Now let me get this out of the way now. My personal preference has always been just straight Debian Stable. This is my server choice in most every environment I am in. But when I get to the desktop, that is where that equation starts to change. In my household I need to support more point and click desktop oriented users, in short I am the only one in this house that when tasked to do something my first step is open a terminal.
Another factor is that sometimes when it comes to available development libraries and tools we get in the end of the cycle for Debian where typically libc prevents installing certain things. The recent round of this has been the MS SQL tools. Yeah I know but it matters for me for some work projects so it is what it is.
When I first started turning to Linux Mint as my default desktop user install there were 2 main factors in the decision of Linux Mint as a choice.
- Third party codecs were already installed. Not a big deal to do myself but one less thing to do post install is always nice.
- The Cinnamon (or Mate) desktop environment. This was a much smaller mindset jump for users used to seeing Windows everywhere else.
Something happened since then. First of all the third party codec install just wasn't the default anymore in Mint. In fact this is where Ubuntu and Mint got a step closer. It was an install option you can click. Not a big deal still but it was one area that there was no longer a difference between the two.
Next was when it came time to upgrade in place. In fact this was such a nightmare with Mint it was the final straw. Now I appreciate their take on upgrading between versions and their core disagreement with Ubuntu. But in the end for my purposes upgrading Ubuntu in place has been as easy as Debian for the most part. Even with an LTS release I consider this important.
Now I still have my issues with Unity, but I use openbox or qtile most of the time for my window manager so I am on the fringe of what the desktop user wants who is coming from Windows. I will say that Unity is better, but hey it is going away and we get to have just plain Gnome again like the old days in Ubuntu. I consider this a good thing.
And here we come to where Desktop and Window manager mindsets have changed again. Less and less people come from a default of "click the Start button". We are moving away from the default mindset of if I want to find something I swoop to the lower left of the screen.
I know all this in the end seems like mostly trivial items. But they were the factors that mattered to me and how much the line between Ubuntu and Mint had blurred that it made little sense to me anymore why I chose one over the other.