Linux Mint Debian Edition: Your Perfect Flavor Of Linux That You’ll Never Have To Reinstall

Danny Stieben 24-03-2012

linux mintDuring recent years, many people have touted the ease of use that comes with Linux Mint Enjoy The Best In Linux With Linux Mint 12 Linux Mint has been quite a revolutionary distribution, gaining plenty of popularity. In fact, DistroWatch statistics suggest the Linux Mint is now the second most popular distribution in the world, behind Ubuntu (upon which it's... Read More compared to virtually all other distributions. As such, Linux Mint is now one of the most popular distributions out there, and almost as popular (or in some terms more popular) than Ubuntu. With so many users, the Mint developers have been experimenting with a version of Linux Mint based on Debian direct.


As the regular version of Linux Mint is based on changes in Ubuntu (check out our guide here Ubuntu: A Beginner's Guide Curious about Ubuntu, but not sure where to start? Everything you could possibly need to get started with the latest version of Ubuntu is right here, written in easy-to-understand, plain English. Read More ), which is in turn based on changes in Debian, the alternative version dubbed “Linux Mint Debian Edition“, or LMDE for short, would be directly dependent on changes in Debian only, and would cut out the middle man and let the Mint developers have more say in the direction of their distribution.

That being said, is it worthwhile to use LMDE? What are the differences, advantages, and disadvantages in using LMDE?

Keep On Rolling

One of the biggest perks about LMDE that most common users won’t even notice until much later is the fact that LMDE is a rolling release distribution. A rolling release distribution is simply one that doesn’t have concrete releases, but instead just continually updates itself through package updates. Everyone who runs LMDE is running the same “release”, and as long as they keep up with their updates they will all be running the latest software.

This is because LMDE gets most of its packages from Debian’s testing repository, which continually updates itself and adopts the rolling release concept as well. The different ISO images that are on the Linux Mint website for LMDE are only occasional updates of the installation media so that people who install LMDE much later won’t have to download and install a billion updates.

Additionally, Update Packs help ease the transition of very large updates, say from GNOME 2 to GNOME 3.


linux mint

Long story short, this means that you won’t have to upgrade from release to release or even reinstall your system each time a new release comes out. You simply install it, keep up with the updates, and you can technically run that one installation for many years.

Is It Linux Mint, Or Is It Linux Mint?

linux mint

Another benefit to LMDE is that it provides virtually the same experience as the regular Linux Mint releases. There is hardly any difference between the two, so using either one shouldn’t be an issue.


The developers do mention that there may be some roughness in certain areas, but now that the LMDE project has existed for at least a year, there have been many updates since then. People who have used Linux Mint for a while should feel right at home.

Wait, Ubuntu Did That For Me?

There are a few downsides, however, that come with LMDE which have varying levels of impact, depending on your needs. Although Debian and Ubuntu both use .deb files for their packages, they aren’t always binary compatible, so if you have a lot of favorite packages that are Ubuntu-only and not for Debian, then they will not run in LMDE. Additionally, a few extra Ubuntu perks such as the PPA system are not included in LMDE as well (as they contain Ubuntu-only packages anyway), so if you heavily depend on that feature, LMDE may not be very suitable for you.


All in all, LMDE is a very attractive option for a lot of users to use or simply try out. Getting the system reliability that Debian offers along with the rolling release concept may be a better alternative for some people over traditional distributions, while still getting the look, ease of use, and productivity of a traditional distribution. Whether you know it’ll work for you or not, go ahead and try it out. You might be surprised.

What do you think about LMDE? Are traditional releases or a rolling release better? Should Linux Mint stay with its Ubuntu base or switch to Debian? Let us know in the comments!


Related topics: Debian, Linux Distro, Linux Mint.

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  1. Peter
    December 25, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    Good article, Thanks!
    It is rather outdated, LMDE has changed quite a bit.
    Have you considered doing an update including the move to LMDE2?

