There are a number of different operating systems today based on the latest Linux kernel, and because Linux itself happens to be open source, anyone can monopolize on the concept and create their own Linux distribution, Ubuntu being one of the distros that rose from the dust of the once great Debian. Debian was an excellent distribution in it’s day, but it fell out of favor for a number of reasons:
Lack of interest from the development team: Debian was an excellent server operating system and could even be modified at a desktop solution for those who were truly dedicated, but the development team eventually failed to release any new packages. This update failure would go on to effect updates to the X11 window system and even reduce filesystem support. One great example would be the lack of support for EXT3 which is now the standard for nearly all Linux distributions.
Along with being irritating, this left Debian quite vulnerable to hackers or other individuals that wished to circumvent its once robust infrastructure. This of course was not the only thing that led to the downfall of Debian. Next we will explore the complicated installation process.
Complicated Installation: The installation for Debian has always been text based, and as a result many could not quite figure out how it worked. In addition to that some of the options were downright confusing, ultimately leading to what appeared to be a Russian Roulette type install where success was hit or miss. For power users this was generally no problem, but for those unfamiliar with the operating system or Linux in general, it could be a nightmare.
Luckily there was a revival for the Debian operating system and it came in the form of Ubuntu. This new operating system provided a simple, graphical driven installation that allowed users to easily partition their hard drive (a nightmare in the old days). Though Ubuntu was and is still a fairly amazing operating system, and there are still quite a few arguments regarding Debian vs Ubuntu, there are a few derivatives, one of which is Linux Mint.
But what is Linux Mint? Other than being a clone of Ubuntu and a bit green, what are its features? The most noteable feature is that it IS green and it does provide a very nice aesthetic alternative to Ubuntu. The other thing to take note if is that as of 2008 Linux Mint began to share the same development and release cycle as Ubuntu, which is to say that it adopted the same version numbers (month and year) as Ubuntu.
At this point you might be wondering just what the difference is, and there is one difference that tends to sway many people from the thought of actually using Linux Mint. That difference of course is that Linux Mint does not use the same repositories as Ubuntu. This seems like an inconvenience when you consider that the majority of Debian based distros use the same packages.
To put it quite simply, Linux Mint is Ubuntu for the Linux Purist. That is to say that the repositories are filled with open source software.
There was a time when Linux was quite literally nothing but open source, but as more and more developers took an interest in the open source scene, proprietary software began to pop up, the first of which was Cedega (WINE with DirectX). Later on other developers such as Adobe would follow, and their involvement in the open source scene would cause arguments, debates, and even turmoil due to individuals who believed the open source community should remain open source.
Like its Ubuntu sibling, this Debian variation focuses largely on user friendliness. It allows a user to test out the operating system with the Live CD first, and if it seems suitable it can be installed via a shortcut on the desktop. The installer will deal with hard drive partitioning, going so far as to clearly mark any partitions you may wish to avoid.
There are a few pieces of software that were developed specifically by Linux Mint for it’s users. For instance you have the software manager which will permit you to run .mint files which are exclusive to the Linux Mint operating system. Though it could probably be an easy workaround, .mint compatibility is a serious argument in the Linux mint vs Ubuntu argument.
That being said, this distro is useful for just about anyone from the power user to the standard everyday office user. There are other alternatives to Linux Mint however, some of which are not based on Debian at all. Naturally you will have the Fedora alternative, and you will undoubtedly have the option of using something like Slackware if you happen to be a power user. That being said there are a number of different distributions for you to check out, and there is without a doubt one out there that will give you the satisfaction you crave in open source software. Only time will tell which operating system you choose to utilize, just know that Linux Mint is without a doubt one of the better choices for everyone.