If you want the best system performance, learn Linux or Debian, but Ubuntu or Mint will give a much easier learning curve.
Not running security, and rights protection, makes a huge difference, both of these will run much faster than Windows, even if, like me, you don't run much security in Windows, run two fairly large screens, and like to have 50 – 100 tabs open in your browser.
Mint has more media codecs installed by default (choosing to "install third party software" during Ubuntu installation achieves the same thing) and Mint has a more Windows like default desktop that has the applications, clock, et cetera, at the bottom instead of the top. The changing back and forth between habits can become frustrating if you use both Windows and Ubuntu often, but it is also nice to have the taskbar have the bottom of the screen to itself.
If a full taskbar is something you avoid, use Ubuntu 12.04 with the Gnome Classic Desktop, if you would rather not have to get used to finding the clock, the programs, folder navigation, and the off button, at the top of the screen use Mint 13. If you like big buttons, pretty colors, and nothing on the desktop but your browser and Libreoffice, use Unity (the default desktop) in Ubuntu 12.04.
Mint is based on Ubuntu, so new releases of Mint happen a month later. Mint is also less reliable to upgrade, they recommend a re-install instead, whereas Ubuntu itself is very easy and more reliable to simply upgrade.
As with WordPress and Firefox, if you have a lot of options (plugins/programs) installed you should wait a while to upgrade.
Also as in other open source material, you will want to upgrade someday, if you take a long time, you should keep up on what you are missing.
As both are upgraded every 6 months, there is almost no change in interface and look and feel most of the time, and when there is, you can usually roll it back.
Mint also has more desktop and login window options in the default, whereas Unity has none and Gnome classic has very few.
The Unity Desktop for Ubuntu 11-12 is widely hated, it is quite slow and cumbersome, requiring more than one click to reach most programs, it's said to be designed for the mobile generation who doesn't have as much familiarity with desktops, but it's not being used on a phone or tablet, it's being used on a desktop…
I would rather use Windows than Unity. I use the Gnome Classic Desktop, which those of us who have been using Ubuntu are familiar with, which requires one to have a password for the install, so that the login page comes up. There's a little icon in the top right of the password window which has a drop down selector to choose your desktop. The same one will come up without further intervention thereafter, but if you remove the password, and thus the login screen, it reverts to Unity.
It's possible that my problems with Unity being slow stem from my combination of a Dell P4 and a 264 Mb N-Videa card, but I still wouldn't like having to click through three screens to choose most programs.
Ubuntu 11 & 12 have "Ubuntu Software Center" a program that installs thousands of applications for you.
This makes it much easier to install programs, which otherwise often require a "manual" install using the "Terminal" command line interface under "Accessories".
I'm not sure if the Software Center comes installed on Mint, but it seems one may install it if not.
Maybe Morgen can clear this up for us.
It would seem silly to have to learn how to manually install the software installer.
In either case, I just found this site that might make it easier to find the best software for a given use: http://ubuntulinuxmint.com/
The terminal (like Windows DOS, i.e., a "command line interface") is well worth learning to use, but the beginner should be able to do well without it until deciding that a program that is not listed in the Software Center is needed. Frequently it is very easy to google the code needed to install a program or do other functions.
While mentioning Googling, it is always a good idea to use the OS name and version in any google search about it.
If I don't enter "Ubuntu 12.04" in the search phrase, then I have to sort through tons of extraneous materials. The up side of this is that if one does use the OS & version in searches for info about Linux one can get very targeted responses, or at least, if not, one is likely to learn from bad results as well as good ones. Ubuntu is very easy to find answers to questions about, if one uses "Ubuntu XX.XX" in the search, whereas with Windows even the simplest questions produce all kinds of BS results. This is one of the many reasons free is better, less motive to place garbage in your search returns.
I find that simply Googling Linux distros as part of questions puts one in an entirely more well educated and cooperative intellectual environment.
