Why do I use Linux Mint on my primary PC instead of elementary OS or Ubuntu?

Little history about my Linux usage

When I first started using Linux back in 2007 I used Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn). I was very impressed with it and I sticked to Ubuntu for many years. Then I used Linux Mint for some years, I liked the fact that it’s default apps were more appealing to me and also I didn’t have to bother about installing Flash and other proprietary software. It also had a better looking theme in my opinion and for me it also felt faster.

When Gnome released 3.0 and dropped support for the 2.x branch I was confused. I really didn’t like the whole idea and I thought that Gnome Shell was totally unusable on a desktop. I was trying a lot of distros out with different desktop environments and that time I was using either Arch Linux with Xfce or Xubuntu or Mint Xfce and also LMDE Xfce (Linux Mint Debian Edition) to name a few. These Xfce flavours were running fine on my old Dell XPS M1530 laptop while the newer DEs like Gnome Shell, Unity or MGSE (Mint Gnome Shell Extensions) were sluggish and also just felt uncomfortable. I felt everything I do it takes me twice as much time to do it. When I first started using Cinnamon it was also not that fast on my old laptop and felt very unmature and it was a bit buggy, too.

Ubuntu / Linux Mint / elementary OS

Back to the present

Last year I bought a new Lenovo ThinkPad W530 laptop and I thought I’ll give Ubuntu another try. I like Xfce, but I wanted to try out something modern. Well, Unity wasn’t slow now, but I just couldn’t live with it. It felt uncomfortable and it was quite uncustomizable as well. I was a huge Ubuntu fan a couple of years ago, but since they use Unity I just don’t like it at all. I really liked the idea of Ubuntu based distros though. Looking around many distros I was down to two: Linux Mint Cinnamon edition and elementary OS. As the title says I decided to use Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon edition on my  primary laptop.

Why did I choose Linux Mint over elementary OS?

I didn’t mention elementary OS so far. I used it a couple of years ago, too. I really liked it but I always ended up using something else. And here’s the main reason I prefer using Mint over elemenary: customization. Elementary OS (as the name suggests) is more about simplicity while the latest Linux Mint with Cinnamon has many many customizable options and I like it. I’m so used to the 2 panel layout, everytime I try a dock I get to miss the bottom panel soon. I also like putting lanchers on the top panel. Cinnamon has a very good and customizable panel what you can add some great Applets, too. Linux Mint also have a very powerful file manager, named Nemo. It has many features that Pantheon Files doesn’t. Also Linux Mint 17 is based on Ubuntu 14.04 while the current stable version of elementary OS (Luna) is based on Ubuntu 12.04 which uses much older packages. That will change by the release of elementary OS 0.3 Freya though, which is going to use the same Ubuntu base as Linux Mint 17.

My current Linux Mint Cinnamon desktop
My current Linux Mint Cinnamon desktop

However there’s a little devil in my head who always want to kick me back to elementary OS. Literally for years now I couldn’t stop reading news about it, looking for screenshots what other users post about it, I get so excited everytime I hear about it. That distro is so amazingly beautiful that it makes me a little addicted to it. They pay attention to details. It’s also very fast and extremely stable. I can’t wait for Freya beta 1 to come out. Fortunately there’s a little tool what we can use to customize the system, it’s called Elementary Tweaks. I’ll post an article about it, soon.


So to sum it up I feel that I’m more productive when using Linux Mint (can do things faster, probably because of the desktop layout I’m used to) but at the same time I feel better when using elementary OS.
I’m totally happy with my Linux Mint Cinnamon desktop, but I’m so excited about elementary OS Freya. And this is happening for a long time now. This is the reason I created this blog. I just like these systems so much and I’m happy to write about them.

Please feel free to comment which distro do you prefer to use and also let me know why. 🙂

  • Peter

    i too like both Mint and Elementary OS. I switch between them every half year or so. Looking forward to the new version of Elementary 🙂

    • Dhaval Chheda

      I think RPM is better than Debian .There releases are more stable .

