Talking about the Linux distributions, there are thousands of those and the number increases every day. But if you’re new to Linux-based operating systems you feel it little tough to use. There is a Distro called Linux Mint specially created for those who are new to Linux.
The purpose of Linux Mint is to produce a modern, elegant and comfortable operating system that is both powerful and easy to use. Linux Mint is also a very good choice if you’re a Windows user who’s thinking of migrating to Linux.
Linux Mint is one of the most popular desktop Linux distributions and is used by millions of people from all over the World. It’s an open-source operating system and you can use it free of cost.
Mint is based on Ubuntu while Ubuntu is derived from Debian so in that sense, we can say Mint is based on both Debian and Ubuntu. Although the Linux Mint is developed and distributed by the Linux Mint Community, while Ubuntu is developed and distributed by Canonical Ltd.
You get plenty of customization options, application support, multimedia, and entertainment tools, Utility tools included inside the OS or you have the option to get your favorite software from the store. There are around 30,000 packages included inside the software managers.
The main purpose of the Mint Community is to create an easy and interactive OS, which is powerful and secure at the same time. It implements the same Linux architecture and approach that’s why it’s very safe and reliable. Linux Mint needs very little maintenance and runs well in any hardware.
Ok, let’s go and find out more about Linux Mint and how this Linux distro become so popular in the distribution market…
A Brief History of Linux Mint:
Linux Mint was mainly developed and released by Clement Lefebvre in France in 2006. Clement was a software developer working on Ubuntu OS to make it more attractive and user-friendly. Based on the feedback of users later he created a simple, elegant, and yet powerful operating system.
In the beginning, new versions of Ubuntu-based Linux Mint were released about every 6 months. The first release was in 2006 and named “Ada”. The 20th version was released in 2020 and named “Ulyana” which was another long-term-support release (LTS).
After “Quina” the 17th release Mint developers decided to launch all the future versions based on the current LTS release.
Basically, all the new versions releases after Quina are based on Ubuntu’s LTS release, and all Point releases are based on existing LTS’s source code. The most recent update 20.2 is named “Uma”, and it was released on July 8th, 2021.
The journey began in 2006 when for the first time version 1.0 codename “Ada” was released based on Kubuntu. Kubuntu is a flavor of Ubuntu that uses the same repositories and is maintained by an Independent community. Version 1.0 used the KDE plasma desktop as a graphical user interface.
Later on 13th November 2006, Linux Mint 2.0 “Barbara” was released with a GNOME desktop environment and based on Ubuntu codebase. At first, it uses Ubuntu’s package repositories but later they developed their own source code and but continue to use the Ubuntu-based repositories.
The Linux Mint community-based developers don’t create an independent software package for their Mint OS rather than uses the same software packages used in Ubuntu. This made the two OS almost identical and gives Mint users a stable and compatible OS.
From version 5 “Elyssa” Linux Mint follow the release cycle of Ubuntu and launched only their major releases dropped all minor version numbers.
In 2008 Mint has faced some compatibility issues so the developers take an important decision to abandon its code-base and changed the launch strategy. Starting with version 6 “Felicia” each release was now completely using the latest Ubuntu release, built from it directly, and timed for about one month following the corresponding Ubuntu release.
Another big change happens when in 2010 Mint released a Debian-based version of LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) for the first time. LDME was a Rolling release and given frequent updates to all the applications and completely based on Debian. LDME based Linux mint doesn’t use any package related to Ubuntu.
On May 27, 2015, the Linux Mint team has decided to no longer give support to the original rolling release version of the Linux Mint Debian Edition after January 2016.
Debian base second version, LDME 2 released in 2015 with the codename “Betsy” and the Long term support ends in 2019.
When Betsy was released, it was announced that all LMDE users would be automatically upgraded to the new versions of the MintTools software and the new Desktop Environments before they were released into the main edition of the Linux Mint.
In 2016 Linux Mint’s official site was hacked by hackers and they steal user’s information from their database also replaced the downloading links with malware.
On the other hand Ubuntu-based, Linux Mint has been released gradually over time, and the latest Linux Mint Version 20.2 “Uma” was released on 8th July 2021. It’s based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS(Focal Fossa) and support is given till 2025.
Different Editions of Mint:
There are three different editions of Linux Mint available for specific users and their needs. The basic software and utilities are the same but in terms of look and customization, there are some differences between the three.