  2. Danny Stieben
    July 19, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Thanks for all your comments, maxibuntu! They're all quite helpful with things I didn't know could be done. :) I agree that the rolling release concept is helpful, imo, but there seem to be plenty of people who actually work on most distributions who think otherwise.

  3. maxibuntu
    July 12, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    Here's a script to easily add Ubuntu repo's to Debian Testing or LMDE. Be sure to use the repos for Ubuntu Precise Pangolin, because Precise is binary compatible with Debian Testing/Wheezy and current LMDE.

    # Description: Automates adding an Ubuntu PPA to a Debian installation
    # Initial version: 111222-01
    # Update: 111224-01
    # - Added menu to select distribution codename
    # Usage: Place the script in "/usr/local/bin", do a
    # "chmod +x /usr/local/bin/system-ppa2debian" as root,
    # and run "system-ppa2debian ppa:ppa_user/ppa_name" from the command line.
    # Uncomment for debugging
    # set -x

    # Start script

    echo -e "\n33[1;33mSTATUS33[0m: Script \"$(basename $0)\" is gestart...\n"

    # Check to see if we are root.

    if [ "${UID}" != "0" ]; then

    echo -e "You must be root !!\n"

    sleep 2

    exit 1


    if [ $# -eq 1 ]; then

    NM="$(uname -a && date)"
    NAME="$(echo ${NM} | md5sum | cut -f1 -d " ")"
    PPA="$(echo "$1" | cut -d ":" -f2 -s)"
    PPAFORMAT="$(echo ${PPA} | tr "/" "-")"
    PPADESC="$(echo ${PPA} | sed 's|.*\/||;s|\-| |g;s/\> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/${PPAFORMAT}-${CODENAME}.list

    apt-get update >> /dev/null 2> /tmp/${NAME}_apt_add_key.txt

    KEY="$(cat /tmp/${NAME}_apt_add_key.txt | cut -d":" -f6 | cut -d" " -f3)"

    apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys ${KEY}

    rm -rf /tmp/${NAME}_apt_add_key.txt



    echo "Utility to add PPA repositories to your Debian machine"
    echo "USAGE: $0 ppa:user/ppa_name"


  4. maxibuntu
    July 12, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    I've used Linux for about 14 years, and went from RedHat to Mandriva to Ubuntu to Debian Testing to LMDE. Unity was not for me and I decided to look for a new distro altogether (Debian or LMDE). I maintain Linux computers for friends and I realized that I wasted many many hours with too many release upgrades over the years, which came to be a real pain. The rolling release system turned out to be a godsend. Finally I have time to spare, maintaining multiple boxes is a breeze. I now use LMDE exclusively and will probably never look back to Ubuntu.

  5. RJVB
    July 3, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I have a Debian stable system running under VirtualBox, and looking to migrate to either testing or experimental. Linux Mint sounds very interesting; how possible would it be to migrate my current system? As someone else mentions, the big question with update is always how customisations will come across, so if I could just install over my current system and preserve my accounts (or something similar) that'd be great.

    Also, is there any help to get proprietary drivers (in light of installing/cloning to a netbook with an AMD chipset)?

    • Danny Stieben
      July 4, 2012 at 3:10 pm

      I can for certain say that you can't "update" from Debian into Linux Mint. They are two different projects, so installation is the only option.

      If you have your /home folder on its own partition, you can simply install Linux Mint over Debian and then make sure to tell it to use the other partition for your home folder. That partition will remain unchanged, so all your data is still there. I haven't tried it myself, but I hear it's supposed to work.

      Linux Mint also has an account migration screen in the installer, but it won't appear if you're installing over another operating system. It'll only work if you're installing it as if you'll be dual-booting.

      AMD proprietary drivers should be easily installable in Linux Mint via the "Additional Drivers" tool which you'll find in the menus once LM is installed. It's the same tool that Ubuntu uses.

