Linux Mint vs Debian: Similarities & Differences!

Credits:

Linux Mint

Debian

In this article let us have a look at 2 very popular distros Linux Mint and Debian and see where each distro shines so that you can pick one that best suit your needs!

For those of you in a hurry, here is the short version of the answer.

The Short Version Of The Answer

What are the differences between Linux Mint and Debian? The main difference between Linux Mint and Debian is Linux Mint is meant for beginners who are looking for the best workstation distro while Debian is meant for users who are looking for a stable distro that has the best software and hardware support

The table below highlights the important differences between the 2 distros

Linux Mint Debian
Organization Name This is a community-driven distro based on Ubuntu and Debian focused on providing an easy to use and stable operating system.

Organization Type: Community

Debian is one of the oldest and grandest distros available with one of the largest online communities and this is the most-forked distro in the world!

Organization Type: Community

Expertise Level Needed Beginner Intermediate
Based On Ubuntu and Debian This is an original distro!
Target Use-cases General-purpose Distro.

Best Use-case: For use in a workstation

Other use cases: any use case that needs stability and ease of use, but not the latest software packages.

General-purpose Distro

Best Use-case: For use in workstations, ARM-based systems, older hardware

Other use cases: Debian has flavors/versions available for almost any kind of use case!

Software Support 9/10

Out of the box software: 4.5/5

Software Repository: 4.5/5

Since Mint has versions based on Ubuntu LTS and Debian Stable, there is very good software support of about 30,000 packages

10/10

Out of the box software: 5/5

Software Repository: 5/5

Has the biggest collection of software in their official repos with over 59000 packages!

Hardware Support 8/10

Official driver support: 4/5

Support for older hardware: 4/5

9.5/10

Official driver support: 4.5/5

Support for older hardware: 5/5

Supports multiple processor architectures

Has proprietary drivers and open-source drivers available.

Can support very old hardware.

Hardware Resource Needs Middleweight Middleweight to heavyweight based on the version you choose.
Support 7/10

Paid support: Not available

Community: 4/5

Very good online community support

Documentation: 3/5

Enough documentation for beginner level use

9.5/10

Paid support: Consultants can be hired

Community: 5/5

email lists and online chatting support platforms

Documentation: 4.5/5

Very comprehensive online documentation

Ease of use 9/10: Easy

All multimedia codecs and Proprietary drivers work out of the box

6/10 Medium

Best suited for intermediate users.

Stability 9/10: Very stable

Stability is one of the main focuses of this distro

10/10 Very stable

The main focus of Debian is stability and this distro is known for its rock-hard stability!

Release Cycles Fixed Release: Usually a month behind Ubuntu’s LTS releases Fixed Release: Once 2 years

The graph below summarizes the table and compares the 2 distros and shows us how they compare with each other on various factors (Higher the points the better that particular feature is in a given distro)

That is just the short version of the answer, let’s go ahead and look at the longer and more informative version and learn more about the similarities and differences between 2 distros.

The Linux Distributions World

The word Distro is short for “Distribution”. Since the Linux source code is open for everyone to see, large communities started evolving to bring together Operating Systems suited towards specific needs/goals.

These “specific needs/goals” include, but not limited to the following.

* producing documents

* writing programs and creating software

* editing pictures, videos, audio, and multimedia-production related works

* store sensitive information by securing the operating system so that no one can hack into it or just browse the internet and consume media.

Say a community of people just wanted to browse the internet with their computers, then there is no point giving them the software to write programs in. Thus since every community’s needs and goals were different these communities started distributing built images of this operating system with all the essential tools installed. These prebuilt images are called distros!

If you wish to know more about the reason behind the presence of so many choices in the Linux World, I suggest reading the article given below.

Reasons Behind The Existence of SO MANY Linux Distros: An Analysis!

The Main Factors of Comparison

The factors mentioned above are just a small list of 100s of factors that differentiate distros. If you are either switching from some other OS to Linux or you are in the process of choosing your next Linux distro and you are confused which one to choose, you need to have a look at these top 5 decision-making factors

* Factor#1: Good Match with your Particular use-case

* Factor#2: Support for your favorite software

* Factor#3: Hardware Support and Proprietary Driver Support

* Factor#4: Your level of expertise in Linux

* Factor#5: Hardware Resource Needs

I have written a separate article explaining these factors which you can find in the link below

Top 5 Factors To Choose Between Linux Distros!

Let’s have a look at each of these important factors and see how Linux Mint and Debian compare against each other.

Factor#1: Good Match with your Particular use-case

By use-case, I mean the type of work you are going to be doing on your computer. Linux distro world originated because of the difference in use cases.

