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Linux Mint Cinnamon vs MATE: Which One To Choose?

In the world of Ubuntu and Debian-based Linux distributions, the Linux Mint is an excellent choice for beginners and day-to-day use. The Linux Mint is well known for productivity, office work, lightweight graphic design, and watching multimedia. For different use cases and usability, the Linux Mint has a few versions with a variety of desktop environments. For many years there has been a debate going on Linux Mint Cinnamon vs MATE; one must know why the debate is still so popular and the facts before selecting the OS.

Linux Mint Cinnamon and Mate are the most used and most reviewed distributions among other variations of the Mint family. It’s not just like they have added two different desktop environments and published two different distributions, and there are some notable changes in internal design and performance in both Linux Mint Cinnamon and MATE. Before you pick one, you must know the difference between the Linux Mint Cinnamon vs MATE.

Linux Mint Cinnamon vs MATE

As we all know, the Linux Mint has a few variations like Linux Mint Cinnamon, KDE, GNOME, and Mate; so before you choose one, you must know the difference among these distributions and the pros and cons.

Both Linux Mint Cinnamon and Mate use the DPKG package installer to handle packages and software. But they each have a unique desktop environment that has made them different from other Linux Mint variations.

Instead of comparing them all, in this post, we will see the neck and neck competition and similarities between the Linux Mint Cinnamon vs MATE. 

1. Linux Mint Cinnamon

In Linux Mint Cinnamon, all the modern touches are lined up, and the minty flavor shines a lot. Wherein the MATE has a unique white look with the traditional look. Earlier, when the GNOME desktop environment came out, the developers started to build the Cinnamon desktop for Mint. The conventional Windows-like Linux Mint Cinnamon desktop is still the favorite of millions of users. 

welcome to linux mint

In modern computers, we see the use of SSDs instead of a traditional HDD for making the OS faster. But with Linux Mint Cinnamon, you can still get speedy performance without an SSD. The OS has a very efficient way to manage the hardware resource. 

2. Linux Mint MATE

The Linux Mint MATE started with the GNOME 2 desktop environment. Since then, all the applications and tools have been based on GNOME. If you’re looking for the best MATE Linux distributions, the Linux Mint MATE would be your second choice after the Ubuntu MATE.

When it comes to going with GNOME, who would do the combination better than Ubuntu, right? But, no worries, if you’re already using the Linux Mint MATE, you don’t need to switch back to any other distributions. 

The Linux Mint MATE is so much customizable and easy to handle. It doesn’t take many system resources. The entire Linux Mint MATE is simple, stable, and very lightweight, and you can run this distro on your old hardware

3. UI and Software Outlook

So far, we have seen a brief description of each Linux Mint Cinnamon and MATE. Here we will simply go through the user interface for a few applications and the lock screen to show how they appear on these two distributions.

At the very beginning, we will see the default desktop wallpaper of these two Linux Mint Cinnamon and MATE. The below photo is from Linux Mint Cinnamon.

Linux Mint Cinnamon Vs MATE

Here you can see the wallpaper, main application menu, and the folder icons of Linux Mint MATE. On the MATE edition, you can notice the Windows-like start menu.

Linux Mint Cinnamon Vs MATE

We may now dig inside and go to the interface of the file manager of each operating system. The Linux Mint Cinnamon uses the free and open-source Nemo file manager. 

Nemo_linux mint

And the Linux Mint MATE uses the Caja file manager. If you’ve been using the traditional GNOME Nautilus file manager, you might find a new flavor on the Caja file manager. 

caja photo viewer

On both Linux Mint Cinnamon and MATE, the terminal shell looks pretty the same. They both have a conventional terminal view on the shell. For media players and image viewers, both Linux Mint Cinnamon and MATE use the same set of applications. Here you can have a look at the image viewer application named Xviewer. 

photo viewer

For media players, they both use the Xplayer. Xplayer has all the major media codecs pre-installed on the tool. 

Like Ubuntu and other GNOME desktop versions, both Linux Mint Cinnamon and MATE use a plain text editor. In this case, they both use the same Xed text editor. The user interface is pretty much nifty and basic. You can run all the script editing and writings with it with sudo support. 

text editor linux mint

Last but not least, we will see the lock screen of both Linux Mint Cinnamon and MATE. They both use the GNOME Display Manager (GDM) in Linux Mint Cinnamon and MATE. 