      • RJVB
        July 4, 2012 at 3:30 pm

        Thanks for answering.
        Hmmm, I thought that maybe there was a slight chance given that, well, LMDE is supposed to be based on Debian. Then again, I'm not really amazed, my attempts to date to change from stable to testing haven't had any success either.

        I'll try my luck with Mint's Backup Tool, which isn't hard to get running under Debian. I realise though that their online updating tutorial doesn't seem to say anything about user accounts.

        • Danny Stieben
          July 4, 2012 at 3:37 pm

          As far as LMDE is concerned, technically you could turn Debian into LMDE that way by simply replacing all the package source locations, but that would quickly turn into a mess. I wouldn't recommend it unless you're really bored.

          If you're not sure about the user accounts, I'd just rely on the backup and do a full reinstall then. It'll save a lot of headaches of trying to figure it out, if things go wrong, etc...

        • maxibuntu
          July 12, 2012 at 11:33 pm

          I converted Debian Testing to LMDE. It's perfectly doable:

        • maxibuntu
          July 13, 2012 at 12:01 am

          Google this: "I just converted Wheezy XFCE to LMDE XFCE Edition. It's a rather simple procedure."

          It is a howto I wrote to convert Debian to LMDE.

  6. Todd
    June 17, 2012 at 5:55 am

    I've been running Linux on my desktop/laptop for 13 years. I moved to the .deb package system in 2008 with Ubuntu 8.04. I tried Unity, but found it wasn't comfortable for me, even after about 10 hours of use. I'm now running LMDE-32bit, LMDE-64bit, and Mint 13 on 3 partitions. Resource-wise, LMDE-64 boots for me in 250mb of RAM, Mint 13 in 200mb, and LMDE-32 in 150mb -- those are with the standard startups. In htop, I noticed the that Mint 13 was loading about 85 packages, whereas both LMDE loaded about 75. Also, the load indicator ended up at a much lower level in both LMDE's, starting lower, and ending up around 0.10 after 5 minutes, whereas Mint 13 stayed up around 0.20, and took longer to settle down from an initial reading of about 0.75. Having said all that, my personal experience bears out that LMDE is lighter and more responsive. I like the idea of LMDE, and tip my hat to Clem and the others. I've decided on LMDE-32 for now since I'm only running 3gb of RAM, but it will be an easy switch to LMDE-64 when I get an 8gb system (which I really only need because I like running multiple VM at the same time).

    • Todd
      June 17, 2012 at 6:02 am

      I should add, I've never felt led to contribute to a distribution before, but a few days ago I sent my first donation to the Mint project, both because I really like the distribution, and feel they helping keep the open source model pure.

    • Danny Stieben
      June 17, 2012 at 11:42 pm

      I've been happy that it seems to be very responsive as well. And I love that it's a rolling release...I never found a major problem with that approach when done correctly.

  7. James Bemis
    June 14, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    I have Linux Mint Main Edition 12, Mint KDE 12 and Mint Debian 12 installed on three different hard drives, and I have been trying to get Debian or Mint Debian to work for YEARS! With the latest Mint debian 12, I cannot get Chrome or Chromium to work, it too weeks of work to finally be able to share debian folders with the other Mint distros, and I have no printers working on debian: "Unknown IPP tag" issue. I am about to finally give up on debian. The other Mint distros are working pretty well, I might add, though not without considerable effort.

  8. George
    May 29, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I have been looking for a new distro and downloaded both LMDE and Debian. While both seem good, I am going to go with Debian. My reason is the "rolling update" of LMDE. Rolling updates in Arch Linux (my current distro) are my main reason for seeking a new distro. I am tired of things breaking (usually XORG and Python) every time I do an update.

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  11. Dielan
    May 3, 2012 at 3:46 am

    I have it on my laptop and it works pretty well.

    I'm up to date with the 201204 live CD, but I don't like MATE (configuring compiz isn't going well) and Cinammon doesn't like Skype. Still looking for a workaround.