Linux Mint’s goal is wildly different from that of Debian’s.

Let’s have a brief comparison between Linux Mint and Debian in terms of goals, target users, and best use cases to employ these distros.

Linux Mint Debian
Goal To be a beginner-friendly distro with most things working out of the box with a focus on stability and user experience To create a free operating system that can be installed in almost any hardware with a strong focus on stability
Target users Beginners looking for a stable distro with good GUI tools and are not into learning to use the command line. Intermediate users who need an original Linux distro with the most supported software packages and processor architectures.
Best Use-Cases to Employ the Distro Best Use-case: For use in a workstation

Other Use-cases: any use case that needs stability and ease of use, but not the latest software packages.

General-purpose Distro

Best Use-case: For use in workstations, ARM-based systems, older hardware

Other use cases: Debian has flavors/versions available for almost any kind of use case!

Factor#2: Support for your favorite software

If your main work involves some specific software or latest versions of a given software then that becomes a decision-making factor for choosing a Linux Distribution. So before fixing on a given distro, be sure to google if that distro has official support for your main software needs.

The factors you need to be considering include the following

* Out of the Box support: The software that the distro ships with.

* Repository Support: The curated software that is available on the official repos

* Type of release cycle: This decides the trade-off between up-to-date software and stable tested software.

* Availability of Graphical Software managers

* Package manager used: This can decide the ease of which you can install and uninstall software

Let’s see how Linux Mint and Debian fair up against each other in the category of Software support

Linux Mint Debian
Out of the Box Software 4.5/5: Proprietary drivers and multimedia codecs work out of the box, also all basic tools are included 5/5: You can download a complete image with the most software packages!
Repository Support 4.5/5: The official repo supports around 30,000 packages (at the time of this writing) 5/5: Has the biggest collection of software in their official repos with over 59000 packages!
Type of release cycle Fixed Release: Usually a month behind Ubuntu’s LTS releases Fixed Release: Once 2 years
GUI Software Management Tools Available

Ubuntu’s Synaptic manager and Mint’s Software manager are available for the end-user

Available: We can use the Synaptic Package Manager or GNOME Software Centre.
Package manager used APT, snappy Apt package manager

The bar chart below summarizes the table above. As you can see, Debian is better than Linux Mint in terms of Out of the box software support. Debian is better than Linux Mint in terms of Repository support.

Hence, Debian wins the round of Software support!

Refer to the article below if you wish to learn more about package managers.

A Beginners Introduction To Linux Package managers: apt, yum, dpkg & rpm

Factor#3: Hardware Support and Proprietary Driver Support

Not all Linux distros support proprietary drivers officially. Depending on your computer’s hardware, you may or may not have open-source driver support from the manufacturers. This is especially true for hardware such as graphics cards and network cards. Hence it is a good idea to take “driver support” into consideration while choosing your next distro.

The factors you need to be considering include the following

* Distro’s Policy of use of opensource vs proprietary 3rd party software

* Official driver support by Major Companies

* 3rd party driver support from official repos

* Support for older hardware

Linux Mint Debian
Distro’s Policy Proprietary drivers officially supported and are available out of the box User-focused distro: Proprietary drivers officially supported
Official driver support by Major Companies 4/5: There is no official support directly for Mint, but Ubuntu gets a lot of love from software, and hardware producers and Mint users benefit from those! 4.5/5: Being one of the oldest and most forked distros, most companies provide .deb packages
3rd party driver support 3rd party repos available for installing software that is not up-to-date/available in the official repos 3rd party repos available
Support for older hardware 4/5: has both 32 and 64-bit versions and has a good collection of drivers to support old hardware. 5/5

Supports multiple processor architectures

Has proprietary drivers and open-source drivers available.

Can support very old hardware

The bar chart below summarizes the table above. As you can see, Debian is better than Linux Mint when it comes to official driver support. Debian is better than Linux Mint in terms of support for Older Hardware.

Hence, Debian wins the round of Hardware support!

Refer to the article below if you wish to have a look at some of the top distros in terms of hardware support.

Best Distro For Software And Hardware Support: A Comparison!!

Factor#4: Your level of expertise in Linux

Depending on your level of expertise in Linux, the choice of the distro you need will vary. This is because of the following factors

* Ease of use: beginner, intermediate, expert

* Paid customer support: available, not available

* Online community support: great, good, okay, not good, no support

* Available Documentation: Great documentation, Good documentation, Okay documentation, no documentation

Let’s see the level of support available for Linux Mint and Debian and see how they compare against each other

Linux Mint Debian
Ease of Use Beginner level: Extremely Easy to Use Intermediate level of expertise needed.
Paid Customer Support Not available, hence might not be the best choice for organizations Consultants can be hired
if needed
Online Community Support 4/5: very good online community support and forums. Also, solutions for similar problems on Ubuntu usually work with Linux Mint. 3/5: email lists and online chatting support platforms
Documentation 3/5: Enough documentation for beginner level use
4/5: Very comprehensive online documentation

The bar chart below summarizes the table above. As you can see, Debian is better than Linux Mint in terms of online community support. Debian is better than Linux Mint in terms of Documentation.

