Linux Mint is composed of many software packages, of which the vast majority are distributed under a free software license (also known as open source). The main license used is the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) which, along with the GNU Lesser General Public License (GNU LGPL), explicitly declares that users are free to run, copy, distribute, study, change, develop and improve the software. Linux Mint also includes some proprietary software, such as the Adobe Flash plugin, and uses a Linux kernel that contains binary blobs. Linux Mint is funded by its community of users. Individual users and companies using the operating system act as donors, sponsors and partners of the distribution.
Origin and development process
Linux Mint uses primarily free (libre) software, making an exception only for some proprietary hardware drivers and some other widely used software, such as Adobe's Flash plugin and RAR. Unlike many other Linux distributions, Linux Mint strives not to restrict itself to FLOSS but to prefer free software to proprietary alternatives.
Linux Mint started in 2006 with a beta release called 1.0 "Ada". The project wasn't well known at the time and this version was never released as stable. With the release of 2.0 "Barbara" a few months later, the distribution caught the attention of many people within the Linux community and started to build an audience. Using the feedback given from its new community, the distribution released a quick succession of releases between 2006 and 2008. 5 versions were released that way: 2.1 "Bea", 2.2 "Bianca", 3.0 "Cassandra", 3.1 "Celena" and 4.0 "Daryna".
Version 2.0 "Barbara" was based on Ubuntu 6.10, 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 it continued to use the package repositories from the latest Ubuntu release. As such the distribution never really forked. This resulted in making the base between the two systems almost identical and it guaranteed full compatibility between the two operating systems.
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 version 6 "Felicia" each release was now completely based on the latest Ubuntu release, built directly from it, timed for approximately one month after the corresponding Ubuntu release (i.e. usually in May and November).
In 2010 Linux Mint released a Debian Edition.Unlike the other Ubuntu-based editions, this is based directly on Debian, and hence is not tied to Ubuntu packages or release schedule.
Linux Mint focuses on usability. The Ubiquity installer allows Linux Mint to be installed to the hard disk from within the Live CD environment, without the need for restarting the computer prior to installation. Linux Mint also emphasizes accessibility and internationalization to reach as many people as possible. UTF-8 is the default character encoding and allows for support of a variety of non-Roman scripts. As a security feature, the sudo tool is used to assign temporary privileges for performing administrative tasks, allowing users to administer the system without using the root account.
Users can download a disk image (.iso) of the CD, which can then either be written to a physical medium (CD or DVD), or optionally run directly from a hard drive (via UNetbootin or GRUB). The main edition of Linux Mint is available in 32 and 64-bit.
Installation CDs can be purchased from 3rd party vendors.
A Microsoft Windows migration tool, called Migration Assistant (introduced in April 2007), can be used to import bookmarks, desktop background (wallpaper), and various settings from an existing MS Windows installation into a new Linux Mint installation.
Linux Mint can be booted and run from a USB Flash drive (as long as the BIOS supports booting from USB), with the option of saving settings to the flashdrive. This allows a portable installation that can be run on any PC which is capable of booting from a USB drive. In newer versions of Linux Mint, the USB creator program is available to install Linux Mint on a USB drive (with or without a LiveCD disc).
Package classification and support
Linux Mint divides its software repositories into four components to reflect differences in their nature and in their origin.
component only includes software that is developed by Linux Mint.
component includes software which is present in Ubuntu but patched or modified by Linux Mint. As a result, the software present in this component behaves differently in each distribution. Notable examples are Grub, Plymouth, Ubiquity, Xchat, USB Creator and Yelp (the help system).
component includes software that is not available in Ubuntu or for which no recent versions are available in Ubuntu. Notable examples are Opera, Picasa, Skype, Songbird, the 64-bit Adobe Flash plugin and Frostwire.
component is not enabled by default. It is used by Linux Mint to test packages before they are included in other components. As such it represents the unstable branch of Linux Mint.
In addition to the above, there is a "backport" component in the Linux Mint repositories. This component is there to port newer software to older releases without affecting the other components. It is not enabled by default.
* KDE Software Compilation
* Debian Edition
GNOME, KDE Software Compilation, and Xfce editions of Linux Mint are available in both 32 and 64-bit. LXDE and Fluxbox editions are only available in 32-bit.
The distribution also provides an "OEM Edition"(previously called the "Universal Edition") which is targeted at distributors and companies operating in countries where the legislation allows patents to apply to software (The USA, Japan and to a lesser extent, Australia and the UK). which does not include patented technologies, such as DVD playback.
Starting with Linux Mint 9 "Isadora", the distribution will provide liveCD, liveDVD, OEM and US/Japan installation images for its main edition in both 32 and 64-bit.
On September 7, 2010, the Linux Mint Debian Edition was announced. The goal of this edition is to be as close to the main (Gnome) edition as possible, but based on Debian (as opposed to Ubuntu). Another notable difference is the rolling release distribution cycle.