  12. Victor
    April 30, 2012 at 10:05 am

    3 days ago I installed LMDE for the first time after making my hard way through LM 10 - 11 - 12 Ubuntu Gnome. I am truly amazed! I've installed it, and everything works the way it should! It's beautiful, convenient, customizable in any way. stable! Unbeleivable!

  13. Stuart
    April 29, 2012 at 3:31 am

    Linux Mint Debian is very good for newbies with the update packs. For a lighter faster Debian distribution also based on Testing look at Antix Linux.

  14. Mark Luxton
    March 27, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    I would rather see a Linux Mint built from Debian stable. The distribution would not have to be upgraded nor updated, anywhere near as often; and of course would be more stable.
    I will soon be making another remaster of Squeeze with all my customisations included, now that remastersys is being further developed.

    • Danny Stieben
      April 5, 2012 at 12:02 am

      Sounds ideal, but the main issue that irks a lot of people with Debian Stable is the very old software that is hard to update. I understand the system barebones being hard to update, but the software itself should be a little easier to update, imo.

  15. Kostya Berger
    March 26, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Ha, must try it out then. Have used Linux for a long time now, but upgrades between releases has been kinda... well it's always a question of whether your customizations will survive the upgrade.
    Now with the idea of a "rolling distro" this stops being a problem. And yes, Debian repositories are great thing. Can only be compared with Fedora repositories for latest stuff. Yea, been using Fedora last couple of years and quite satisfied with it... But Debian is a great thing, too.

    • Danny Stieben
      April 5, 2012 at 12:04 am

      Fedora's upgrades using preupgrade have gone pretty smoothly in my experience, while others that don't follow the rolling release concept have had a harder time. But yes, they're pretty awesome.

  16. SaraJ
    March 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    I find it to be a pretty good system.

    Yes, some of the ubuntu packages will BREAK your system, but it's not a big deal as there are other options available.

    I have noticed some problems updating where I end up at a black screen which can be frustrating.

    I am debating running this versus something like Xubuntu (or adding XFCE to a different version of mint) as I am fond of a few of the packages that are ubuntu only which I use most of the time.

    Additionally, I like the "clean" feeling I get when installing a new version of Linux every 6 or 12 months on my systems and a rolling release won't provide that for me.

    • Danny Stieben
      April 5, 2012 at 12:05 am

      I suppose if you like the clean feeling, sticking to traditional releases is what you'll be doing. Others just find reinstalling everything and restoring data to be a hassle.

  17. Daniel
    March 26, 2012 at 9:11 am

    So far so good. But what can be the advantages of running LMDE vs. plain old Debian (that I run now)? I must change or I must keep Debian?

    • Danny Stieben
      April 5, 2012 at 12:15 am

      LMDE is basically Debian Testing with the Linux Mint default UI. So mainly, running LMDE means you get newer software, and you won't have to reinstall after every new release (although with Debian that's usually 2 years apart approx.) You don't have to change or keep Debian, that's completely up to you.

  18. LivitUp
    March 26, 2012 at 12:07 am

    > Although Debian and Ubuntu both use .deb files for their packages, they aren’t always binary compatible, so if you have a lot of favorite packages that are Ubuntu-only and not for Debian, then they will not run in LMDE.

    Like what exactly? I've never had a problem running an Ubuntu deb on Debian? Unless means Ubuntu specific things like Unity (which I imagine can still be installed but I wouldnt want that), than this is not really the case.

    >Additionally, a few extra Ubuntu perks such as the PPA system are not included in LMDE as well (as they contain Ubuntu-only packages anyway), so if you heavily depend on that feature, LMDE may not be very suitable for you.

    Add-apt-repository is installable allows you to use PPAs from anywhere so long as you have the GPG.

    Other than I like Linux Mint and am thinking of migrating one of my Ubuntu 10.04 systems to it. Though right now Im using Debian AptoSid

    • Danny Stieben
      April 5, 2012 at 12:17 am

      The Ubuntu devs make their own changes in things like compilers, so that's why they may not be binary compatible. That's been the warning that I've heard all my life, anyways.