      • Ibrahim Ansari

        Seriously! Debian vs Fedora and openSUSE in stability and there you go. With Debian’s 2-year release cycle, it’s the most stable linux distro ever. APT is more flexible than zypper and yum with better dependency management. RPM-based distros are the most stupid things ever.
        I guess you use Debian Testing or Debian Sid. Check out Debian Stable, the main branch. As for derivatives, they like to fork Debian Testing or Sid.

  • zhcong

    I like Elementary OS. It’s too beautiful, and also too concise. but I like this kind of simple design.

  • Felipe Autran

    I think that Mint could really benefit from a good design team, that cares about branding, aesthetic and the overall experience like the elementary team does. They have a powerful, stable operating system, but still lacks on things that a modern OS should have, like a really good, easy-to-use, photo manager and an intuitive app store. A lot of details, like default theme, icons and wallpaper are stuck in the 00s.

    • Roaming Pear

      I like the theme, so it might just be your a case of your taste being different than their. Though, I didn’t keep their default theme and started working on my own… But still, I thought it was pretty good.

    • Ben Guy-Williams

      I agree. I love Mint, but before I can even look at it I need ‘blackMATE’ controls with blackMENTA window borders, then Faenza icons and Chameleon cursors… with ‘NightlifeMINT’ theme for menu/panels….

      My favourite website has a choice of themes – 1. Light 2. Dark
      The light theme is fine, I guess, but I like dark so much better when it’s well done.

      Anytime I upgrade, I have a fair list of jobs to do to mould the system to my taste. My ability to do this is probably a big reason for me not wanting to change and start learning again!

  • Dhaval Chheda

    I like Ubuntu but I hate unity .So I use cinnamon instead of unity .Elementary OS looks to basic,so its wastage of resources. If I had old laptop or pc ,would definitely go for Elementary OS.

    • Ibrahim Ansari

      Again, elementary is visually appealing, so go ahead and thrash it. Be an idiot.

      • Dhaval Chheda

        I never said anything about visuals. I was talking about functionalities. Elementary looks great for laptops but not for the desktop of 25 inches and it doesnt has integrations of desklets and screenlets like cinnamon does. Also I prefer traditional looks for the desktops and many does.So if you think someone gonna use elementary OS on bigger desktops ,you are more naive then you think .

        • Ibrahim Ansari

          But running it on an old PC will strain its resources.

          • Kamarupa

            I ran Ubuntu in my desktop and laptop from 2008 until unity, which made both old machines dysfunctional, then switched to Xubuntu, which I’ve been very pleased with. I just purchased a refurbished thinkpad x201 i5 core, 8gb ram, 128 ssd, 12.1′ and I’m thinking about switching up my distribution / desktop environment. Elementary OS looks lovely, but so does Korora/Gnome 3x…

      • Ben Guy-Williams

        Not much fun if you have to cut a file and then go browsing for somewhere to paste it instead of using built in shortcuts… It’s the function that counts. That’s why people buy upgraded cars with power mirrors, so they don’t have to reach across the passenger seat and open the window to adjust the mirror everytime they want to park.

      • Ray Liptak

        It’s visually appealing to you. It looks like mac wannabe boring grey to me.

    • Ben Guy-Williams

      “I like Ubuntu but I hate Unity” > “I love Ubuntu with Cinnamon” > “I love Mint with the default Cinnamon”.

  • runej

    Mint and elementary both have the best main menus of all Linux systems. They’re not full screen, which is a huge bonus. It means I can still have focus on content taking up 50% of the right side of the screen while navigating the menu. Mint currently has better search in the menu, I expect that to change in Freya. This menu is the main reason to stay away from everything Windows8 too.

    Another is customizable hot corners. Hot corners should be there for more advanced users, but not mandatory for navigation, since initially it’s bad usability to hide important functions from the user.

    • Ben Guy-Williams

      You mean you multitask whilst using menu’s? Wow.
      I don’t really use menu’s much, I think fullscreen or halfscreen isn’t an issue of usability – though I agree that hot corners should be a choice. My wife hates them (and we use our keyboard/mouse on the bed, so the mouse slides and everything disappears sometimes) and needs them disabled (I put them on an easystroke gesture now).

