In the last section, we pointed out that Linux Mint uses a better file manager than Linux Ubuntu. In addition, Linux Mint has a user interface which more closely resembles Windows XP and Windows 7. In this section, we will review some other benefits of Linux Mint over Linux Ubuntu.
Linux Mint versus Ubuntu operating system
How to Objectively Compare Operating Systems
Many claim that because Linux operating systems are all free, you should simply set up a free virtual machine on your current computer and install several Linux distributions in order to see for yourself which one you like best. For some, this advice makes sense. I have personally installed more than one dozen different Linux distributions on a virtual machine in order to evaluate them. However, this is poor advice for the general public as many would not even know what to look for in a well structured operating system. It is not efficient for every person to be spending hours, days and even months and years conducting their own research. Therefore, below is a summary of important factors I used to determine that Linux Mint is a better distribution for most users than Linux Ubuntu.
Five Important Characteristics of an Ideal Operating System
Some have claimed that there is an inherent conflict between a simple, fast and lightweight operating system versus a customizable and full featured operating system. However, Linux has solved this conflict by separating the base operating system from the features or additional programs you run on the base system. There are more than 50,000 programs you can install on any Linux distribution.
Linux Mint has also shown that it is possible to have both a fast and fully featured operating system with Linux Mint. Nevertheless, there are a few features which are more important to an operating system that may not be apparent to the casual user. Below we will look at five of these essential features and see how Linux Mint compares to Linux Ubuntu.
#1: Reliability includes stability of the code, not needing frequent updates, protection from viruses and of course not crashing.
#2: Easy Setup means it does not require installing extra tools to operate and can achieve a state of maximum usability with only a few minor adjustments.
#3: File Organized means the file structure can be quickly configured in an open and simple tree structure of folders and files so that all files and all tools can be quickly and reliably accessed.
#4: Easy Use means that there are no hidden files or tools. All files, tools and menus are clearly labeled to assist the novice in learning how to use the operating system
#5: Versatile means that it is compatible with other programs.
Why Linux Mint Mate Won
The reason Mate won is because there is not much wrong with it.
Reliability: Linux Mint Mate is a very stable system which has required almost no updating or revisions in the past 2 years. Ubuntu is less reliable primarily because it is based on Gnome 3 – which is undergoing rapid changes while Mint Mate is based on the more stable Gnome 2.
Ease of set up: Linux Mint and Linux Ubuntu are both fairly easy to install. You just click on a few buttons to install and configure either. We will first cover how to set it up in a virtual machine and later how to set it up as a dual boot so that it can run parallel with the Windows operating system on your current computer.
File Structure: The file structure of Mate is similar to the Microsoft File Structure. Sadly, the biggest problem of Ubuntu is that they recently gutted their file manager such that you no longer have the ability to view your folders in a tree structure. The biggest advantage of Mint over Ubuntu is that it comes with a tree view file manager like Windows XP and Windows 7.
Ease of use
Mate is very easy to use because it is organized much like the Windows XP and Windows 7 operating systems. The Mint Mate desktop and start screen are very similar to Windows XP and Windows 7. This makes Mint much easier to learn for people converting from Windows XP and Windows 7. Ubuntu can be rather challenging because – much like Windows 8 – many important commands are hidden from view. For example, with Ubuntu, it is quite difficult to change the menus and or place shortcut icons on the desktop.
Mint Mate's interface uses a task bar at the bottom of the window. The task bar has a small popup menu that lists most of the applications and settings on your computer. It's very similar to Windows 7 Start menu, letting you browse your installed applications by hovering over different categories. When you open up an app, you'll see a button appear on the taskbar, just like in Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows XP. You can even add a few shortcuts to the side of your taskbar like Windows' old quick launch.
Mint's menu is much easier to browse, since it lists all your apps by category in a familiar way. It may have a smaller task bar with harder-to-see shortcuts, but beginners should be able to find anything they're looking for just by opening Mint's main menu.
Ubuntu promotes Amazon!
A major benefit of Linux Mint is better respect for your privacy. In October 2012, Ubuntu released version 12.10 which, for the first time, featured a link to Amazon.com in its main menu. Below is the Linux Ubuntu Start Screen:
It is easy to delete this link. But what angered many Ubuntu users is that Ubuntu now collects data on user desktop activity and forwards it to Amazon. Many Ubuntu users are now bombarded by ads from Amazon after using the Ubuntu Search Box (which is now linked to Amazon).
Richard Stallman has described the integration of Ubuntu with Amazon as “spyware.” See the following 6 minute Youtube video for a fuller explanation of Richard Stallman’s concerns about the Amazon/Ubuntu invasion of your privacy:
One of the advantages of free software is that users historically have been able to protect themselves from malicious features. To recover our right to privacy, we have to either convince the Ubuntu developers to stop spying on us - or we need to move away from Ubuntu towards a project like Linux Mint which does not spy on us. I should add that even if Ubuntu stopped spying on us, I would still recommend Linus Mint Mate because it has a much better file manager.
Also Ubuntu has a problem in that, like Windows 8, many important commands are hidden from view. You can navigate the Dash with your mouse, but it is incredibly complicated for beginners, hiding a lot of your apps under expandable menus and small icons. That means browsing for apps is a pretty bad experience when you are using Ubuntu.
Mate, which comes with Libre Office pre-installed, can have a program called Wine added to it. Between Wine and Libre Office, you can use almost any program and process almost any document – outputting the document in almost any form you want.
Using and Installing Apps
Both Ubuntu and Mint come with a set of preinstalled apps that cover most of your needs: an office suite, a web browser, a music player, and a video player. Both Ubuntu and Mint also have their own app stores that make it easy for beginners to find, research, and download new apps.
Linux Mint Mate also allows you to customize every inch of your computer, from shortcuts to the size of your menus to the way windows work. Ubuntu, however, has done away with a lot of this lately. It does still offer some preferences, but it's much more "what you see is what you get" than Mint, which has loads of settings for tweaking everything down to the minute details of your interface. Many beginners may not care about this, but if you're a tech savvy user looking to learn about Linux, you'll probably find more things to "play with" in Mint. So say goodbye to the daily hassles of Windows and the constant fees for annual updates and say hello to the freedom of open source operating tools! In the following articles, we will begin with a review of installing and using the Linux Mint on any computer.