Linux Mint 20: Still the best Linux desktop despite one quirk

Linux Mint just lately launched its newest long-term assist (LTS) model of its common desktop Linux desktop, Linux Mint 20, “Ulyana.” This version, based mostly on Canonical‘s Ubuntu 20.04, is, as soon as extra, an excellent Linux desktop distribution. 

As earlier than, you need to use three completely different desktop seems to be with Mint 20. These are my very own favourite Cinnamon, which was impressed by GNOME 2.x; MATE, a fork of the GNOME 2; and the ultra-lightweight Xfce. Most desktop customers can be pleased with Cinnamon or MATE. I take advantage of Xfce on low-powered techniques or when operating Linux on Chromebooks or Home windows 10 PCs with Home windows SubSystem for Linux (WSL) 2.

And, after I say low-powered, I imply Low-Powered. Even PCs from the 2000s can run Mint. The complete model of Linux Mint requires a mere 2GBs of RAM. In case you’re a glutton for punishment, you may even run it with as little as 1GB. 

One factor you may’t do anymore is run it on 32-bit processors. Whereas there are a handful of 32-bit packages retained for Steam video games and Wine, which supplies Home windows utility interoperability for Linux, Mint 20 has dropped mainstream 32-bit assist. 

You may additionally want at the least 15GBs of disk house, however I like to recommend 20GBs. Lastly, you will want a graphics card and monitor that helps a 1024×768 decision. In brief, you may just about run Mint on any PC you discover in a second-hand junk retailer.

Underneath the hood, Mint 20 runs on prime of the 5.four Linux kernel. It is most notable new options are assist for AMD Navi 12 and 14 GPUs, AMD Arcturus graphics playing cards, AMD Dali APU, AMD 2020 APU platforms, and Intel Tiger Lake CPUs.

One factor you may’t do simply but is improve from Mint 19.three to 20. Clement “Clem” Lefebvre, Mint’s lead developer, defined, you may’t use the 19.three’s replace supervisor as a result of “the method can be fully completely different since this can be a new main model and a brand new package deal base.” By mid-July, Mint will launch a simple improve path. For now, you have to set up Mint 20 from scratch. 

For my exams, relatively than use outdated , I used a 2019 Dell XPS 13. This mannequin, which got here with Ubuntu 18.04, was powered by an Intel Core i7-10710U processor. It additionally got here with a 512GB SSD and 16GBs of RAM. That is vastly extra highly effective than you want for Mint. 

First, I put in Linux Mint 19.three on it so I might get an concept of how effectively Mint 20 compares to its quick ancestor. Then, I put in Linux Mint 20 on it with the Cinnamon four.6 desktop. I did this by downloading the Mint 20’s 2GB ISO image after which burning it to a USB stick. That performed, I set the XPS 13’s firmware as well from the USB stick and put in 20, reset it as well from the SSD and I used to be on my method. All the course of, from starting to finish took about half-an-hour.

As soon as up, regardless that Linux Mint 20’s brand-spanking new, I discovered I had 39 updates to make. This included a kernel replace, which meant I needed to reboot the system.

That performed, the system ran flawlessly. Specifically, I used to be impressed by how Nemo, Mint’s file supervisor, was a lot sooner. It does this prioritizing content material and navigation over displaying thumbnails. Certain, because of this, you see generic icons earlier than the thumbnails, however the enchancment enhance is outstanding. I hold work recordsdata not on my native machines, however on my Samba-powered Community-Hooked up Storage (NAS) gadgets and native and distant Nextcloud servers. Once I was saving screenshots and different recordsdata from the Mint 20-powered XPS 13 to my distant drives, it saved me seconds. This, in a phrase, is “spectacular.”

If, not like me, you do not run your personal file and cloud servers, Mint now comes with its personal easy-to-use native space community file-sharing program: Warpinator. With it, you may simply drag and drop recordsdata from one Mint 20 machine to a different. It is simple, quick, however, for now, it is solely obtainable on Linux Mint 20 techniques. Because it’s each helpful and open-source I count on to see it adopted by different Linux distros quickly. 

Do you employ NVIDIA Optimus graphics in your system? In case you do, Mint’s NVIDIA Prime applet shows your GPU renderer. It additionally helps NVIDIA “On-Demand” profile. With that, you may render your atypical packages utilizing your onboard Intel graphics, whereas empowering a GPU power-hungry utility to make use of your NVIDIA card and flip between them as wanted. 

Cinnamon four.6 additionally comes with fractional scaling. Till now your scaling was both 100% (regular mode) or 200% (HiDPI mode) and it was the identical for all of your displays. Now, every monitor can have a special scaling and it may be set to values between 100% and 200%.

As Mint factors out, “in regular mode, the decision you set is the decision you see. In HiDPI, at 200% scaling, the display is exhibiting twice the pixel density so all the pieces seems to be sharper, however the decision you see on the display is simply half the decision of your monitor. Many HiDPI shows have a decision which is definitely fairly small as soon as HiDPI is activated.”

I’ve seen this myself with the Dell XPS 13. Its 4K full decision renders textual content too small for my outdated eyes to make use of comfortably. With the brand new Cinnamon, it was simple to arrange my show so I bought each fonts sufficiently big to be simple to see, whereas nonetheless maintaining HiDPI’s sharpness. 

For purposes, Mint has higher assist for Electron purposes. These are cross-platform, open-source desktop apps utilizing JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. These “desktop” apps, resembling Slack on Linux, run on prime of the Chromium net browser. Mint 20 now does a greater job of integrating Electron purposes into the system tray and desktop.

On the identical time, although, Mint not helps Ubuntu’s Snap software program packaging system. This implies the aforementioned Chromium just isn’t current within the default repositories. You possibly can nonetheless install Chromium using alternative ways, but it’s not easy. It is like going again a decade when putting in Linux apps required professional data. 

The Ubuntu Snap Store can be disabled. With out it, you may’t set up Snap purposes. You possibly can reinstall it — I like to recommend you do — with the next instructions:

sudo rm /and many others/apt/preferences.d/nosnap.pref
apt replace
apt set up snapd

For additional particulars, see Mint’s Snap documentation. You possibly can learn extra on Mint’s arguments in opposition to Snap, and Ubuntu’s try to make peace with Mint and determine for your self if you wish to use Snap on Mint. 

In fact, the same old choice of Linux desktop packages come able to run. These embody Firefox 77 for net searching; LibreOffice 6.four.2 in your workplace wants; and Thunderbird 68.7 for electronic mail. 

Total, Mint stays a pleasure to make use of. I actually want Mint included Snap. Most desktop program builders agree that it, and its rival Flatpak, are the longer term for Linux desktop apps. 

Trying forward, Linux Mint 20 will obtain safety updates till 2025. Till 2022, future variations of Linux Mint will use the identical package deal base. This implies will probably be trivial to improve to the following few variations. 

In case you’re new to Mint and wish to give it a strive, try my Easy methods to set up Linux Mint in your Home windows PC article. It is simple to do whether or not you wish to wipe out Home windows, run it with Home windows, or simply give it a trial run utilizing a USB persist with persistent storage. 

Regardless of the Snap nuisance, Mint is each highly effective, full-featured, and simple to make use of — even should you’ve by no means left Home windows earlier than. 

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