Can someone please tell me the differences between Ubuntu and Linux Mint ?

I thought they were almost the same thing until I downloaded Ubuntu 13.10 versions of softwares for my Linux mint 16 system, and half of them didn't work. (I did that as those are the links I got when I searched for Linux mint versions)

  • Which version of Mint were you using? Was it one based on Ubuntu 13.10? While Mint and Ubuntu are indeed (slightly) different they share software, if you downloaded something that fails you probably got the wrong version. – terdon Apr 10 '14 at 17:19
  • @terdon Mint 16 is based on Ubuntu 13.10 – Graeme Apr 10 '14 at 17:26
  • @Graeme argh, yes, I missed that the OP specified the mint version. – terdon Apr 10 '14 at 17:27
  • What is missing from the Wikipedia articles (especially the one about Mint)? – Gilles Apr 10 '14 at 22:23

In short, Linux Mint does uses exactly the same base as Ubuntu. In fact, if you check the contents of /etc/apt/sources.list, you will see that Mint uses the Ubuntu archives for most of its software.

Most likely you have made an error in installing the software. Particularly when you say that you 'downloaded' the software, it implies that you didn't use apt-get or another package manager to install the software. You should always attempt to install software in this manner as each package in the Ubuntu repository has been configured to integrate with the system (be it Ubuntu or Linux Mint), attempting to install from another source may be problematic.

The difference between Linux Mint and Ubuntu lie mainly in the packages which are installed by default, the artwork which is included and the installer itself.

Linux Mint is geared toward providing a clean and easy to use interfaces for new Linux users. The Mint developers have created a number of programs/packages to that end. This includes the Cinnamon and Mate desktop environments (originally forked from parts of GNOME2/3). Other things which have been included are desktop applications such as the Mint update manager and a favourite of mine Simple Scan.

However, as all these applications are Free Software, they are widely available outside of Linux Mint. In fact the Mint desktop environments along with other Mint software are available in the Debian repositories (this is where I get Simple Scan from). As Ubuntu is based on Debian, they are also available in the Ubuntu repositories.

Since this software is available in the Ubuntu repositories (and the Mint developers do not engage in the mass packaging of software required to maintain the own independent repositories unlike Debian/Ubuntu), Linux Mint uses the Ubuntu repositories as the source of most packages installed on the system. Although Linux Mint do provide their own repositories for new releases of their own software which may still be unstable or otherwise hasn't made it into Ubuntu yet.


Most of the Linux Mint developed software is actually installed from Mint repositories which take precedence over those in the Ubuntu ones. The packages in these repositories will either have a specific Linux Mint configuration or depend on another package which does. Also in the Mint repositories are packages containing the artwork unique to the Linux Mint distribution. However the number of these specific packages is tiny compared to the tens of thousands of packages available in Ubuntu. Package lists for the Linux Mint 16 repositories can be found here and here.

  • I'm sorry, I WAS talking about the apt-get way of installing. My bad, I should have put it better – Chinmaya K R Apr 10 '14 at 17:48
  • 1
    @ChinmayaKR, if you detail exactly what you tried and the errors that you got, maybe we can say what went wrong. – Graeme Apr 10 '14 at 17:59

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