Bytes: Which version of Linux should a new user try out first? Ask around, and someone’s bound to recommend Linux Mint. Why? It’s simply one of the friendliest, most versatile distributions of Linux out there. Here are a few reasons why Linux Mint is the one to try.
1. Cinnamon Feels Familiar to Windows Users
Why are you switching to Linux? There are many reasons, from saving money to privacy concerns. For many people, the idea of learning a new way of using their computer is NOT what they’re looking for. Linux Mint understands.
You launch apps by clicking a button in the bottom-left. Your open apps and windows line the panel across the bottom of the screen. System indicators and the time sit in the bottom-right corner. Windows have minimize, maximize, and close buttons. You access options for most apps using a traditional menubar.
Ultimately, Linux is not Windows. The file system is different. Apps aren’t bundled in the same format, nor will software made for Windows run on Linux without jumping through a few hoops. There are plenty of new things you will have to learn when switching to Linux, but with Mint, the interface is NOT one of those things.
2. All Essential Apps Come Pre-Installed
When you install a Linux distribution (or distro), you might be surprised by the amount of software that’s already available. Not only do you not have to pay for it, but you don’t even have to download it separately! This is great for newcomers who have no idea what software is available for Linux or what these programs are called.
Like many distros, Linux Mint comes with Firefox as a web browser and LibreOffice as the full-featured office suite. Pidgin is there for instant messenger, and you have GIMP for editing photos. These are tools millions of people download on Windows. On Mint, they’re included as part of the package.
3. Linux Mint’s Software Manager Is One of the Best
On Mint, this program is called the Software Manager. Software Manager balances the simplicity of a modern app store with the power of a traditional Linux package manager. You can view apps by category, see how many packages are available in each section, and change the sources you download software from.
You can also rate apps and leave reviews, which is particularly helpful for people new to the Linux desktop who don’t already know what programs they want.
4. Linux Mint Is Easy to Customize
Ubuntu, Fedora, and other Linux distros that default to the GNOME interface hide the ability for you to customize your environment. This isn’t the case with Mint. With a simple right-click, you can tweak many aspects of your desktop.
You may be surprised by the number of themes that are available for your panel, applications, window borders, and icons. There’s enough to tweak Mint to your liking without having to download anything extra.
5. X-Apps Are Both Traditional and Modern
Times have changed. More people are computing from mobile devices. Many versions of Linux are trying to reinvent the wheel, creating interfaces that work on touch screens or reduce the amount of options presented at one time.
6. Linux Mint Is Easy Enough for Beginners
Different distros aim at different audiences. Some pride themselves on being hardcore. Mint, on the other hand, is aimed at your everyday computer user.
Mint makes it easy to do things. The interface is nothing unexpected. There are no excessive animations, nor do windows move around as you enter a dashboard. Apps are easy to find, themes are easy to change, and concepts are easy to grasp.
Mint also holds your hand through some of the more complex tasks. You can download the codecs you need for audio and video files by clicking the “Install Multimedia Codecs” option in the Sound & Video section of the app launcher. You can install hardware drivers via a tool called Driver Manager.
There’s a lot that comes with Mint, and there’s a lot you can do. But thanks to the way things are named and presented, it’s hard to get lost if you’re comfortable with computers in general.
7. Linux Mint’s Interface Is Consistent
In the Linux world, there are many different desktop environments for developers to target, and there are different toolkits for them to use. The result is that apps come in many shapes and sizes (though software design is perhaps even less consistent on Windows).
On Ubuntu, for example, some applications have a header bar that contains buttons for settings as well as window controls. Others have a titlebar and a traditional menu bar.
By sticking to a traditional interface, apps on Mint largely function in similar ways. Using LibreOffice isn’t jarringly different from editing text files or listening to music. Each has titlebars, menubars, and buttons in similar places.
8. Linux Mint Doesn’t Require Powerful Hardware
Many people leave behind Windows because a new version requires more juice than their aging PC can provide. Linux is less demanding, though some versions still require more memory and processing power. With Mint, an old PC will work just fine.
9. Linux Mint Includes All the Ubuntu Goodies
Ubuntu is the most popular version of desktop Linux. This means many developers create software with Ubuntu in mind. Steam, for example, makes sure games run on Ubuntu. The same is true of GOG.com.
This phenomenon isn’t limited to games. It’s not uncommon for a developer to provide a DEB file for Ubuntu users and to direct everyone else to instructions on how to build their program for source.
10. Linux Mint Is One of the Most Popular Distros
Popularity isn’t everything, but when you’re troubleshooting problems, it sure helps to have millions of other people using the same desktop as you. There’s a good chance that someone else has already spotted the bug you’ve noticed and figured out how to fix it. Someone has provided a workaround. Someone else has released a patch.
Again, Mint is based on Ubuntu, so you also benefit from all the eyeballs keyed in on that code as well. Between the amount of people focused on Ubuntu and Mint, your bases are covered.