(The four Linux Mint editions)

If you look at the web, it's rare to find a resource to explain the differences between all 4 Linux Mint editions (Cinnamon, MATE, XFCE, and Debian). If you are looking for such explanation, then this brief article is for you. I hope you will find edition you love the most from GNU/Linux Mint. Enjoy!

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Four Editions


Talking about Mint is talking about either one of the four editions. These are similar to editions you saw on Windows XP, like, Home Edition and Professional Edition, except Mint distinguishes theirs based on desktop environment.
  • Linux Mint Cinnamon Edition, or LMCE here.
  • Linux Mint XFCE Edition, or LMXE here.
  • Linux Mint MATE Edition, or LMME here. 
  • Linux Mint Debian Edition, or LMDE here. 


1. Cinnamon Edition


This is the flagship edition. LMCE is the edition which the desktop environment is developed by Mint developers themselves. If you want to begin with Mint, you are suggested to choose LMCE as your first. LMCE offers Windows-like experience with everything made user friendly, like how the desktop layout is, the context menus, the file manager, the system tray, the theme and colors, and everything.

  • Latest version: 19.1 Tessa
  • Desktop environment: Cinnamon
  • Download: https://www.linuxmint.com/download.php
  • Base distribution: Ubuntu
  • Repository: Mint + Ubuntu 
  • Compatible with PPA: yes
  • File manager: Nemo
  • Applications: LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, etc.
  • Package manager: (CLI: apt), (GUI: Synaptic, Software Center, Update Manager, Software Sources)
  • Alternative package manager: Flatpak
  • Backup feature: yes, with TimeShift

(Desktop's feature: standard Windows-like layout, Super key start menu, system tray & clock)

(File manager's features: multitabbed, split vertical, tree view, status bar, quick search)

2. MATE Edition


LMME is the second flagship of Mint operating system featuring MATE desktop environment. To give new comers bigger picture: Cinnamon is a GNOME 3 modification, while MATE is a GNOME 2 modification. Using LMCE is like using GNOME Shell system with Windows-like layout while using LMME is like using the old era of Ubuntu but with Windows-like layout. You see, using LMME will be less heavy than using the flagship LMCE.

  • Latest version: 19.1 Tessa 
  • Desktop environment: MATE (https://mate-desktop.org)
  • Download: https://www.linuxmint.com/download.php
  • Base distribution: Ubuntu 
  • Repository: Mint + Ubuntu 
  • Compatible with PPA: yes
  • File manager: Caja
  • Applications: LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, etc.
  • Package manager: (CLI: apt), (GUI: Synaptic, Software Center, Update Manager, Software Sources)
  • Alternative package manager: Flatpak
  • Backup feature: yes, with Timeshift


(LMME with start menu opened)

(LMME's file manager, Caja, with split vertical, multitabs, and list view mode)

3. XFCE Edition


LMXE is the lightweight edition of them all. Many users choose this one after trying out either LMCE or LMME. Just like the other two, LMXE is also heavily tweaked by Mint developers to look Windows-like. You can open the start menu with Super key, and the desktop layout.

  • Latest version: 19.1 Tessa 
  • Desktop environment: XFCE (https://www.xfce.org)
  • Download: https://www.linuxmint.com/download.php
  • Base distribution: Ubuntu
  • Repository: Mint + Ubuntu 
  • Compatible with PPA: yes
  • File manager: Thunar
  • Applications: LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, etc.
  • Package manager: (CLI: apt), (GUI: Synaptic, Software Center, Update Manager, Software Sources)
  • Alternative package manager: Flatpak
  • Backup feature: yes, with TimeShift

(LMXE with start menu opened)

(LMXE's file manager, Thunar, with multitabs and list view (no split vertical feature))

4. Debian Edition


To put it simply, LMDE is Debian Cinnamon with Mint repository. Everything graphical here is the same as LMCE. The user interface is Cinnamon and the file manager is Nemo, nothing different. The only difference is that LMDE is built from Debian source code and does not use Ubuntu's repository. Instead, LMDE uses Debian's repository plus a special Debian-compatible repository maintained by Mint developers. The latest version, LMDE 3, is based on Debian 9 Stretch. You see, the reason behind this edition existence is solely a long-term preparation if someday Ubuntu won't exist anymore.

  • Latest version: 3.0 Cindy
  • Download: https://www.linuxmint.com/download_lmde.php
  • Desktop environment: Cinnamon
  • Base distribution: Debian
  • Repository: Mint + Debian
  • Compatible with PPA: no
  • File manager: Nemo
  • Applications: LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, and more
  • Package manager: (CLI: apt), (GUI: Synaptic, Software Center, Update Manager, Software Sources)
  • Alternative package manager: Flatpak

(The sources.list is clearly different to the other three editions as LMDE based on Debian)

(All Mint editions do not include snap but flatpak instead)

Some Suggestions


To make everything easier for you, consider these:
  • If you really do not know which one to choose, choose LMCE.
  • If you have problem running LMCE, perhaps you computer is older, choose LMXE instead.
  • If you do not like GNOME 3 and want everything from GNOME 2 era back, choose LMME. 
  • If you love experimenting, choose LMDE. 
Happy working!


This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.


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