  • Ibrahim Ansari

    Minty Mint!
    And rarely Ubuntu… 😛

    • Ben Guy-Williams

      I started with Mint. I’m sure Ubuntu is very nice – but I’m comfortable with Mint, and don’t want my system down for enough hours to bother giving it up.

      The system isn’t an issue – I don’t restart much, sometimes sleep overnight – so startup time isn’t a big deal. I do look at the screen when I’m listening to stuff, and not busy using or working with stuff, so I’m more interested in having my Variety wallpaper/clock on display (no other visible items on desktop except a small transparent conky graph for up/download traffic) and now it’s comfortable, there’s little or no interaction except with software or the 10-foot UI of my TV media player (using Open Plex Home Theater).

      Mint took me about 4 years ago I think, and I see no reason to go hunting.

  • GeorgeLG

    Hi everybody
    I’ve used many distros so far p.e. opensuse,mageia,mint,fedora, many ubuntu derivatives , manjaro using almost all DE environments and i end up using xubuntu, with kwin as window manager and nemo as file manager, because it is the only one survived after all the changes i’ve made to it and after many updates with no crashes.The above combination is highly customizable, gives all the visual effects i like without the need of using com-fusion (compiz-fusion) , and it is light enough for my laptop.I like Mint and Cinnamon but i had too many crushes after updates and i don’t know why.Manjaro is my 2nd favorite OS highly customizable too yaourt is very powerful tool and in Arch repos you find everything you might want, i also like the idea of a rolling release but i had 2 crushes after updates so far.
    Elementary is the MOST BEAUTIFUL OS i have ever used, i like it very very much, i wish the stable version, LUNA, was not so old, i am looking forward for the final version of FREYA (i am using the beta now)
    By the way, do you know if i can add Gnome 3 extensions on elementary FREYA p.e. touch-pad indicator, or weather indicator ?

  • andregarban

    I am a new converted. I have a laptop and a netbook. The netbook used to run Windows XP, 1GB Memory Ram and a 160 HD. You know, computers come with Windows by default in Latin America, or you just spend way more money on an Apple Product. I read an article about what to do after XP and I ended up trying Linux Mint first on my netbook. Love at first sight. But the more I began reading about Ubuntu, Linux and different distros, I tried Elementary and it worked so smoothly in my netbook. And then my Laptop running on Windows 7 was presenting a lot of trouble with conflicting DLL’s and photo viewers, and more. I was so tired that, even without thinking about dual boot, I simply made a back up of files and voilá! Linux Mint 17 is running flawlessly without any issue. Even blue tooth is recognize! I think that’s the beauty of Open Source. You have a lot of possibilities available and with some basics knowledge, you can have the computer of your dream, working flawlessly.

    • thequeen

      Welcome to Linux! amigo!

      • thequeen

        Sorry i should say GNU/LINUX!!

  • Sylvester Zeitgeist

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    I use linux mint 17.1 (Rebeca)

    anybody know why I have got this massage?

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    • Jeroen Evens


    • Ben Guy-Williams

      But you talk like a Windows user…

  • disqus_ecIk3gtuH2

    Elementary os are just beautiful but unusable. Some very important functions are gone with the spirit of eOS. (always on top, icons desktop, move to, copy to, etc) Mint XFCE with Whiskey is more powerful and usable than eOS all the way. Whisker is just cool compare to slingshot but look cheap. Add skin for round corner and whisker doing more attractive.

  • Jeroen Evens

    elementary: fast, yes, stable? absolutely not
    just installed it today and i alreaddy have a list of issues, moving back to mint..

  • AnaisNin2

    I love elementary OS and I’m now running Freya. I did have some freezing issues at first but I have handled this by updating kernels. The design is simple and refreshing. We can’t customize it to our liking but there are elementary tweaks for it. Although I’d say if you install third party themes, you may encounter third party issues. It’s beautiful, fast and just what I need.

    I ditched windows 10 for Freya because of simplicity. Also it forces me to stick to the essentials, instead of stuffing my PC with junk I keep on hoarding when I’m on Windows. I prefer it over Ubuntu because of its interface.

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  • Sylvester Zeitgeist

    I guess windows you can run, but you can’t hide…