Mint, Linux Mint

October 12, 2011

On Google+ recently, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols brought back a May 2011 item he posted on Linux Mint because “[w]ith all the chatter on one of my posts about Linux desktops, perhaps it’s time for me to drag out this review of my current favourite Linux desktop.”

It may seem trivial to some, but Steven calls Linux Mint “Mint” throughout the review, and in the back and forth on the comments, that seems to be OK with some. Correction: It seems to be OK with everyone but me. In my opinion, calling it just “Mint” is wrong — especially since the screen shot featured in the article says “Linux Mint” and the symbol is an “LM” — and I find it a little grating to do so, like someone calling me by my last name (Note: Unless you’re a drill sergeant, don’t do that).

So who’s right? Is it “Mint” or “Linux Mint”?

Let’s ask Clement Lefevbre, the lead developer at, ahem, Linux Mint. When I e-mailed him that question — “Mint or Linux Mint?” — he responded with the following:

Hi Larry,

You’re right. The official name is “Linux Mint” and this is what we should call it.

With that said, most people nickname it “Mint”, myself included. I think, when it’s within a conversation or an article, it’s ok to call the distribution “Mint”. It’s like a nickname of sorts. But when referring to it officially, we should use its proper name instead. So for instance, its entry within Distrowatch should not be “Mint”, but “Linux Mint”.

Personally, when I talk about the distribution to other “Mint” users, and when I talk with the other “Mint” devs, we all refer to it as “Mint”. When I adress the public or anyone outside our project, I call us “Linux Mint”.


Clement Lefebvre
Linux Mint

So . . . I guess that means that both Steven and I are right then.

A couple of things about Linux Mint, going forward: I’ve used Linux Mint off and on for a couple of years now and I’ve always found it solid; particularly, and most recently, the Linux Mint Debian Edition which runs flawlessly on a ThinkPad R30. Also, I think the naming convention is one of the best: in initial letter order, a woman’s name ending in the letter “a” (I asked Clement once what is going to happen when he reaches “Zelda” — or whatever the “Z” name is — and he said that they’ll start with “A” again, ending the name in “e”)

If it’s up to me, I’ll keep calling it Linux Mint, thank you.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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  1. Bob McKeand
    October 12, 2011 at 6:53 am

    Would a rose by any other name run as well on my laptops, my wifes laptops
    and that one old desktop?
    We have five machines all running Linux Mint because it just works. It even
    works after upgrades.

    If I or we should my wife be present, are talking with folks that use Linux it is
    natural to say “Mint” or maybe “Mint 11” or “Mint Debian” because that is
    how people talk. To the uninitiated of the world the “Linux” would be used
    just so there would be no confusion. When communicating with LtFSG we
    all have to watch that grammar and punctuation and now I guess the noun
    nomenclature also.

    This weird naming convention stuff of distros, er, make that distributions is
    rather infantile. LtFSG has some problem with the alliterative animals that
    are used by Ubuntu but he has written a song for the new release of his
    favorite distribution, Fedora “Beefy Miracle”. Oh come on, Beefy Miracle?
    Would anyone drive a car called a Beefy Miracle? I use Mint 11, or if talking
    to LtFSG, Linux Mint 11. When talking about Debian (or should that be Linux
    Debian Larry?) I have to stay with stable, unstable and testing, I have never
    watched “Toy Story” so the cute names aren’t in my head. Bah humbug!

    It is all in the context.

    Peace, Bob

    • October 12, 2011 at 8:16 am

      When referring to Linux Mint, I think at least referring to it once as Linux Mint in a news article — after all that is its name — is not asking too much.

      As for “Beefy Miracle,” no one remembers release names — quick, tell me the release name of Fedora 14, and no Googling — even described animals. I think that’s more done for the entertainment of the developers moreso than anything.

  2. October 12, 2011 at 10:57 am

    its like people who shorten my name from Thomas to Tom. Only those that know me know not to do that, and those that shorten my name start off on the wrong foot immediately.

  3. 1roxtar
    October 12, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Now that’s just being a little bit picky. I, personally, refer to my Ubuntu 11.04 as “Natty” and my 11.10 as simply “Oneric” on my blogs and forum posts. It doesn’t seem to cause confusion or disrespect to it’s official name.

  4. October 12, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Are we sure it shouldn’t be “GNU/Linux Mint”? 😉


    • October 12, 2011 at 3:00 pm

      Heh. Actually, here’s the Linux Mint site: — and interestingly, there’s nowhere that refers to it as just “Mint.”

  5. October 12, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    “I guess that means that both Steven and I are right then.”

    How, exactly? Clement says he’s fine with it being just called “Mint” in a review. From where I sit, if the question is, “should Steven have said ‘Linux Mint’ in his review?”, that makes only Steven right, and you wrong for calling him out and insisting on it.

    As I said to you in the G+ thread, you’re certainly welcome to call it Linux Mint if you like, just as you’re welcome to ask for “Kleenex Brand Facial Tissues” instead of “Kleenex” if you’re about to sneeze. But if everyone knows what is meant by “Kleenex” or “Mint,” communication has been achieved, so I’m not sure what the point is in insisting on the extra syllables every time. Apparently not even Clement insists on that, so why is it such an issue for you?

    “…Linux Mint Debian Edition which runs flawlessly on a ThinkPad R30…” Don’t you mean an “IBM ThinkPad R30”? 😉

    • October 12, 2011 at 7:13 pm

      Well, he says the name of the distro is Linux Mint, unless you missed that part of it. So that makes me right. He says it’s colloquially known as “Mint,” so Steven is right, at least in one respect. But from a journalistic standpoint, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is still wrong for not referring to it as “Linux Mint” on first reference, in my opinion. I’ve been editing newspapers for more than three decades, too.

      As for the IBM ThinkPad, touche. There are no Lenovo ThinkPad R30s, though, so there would be no confusion there, but you are right about that, and I stand corrected.

  6. October 15, 2011 at 11:40 am

    If you want o complain look at Ubuntu you will harli see the word linux used they try to separate linux from ubuntu same us Apple did with there OS base on Bsd

    • October 15, 2011 at 1:08 pm

      Frank — Not to worry: I’m on top of that, and anyone who regularly reads this column, or sees my posts on knows that I am critical of Ubuntu for being “ashamed” of calling itself Linux.

      From an earlier blog:

      “If you’ll permit me a tangent, is Ubuntu “ashamed” to call itself Linux? If you go to their Web page, on the main page you won’t find the word “Linux” anywhere. I finally found it on an “About Ubuntu” page in the second or third paragraph. If you go to the openSUSE main page, Linux is there; same with Fedora and Debian (though Debian goes the GNU/Linux route).

      Just wondering aloud . . . .”

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