Hence, Debian wins the round of User support!

Factor#5: Hardware Resource Needs

This is an important factor if you are planning to employ Linux on a computer with limited hardware resources. This may be an old machine or a new one with less than stellar specs.

The factors you need to be considering include the following

* Category: Lightweight or Middleweight or Heavyweight

* RAM Requirements to have a snappy system &

* Minimum processor requirements

Let’s see how Linux Mint and Debian fair up against each other in terms of Hardware resource needs

Linux Mint Debian
Category Middleweight Middleweight to heavyweight based on the version you choose.
Minimum RAM requirements 1GB (2GB recommended) 1GB (2GB recommended)
Minimum Processor Requirements X86 32bit processor 1GHz Dual-core processor

Refer to the article below if you wish to have a look at a step by step guide for choosing a Linux distro for your computer’s specifications.

A Complete Guide For Choosing A Distro For Your Computer’s Specs..!!

The Results!

Let us know go ahead and see the results of our comparison! Have a look at the Bar chart below.

As you can see Linux Mint wins in Ease of use.

Debian wins in Software support, Hardware support, User support, and Stability.

There is a tie between the 2 distros in Hardware Resource needs.

I suggest you pick the distro that best suits you based on this graph. For example, if hardware support is more important to you, then pick the distro that has better support for your hardware!

Summary

To summarise the article here is the comparison table from the beginning of the blog again.

Linux Mint Debian
Organization Name This is a community-driven distro based on Ubuntu and Debian focused on providing an easy to use and stable operating system.

Organization Type: Community

Debian is one of the oldest and grandest distros available with one of the largest online communities and this is the most-forked distro in the world!

Organization Type: Community

Expertise Level Needed Beginner Intermediate
Based On Ubuntu and Debian This is an original distro!
Target Use-cases General-purpose Distro.

Best Use-case: For use in a workstation

Other use cases: any use case that needs stability and ease of use, but not the latest software packages.

General-purpose Distro

Best Use-case: For use in workstations, ARM-based systems, older hardware

Other use cases: Debian has flavors/versions available for almost any kind of use case!

Software Support 9/10

Out of the box software: 4.5/5

Software Repository: 4.5/5

Since Mint has versions based on Ubuntu LTS and Debian Stable, there is very good software support of about 30,000 packages

10/10

Out of the box software: 5/5

Software Repository: 5/5

Has the biggest collection of software in their official repos with over 59000 packages!

Hardware Support 8/10

Official driver support: 4/5

Support for older hardware: 4/5

9.5/10

Official driver support: 4.5/5

Support for older hardware: 5/5

Supports multiple processor architectures

Has proprietary drivers and open-source drivers available.

Can support very old hardware.

Hardware Resource Needs Middleweight Middleweight to heavyweight based on the version you choose.
Support 7/10

Paid support: Not available

Community: 4/5

Very good online community support

Documentation: 3/5

Enough documentation for beginner level use

9.5/10

Paid support: Consultants can be hired

Community: 5/5

email lists and online chatting support platforms

Documentation: 4.5/5

Very comprehensive online documentation

Ease of use 9/10: Easy

All multimedia codecs and Proprietary drivers work out of the box

6/10 Medium

Best suited for intermediate users.

Stability 9/10: Very stable

Stability is one of the main focuses of this distro

10/10 Very stable

The main focus of Debian is stability and this distro is known for its rock-hard stability!

Release Cycles Fixed Release: Usually a month behind Ubuntu’s LTS releases Fixed Release: Once 2 years

Hope you have got enough data to choose between these 2 amazing distros!

And with that, I will conclude this article!

I hope you guys enjoyed this article and learned something useful.

If you liked the post, feel free to share this post with your friends and colleagues!

Related Articles

Here are some of my other articles that might interest you!

A Step By Step Plan To Learn Linux..!

Best Linux Distro For Workstation: Analysis and Comparison!!

A Complete Guide For Choosing A Distro For Your Computer’s Specs..!!

Best Distro For Software And Hardware Support: An Analysis.!!

Distro-Hopping, What, Why & How Explained!

Reasons Behind The Existence of SO MANY Linux Distros: An Analysis!

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