Linux Mint's Ubuntu-based editions have much in common with their parent Ubuntu releases, from the software repositories of which they build.For instance, release 6 (“Felicia”) uses the package pools of Ubuntu “Intrepid Ibex” (8.10).
Linux Mint has a stated focus on elegance, and it includes a number of applications that are not available in Ubuntu, and vice versa. Mint has a number of design differences from Ubuntu, including:
- A distinct user interface, including a custom main menu.
- A different approach to update management.
- A collection of system applications designed to make system management and administration easier for end users.
- A different software selection installed by default and a number of differences in the configuration of the system.
From a project point of view, the main differences are:
- Unlike Ubuntu, Linux Mint does not communicate release dates. Releases are announced "when ready"; they can be released early when the distribution is ahead of schedule or late when critical bugs are found.
- Unlike Ubuntu, the philosophy of the Linux Mint project is compatible with the use of proprietary software. Linux Mint favors Open Source technology but also considers proprietary alternatives, the user experience of the desktop being the main concern with licensing coming second. For instance, most editions of Linux Mint come with Adobe's Flash plug-in installed by default.
- Ubuntu and Linux Mint adopt radically different update strategies. Ubuntu recommends its users update all packages and upgrade to newer versions using an APT-based upgrade method. Resulting problems and regressions are regarded as temporary issues that can be fixed by further updates. In comparison, Linux Mint recommends not to update packages that can affect the stability of the system and recommends the use of its Backup Tool and fresh installations to upgrade computers to newer releases.
|Red||Release no longer supported|
|Green||Release still supported|
|Version||Codename||Edition||Code Base||Compatible repository||Default desktop environment||Release date|
|1.0||Ada||Main||Kubuntu 6.06||Kubuntu 6.06||KDE||2006-08-27 !27 August 2006|
|2.0||Barbara||Main||Ubuntu 6.10||Ubuntu 6.10||GNOME||2006-11-13 !13 November 2006|
|2.1||Bea||Main||Ubuntu 6.10||Ubuntu 6.10||GNOME||2006-12-20 !20 December 2006|
|2.2||Bianca||Main||Ubuntu 6.10||Ubuntu 6.10||GNOME||2007-02-20 !20 February 2007|
|Light||Ubuntu 6.10||Ubuntu 6.10||GNOME||2007-03-29 !29 March 2007|
|KDE CE||Kubuntu 6.10||Kubuntu 6.10||KDE||2007-04-20 !20 April 2007|
|3.0||Cassandra||Main||Bianca 2.2||Ubuntu 7.04||GNOME||2007-05-30 !30 May 2007|
|Light||Bianca 2.2||Ubuntu 7.04||GNOME||2007-06-15 !15 June 2007|
|KDE CE||Bianca 2.2||Kubuntu 7.04||KDE||2007-08-14 !14 August 2007|
|MiniKDE CE||Bianca 2.2||Kubuntu 7.04||KDE||2007-08-14 !14 August 2007|
|Xfce CE||Cassandra 3.0||Xubuntu 7.04||Xfce||2007-08-07 !7 August 2007|
|3.1||Celena||Main||Bianca 2.2||Ubuntu 7.04||GNOME||2007-09-24 !24 September 2007|
|Light||Bianca 2.2||Ubuntu 7.04||GNOME||2007-10-01 !1 October 2007|
|4.0||Daryna||Main||Celena 3.1||Ubuntu 7.10||GNOME||2007-10-15 !15 October 2007|
|Light||Celena 3.1||Ubuntu 7.10||GNOME||2007-10-15 !15 October 2007|
|KDE CE||Cassandra 3.0||Kubuntu 7.10||KDE||2008-03-03 !3 March 2008|
|5||Elyssa||Main||Daryna 4.0||Ubuntu 8.04||GNOME||2008-06-08 !8 June 2008|
|Light||Daryna 4.0||Ubuntu 8.04||GNOME||2008-06-08 !8 June 2008|
|x64||Ubuntu 8.04||Ubuntu 8.04||GNOME||2008-10-18 !18 October 2008|
|KDE CE||Daryna 4.0||Kubuntu 8.04||KDE||2008-09-15 !15 September 2008|
|Xfce CE||Daryna 4.0||Xubuntu 8.04||Xfce||2008-09-08 !8 September 2008|
|Fluxbox CE||Ubuntu 8.04||Ubuntu 8.04||Fluxbox||2008-10-21 !21 October 2008|
