Linux Mint

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Linux Mint 17.3
Linux Mint 17 Qiana Cinnamon
Linux Mint 17 Qiana Cinnamon edition

Linux Mint 17 Qiana MATE
Linux Mint 17 Qiana MATE edition
Developer Clement Lefebvre, Jamie Boo Birse, Kendall Weaver, and community[1]
Written in {{#property:p277}}
OS family Unix-like
Working state Current
Source model Open source
Initial release 27 August 2006; 12 years ago (2006-08-27)
Latest release 17.3 / 4 December 2015; 3 years ago (2015-12-04)[2]
Available in Multilingual[3]
Update method APT (+ mintUpdate, Synaptic)
Package manager dpkg
Platforms IA-32, x86-64
Kernel type Monolithic (Linux)
Userland GNU
Default user interface 1.0: KDE 3
2.0-11: GNOME 2 (KDE / Xfce / Fluxbox / LXDE for some versions)
12: GNOME 3 with MGSE
13-17.x: Cinnamon / MATE / KDE 4 / Xfce[4]
License Mainly GPL and other free software licenses, minor additions of proprietary
Official website

Linux Mint is a community-driven Linux distribution based on Debian and Ubuntu that strives to be a "modern, elegant and comfortable operating system which is both powerful and easy to use."[5] Linux Mint provides full out-of-the-box multimedia support by including some proprietary software and comes bundled with a variety of free and open-source applications.[6][7] Its motto is "from freedom came elegance."

The project was conceived by Clement Lefebvre and is being actively developed with the Linux Mint Team and community.[8]


Linux Mint started in 2006 with a beta release of Linux Mint 1.0, code-named "Ada",[9] based on Kubuntu. Following its release, Linux Mint 2.0 "Barbara" was the first version to use Ubuntu as its codebase. Linux Mint had few users from these early versions until the release of Linux Mint 3.0, "Cassandra."[10][11]

Linux Mint 2.0 was based on Ubuntu 6.10,[12] using its package repositories and using it as a codebase. From there, Linux Mint followed its own codebase, building each release from its previous one, but continued to use the package repositories from the latest Ubuntu release. This resulted in making the base between the two systems almost identical, guaranteeing full compatibility between the two distributions rather than having Mint become a fork.

In 2008, Linux Mint adopted the same release cycle as Ubuntu and dropped its minor version number before releasing version 5 "Elyssa." The same year, in an effort to increase the compatibility between the two systems, Linux Mint decided to abandon its code-base and changed the way it built its releases. Starting with Linux Mint 6 "Felicia," each release was now completely based on the latest Ubuntu release, built directly from it, and timed for approximately one month after the corresponding Ubuntu release, usually in May or November.

In 2010, Linux Mint released Linux Mint Debian Edition. Unlike the other Ubuntu-based editions, LMDE was originally a rolling release based directly on Debian and was not tied to Ubuntu packages or its release schedule.[11] It was announced on May 27, 2015 that the Linux Mint team would no longer support the original rolling release version of LMDE after January 1, 2016.[13] LMDE 2 "Betsy," the current release of LMDE, is a long term support release based on Debian Jessie.[14] When LMDE 2 was released it was announced that all LMDE users would be automatically upgraded to new versions of MintTools software and new Desktop Environments before they were released into the main edition of Linux Mint.[15]


Every version of Linux Mint is given a version number and, until the 18.x series, was code-named with a feminine first name ending in "a" and beginning with a letter of the alphabet that increases with every iteration.[11] The 18.x series broke from the pattern with version 18 having the name "Sarah", which doesn't end with an "a".[16]

Initially, there were two Linux Mint releases per year. Following the release of Linux Mint 5 in 2008, every fourth release was labeled a long-term support (LTS) version,[citation needed] indicating that it was supported (with updates) for longer than traditional releases. Versions 5 and 9 had three years of support, and all LTS versions following received five years of support.[citation needed]

On May 31, 2014, with the release of Linux Mint 17,[17] the Linux Mint team adopted a new release strategy. Starting with the release of Mint 17, all future versions were planned to use a LTS version of Ubuntu as a base, until 2016.[18] Under this strategy, Mint 17.1 was released on November 29, 2014,[19] Mint 17.2 was released on June 30, 2015,[20] and Mint 17.3 was released on December 4, 2015.[21] The 17.x releases are intended to be an easy, optional upgrade.[22] All three versions included upgrades to the Cinnamon and MATE Desktop Environments and various Mint tools. In addition, Mint 17.2 and 17.3 included an upgrade to the LibreOffice suite.[23][24] The 18.x series will follow the pattern set by the 17.x series, by using Ubuntu 16.04 LTS as a base.[16]

Linux Mint does not communicate specific release dates as new versions are published "when ready," meaning that they can be released early when the distribution is ahead of schedule or late when critical bugs are found.[25] New releases are announced, with much other material, on the Linux Mint blog.[26]


Linux Mint primarily uses free and open-source software, making exceptions for some proprietary software, such as plug-ins and codecs that provide Adobe Flash, MP3, and DVD playback.[27][28][29] Linux Mint's inclusion of proprietary software is unusual; many Linux distributions do not include proprietary software by default, as a common goal for Linux distributions is to adhere to the model of free and open-source software.