The most popular version of Linux Mint is the Cinnamon edition. Cinnamon is primarily developed for and by Linux Mint developers and is based on GNOME 3.
It is slick, beautiful, and full of new features. All the new themes and animations are available here, gives a modern look and feel.
The Cinnamon desktop environment is aesthetically pleasing and being highly usable and loved by millions. The combination of elegant visuals and a workflow that promotes a high degree of productivity makes it perfect for many users.
The Mate edition is almost like the cinnamon but a little lighter and stable. GENOME 2 was the default desktop environment for Mint from 2006 to 2011. The MATE is the continuation of this development and it’s a classic desktop environment more likely to GNOME.
Although it misses a few features and its development is slower than Cinnamon’s, MATE runs faster, uses fewer resources, and is more stable than Cinnamon.
Xfce is the most lightweight version of Linux Mint with less graphical enhancement and more basic stuff. Among the three it’s the fastest and simple looking operating system.
It doesn’t support as many features as Cinnamon or MATE, but it’s extremely stable and very light on resource usage.
Xfce consists of separately packaged parts that together provide all functions of the desktop environment, but can be selected in subsets to suit user needs and preferences. It follows the freedesktop.org standards and sticks to them.
Note: Although all the three versions are equally good and according to your need you can choose any one of them. For the power user who has modern hardware and wants full customization from their desktop, the cinnamon edition is for them. But if you run an older machine and want a more stable and lightweight OS then you should go with the MATE or XFCE.
To run Linux Mint you have a very minimalistic hardware configuration. The developers make it a very simple and fluent operating system that runs on any old or new hardware. But yes if you have a new system the support for modern tools and applications is much higher.
The minimum hardware requirements to run the latest Linux Mint version 20 is…
- 1 GB of RAM (recommended 2 GB at least for smoother performance)
- 15 GB of hard-drive space (20 GB recommended), space depending on your use.
- The screen of 1024×768 resolution minimum, If you want to run all the graphics-related apps and high ends games then you need additional graphics cards.
- Either a CD/DVD drive or a USB port for the installation media.
- Available internet access through LAN or Wi-Fi is not mandatory but gives you more options to download software and update the system easily.
Older versions prior to 20 all are supported either i386 (32bit) or the AMD (64bit) architecture, but from version 20 OS only supports the AMD (64bit) architecture. Although the 32-bit ISO images are provided for compatibility with older computers. 32-bit processors are extremely rare nowadays and most computers are able to run in 64-bit.
If your computer was manufactured after 2007, you probably have a 64-bit processor. If you have an old computer and you are unsure first you can try to boot Linux Mint 64-bit on your computer. If it isn’t compatible, you will just get an error message.
Features of Linux Mint:
- Like typical Linux distributions, Linux Mint includes an integrated and pre-installed application suite and provides the ability to search, download and install additional applications through its application package manager utility.
- Mint builds upon the source code of open-source software so most of the packages are free but you also get some proprietary software included inside the OS. You can find the plugins and codec of different multimedia and flash players.
- Linux Mint Developers actively creates software for its operating system and most of the development is done in Python and you find the source code available on GitHub.
- There are three desktop environments available, like the default Cinnamon desktop, KDE, MATE, and Xfce. Other desktop environments may be installed via Synaptic, APT, or via custom Mint Software Manager.
- It comes with many software installed which includes Firefox, Transmission, LibreOffice, XChat, Pidgin, Thunderbird, and GIMP. Other software which isn’t installed by default can be easily downloaded using Linux Mint’s package manager.
- Linux Mint can run many programs which are designed for Microsoft Windows like Microsoft Office for example, by using Wine Windows compatibility layer software for Linux, or any available virtualization software, such as VirtualBox and VMware Workstation.
- Linux Mint also allows the networking ports to be closed using a firewall, with the availability of customized port selection.
- Everything is done to make the user experience better. User feedback is very important and it is used to consistently improve the quality of Linux Mint.
- Linux Mint provides Long-Term Support (LTS) releases which are normally supported for a duration of 5 years.
A Bunch of Useful Software:
Different types of software, desktop environment, and utility tools are developed by a wonderful community. Some of them are…
This desktop environment was built by the Mint Gnome Shell Extension (MGSE) which is a fork of GNOME shell. It was released with the Mint version 12 as an additional package but with the next version 13, it was the default desktop environment for Linux mint.
