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Linux Mint vs. Ubuntu Mate: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 22, 2023
Linux Mint is a full-fledged OS derived from Ubuntu, while Ubuntu MATE is an official Ubuntu flavor using the MATE desktop environment.

Key Differences

Linux Mint and Ubuntu MATE are both distributions of the Linux operating system. Linux Mint is known for its user-friendliness and offers a more traditional desktop interface. It was developed with a goal of being intuitive for new users transitioning from other OSes. On the other hand, Ubuntu MATE is an official flavor of Ubuntu, using the MATE desktop environment.
MATE offers a simpler and lighter interface, and Ubuntu MATE combines this with the stability of Ubuntu. While both systems are built atop the Ubuntu base, Linux Mint often introduces its unique tools and configurations that set it apart.
Conversely, Ubuntu MATE primarily focuses on delivering a pure Ubuntu experience with the MATE desktop, ensuring close alignment with Ubuntu's release cycle and software repositories.

Comparison Chart


Derived from Ubuntu
Official flavor of Ubuntu

Desktop Environment

Cinnamon (by default)

Target Users

Beginners and those transitioning from Windows
Users looking for a lightweight, classic desktop

Unique Features

Comes with its own set of tools like Mint Install and Mint Update
Close alignment with Ubuntu repositories and releases

Release Cycle

Not strictly tied to Ubuntu's release cycle
Tied to Ubuntu's release cycle

Linux Mint and Ubuntu Mate Definitions

Linux Mint

A user-friendly Linux distribution based on Ubuntu.
Many new Linux users start with Linux Mint due to its familiar interface.

Ubuntu Mate

Utilizes the Ubuntu software repositories for software installation.
With Ubuntu MATE, users have access to the vast Ubuntu software repository.

Linux Mint

Popular among users transitioning from Windows.
Linux Mint's interface and pre-installed software make it easier for those coming from a Windows background.

Ubuntu Mate

A blend of Ubuntu's stability with the MATE environment.
Ubuntu MATE offers the best of both the Ubuntu core and the MATE desktop.

Linux Mint

Known for its Cinnamon desktop environment.
Linux Mint's Cinnamon offers a modern yet traditional desktop feel.

Ubuntu Mate

Adheres closely to Ubuntu's release and update cycles.
Ubuntu MATE users receive updates in tandem with mainline Ubuntu releases.

Linux Mint

Contains unique tools tailored for enhanced user experience.
Linux Mint introduces tools like Mint Update for system management.

Ubuntu Mate

An official flavor of Ubuntu featuring the MATE desktop.
Ubuntu MATE is appreciated for its lightweight and efficient interface.

Linux Mint

A standalone OS with multiple desktop environment choices.
Besides Cinnamon, Linux Mint also provides MATE and Xfce environments.

Ubuntu Mate

Targets users desiring a classic desktop feel.
Those nostalgic for the older GNOME 2 interface often choose Ubuntu MATE.


Is Ubuntu MATE an official Ubuntu release?

Yes, Ubuntu MATE is an official flavor of Ubuntu.

Which desktop environment does Linux Mint use by default?

By default, Linux Mint uses the Cinnamon desktop environment.

Is Linux Mint suitable for beginners?

Yes, Linux Mint is often recommended for beginners due to its user-friendliness.

Is Ubuntu MATE lightweight?

Yes, the MATE desktop environment is known for its lightweight nature.

How does Ubuntu MATE differ from regular Ubuntu?

Ubuntu MATE uses the MATE desktop environment, while regular Ubuntu uses GNOME.

Does Linux Mint offer other desktop environments?

Yes, Linux Mint also offers versions with MATE and Xfce desktops.

How frequently is Ubuntu MATE updated?

Ubuntu MATE follows Ubuntu's release cycle, typically updated every six months.

Are both distributions secure?

Both distributions prioritize security, but users should always keep their systems updated for the best protection.

What are some unique tools in Linux Mint?

Linux Mint has tools like Mint Install and Mint Update, tailored for its users.

Which is better for older computers, Linux Mint or Ubuntu MATE?

Both can be suitable, but Ubuntu MATE is often preferred for very old hardware due to its lightweight nature.

Does Linux Mint have its own repositories?

While it primarily uses Ubuntu's repositories, Linux Mint also maintains its own for certain software and updates.

How do I install software on Ubuntu MATE?

Ubuntu MATE users can install software using the Ubuntu software repositories via tools like Synaptic or the Software Boutique.

Are there other flavors or versions of Ubuntu?

Yes, besides Ubuntu MATE, there are flavors like Xubuntu, Kubuntu, and Lubuntu, each with different desktop environments.

What is the main desktop environment of Ubuntu MATE?

Ubuntu MATE primarily uses the MATE desktop environment.

Can I run Windows applications on Linux Mint?

With tools like WINE, some Windows applications can run on Linux Mint.

Are both free to use?

Yes, both Linux Mint and Ubuntu MATE are free and open-source distributions.

What is the base of Linux Mint?

Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu.

How can I get support for Ubuntu MATE?

Ubuntu MATE users can seek support from the official Ubuntu forums and MATE community channels.

Can I switch from Linux Mint to Ubuntu MATE easily?

While switching involves a fresh install, both being Ubuntu-based ensures a familiar experience.

How do I choose between Linux Mint and Ubuntu MATE?

Consider factors like preferred desktop environment, system resources, and individual needs.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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