Linux mint lock screen for mate

4. Pros And Cons 

The pros and cons of the Linux Mint Cinnamon and Mint are very small yet notable. There are some features that you’ll find in MATE, but you won’t find them on the Cinnamon version. However, here we will see some points about the pros and cons of Linux Mint Cinnamon vs MATE. 

The Pros and Cons of Linux Mint Cinnamon

The brightest sides of the Cinnamon Mint are UI and look. The interface and the look of the Linux Mint Cinnamon are more like the Windows 7, which attracts a lot of Windows users. The GNOME-based UI is easy to use. The entire OS is so much customizable. Though there are not so many cons of this OS, but if you’re using a computer that has a memory of less than 2 GB, you might face issues. 

The Pros and Cons of Linux Mint MATE

The good things about the Linux Mint MATE are, it is lightweight compared to other GNOME-based Linux distributions. You can use it with a dual-boot arrangement with any other OS on your machine. There are huge scopes to customize and tweak the system. The cons of the Linux Mint MATE is that this OS’s outlook is a bit outdated, which you might not like.

5. Linux Mint Cinnamon vs MATE: Warping Up

In the discussions, neck and neck fights between Linux Mint Cinnamon vs Mate, we have seen a few points where in some cases, we can say the Cinnamon wins, and in some points, the MATE was good. However, we will have to wrap up this discussion and announce the best ultimate winner on different points.

Based on the performance, hardware compatibility, and desktop environment, the Linux Mint Cinnamon offers a very large scale of theme, design, and customizability. In a word, if you’re a newbie in Linux, and you give more priority to the design, outlook, and niftiness, you should go with the Linux Mint Cinnamon version.

As I just mentioned that Cinnamon is good for outlook, that does not mean that this one is not powerful. Of course, with good hardware, Cinnamon is a robust Linux operating system.

Now, for Linux Mint Mate, there are some key points that you might like to hear. If you’re a professional worker and you care more about the performance, then you must go with the Mate. The Linux Mint Mate takes fewer system resources and runs smoothly even on old hardware.

Concluding Remarks!

In the entire post, we have gone through the comparison between the two most used Linux Mint editions, Linux Mint Cinnamon vs MATE. No donut; for better customization and stability, Cinnamon is a good choice. On the other hand, the MATE is robust, but the outlook is a bit old-fashioned.

If you’re just going to start your journey with Linux, you can go with the Linux Mint Cinnamon, and MATE would be a good choice if you’ve already used a few editions of GNOME and other desktop environments. Also, please remember the hardware requirements for each operating system before you choose one. 

I hope this post has been helpful for you; if yes, please share this post with your friends and the Linux community. You can also let us know which Linux Mint version you find most compatible for you.

Mehedi Hasan
Mehedi Hasan
Mehedi Hasan is a passionate enthusiast for technology. He admires all things tech and loves to help others understand the fundamentals of Linux, servers, networking, and computer security in an understandable way without overwhelming beginners. His articles are carefully crafted with this goal in mind - making complex topics more accessible.


  1. Great article. I personally prefer Mint MATE. It gives me more of a WinXP feel, which I like. It is quite customizable however. It’s really all a matter of personal preference. I’ve been turned off by Microsoft after they turned off Win7 and forced everyone to goto 10/11, so this is an excellent alternative.I absolutely love it. It just works.

  2. Before Linux I used Win 3.11 to Win Xp and 2000 Advanced Server, Mac OS 7 and 8, and now it’s my 12th year with Linux. It’s been sad to see, how some distros are not possible to install in PC’s that come with pre-installed Windows. As I see it, SSD are a bad thing when you want to get rid of Win.
    After trying and testing many different distros Linux Mint Mate is the clear winner for daily use. What you ever want to do with your machine, you can do it with Linux Mint Mate, that is my experience based opinion.
    Thank You for all the interesting stuff on ubuntupit!

  3. My preference is Cinnamon Mint as I make good use of the desklets and applets that come with Cinnamon. Mate does not have these. The Wife uses Mate Mint because of her preference for a “less cluttered screen”. She also tends to keep a lot of document/file shortcuts on her screen, I do not. Finally, I can easily tweak the Cinnamon/gtk theme files to more to my liking. I could do the same with Mate but The Wife prefers the default Mate Mint themes as is.

  4. Nice comparison of Cinnamon and Mate. But there is a mistake: Mint doesn’t offer KDE environment anymore and it has never shipped with pure GNOME (Cinnamon is based on older GNOME but that’s of historical importance only). And XFCE should not be neglected, it has a nice Mint implementation.


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