|6||Felicia||Main||Ubuntu 8.10||Ubuntu 8.10||GNOME||2008-12-15 !15 December 2008|
|Universal (Light)||Ubuntu 8.10||Ubuntu 8.10||GNOME||2008-12-15 !15 December 2008|
|x64||Ubuntu 8.10||Ubuntu 8.10||GNOME||2009-02-06 !6 February 2009|
|KDE CE||Elyssa 5||Kubuntu 8.10||KDE||2009-04-08 !8 April 2009|
|Xfce CE||Xubuntu 8.10||Xubuntu 8.10||Xfce||2009-02-24 !24 February 2009|
|Fluxbox CE||Xubuntu 8.10||Ubuntu 8.10||Fluxbox||2009-04-07 !7 April 2009|
|7||Gloria||Main||Ubuntu 9.04||Ubuntu 9.04||GNOME||2009-05-26 !26 May 2009|
|Universal (Light)||Ubuntu 9.04||Ubuntu 9.04||GNOME||2009-05-26 !26 May 2009|
|x64||Ubuntu 9.04||Ubuntu 9.04||GNOME||2009-06-24 !24 June 2009|
|KDE CE||Kubuntu 9.04||Kubuntu 9.04||KDE||2009-08-03 !3 August 2009|
|Xfce CE||Xubuntu 9.04||Xubuntu 9.04||Xfce||2009-09-13 !13 September 2009|
|8||Helena||Main||Ubuntu 9.10||Ubuntu 9.10||GNOME||2009-11-28 !28 November 2009|
|Universal (Light)||Ubuntu 9.10||Ubuntu 9.10||GNOME||2009-11-28 !28 November 2009|
|Gnome x64||Ubuntu 9.10||Ubuntu 9.10||GNOME||2009-12-14 !14 December 2009|
|KDE||Kubuntu 9.10||Kubuntu 9.10||KDE||2010-02-6 !6 February 2010|
|KDE x64||Kubuntu 9.10||Kubuntu 9.10||KDE||2010-02-12 !12 February 2010|
|Fluxbox||Helena Main||Ubuntu 9.10||Fluxbox||2010-02-12 !12 February 2010|
|Xfce||Xubuntu 9.10||Xubuntu 9.10||Xfce||2010-03-31 !31 March 2010|
|LXDE||Helena Main||Ubuntu 9.10||LXDE||2010-03-31 !31 March 2010|
|9||Isadora||Main||Ubuntu 10.04||Ubuntu 10.04||GNOME||2010-05-18 !18 May 2010|
|Gnome x64||Ubuntu 10.04||Ubuntu 10.04||GNOME||2010-05-18 !18 May 2010|
|LXDE||Lubuntu 10.04||Lubuntu 10.04||LXDE||2010-07-18 !18 July 2010|
|KDE||Kubuntu 10.04||Kubuntu 10.04||KDE||2010-07-27 !27 July 2010|
|KDE x64||Kubuntu 10.04||Kubuntu 10.04||KDE||2010-07-27 !27 July 2010|
|Xfce||Xubuntu 10.04||Xubuntu 10.04||Xfce||2010-08-24 !24 August 2010|
|Fluxbox||Lubuntu 10.04||Lubuntu 10.04||Fluxbox||2010-09-06 !6 September 2010|
|10||Julia||Main||Ubuntu 10.10||Ubuntu 10.10||GNOME||2010-11-12 !12 November 2010|
|Gnome x64||Ubuntu 10.10||Ubuntu 10.10||GNOME||2010-11-12 !12 November 2010|
|LXDE||Lubuntu 10.10||Lubuntu 10.10||LXDE||2011-03-16 !16 March 2011|
|KDE||Kubuntu 10.10||Kubuntu 10.10||KDE||2011-02-23 !23 February 2011|
|KDE x64||Kubuntu 10.10||Kubuntu 10.10||KDE||2011-02-23 !23 February 2011|
|Xfce||Xubuntu 10.10||Xubuntu 10.10||Xfce||06 April 2011|
|Fluxbox||Lubuntu 10.10||Lubuntu 10.10||Fluxbox|
Updates (via Distrowatch):
Clement Lefebvre has announced the release of Linux Mint 201104 "Xfce" edition, a Debian-based rolling-release distribution: "The team is proud to announce the release of Linux Mint Xfce. Linux Mint Xfce is rolling on top of a Debian 'Testing' package base and uses the same repositories as Linux Mint Debian edition. This offers the following advantages to Linux Mint Xfce: a huge performance boost; a continuous flow of updates which allows users to keep their system up to date without waiting for new releases; a more mainstream desktop and software selection; an easier maintenance for the team which makes it easier to release in both 32-bit and 64-bit with every Linux Mint Debian edition release." See the release announcement for full details.
Download (SHA256): linuxmint-xfce-201104-dvd-32bit.iso (958MB, torrent), linuxmint-xfce-201104-dvd-64bit.iso (943MB, torrent).
• 2011-04-06: Distribution Release: Linux Mint 201104 "Xfce"
• 2011-03-16: Distribution Release: Linux Mint 10 "LXDE"
• 2011-02-23: Distribution Release: Linux Mint 10 "KDE"
• 2010-12-24: Distribution Release: Linux Mint 201012 "Debian"
• 2010-11-12: Distribution Release: Linux Mint 10
• 2010-10-18: Development Release: Linux Mint 10 RC