      Cool to know that add-apt-repository is installable. Didn't know that.

  19. Doug
    March 25, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    How does a "rolling release" work for older systems with potential system requirement limitations? Does there come a point where these older systems just aren't compatible?

    Thanks from someone with a toe in the Linux world.

    • Danny Stieben
      March 25, 2012 at 10:58 pm

      It's possible, but less likely than say upgrades between versions of Windows. You'll need to read what each update pack says about what it includes, and research some of those changes. Right now, the only update to be concerned about would be Gnome 2 --> Gnome 3, but that's it.

    • maxibuntu
      July 12, 2012 at 11:35 pm

      It depends on which DE you use. If you use the XFCE spin of LMDE you won't run into any trouble...

  20. Larry
    March 25, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    I was a big fan of Ubuntu until they changed the desktop. Since then I've tried the new one but it is not intuitive, because you can not always find the application that you want to use. I also found things that no longer work, that I had been using for a long time. I've tried the old style desk top, still found things that no longer worked. I tried Lyme, I've tried Edubuntu, and I'll try others until I find something that works the way I want it to work. If I wanted a tablet work space, I would have got a tablet. I still want a desktop, and windows 8 seems to be going the wrong way for me as well. Is anyone else as frustrated about these changes as I am.

    • Danny Stieben
      March 25, 2012 at 10:59 pm

      I'm still a little curious as to why so many are switching their UI as no one has really complained about it all that much, but at least with Linux there will always be a "traditional" desktop available.

      • Dave
        March 31, 2012 at 2:29 am

        I think the reason the UI layouts are changing is because of the whole Tablet / Mobile Device / Touchscreen market surging forward in leaps and bounds like it is.

        It's not so much that people are complaining about the UI when it's used in the conventional desktop / laptop scenario. It's more in line with developing a UI that can scale better across so many different platforms and Human Interface Devices.

        I know that the effort to better accommodate touchscreen-based HIDs was one of the reasons the taskbar height was increased by 10 pixels in Windows 7, as an example.

        I could be wrong, but that's my 2¢ worth for you.

    • Dave
      March 31, 2012 at 2:19 am

      I don't like the Unity UI either. I'm with you ... if I wanted a Tablet interface, I would buy a Tablet.

      AFAIK, you can use either the new Metro UI in Windows 8, or the standard Windows Vista / 7 UI. I haven't personally used Win8 yet, so I can't personally guarantee this statement - but I am pretty sure I read that the Metro UI can be turned on and off.

      I can guarantee you that I will be turning it OFF.

  21. Ray
    March 25, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    I tried LMDE shortly after it came out. Too many hassles making it run on MY desktop. I switched to #! Statler which is based on Debian Stable. The only problem has been the NVidia video updates. If you want to use the ppa repositories, chose the ones for Lucid and they should all work with little problems.

    • Danny Stieben
      March 25, 2012 at 11:01 pm

      Do you mean CrunchBang? That's what I find when I google "Statler linux"

      • Ray
        March 30, 2012 at 5:07 pm

        Yes I do. Sorry about that. That's just how I'm used to seeing it listed as.

  22. Dhanushka
    March 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Roalling release is better and switching to Debian is better too. Because Ubuntu is based on Debian, but Debian is not much popular as Ubuntu. And LMDE will do it. Thank you.

  23. Ankur
    March 25, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    When I first came to know about rolling release of Mint, I was also eager to try it. But then I found out that ppa and many s/w wont work on it.

    Hence, from already few apps available for Linux, you further less appd available for you.
    Conclusion: I changed my plan to install it.

    • celestialt-pot
      March 25, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      You know you can still add repositories or compile apps right?

      • Danny Stieben
        March 25, 2012 at 11:02 pm

        Compiling is technically possible, yes, but most users will just want to install something within a minute and use it rather than go through the hassle of compiling something.