Using the emulator WINE, one can install Windows applications in Ubuntu, but this can be difficult, it is often best to retain a Windows install if one needs to use a Windows program. Most of your Windows workhorses can be easily replaced, like Office, which is well imitated by Open Office.
To create an Ubuntu install, you can burn a CD, buy or borrow a CD, or use the new Windows Installer.
One can install Ubuntu alongside of, or within, Windows, this is often the best way to get started. The Windows installer is probably the best way to do this (though I have never done this).
I prefer to overwrite the Windows (I have Windows on a separate even older machine), I assume that this runs faster and more stable.
Make sure you download the 32 bit version, the 64 bit won't run on your P4.
You can download the program and burn a CD for free, but I have found it worth buying the CD online, as it often takes several tries to burn a good CD. To date I've both burned my own and bought a copy twice each. They are cheap to buy but quickly go out of date, so if you know how to burn an image you should make your own (on second thought, you should learn how to burn an image anyway). If you are not in a hurry, and feel your time is worth more than 4.71 Euros per hour or longer, then buy the CD.
In most cases whatever is said of Ubuntu applies to Mint, whatever can be installed on one can be installed on the other.
Exceptions are confined to default installed programs, desktop options, upgrading styles, and little else.
Mint desktops are a little bit of an easier transition from Windows, Ubuntu is easier and less risky to upgrade, but a backup then re-install is the only truly secure way for either, this seems to be most of it.
When I first saw Mint it was identical in appearance to Windows, not so much anymore, but the elements are more often in the same place. If one does not have a hard time learning new habits, or is used to using similar but different machines, I would recommend Ubuntu; if one gets fairly hard wired into what is at the top and the bottom of the screen, it is worth settling for Mint.
Either one may actually run a bit better on a given motherboard, chip set, and graphics card combination, but they should run similarly on most machines.
If you like to spend time configuring the appearance and arrangement of your desktop use Mint.
If you like having controls at the top of the screen too, and spending your time installing programs and upgrades easily and earlier, use Ubuntu.
From a perusal of the comments one can see that there is a wide range of pro and con fandom for many OS's.
It also seems that Mint may detect and or support the need for hardware drivers better.
Overall it seems slightly easier to get started with Mint, but slightly easier to find info, install the latest version of a program, or keep up to date in Ubuntu.
Mint VS Ubuntu pages:
(some of these are duplicate articles with different comments)
Linux Terminal commands (1)
If you have any further questions, or hit a snag, feel free to ask me.
Monte Letourneau – Necedah WIWIGP
Corresponding Secretary, GPUS NC
On Sun, Jul 8, 2012 at 1:29 PM, Michael Canney <email@example.com> wrote:
I've been following this thread with interest. My old G4 crapped out last year and I'm trying to run an older PC (P4) on Windows (it is slow). I have been thinking about installing another OS such as a version of Linux, but I'm hearing Ubuntu is good. I want to get off Microsoft but I can't use something that requires a huge investment in time and studying in order to master. What is your recommendation for someone who is not a techie and needs a non-Microsoft operating system that is a "plug and play" setup rather than something that needs a lot of tweaking and configuration to use? If you can recommend some websites that would be great.
PS – I'd like to see an online Technology Clearinghouse set up by the GPUS, with all the best multimedia and internet technology options available for Greens, with open source alternatives prominently featured. We need to make practical tools more available to local and state parties.
Your old Windows machine is also a great place to install Ubuntu.
I frequently find my old P4 machine to be significantly faster than
my friends' and family's much newer Windows machines.
The best reason to do this is so that you have a machine to surf the web to
figure out why your Windows machine is down and what to do about it.
It is quite likely that you will find that the old machine will run faster
on Ubuntu than the new one does on Windows.
Over time the Windows machine's performance will most likely deteriorate
much faster as well.
Additionally, you will have a machine that allows you to do things online
that would be risky on a Windows machine.
Monte Letourneau – Necedah WI