Linux Mint Rising In Popularity And Surpassing Ubuntu For Top Spot

Subject: General Tech | November 26, 2011 - 04:53 AM |
Tagged: Unity, ubuntu, mint, linux, katya

Linux Mint Is On The Rise

Ubuntu has long been the popular choice when it comes to Linux distributions. The open source operating system even managed to be picked by large computer OEM Dell for the company’s netbooks and select desktop computers at one time. As far as free alternative operating systems go, Ubuntu was the top choice of many Linux users. Lately; however, the distro seems to be declining in popularity. According to ZDNet, Pingdom has gathered Linux market share data from the past few years and found that the once popular Ubuntu OS has given up a great deal of ground to competing distributions. In particular, Linux Mint has risen to the 11% usage level that Ubuntu held at its prime versus Ubuntu’s current 4% market usage in 2011.

View Full Size

Linux Mint 11's desktop.

Interestingly, Linux mint started at 0% adoption in 2005 versus Ubuntu’s 11% in that same year where it would grow to 4% in 2007 and grow slowly to 5% in 2010. From there, the adoption grows rapidly to it’s current 11% market usage as of November 23rd 2011 (based on DistroWatch ranking data).

Linux Mint 11 is a very respectable and speedy distribution and is comparatively very media friendly and easy to use out of the box for newcomers. These qualities likely have contributed to the operating system’s place on the Top 5 Linux Distribution list.

View Full Size

Wait- What Happened To Ubuntu?

Ubuntu gained fame due to its friendliness to newcomers, casual users, and enthusiasts/power users alike. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes over at ZDnet notes that the operating system’s popularity is wavering. Linux Fans have cited Ubuntu’s recent interface overhaul-dubbed Unity- as a possible source of the decline in popularity. Kingsley-Hughes believes; however, that in the latest iteration(s) Ubuntu has spread itself too thin by attempting to appeal to too many people at once.

View Full Size

The Ubuntu 11.10 installation.  One of several slides on everything that is packed in tight in Ubuntu.

On that point I think he is correct. Ubuntu has been attempting to become the Windows equivalent of the Linux space. This goal in and of itself is a noble one; however, it also goes against the grain of the “ideal Linux OS” (meaning the OS that users want to use). Linux itself is (by comparison) a niche operating system, and within that general term spawns numerous Linux distributions that are even further niche and highly specialized products and user experiences.

I have to concur with Mr. Kingsley-Hughes on this one, even with my own personal lackluster (or “meh” in less technical terms ;) ) opinion of Ubuntu’s Unity it’s not bad or difficult enough to get rid of to cause such a drop in usage. The inherent purpose and goal of a Linux distro is to be a highly specialized and customizable user experience that is easily tailored to a specific users’ wants and needs. Ubuntu is falling out of favor with many Linux fans due to it trying too hard to appeal to everyone in a “jack of all trades, master of none” method instead of the perfect distribution for each individual aspect that makes Linux so appealing to users to begin with. Many design and under the hood changes have taken place in Ubuntu to accommodate the mainstream Linux goal(s) and in doing so a lot of users and configurations aren’t as easily obtained with Ubuntu anymore. There’s now more programs included by default and more programs running to maintain the something for everyone system, and that is not what many Linux fans want out of their distributions. They want a distro that only does what they want with as minimal of resources as possible while still being productive for example.

What are your thoughts? Is there a reason for Ubuntu’s decline or is the distro’s time in the spotlight simply over (for now at least)? Have you moved on from Ubuntu? You can read more about the Linux usage data here.

Source: ZDnet

November 26, 2011 | 07:46 PM - Posted by Andrew (not verified)

I have been an Ubuntu user for some time now. When I installed the latest version (11.10), I was struck at how similar some of its features looked to the MAC OS X operating if the creators were trying to imitate OS X! That was somewhat of a turn off for me (if I wanted OS X, I would buy a MAC).
After reading this article I am very much interested in Linux Mint. I will download and install it ASAP---and dump Ubuntu!

November 27, 2011 | 12:27 PM - Posted by JSL

Totally agree with this comment. I run Mint as a development vm for android, but I have a 'dumb' machine for my mother to use that has unbuntu with limited functionality. Frankly, the mac osx look is something I like to steer clear of.
Side Note: I find it funny how Apple fanboy's fail to realize that a mac is now just a PC, with a 30% mark-up, errr, I mean 'License' to run OSX (essentially).

