With every release, Mint and Ubuntu are becoming two different distributions altogether. While on one hand Canonical is focused on making Ubuntu the universal OS across all devices, Linux Mint is busy ensuring that users get to use a solid and intuitive desktop experience. Both these distributions are similar at the core and offer the same basic features. However, if you look at the desktop, the graphics, the icons, and the behavior, you'll find that they are completely worlds apart. This chasm in approaches towards desktop computing is now giving users a variety of choices.

If, say a user wants a simple desktop that is not mobile-oriented, they can go for Linux Mint. However, if they're looking for something modern that puts information at their fingertips, they can choose Ubuntu. Being a hardcore Linux fanboy, it's hard for me to choose between either of the two operating systems. I've used both of them, and still do, and I'm yet to find anything seriously bad about them. They are mature, stable, and easy to use distributions.

Having said that, these are the top two distributions a new user has to choose between when he or she decides to switch to Linux. So, it is obligatory for us here at TechSource to give you a head-to-head comparison between the two latest releases of the top 2 Linux-based desktop operating systems namely Linux Mint 15 ‘Olivia’ and Ubuntu 13.04 ‘Raring Ringtail’.


Ease of Use

Both distributions are fairly easy to use. A new user can start using the desktop within minutes of logging in to the computer. Be it Ubuntu's quick and bespoke Dash menu or Mint's traditional GNOME3-style menus, neither of the distributions place any major hurdles between the user and the desktop. Everything is well organized and clean. 

Linux Mint 15

That said, if we were to compare both the desktops head-to-head, one could say that Mint is easier to get used to simply because of the fact that it is more familiar for Windows users to get started with. If you imagine two former Windows users, one is using Mint for the first time whereas the other one is using Ubuntu, the latter will surely have a slightly harder time getting used to Ubuntu’s desktop experience.

  Ubuntu 13.04


Choices

While Ubuntu gives one desktop environment to all of its users, Mint insists on giving users at least two equally enticing choices. While Cinnamon offers plenty of eye candy, MATE on the other hand sticks to the basics and gives users with old graphics cards something usable. These two choices offered by Mint are neither confusing for the user, nor do they differ with each other so much that someone would have a hard time switching between them. For an Ubuntu user, however, there's nothing but the Dash and the launcher.


Speed

Having used both desktops, I found Mint 15 to be much more faster than Ubuntu. I had used the same graphics card for both and Mint seemed to consume fewer resources than Ubuntu. However, as compared to its previous release, Ubuntu 13.04 seems much faster and stable.


Customizability

If you are someone who loves to tweak your desktop all the time then Mint seems to be the better option. With this release, they have included many more customization options like the Spices manager that lets you add applets, themes, and extensions right from the desktop.


New Features

Mint 15 packs in a huge amount of new features this time. Included in the changelog is a new login greeter, new software manager, new driver manager, new desklets feature, new screensaver...whoa! The list is huge. Ubuntu 13.04, on the other hand, brings a modest set of improvements that aren't convincing enough for an Ubuntu 12.10 user to go for an update. It may be called an improvement release, but it's nowhere close to what Mint 15 has brought along.


Conclusion

In comparison with Linux Mint 15, Ubuntu 13.04 was a bit of a letdown. It didn't bring anything new to the table, except for a few improvements. However, Mint on the other hand, gave users many new features to gawk at. Furthermore, despite the fact that Ubuntu's development is progressing at a breathtaking speed, in my own opinion, Mint has narrowly beaten the desktop veteran this time around. However, Ubuntu fans should not despair because the upcoming Saucy Salamander is expected to deliver some really sassy features.


Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

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