Software Manager (mintInstall):
This tool can run .mint files that are files that contain instructions to the install packages. From the Linux Mint 6, this tool can download all information on all applications on Mint Software Portal for offline viewing purposes.
This tool enables also the installation of any programs that are directly listed from the desktop, instead of going to the website.
Update Manager (mintUpdate):
This tool is designed for preventing inexperienced users from installing any updates which are not necessary or may require a certain level of knowledge for configuring properly.
It assigns the updated safety level (from 1 to 5), based on stability and necessity of update.
Main Menu (mintMenu):
It contains all the options such as installation and removal of software, filtering, custom places, favorites, system and places links, editable items, session management, and many other configuration options.
Backup Tool (mintBackup):
This tool can enable users for backing up and restoring data. Data may be backed up before fresh install of the newer release, then can be restored.
Upload Manager (mintUpload):
This tool can define the upload services for SFTP, FTP, and SCP servers. Services are available in the system tray and can provide zones where can be automatically uploaded to the corresponding destinations.
Domain Blocker (mintNanny):
This is a basic domain blocking parenting control tool and was introduced with Linux Mint version 6. It also can enable users to add domains manually to be blocked system-wide.
Desktop Settings: This tool is for the configuration of the desktop.
Welcome screen (mintWelcome):
This tool was introduced in Linux Mint version 7, as an application that starts on the first login of any new account.
Mint Gnome Shell Extensions (MGSE):
This is a desktop layer on the top of GNOME 3 in order to make it feel like GNOME 2 and is still popular within the Linux community when GNOME 3 was introduced.
All the features are included like bottom panel, window list, application menus, task-centric desktop (like switches between windows, but not applications), and also system tray icons.
Installation Of Linux Mint:
If you’re a Linux user’s you already know the steps but for others here I go through the installation process briefly.
1. First you have to go to linuxmint.com and choose the appropriate version according to your system and needs. For example, if you choose the cinnamon edition it will take you to the download page of that edition.
2. Now you find all the details are already published about that edition so first read those instructions and then click on the nearest link according to your location. You have to download the ISO file from that server.
3. Next step is you after the download you have to Prepare an installer. This is typically a USB drive, although you can also burn it to an optical disc if you like it the old way.
Note however that most Linux installers these days are larger than a CD-ROM (700 MB), so you’ll need a DVD-R/RW or a thumb drive of the appropriate size. Linux Mint’s installer is nearly 2 GB.
4. If you don’t know how to create a bootable USB drive then you can use the Rufus software, it will get the job done very easily. All you have to do is just follow the instruction on the screen after opening the Rufus. Download Rufus here.
5. After creating a bootable USB drive Next, boot from the media (USB drive or optical disc) you just created. You may need to adjust your machine’s settings related to boot order, as well as UEFI (more on these later).
There are 7 options to choose from and in order to install Linux Mint into your system, you have to select the OEM install option.
6. Finally, run the installer once the USB drive boots, and choose the language, date-time, create partitions, and finally create a user by giving a username and password.
You have to just follow the onscreen instruction it’s very easy even if you don’t do it before. After all the inputs you have arrived on a live Mint desktop.
Why did I choose Linux Mint over other Distros?
At last, the big question arises, and it’s rightly so because if you look at the development of Linux-based distributions there are plenty of those. So to solve this puzzle you have to ask yourself what is the first priority for you to choose an OS.
And if you’re looking for a simple clean and yet powerful OS that has all the flavor of Ubuntu and the security of Linux then you should definitely go for Linux Mint.
The latest version of Linux Mint gives you faster performance with improved visuals and faster boot-up times.
The Cinnamon desktop, LZ4 decompression tool to fast boot, option to use PPA (Personal Package Archive) tools, A Bunch of mint tools, thousand of software packages, support for new Third-party drivers like (NVIDIA) makes it a strong contender of top quality OS.
On top of we have a wonderful community of developers and Linux Mint Lovers who are very responsive in case if you face any difficulty.
Linux Mint is always driven by user’s feedback and implement new technologies accordingly so this means if you want something you get that with Linux Mint.
Finally, you get frequent updates, and every time with every new release Linux Mint offers you something new which I personally like.
Ok, that’s all for now, and if you are new to Linux then you should try Linux Mint once and don’t forget to share your views and experience.