November 28, 2011 | 01:01 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

Yeah, definitely give Mint a shot, I rather like it's stock GUI :)

November 27, 2011 | 04:19 AM - Posted by ritmakias (not verified)

As a beginner ubuntu user I found an os friendly and easily upgradable automatically. Many issues were corrected via auto update. I started with 9.04. Now I upgraded to 11.10 and unity sucks. My pc lacks of free resources, ram usage hits red and overall system response is really bad. Worse than a windows xp system. I chose ubuntu for its speed and easiness. Now it is so slow that I consider returning to xp.

November 27, 2011 | 04:29 AM - Posted by Anonymus (not verified)

As far as I've seen most non-tech savvy people that heard about Linux put an equal sign between Linux and Ubuntu. Some basic data recovery when Win is bust an Ubuntu LiveCD is a godsend for n00bs as it looks similar to Win. I also used to put Ubuntu on any PC that doesn't have an XP or 7 license sticker as it was light on resources.
Well, Ubuntu is bloated now, as it's said in the article "it has something for everyone" and probably too much for most. Afaik there are no "nlite"-like tools to streamline the installation - for that reason I replaced Ubuntu with Mint on any sub 1GB RAM rig.

November 27, 2011 | 06:40 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I think you'll find it isn't Linux Mint on the rise in relation to Ubuntu but instead, visits to the Distrowatch page for Linux Mint that is.

Actual usage of Ubuntu outstrips Linux Mint and the others by quite a margin.

People who visit Distrowatch are likely to be on the more technical end of the spectrum and so perhaps it's not surprising that visits to that page are from people looking around and trying the various different Linux distros that about rather than the more general user who's more likely to install Ubuntu and stick with it.

November 27, 2011 | 09:17 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

well ubuntu is debian based and mint is ubuntu base so its like there all ford just different modedels.

November 28, 2011 | 08:25 AM - Posted by Sonic4Spuds (not verified)

I am running the RC for the reciently released mint 12, a shift to Gnome3 that has turned some off to the new version. Many don't realize that the second window manager included is a fork of Gnome2 (though not a perfect one yet).


November 28, 2011 | 03:18 PM - Posted by castlefox (not verified)

From my dated 2004 pentium4 machine that I have been experimenting with Ubuntu on, I have noticed that with my 1gb of RAM things have gotten slower for me with the latest releases.

Unity is not as bad as people make it out to be. But I will agree that it is not quite there yet.

I would try out Mint but I dont like how it come with non free codecs installed by default.

DistroWatch is not an accurate measurement of Linux distribution popularity.

Good to see some Linux news on though :)

November 29, 2011 | 08:43 PM - Posted by Sonic4Spuds

Linux Mint does come with most of the free codecs, the difference is that it also comes with some non-free codecs for things which free ones are not available for.


November 28, 2011 | 07:58 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

isnt it possible to for ubuntu to distribute different versions; a very basic fast OS that uses little resources on up to an everything included OS version to do just about everything?

November 29, 2011 | 08:46 PM - Posted by Sonic4Spuds

Both LM and Ubuntu do distribute lighter versions. I can't say what the lighter Ubuntu versions are, but LM Fluxbox, LXDE, and XFCE are lighter than the standard Gnome release, though they will also look different.


December 2, 2011 | 06:16 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

check dis...


April 13, 2012 | 01:00 PM - Posted by Julien (not verified)

I find Mint responds faster than Ubuntu. I am installing mint on my systems...

April 16, 2012 | 12:07 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I just don't like Mint at all. I've always found it as just another version of Ubuntu, the distro it is based upon. And the latest with cinnamon just sucks usability wise.
I am concerned at the huge number of supposed pages views Mint has received, and there has been some talk of Mint fanbois fixing the views to make their fav distro get higher rankings in distrowatch. this has caused me to be wary of Mint, and I've tried using it but have seen nothing that a dozen other distros have done better.
If you don't like Ubuntu then install Debian. If you want something easier then install an ubuntu based distro such as Xubuntu, My favourite BTW, or Kubuntu, which looks really good and isn't bloated as some claim.
Otherwise go for an RPM based distro such as the XFCE spin of Fedora.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote><p><br>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.