Linux Mint comes with a wide range of software installed that includes LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, HexChat, Pidgin, Transmission, and GIMP. Additional software that is not installed by default can be downloaded using the package manager. Linux Mint allows networking ports to be closed using its firewall, with customized port selection available. The default Linux Mint desktop environments, MATE and Cinnamon, support many languages.[30][31] Linux Mint can also run many programs designed for Microsoft Windows (such as Microsoft Office), using the Wine Windows compatibility layer software for Linux, or virtualization software, including VMware Workstation and VirtualBox.

Linux Mint is available with a number of desktop environments to choose from, including the default Cinnamon desktop, MATE, KDE, and Xfce. Other desktop environments can be installed via APT, Synaptic, or via the custom Mint Software Manager.

Linux Mint actively develops software for its operating system. Most of the development is done in Python and the source code is available on GitHub.[32]

Software developed by Linux Mint

The Linux Mint Update Manager.
The Linux Mint Software Manager allows users to view and install programs from the Software Portal directly from their desktop.
  • Cinnamon: A fork of GNOME Shell based on the innovations made in Mint Gnome Shell Extensions (MGSE). Released as an add-on for Linux Mint 12 and available as a default desktop environment since Linux Mint 13.[33]
  • MintTools
    • Software Manager (mintInstall): Runs .mint files, which are files containing instructions to install packages. From Linux Mint 6 this tool can download information on all the applications on the Mint Software Portal for offline viewing. Also enables installation of any of the programs listed directly from the desktop, instead of going to the site. The option to use the old mintInstall program is available; from the Ubuntu Repositories or the website may be searched.
    • Update Manager (mintUpdate): Designed to prevent inexperienced users from installing updates that are unnecessary or require a certain level of knowledge to configure properly. It assigns updates a safety level (from 1 to 5), based on the stability and necessity of the update. Updates can be set to notify users (as is normal), be listed but not notify, or be hidden by default. In addition to including updates specifically for the Linux Mint distribution, the development team tests all package-wide updates.
    • Main Menu (mintMenu): A menu of options including filtering, installation and removal of software, system and places links, favorites, session management, editable items, custom places and many configuration options. Also ported to MATE in Linux Mint 12 (Lisa).[34]
    • Backup tool (mintBackup): Enables the user to back up and restore data. Data can be backed up before a fresh install of a newer release, then restored.
    • Upload Manager (mintUpload): Defines upload services for FTP, SFTP and SCP servers. Services are then available in the system tray and provide zones where they may be automatically uploaded to their corresponding destinations.
    • Domain Blocker (mintNanny): A basic domain blocking parental control tool introduced with v6. Enables the user to manually add domains to be blocked system-wide.
    • Desktop Settings: A tool for configuration of the desktop.
    • Welcome screen (mintWelcome): Introduced in Linux Mint 7, an application that starts on the first login of any new account. It provides links to the Linux Mint website, user guide and community website.
  • Mint Gnome Shell Extensions (MGSE): A desktop layer on top of GNOME 3 to make it feel like GNOME 2, still popular within the Linux community when GNOME 3 was introduced. Includes a bottom panel, an application menu, the window list, task-centric desktop (i.e. switches between windows, not applications) and system tray icons. This was included in Linux Mint in version 12 (Lisa).[35][36]


Linux Mint can be booted and run from a USB flash drive on any PC capable of booting from a USB drive, with the option of saving settings to the flash drive. A USB creator program is available to install an Ubuntu (not LMDE) Live Linux Mint on a USB drive.

The Windows installer "Mint4Win" allows Linux Mint to be installed from within Microsoft Windows, much like the Wubi installer for Ubuntu. The operating system could then be removed, as with other Windows software, using the Windows Control Panel. This method requires no partitioning of the hard drive. It is only useful for Windows users, and is not meant for permanent installations because it incurs a slight performance loss. This installer was included on the Live DVD until Linux Mint 16, but removed in the Linux Mint 16 "Petra" release because the size of the Live DVD images would have exceeded what the software could reliably handle.

Installation supports a Logical Volume Manager (LVM) with automatic partitioning only, and disk encryption since Linux Mint 15. UTF-8, the default character encoding, supports a variety of non-Roman scripts.


