I guess you just don’t like the Unity interface, which is fine. Not all that many people do either.

I don’t quite think that eye candy is bad for the monitor…


windows aktivierung

Excellent website. Plenty of useful information here. I’m sending it to some buddies ans also sharing in delicious. And certainly, thanks on your effort!

Danny Stieben

Thank you as well!


buy microsoft office 2010

Great blog right here! Also your web site a lot up very fast! What host are you using? Can I am getting your affiliate hyperlink in your host? I wish my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

Danny Stieben

You’d have to ask our tech admin James Bruce for that.



Thanks for every other wonderful article. The place else may anybody get that kind of info in such a perfect method of writing? I’ve a presentation subsequent week, and I am at the search for such information.

Danny Stieben

I’m not quite sure where you could go to look, but I wish you good luck in your endeavors!



I’m using Ubuntu x64 off of a livecd right now and I’m quite impressed. Its very fast, responsive, and stable. It just works.

Danny Stieben

That’s the idea of it all! :)



Been using LMDE for a while, got caught up in a update failure, switched to Pinguy, been very happy ever since.

Danny Stieben

So you’re liking the Ubuntu base better than the Debian base?



I like Windows 7.



I love Debian. Loved it more before gnome 3 screwed things up. I am barely hanging on to gnome 2, had to uninstall update manager because it was updating and installing things that made it harder to use gnome 2.

I have used Ubuntu and I was not happy with it. Xubuntu was a complete disaster! I had a crazy rebooting problem that no amount of upgrading could fix. It could have been the version or iso I burned at fault, but I have not used any ubuntu distro since. The live disks work fine, by the way.

I tried a live version of Linux Mint, and I liked it, but could not get sound to work, which is why I have not installed the distro to a hard drive. But it’s one I would love to make my 2nd OS on my dual boot system.


Last night I installed Linux Mint 10 Julia and it works far better than I expected. I am concerned about the distro’s inabilty to be updated, but it also makes me think that I won’t have the same update issues I have encountered in Debian, and before than Dreamlinux 3.5.

BTW, the sound works just fine (it was muted) and the distro has better 3d drivers for my gamer video card, which means compiz works far better in Linux Mint. And Docky too, for some reason. In Debian, when I would add a launcher to docky it usually stopped working or was gone when I booted up the computer the next day. Today, every launcher I added yesterday was present and worked perfectly. This may be the final distro for me.


Ted Trujillo

Well I have been using Mint for a while. I recently switched to Pinguy and haven’t looked back. Pinguy has been my distro of choice for months now and has actually replaced both my Ubuntu and windows systems in my tripleboot. Heck I am now playing WoW in wine and haven’t fired up win7 in quite a while.



I just moved to Ubuntu 12.04, Best Linux distro, IMHO. Thousands of packages, bleeding edge of open source, debian level security (for the most part). My comp is retty beastly, so I don’t know how this will run on older stuff, but on my comp 12.04 is ultra fast out of the box. The only flaws with Ubuntu are ones inherent with just about all linux distros. Unity is a big change for Ubuntu and I have grown to like it alot. Well worth the effor put into it.


Ralph The Other

Easy of acquisition and testing should also be considerations. Some distros have live versions for different architectures and others do not. Some have torrent downloads but others only have http and ftp options, making it hard to download an ISO using different Internet connections here and there. How easy is it to get a copy on CD/DVD or on a stick? Can you order it on physical media?

Also consider:
Is it available in your language?
What is the documentation like, again in a language you know well.
What is your local community like and what do they use?

Danny Stieben

Those are some really good points I didn’t think about! Although for the majority of users those questions shouldn’t really be of much concern, I’m sure there are a few that constantly ask those questions.

I believe all of them can be downloaded via torrents and ordered on physical media. They should all support the same languages as Debian –> Ubuntu –> Linux Mint.


Jeewantha Bandara

Hi everybody.
I just downloaded Linux mint Maya and I’m gonna replace Windows with it.
No known faults with the new Mint edition, right?

