Linux Mint Will Stay with Ubuntu

Apr 07, 2015

Lead developer quells rumors that the Debian version is slated for center stage.

Despite rumors to the contrary, the popular Linux Mint project will continue to base Mint on Ubuntu Linux. Mint currently maintains an Ubuntu-based main branch and a separate Debian-based version known as Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE). In response to a recent question from a reader, who asked, “Wasn’t there a plan to make LMDE the main distro?”, lead Mint developer Clem Lefebvre replied: “We maintain both Mint and LMDE … and we’ll continue to maintain them as long as they are popular. In terms of popularity, Mint itself represents a big majority of our user base, and LMDE is just getting a brand new release so it’s a little early to assess the size of its audience. I know fans can be quite vocal about their favorite package base, project, and/or desktop environments, and you might have heard some of them wishing for us to discontinue this or focus more on that. We’re already reacting to feedback and popularity though, so I can confirm that we’ve no plans to do such thing.”

This announcement means that, for the foreseeable future, the project will continue as it has in the past: primary attention on the Ubuntu-based Mint and LMDE as an auxiliary product. Missing from the exchange (but on the mind of every Linux watcher) is the Free vs. Open Source subtext.  Debian is an all-Free Software distribution, whereas Ubuntu reserves the right to include drivers, codecs, and other elements that might not meet the Free Software definition. The Free Software faithful will continue to push for all-Free upsteam source, but like Ubuntu, Mint has gained a reputation for out-of-the-box functionality that requires some compromises with non-Free components.

According to the Mint website, “LMDE is less mainstream than Linux Mint, it has a much smaller user base, it is not compatible with PPAs, and it lacks a few features. That makes it a bit harder to use and harder to find help for, so it is not recommended for novice users.” On the other hand, according the Mint developers, LMDE is “slightly faster” and runs newer software.

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