Linux Mint vs Ubuntu: Which is Better for Beginners?

Mint and Ubuntu are two of the most popular Linux distributions for newbies. Some of the reasons for their popularity are delightful and easy-to-use user interfaces, especially Mint’s user interface, which is a lot like Windows. In this article, let’s compare Linux Mint and Ubuntu, find out the similarities and differences, and determine which one is best for beginners.

User interface

While Ubuntu ships with GNOME, Linux Mint comes in three flavors – Cinnamon, XFCE, and MATE, of which Cinnamon is the most preferred desktop environment.

Basically, Ubuntu and Linux Mint are very similar to Windows. However, if you’ve migrated to Linux from Windows, I’m pretty sure you’ll love Linux Mint.

Memory usage

Both Cinnamon and GNOME have their advantages, but I like Cinnamon over GNOME. Cinnamon consumes significantly less memory than a regular Ubuntu desktop, making Mint the best distro for older PCs.

I tried both Ubuntu and Linux Mint and the performance difference on my 8th Gen Intel i5 machine was not noticeable. But, if you are using outdated hardware, you may notice the difference.

Pre-installed apps

Many people, including myself, hate imposed software. However, the pre-installed apps in Linux Mint, even if there are too many of them, are essential apps that you will definitely use at some point.

On the other hand, to get started with Ubuntu, you need to install a lot of applications, since there is almost nothing on this OS except the Libre Office Suite and a lot of other useless software.


Customization is another area where Mint has an edge over Ubuntu. Every user can customize Ubuntu, but I would go with the pre-built Mint customization options.

System requirements

While Ubuntu has become more demanding over the past few years, Linux Mint requires fewer system resources. If you have an older computer, then you will be better off with Mint. 

Minimum spec requirements for Linux Mint:

  • 1 GB of RAM (2 GB recommended)
  • At least 20 GB of free disk space.
  • Dual core processor
  • Screen resolution 1024 × 768


Since Linux Mint is simply a prettier version of Ubuntu, there isn’t much of a difference in the playability of both distros. If you have the latest NVIDIA or Mesa (AMD) drivers installed, you should be fine.


Since both Linux Mint and Ubuntu are based on Debian, two updates are released annually for both distributions. If you want to update Linux Mint, you need to use the Update Manager app, whereas Ubuntu can be updated using the Software Updater. Thus, we can say that the update procedure is practically the same for Linux Mint and Ubuntu.

Which distribution is best for novice users?

On older PCs and for beginners, Linux Mint is the clear winner. On more modern equipment, the choice is not so straightforward. Both distros offer different capabilities, and in the end it all comes down to your personal preference. If you love simplicity, Linux Mint is your best bet. But, if you’re hungry for customization, Ubuntu is a great option.

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