Danny Stieben

None that we’re aware of! However, it’s always best to at least check by running the Live environment before committing to an install.



I had problems with ubuntu 10.1 constantly crashing. Firefox was just starting down its road to becoming unusable and java was running horribly. I weighed up my requirements top of the list were reliability and stability. I installed Debain squeeze and have never looked back. There is simply no comaprison in terms of stability and speed. Debian is not as pretty and looks like an old version of Ubuntu but for me, this is well worth the tradeoff. The only thing that can be annoying is having to compile more programs to get newer program versions or add sid repositories.

Danny Stieben

Don’t forget you can customize Debian yourself through themes, icon packs, and so much more! :)


Edmond Condillac

I use Ubuntu operating system. Kindly let me know how, if possible, I can change to Debian, please

Danny Stieben

You can easily install Debian by downloading its ISO, burning it to a CD or USB, and going through the installer, just like you did for Ubuntu. You cannot, however, simply “upgrade” from Ubuntu into Debian. It will require a fresh install.



Have been using Ubuntu from 2006 and loved this disto to the moment the developers decided to go for UNITY crap. Of course you can say that I can just use classic Gnome – sure, but I want to try Mint now and tbh I think it’s gonna very similiar due to origins of it (Debian->Ubuntu->Mint). One thing which made me crazy was upgrading from distro to distro under Ubuntu, practically on every upgrade I had crashes with some packages or they were not “user friendly” compatible with my hardware and I ended with blank desktop. I hope Mint team will put more effort to make things straight forward – we will see cause I am tired of frequently appearing issues (though it may be Linux in general feature :D ) and in the same time I will stick to Debian based distro. If things stay the same I will probably jump in the end to Redhat which seems to be better optimized however I don’t have an experience in that as a (lazy) home user.

Danny Stieben

I agree that the upgrade of Debian-based distros usually doesn’t go so well, even more me. I’ve had far fewer problems with Fedora. I’d recommend trying Mint first like you said, but it’s not all that hard to get into Fedora. It might take some work to get it set up so that it’s usable for anyone and not just those who live open source religiously.


Trent Black

This article is typical of a linux expert. They forget when things don’t run, the typical user does not want to google for answers, and hope they find a current answers. Linux experts dream of running a terminal, while I consider a terminal requirement an incomplete program. I remember a programmer in a meeting discussing the maintenance of tables and instead of building screens signed up all the users for SQL. Plus, look in the beginning of the comments of things not working. And we have not gotten into users installing codecs.

Mint has a lot fewer hassles for the average users, which do not have pocket protectors.

Danny Stieben

Most Linux distributions which are made for the average user (such as Ubuntu and especially Linux Mint as you pointed out) work well enough where this really isn’t an issue anymore. The quality of popular software is also constantly rising, so users tend not to run into “incomplete programs” either.

I don’t see a problem with my comparison between the different distros, so I’m not quite sure why you bring up those points.


Hugo Heykers

Short, but nevertheless interesting article.
I myself use Ubuntu as the host on my (Asus) laptop, on which I also have virtualized machines in VirualBox. The original host OS from the shop was Windows 7, but on this I don’t wanna spill any more words.
Debian I use as the overall server for our homenetwerk. I have had my doubts for long time, but finally decided to take Debian, since it seems more stable as server.
Linux Mint I have installed on a dedicated pc as multimedia client.



I was using Ubuntu 14.04 for a while and i really liked it. but i noticed UNITY and associated applications starting to use up system resources, mostly just maxing out one CPU core. Flash was also starting to crash in firefox. when i tried to simplify the unity operations i ended up breaking Ubuntu. so tried Mint rebecca. So far i like it. The GNOME environment seems to be steady and uses up fewer system resources also Flash is behaving as long as hardware acceleration is disabled.



Debian is a distro that is made by geeks for geeks for geeky stuffs!
Ubuntu is a commercial project not a complete free distro. it’s going to be the Darwin of the *nix systems ,
Mint is for whom that they try to have a taste of linux without technical knowledge…
you have to know how unix works if you really want to use debian like a pro.
debian is a journey …

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