Today’s Linux Experience – Mint Vs Lubuntu

Today’s Linux Experience is about the differences between Linux Mint and Lubuntu. Linux Mint is a full desktop experience distro intended to look and feel as much like Windows or other full featured GUI operating systems as possible. This is reflected in its resource needs. I have used Linux Mint extensively over the past four months and believe that like later versions of Windows, it is best used on systems with 8 GB or more of RAM. However it is not bloated in any sense and does not use a lot of disk space, but some of its components tend to use 1-2 GB of RAM in a typical installation, and curiously, Mozilla Thunderbird tends to use quite a lot of memory under Mint, so a system with 4 GB or less of RAM will tend to struggle a bit with a Mint 17 installation.
Whilst both Lubuntu and Mint are based on Ubuntu, Lubuntu has much more in common with its similarly named parent. Lubuntu and Xubuntu are both “lite” flavours of Ubuntu that attempt to reduce its memory and CPU use footprint. Lubuntu is by far the more successful of the two efforts at producing something that can run effectively on old slow limited capacity hardware. Whilst most of my six systems are now running Mint, I have retained Lubuntu for the only one that has less than 8 GB of RAM. This old computer (Wolfdale Celeron) is actually usable under Lubuntu when Mint would really struggle with it. 
It is a curious fact that the resources are not only what the desktop manager / windowing environment itself uses, it is what apps themselves use under that windowing environment. Thunderbird running under Mint uses a lot more memory and CPU than when it is running under Lubuntu. Of course this may be because the OS swaps more aggressively to disk. But the balance is great because the system is so much more responsive.
The main issue I have found with Lubuntu is difficulty in the installation of some more sophisticated software packages because it lacks some libraries. So it is not easy to recover some of those saved resources for powerful software packages. An example recently was to install KGrab, this simple screenshot application required 214 additional packages installed. Some attempts to install more substantial software have required considerable effort. That is the main reason why I do not have more computers running it. It is a great package for low end hardware for mainly internet based tasks that do not need powerful software packages to run.