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Mint has a lot in common with Ubuntu, but comes with a score of own tools and customisations. The most important difference is that Mint ships with the most common proprietary codecs on board, whereas with Ubuntu, you have to get them after installation.
I still like Ubuntu better for its consistency, but Mint's very usable and beautifully done. It's a question of taste and preferences rather then quality IMO. If you care for open source and free software principles, neither distribution does adhere to them fully, but Ubuntu does a lot more to comply with them. Mint sets ease of (first) use over those standards, but does so in a very successful and pretty solid way. For those keen on strictly free solutions, there's always gNewSense, but for all its merits, it doesn't support my current hardware fully.
Bottom line: Why not simply try it? The Mint live CD should offer any problems once you've managed to use Ubuntu and install it.
Well said MoonMind.
I am a structural engineer who is forced to do some programing and have been doing it since 1970.
I have been using Mint for my programming and general program use since it first joined LQ and have found it pleasent to look at and use, but I use several "workspaces" (20) on my desktop and (6) on my laptop. I have had some problems with the Mint workspaces and returning from "hibernation", particularly with my laptop. In addition I find the Ubuntu interface more convient for me to use.
I have gone back to my Ubuntu on my desktop but kept Mint on the laptop.
All this said, I think someone starting out will be better served with Mint. They have done a wonderful job as of cource has Ubuntu but they need to fill in the gaps.
Distribution: Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Xubuntu, gOS, Puppy Linux
In a less lengthy statement: If you are comfortable with linux go with ubuntu because it is more stable and a bit less "handicapped" as I would put it. If you aren't all that comfortable with linux, use mint because it is the most user friendly linux I have come across. However, if you're like me, after a bit mint seems almost tedious and things just are unnecessary. That's when you try another distro.
1) If you're already running Ubuntu, what feature of Mint makes you think there is a benefit to switching? Do you want any "proprietary codecs" or similar software that might be preinstalled in Mint? And if so, is it really significant effort to install those in Ubuntu?
2) Mint is one of the several distributions I tried (Unbuntu isn't, but I'm using Mepis, which is similar). On most computers where I tried liveCD's, I couldn't get the Mint CD to work. The Mepis liveCD typically needed a boot option or two to work on some of those computers. Likely, the Mint CD would too. But the boot options for Mepis were documented and easy to figure out. After a few searches and a couple forum questions, I gave up trying to find out whether boot options or some other tweak might make Mint work for me.