Linux Mint has multiple editions that are based upon Ubuntu, with various desktop environments available. Linux Mint also has an edition based upon Debian.

Ubuntu-based editions

As of Linux Mint 13, there are two main editions of Linux Mint developed by the core development team and using Ubuntu as a base. One includes Linux Mint's own Cinnamon as the desktop environment while the other uses MATE. Linux Mint also develops editions that feature the KDE and Xfce desktop environments by default, but these have secondary priority and are generally released somewhat later than the two main editions.[4]

Older releases, now obsolete, included editions that featured GNOME, LXDE, and Fluxbox desktop environments by default.

OEM version

The distribution provides an OEM version for manufacturers to use.[37][38]

No Codecs version

The distribution provides a "No Codecs" version for magazines, companies, and distributors in the United States, Japan, and countries where the legislation allows patents to apply to software and distribution of restricted technologies may require the acquisition of 3rd party licenses.[11][39][40] Multimedia codecs can be installed at any time via a link on the Mint Welcome Screen or a desktop launcher available for only No Codecs version.

Linux Mint Debian Edition

LMDE2 'Betsy' running Cinnamon 2.8

Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) uses a Debian package base instead of Ubuntu.[41] LMDE was originally based directly on Debian's Testing branch, rather than Ubuntu, but is designed to provide the same functionality and look and feel as the Ubuntu-based edition.[42] After the release of LMDE 2 on May 27 2015 LMDE became based on Debian Stable, but received automatic updates to the latest versions of MintTools and the latest version of the installed Desktop Environment before they were released into the Main edition of Linux Mint.[14][15] LMDE is available with the MATE and Cinnamon desktop environments.[42]

LMDE originally had a semi-rolling release development model. Debian Testing is a "real" rolling release that constantly receives updates; while older LMDE version periodically introduced “Update Packs” which are tested snapshots of Debian Testing.[42]

LMDE lists its advantages and disadvantages over the Ubuntu-based distribution:[43]

  • Installing Update Packs keeps LMDE current, without the need to reinstall the system every six months as with Ubuntu-based distros. LMDE has its own package repositories. As of July 2015, LMDE 2 is the current version, and it tracks Debian Jessie (the stable version of Debian). As of May 17, 2015, it has an upgrade path from LMDE 1 to LMDE 2.[44]
  • LMDE is faster and more responsive than Ubuntu-based editions.[45]
  • LMDE requires a deeper knowledge and experience with Linux, dpkg and APT.
  • Debian is less user-friendly and desktop-ready than Ubuntu, with some rough edges.


Individual users and companies using the operating system act as donors,[46] sponsors[47] and partners[48] of the distribution. Linux Mint relies on user feedback to make decisions and orient its development. The official blog often features discussions where users are asked to voice their opinion about the latest features or decisions implemented for upcoming releases. Ideas can be submitted, commented upon and rated by users via the Linux Mint Community Website.[49]

The community of Linux Mint users use Launchpad to participate in the translation of the operating system and in reporting bugs.[50]

Most extraneous development is done in Python and organized online using GitHub, making it easy for developers to provide patches, implement additional features, and also fork Linux Mint sub-projects (for example the Linux Mint menu was ported to Fedora). With each release, features are added that are developed by the community. In Linux Mint 9 for instance, the ability to edit menu items is a feature that was contributed by a Linux Mint user.[51]


TechRadar has praised Linux Mint for focusing on desktop users.[52]

In June 2015, Wikimedia Traffic Analysis Report shows 6.4 million hits for Linux Mint while the highest-placed identifiable GNU/Linux distribution, Ubuntu, had 1.2 billion hits.[53] In a 2012 online poll at Lifehacker, Linux Mint was voted the second best Linux distribution, after Ubuntu, with almost 16% of the votes.[54] In October 2012 (Issue 162), Linux Format named Linux Mint the best distro for 2012.[55] In July 2013 (Issue 128), Linux User & Developer gave Linux Mint 15 "Olivia" a score of 5/5, stating "We haven't found a single problem with the distro… we're more than satisfied with the smooth, user-friendly experience that Linux Mint 15, and Cinnamon 1.8, provides for it to be our main distro for at least another 6 months."[56]

DistroWatch provides information and statistics of Linux distributions. Since 2012, DistroWatch's Page Hit Ranking listed Linux Mint as the most viewed profile page there.[57][58][59][60] In December 2011, Wikimedia Traffic Analysis Report showed 29 million hits on Wikimedia pages from computers running Ubuntu and 642,000 hits from those running Linux Mint. ZDNet, Ars Technica and OStatic argued that these numbers, based on operating systems actually in use, represent the popularity of Ubuntu and Mint far more accurately than the DistroWatch rankings. [61][62][63][52][64][54]

See also


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External links