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What is Linux Mint?
Linux Mint is basically Ubuntu Linux + ubuntu-restricted-extras, a few custom Linux Mint programs and a pretty green theme. Linux Mint has a release cycle similar to it's parent distribution (Ubuntu Linux) and includes a KDE style menu in Gnome. The creator of Linux Mint is Clement Lefebvre who started with Slackware Linux almost 15 years ago.
Linux Mint is one of the most community driven Linux distributions available today. This is one of the major appeals of Linux Mint to your everyday Linux user. You can make suggestions on the Linux Mint forums for improvements to the OS (Operating System) and actually have a good chance of seeing it in a future release of Linux Mint. The Linux Mint developers are in constant contact with their users and take suggestions very seriously. If you suggest an improvement or a bug-fix that the Linux Mint team believes has merit they will generally do their best to implement it.
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What does Linux Mint have to Offer?
As I mentioned above Linux Mint (Standard Release) has the ubuntu-restricted-extras package pre-installed. This allows you to play restricted audio and video formats out-of-the-box. It's true that you can achieve the same result by simply entering "sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras" at the command line of a vanilla Ubuntu Linux install, however, having the restricted formats installed by default does save the user some time and is very convenient for first time Linux users.
The second addition that the Linux Mint team made to the default Ubuntu Linux install is to improve upon the theme. The Linux Mint team has done this by adding a "Windows-like" or "KDE-like" start menu and changing the default theme colors to a much more pleasing to the eye, green.
Next, the Linux Mint team has developed a selection of Linux Mint specific applications to make the user experience even more straightforward than default Ubuntu Linux. These applications include MintUpdate, MintBackup and the Mint Software manager. All of which are welcome additions to the default Ubuntu Linux install for most Linux Mint users.
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What else does Linux Mint have to Offer?
To be honest not a whole lot. As we have mentioned the major differences between Linux Mint and Ubuntu Linux are the inclusion of the ubuntu-restricted-extras software package, the Linux Mint specific applications, the Linux Mint Software Manager (which has over 30,000 software titles added by the Linux Mint team) and looks.
Linux Mint is built on top of the default Ubuntu Linux install and as a result any bugs that effect Ubuntu Linux are going to effect Linux Mint as well. You are still using a Ubuntu Linux system, just a slightly modified version of it.
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While the addition of the ubuntu-restricted-extras would save me a bit of time, MintUpdate helps me update my system safely and the default theme looks better than the brown of Ubuntu Linux, I do not see any great reason to switch from Ubuntu Linux to Linux Mint. One of the "features" I mentioned before, the KDE-style menu, is actually my least favorite addition to Linux Mint. I prefer the original GNOME menu, but to each their own.
With that said, there is also no reason to not use Linux Mint. It's all a matter of personal preference. Again, you are running pretty much the same system with a couple tweaks here and there. Until next time, keep it open source whether it's Ubuntu Linux or Linux Mint.