Started in 2006, Linux Mint is now the 4th most widely used home operating system behind Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS and Canonical's Ubuntu.
Some of the reasons for the success of Linux Mint are:
- It works out of the box, with full multimedia support and is extremely easy to use.
- It's both free of cost and open source.
- It's community-driven. Users are encouraged to send feedback to the project so that their ideas can be used to improve Linux Mint.
- Based on Debian and Ubuntu, it provides about 30,000 packages and one of the best software managers.
- It's safe and reliable. Thanks to a conservative approach to software updates, a unique Update Manager and the robustness of its Linux architecture, Linux Mint requires very little maintenance (no regressions, no antivirus, no anti-spyware...etc).
If you are interested in giving Linux Mint a try on your current computer without running any risk, please check out our Guide: Running Linux From a USB Drive As a Virtual Machine or Bootable Disk.
- Although both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Linux Mint 19.3 are supported until April 2023, new releases of Linux Mint, including 20, are only available in 64-bit.
- To upgrade to Linux Mint 20 you need to be running the 64-bit version of Linux Mint 19.3.
- To check which version you’re running type:
- dpkg --print-architecture
- If it says amd64 you can upgrade to Linux Mint 20.
- If it says i386, it means you’re using the 32-bit version. In this case you cannot upgrade and you need to stick with Linux Mint 19.3.
Linux Mint 20 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2025. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop experience more comfortable.
- The star of the show in Linux Mint 20 is a new application called Warpinator.
- 10 years ago, Linux Mint 6 featured a tool called "Giver" which could share files across the local network. Without any server or configuration, computers would automatically see each others and you could simply drag and drop files from one to another. When the Giver project was discontinued it had to be removed from Linux Mint and we’ve been missing that functionality ever since.
- Warpinator is a reimplementation of Giver. Server configuration (FTP, NFS, Samba) is overkill for casual file transfers between two computers, and it’s a real pity to use external media (Internet services, USB sticks, external HDDs) just to share files when there’s a local network which could do just that.
- With Warpinator, Linux Mint 20 brings back easy file sharing across the local network.
- The main window shows you the computers on the local network which are also running Warpinator.
- Linux Mint 20 features improved support for Nvidia Optimus.
- The NVIDIA Prime applet now shows your GPU renderer and you can select which card to switch to straight from its menu.
- The NVIDIA "On-Demand" profile is also now fully supported. When you run in that mode, it is your Intel card which renders the session and a menu option is available to let you offload a particular application to your NVIDIA card.
- Select an application in the menu, right-click and select "Run with NVIDIA GPU". It’s that simple.
- From the command-line, two new commands are available to offload to GLX or to Vulkan:
- To boost compatibility and make it easier to boot Linux Mint 20 in live mode without NVIDIA drivers, "nomodeset" was also added to the "Compatibility Mode".
- XAppStatusIcon received the ability to handle mouse wheel scrolling events and a new function similar to gtk_menu_popup() which makes it even easier than before to port applications from GtkStatusIcon.
- In all editions (Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce) many of the tray icons were harmonized, given symbolic icons and HiDPI support.
- Blueberry, mintupdate, mintreport, nm-applet, mate-power-manager, mate-media, redshift, rhythmbox all use XAppStatusIcon and give the tray a consistent look in Mint 20.
- The performance of the Nemo file manager was improved. The new version tries to prioritize content and navigation and to delay thumbnails as much as possible. As a result, the content of directories shows up with generic icons before the thumbnails are rendered, but the improvement in performance is quite noticeable.
- This also has a positive impact on performance in cases of heavy I/O and slow HDDS, such as when moving videos to external devices.
- In the Display Settings, it is now possible to set the refresh rate.
- Cinnamon 4.6 also introduces fractional scaling. Until now your scaling was either 100% (normal mode) or 200% (HiDPI mode) and it was the same for all your monitors. With Cinnamon 4.6 each monitor can have a different scaling and it can be set to values in between 100% and 200%.
- In normal mode the resolution you set is the resolution you see. In HiDPI, at 200% scaling, the screen is showing twice the pixel density so everything looks sharper, but the resolution you see on the screen is only half the resolution of your monitor. Many HiDPI displays have a resolution which is actually quite small once HiDPI is activated.
- Take a 13" Macbook Retina 2013. Its screen resolution is 2560×1600. That’s too much for a 13" screen; Applications, text and desktop items look way too small. In HiDPI mode, the screen shows twice the pixel density and everything looks really crisp, but look what happens to the resolution… it gets halved to 1280×800. The problem then is that 800px is not enough in terms of screen space, and some applications don’t even fit in it. A display like this one looks perfect in 1200px and that unfortunately means reducing the actual resolution to 1200px and not using HiDPI.
- Another issue with HiDPI is multi-monitor support. You could plug an external monitor to this Macbook in the hope to stay in HiDPI on the laptop but to be in normal mode on the monitor. That wasn't possible before though, either all screens or none at all could be in HiDPI... and a non-HiDPI compatible screen set in HiDPI was just unusable.
- Fractional scaling addresses these limitations. By being able to set the scaling for each monitor independently and allow for scaling values of not only 100% and 200% but also 125%, 150%, 175%, Cinnamon 4.6 tries to get higher pixel density and to allow HiDPI and non-HiDPI monitors to play well with each others.
- In the example of the Macbook plugged to a non-HiDPI monitor, we’d typically set the Macbook to 150% and the monitor to 100%. Under the hood, the entire desktop environment would run in HiDPI mode, but the actual scaling of the Macbook screen would be reduced from 200% to 150% and the scaling of the monitor from 200% to 100%. We’d end up with a monitor which looks perfectly normal, and a Macbook screen which has a nice 1200px resolution and a "half-hidpi" 1.5 pixel density, which doesn’t look as crisp as full-hidpi, but looks crisper than in normal mode.
- Middle-clicking the keyboard applet cycles keyboard layouts.
- Cinnamon screensaver supports custom commands, making it possble to use alternative screen lockers with Cinnamon.
- Xed received the ability to join lines together and to remove trailing whitelines before saving files.
- Xviewer received fullscreen and diaporama toolbar buttons and remembers if its window was maximized.
- In Xreader a print button was added to the toolbar.
- To guarantee better support for modern Electron apps and indicators XappStatusIcon received mouse wheel support and SNI (StatusNotifier, libIndicator) support.
- Gdebi, the tool used to open and install .deb files was given a new user interface.
- The login screen (Slick Greeter) supports stretching backgrounds across multiple monitors.
- System improvements
- Apturl switched backend from Synaptic to Aptdaemon.
- APT recommends are enabled by default for newly installed packages (not for upgrades).
- Snapd is disabled by default and APT packages are not allowed to install it.
- Live sessions running under Virtualbox automatically get their resolution bumped to a minimum of 1024x768.
- This release ships with linux-firmware 1.187 and the Linux kernel 5.4.
- The Mint-Y theme provides a nice variety of colors. A community project was started on Github to gather feedback and fine-tune these colors to find the right balance between colorful vibrant hues and contrast levels which don't take the user's focus away from the content being shown on the screen.
- Yellow folders are also available.
Linux Mint 20 features Cinnamon 4.6, a Linux kernel 5.4 and an Ubuntu 20.04 package base.
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