If you like a classic desktop, MATE is a clear choice for you. But what kind of distribution do you choose? Linux Mint and Ubuntu MATE are very similar at first glance. Today we look at the differences.
GNOME 2 was first released fourteen years ago, but many still do not let it go, and the Windows XP desktop looks like an ideal. Although the GNOME project has already left the second generation of the environment, GNOME 2 lives as MATE. Of course, the new features do not attract much, but the environment is constantly updated and maintained to keep up with the times. One example is the transition to GTK + 3, which has already been completed.
MATE can be found in the repositories of a number of distributions, but only two larger distributions - Ubuntu MATE and Linux Mint. Their developers also play a major part in the development of the environment. In the next paragraphs, we compare the side by side and try to crown the classic desktop king. We will compare the latest release of Ubuntu MATE 16.04 and Linux Mint 18. We will simplify them as Ubuntu and Mint.
While Mint only supports classic x86 and x86-64 architectures, Ubuntu also offers the PowerPC support used by Apple's old computers. If you have any such device, it is Ubuntu's ideal way to revive it. Ubuntu also supports ARMv7 - mainly Raspberry Pi 2 and 3. We will now compare the most commonly used 64-bit version.
Both distributions are used by a classic installer from Ubuntu, which is no surprise. You set the time zone, keyboard layout, main user account, and so on. Both distributions also allow you to set your home directory encryption and install third-party add-ons like Flash, codecs, etc. Ubuntu is easy to install, does not offer.
As for the size of the installation media, Ubuntu has about 1.6 GB and Mint about 200 MB more. This is also proportional to the disk space required for installation. In the case of Ubuntu it is 8.6 GB, in the case of Mintu 10.4 GB. After installing Ubuntu, it took 4.4 GB and Mint 5.2 GB. Most users will not worry about this difference. Post-boot memory consumption was between 390-400 MB.
Ubuntu has TLP installed and activated by default to save up to about 30% of the battery, thanks to its advanced power management, thus prolonging its stamina. In Mintu, you can install TLP from official repositories, or you do not need to configure it. So if Ubuntu does not last longer than Mint, there's no magic in it, nor is it Mint's fault.
Both Mint and Ubuntu use the standard Ubuntu package (currently 16.04) and should run 99% of Ubuntu repositories and packages for them. This is also related to the benefits of all distributions built on Ubuntu - if you have a problem, you will most likely go out of solution. Or ask a forum or Ask Ubuntu where thousands of people are willing to help.
The major difference is in the promotion and release cycle. Ubuntu MATE is followed by the Ubuntu system, with a release every two years with extended support (beware, only three years!) And every six months with new packages and nine months of support. You can choose whether you prefer stability or new software. New kernels are also backed into the LTS release.
The big version of Mint is only released every two years, and it also builds on LTS Ubuntu releases. Support is in this case full five years. In addition, each half-year comes with a decimal version that brings an updated version of the environment, a new kernel (optional) and sometimes new features and a couple of updated programs. But the packet base itself will not change over the next five years.
There is probably no clear answer to what is better. However, if you choose Mint, you have to count on a package / software version for at least two years. With Ubuntu, you can start using LTS and decide to upgrade to new releases with new packages. We are just in the period when the LTS is still fresh, so you do not have to make a decision right between the stability and the up-to-date software.
Mint bets on its traditional gray-green appearance, Ubuntu turns black-green. Of course, you can change the look. The layout of the interface differs significantly. Ubuntu is faithful to the original GNOME 2 layout, where you have an application menu and a notification area and a list of open windows below. Mint has only one lower bar that contains all of that.
The Ubuntu application offer is simple to use. Mint uses a much more sophisticated MATE menu, which has the advantage of searching and running applications quickly. With the MATE menu it does not look very good and it is not sure whether it will last for the future. In any case, MATE can be configured very well in both distributions, and you can combine and position the panels as you want. So, by default, I would not choose the distribution.
Let's also add that both distributions contain good welcome screens that introduce distribution, help with driver installation, first steps, etc. They also point to relevant resources and community support. Though it's a trifle, but newcomers will make it easier to use.
We will not discuss the default program report here. On the one hand, it is similar and, on the other hand, there is nothing easier than uninstalling or installing the program. Let's take a look at what tools are available for package management.
Mint has been using its own application catalog for some time, partly based on the Ubuntu Software Center. It provides quite a bit of information about programs (including screenshots), user ratings, searches, etc. The impact is a bit spoiled by not a very fast response and occasional instability, but it is not critical. For advanced users, Mint has a familiar Synaptic tool that can do more advanced things with each package.
Ubuntu is surprised in this respect. It does not offer any classical application catalog or package manager. Instead, it has its own Software Boutique tool, which offers around hundred of the best apps, of course categorized. This is not just software from official repositories. If you choose to install foreign software, Software Boutique will do everything you need, add a repository, etc. Excellent thing, especially for Linux beginners. If you want to have access to a complete menu of software, you have to install another tool - Software Boutique offers several. Or use a terminal, of course. Installation of downloaded packages will be provided by GDebi.
As you might have guessed, there are no bigger differences between distributions. Ubuntu MATE and Linux Mint are well-tuned distributions that you will not usually have problems with, and well-advised users. Which is right for you? This can not be answered unequivocally. It depends on personal and preferences and areas that are important to you. Increased attention is paid to the release and support cycle.
If I had to go to one side, I would choose Ubuntu MATE. The reason is very active developers, relatively active community and also more supported platforms. The distribution is fairly young, so hopefully the drive will last for the developers. Because it is an official Ubuntu derivative, the distribution is also subject to partial control of Canonical and is more predictable. On the other hand, at Mint, the MATE version is the second in the order of the more famous Cinnamon.