Last week the Linux Mint team rolled out Linux Mint 20.2 which is based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS hence the version which is 20.x. This iteration of Mint is nicknamed Uma as per their tradition. While Ubuntu uses an adjective and endangered animal name, Linux Mint versions have almost always been named after goddesses. If you are new to Linux are struggling to settle on a distro then Linux Mint is the operating system you want.
What’s Linux Mint?
A quick Google search ought to answer this question but I will indulge it here nevertheless. You see unlike Windows which is made and distributed by one company Linux is different. All its bits are made by different people as open-source i.e. you actually get the source code if that’s how you want to start. This makes it pretty modular. In fact, the only thing Linux about the Linux operating system is the Linux kernel itself. So if you are creating a Linux operating system you can:
- Choose the exact version of the kernel you want. You can compile and use an older or bleeding edge new kernel if your so wish.
- You can choose the exact desktop you want unlike in Windows where you have a Desktop there are various open source projects out there including Cinammon, GNOME, Kubuntu and Budgie. All these are open source projects you can incorporate into your project
- You can add other projects as well to create your unique flavour. For example Linux Mint is aimed at beginners so it comes with Cinammon a beginner friendly desktop and most drivers you need.
NB. A unique flavour of Linux distributed by a certain group is called a distro or distribution.
I have always been an Ubuntu and Debian person myself but I have always held Linux Mint in the highest regard. I discovered this polished Linux distro back in 2009 when internet speeds were nowhere near what they are today and fell in love with it. You could install it and be able to play the most popular video and music formats right out of the box. Their desktop, Cinnamom is pretty familiar if you are a longtime Windows user.
What’s new in Mint 20.2?
Now that you hopefully have a good grasp of what Linux Mint is all about here are some new features you will get in the latest version:
- It comes with the latest Cinnamom Desktop version 5.0. According to the Mint team this versions uses less memory and in typical you have control -you can actuall set a memory limit to control how much memory your desktop consumes. If it reaches this threshold it restarts itself. You will barely need this feature on a modern laptop though. Cinnamom flies on modern hardware even on a 5th gen machine the experience is a breeze.
- Better search feature in Nemo the file manager (equivalent of explorer) which means faster results.
- Updates to Cinnamom utilities (known as spices) such as the themes and widgets which means you will always be running the latest version of these bits which often lagged behind.
- The package manager can now handle and manage Flatpak packages better. Flatpaks are special universal Linux apps meant to solve some issues developers and users face when installing and upading apps.
- You get a Sticky Notes replaces GNote as the default note taking application
- You can now use Warpinator to move files between Linux Mint and Android devices on the same LAN.
- Other tweaks under the hood to make this an even more solid distribution
As already noted Linux Mint distros are based on Ubuntu LTS distros. Ubuntu Long Term support distros are very solid versions of Ubuntu that receive support and updates for a long time. They tend to be very solid and have fewer bugs or experimental features.
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