        • Ankur
          March 26, 2012 at 3:23 pm

          I agree. If you want simplicity and ease of users, you have to make straight installation and not compiling stuff.

    • Danny Stieben
      March 25, 2012 at 11:02 pm

      I suppose I understand your point, but Debian still has arguably the largest repository for any Linux distribution (only Ubuntu might surpass it).

  24. Craig
    March 25, 2012 at 11:43 am

    If I can get away from that god awful desktop unity then LMDE would be my OS of choice, I still have yet to understand the thinking behind unity... Windows jockies must be laughing their heads off at ubuntu developers

  25. Victor Nitu
    March 25, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Wait a second... you can add and use PPA repositories in Debian and derivatives as well, without any problem (exception made for some minor tweaks necessary in order to apply the settings and make them work). The only issue you have is the *buntu packages that drag after them a big amount of dependencies, and which are *highly* not recommended to install on a Debian system. But if docky, pidgin and other minor and light software are what you're after, then you may have no problem at all installing them via PPAs, instead of Debian mirrors. Caution is always recommended though, never let your Debian system turn into Ubuntu, or it will end badly...

    • Danny Stieben
      March 25, 2012 at 11:05 pm

      Indeed. And still, PPA packages are compiled for Ubuntu systems, so while most will work in Debian, not all of them will.

  26. Greg
    March 25, 2012 at 5:41 am

    Mint is the easiest Distro I've ever used.
    Right now I have that and Zorin OS which are both nice, but Mint is the best.

  27. Rob Pilgrim
    March 25, 2012 at 2:16 am

    I've been a user of LM since iteration 4 - easy and consistent install; good package management and great stability. But that all went out of the window with LM12 - it's now clunky and decidedly odd - and I have uninstalled it preferring to learn how Unity works rather than battle on with LM12. LMDE might bring me back again, though.

  28. Qwertinsky
    March 25, 2012 at 2:02 am

    I might have to check out Mint as I really hate that floaty toolbar thingy Ubuntu forced on us. Fact I have stayed frozen on 10.04 and moved to Xubuntu for recent installations.

  29. Chris
    March 25, 2012 at 1:51 am

    Is there yet a stable release of Linux that can be used with 2011 MBP?

    • Danny Stieben
      March 25, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      Most distributions should work on it. Admittedly, it's not very easy to install Linux on Macs of any kind, but I know it's very possible as its been done numerous times before.

      • Christopher.
        May 17, 2012 at 6:27 am

        Yes. I have 2011 MBP and am running Linux Mint 12 as well as LMDE 201204. Only isse is that OSX does not like sharing with linux although based on same BSD.

        Here's how. Linux Mint would not install correctly, and afterwards, yes Mac EFI would not "see" other partiitan, so heres is a fix:

        Use boot camp to start installion of windows. This will create a partition FAT style. You don't need to install windows. After this partiitian is made, force close,, slide your ISO disc in and restart....just remember what space your partiitan was at the boot sectors will be on there properly for easy install.

        Macbook Pro OSX, 10.6.8, Linux Mint 12, LMDE 201204

        • timmy
          June 3, 2012 at 6:01 pm

          wouldnt that install linux on fat partition and not on its own ext4 filesystem?

  30. Reý Aetar
    March 24, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    It looks great from live CD but after installing,
    Still I don't have drivers for my graphics card preinstalled ,The ones I get from automatic updates dont give the best experience and the ones available at official Nvidia site are hard to install and after properly installing also I end up with that BLACK SCREEN....

    • Danny Stieben
      March 25, 2012 at 11:10 pm

      LMDE doesn't use Ubuntu's "Additional Drivers" tool to install proprietary drivers, so it uses the open source drivers instead (those are actually preinstalled; you just update them in automatic updates). As far as installing the proprietary ones in LMDE, you'll have to find instructions for Debian systems.