Linux Mint Basics 2

Following on from my post Linux Mint Basics I have decided to do another update explaining the major differences of the many mint versions there are.

If you are new to Linux Mint here are some basic things you need to know.

There are 2 current Mint releases the “Long Term Support (LTS)” and the other one is known as either the “Main”, “Current”, “latest” or “non LTS” Both these os have different desktop versions which refer to the default desktop it comes with. Xfce, Kde, Mate and Cinnamon. Mint is described like this mint (version), (desktop). The version refers to either the os number or/and name of the release. Example = mint 13, Maya, cinnamon LTS, mint 15, olivia, cinnamon.

Main or LTS

Main Mint: (Mint 15 is the latest at the time of this post) has the latest and greatest stuff that you will find in Mint, bleeding edge, updated and stuff. This is a good choice if you want to have the latest and greatest advances in Mint. One thing you need to be aware of is that each main version has 9 months support from final release date. This means there will be no more updates for the os, and the repositories (list of apps and updates) will be dropped and replaced with the new ones. You will also need to then upgrade to the next version of mint that comes out.

Long Term Support: (mint 13 is the current version 17 will be the next) The LTS version of mint is stable reliable and has a 5 year support cycle from the final release date. Once the major bugs are ironed out you will have a stable mint version, and all you need to do is run updates. No need to reinstall the base os again until the next LTS version comes out.


Mate: Mate is a good reliable mint version. Mate is a fork from the origional gnome 2 project that is easy to use and simple.

  • MATE is stable and it works on all computers
  • MATE is among the most productive and easy to use desktops available.
  • MATE continues where Gnome 2 left off and introduces its own incremental improvements.
  • MATE comes with support for mintMenu, mintDesktop, Compiz and everything that made the old Gnome 2 the most popular Linux desktop.
  • <MATE is built with GTK2, it features more themes and integrates with more applications than any other desktop.

Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a desktop developed by the mint team. This came about due to the fact that the mint team did not like the newer Gnome 3 desktop and they wanted something different. Cinnamon relies on gnome-shell which uses allot of resources. As of mint 16 it will have cinnamon 2 which will be separate from gnome-shell and should be much lighter to run. It will also be ported to LMDE and Linux Mint 13 “Maya” LTS.
Cinnamon is among the sleekest and most modern looking environments


  • Cinnamon features innovative features and emphasis on productivity with traditional desktop metaphors
  • Cinnamon is built on rapid technologies and its development pace is really fast
  • The Cinnamon community is very active, and produces a lot of new themes and applets


  • Cinnamon requires 3D acceleration and might not work well for you, depending on your graphics card and/or drivers.
  • Cinnamon is brand new and unfortunately not yet as stable as more mature and established desktops such as MATE, KDE or Xfce.
  • Cinnamon relies on Gnome 3 and Clutter, which are also both brand new and going through rapid transformations. (as mentioned cinnamon 2 wil be independent of gnome-shell (gnome 3))

XFCE: This is a small fast optimised desktop great if you like things simple or if you have a slightly older computer. It is a lightweight desktop environment which aims to be fast and low on system resources (ram, Cpu etc), while still being visually appealing and user friendly. This edition features all the improvements from the latest Linux Mint release on top of an Xfce desktop.

KDE: This is by far the most complex of all the desktops it takes lots of resources. KDE is a vibrant, innovative, advanced, modern looking and full-featured desktop environment. This edition features all the improvements from the latest Linux Mint release on top of KDE 4.10.

Linux Mint Debian

There is also a version of mint built on Debian. This is known as Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE).

See my tutorial Linux Mint Debian Edition for more information.


Choosing which mint os to use depends on the computer specs, (ram, cpu, graphics etc), the users personal preferences, or what you know already from using other linux os. You are free to download and test the linux versions on live cd/dvd or live usb and see what you prefer.
Enjoy using linux mint.

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Posted in Linux Mint, mickeyj4j

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