Linux Mint: Improved Ubuntu?

Linux Mint is a very popular distribution and is in the top five most downloaded distributions – this new update is no less than what was done to Ubuntu. Its beautiful graphical aspect is consensual, mainly thanks to the development of Cinnamon, as well as a good relationship between performance and the use of hardware resources, especially in memory. Improvements have been evident since its first release in 2006, making it increasingly easy to use for those less experienced or used to Windows. Maybe that’s why many people say that Linux Mint is “an improved Ubuntu”. We understand this comment, but we don’t think it’s fair, because the search for the best distro is related to what you’re looking for, and Linux Mint, despite its very similar approach to Ubuntu, has additional distinguishing features; however, there are less positive aspects for certain users. Therefore, to say that there is competition between the two, or that one is better than the other, is not correct at all.

Linux Mint 21
Although it is possible to use Linux Mint with the Xfce and Mate graphical environments, our focus will be on Cinnamon, which is based on Gnome, since the good work that has been done in this environment is undeniable. Linux Mint version 21 (codenamed ‘Vanessa’) uses Kernel 5.15, the same as Ubuntu 22.04, has technical support until 2027 and comes with the Cinnamon operating environment in version 5.4, with one of the big improvements in the kernel manager. Muffin windows, now based on Mutter 3.36.

Although Muffin was initially based on Mutter 3.2, the idea was to make Cinnamon compatible with all Linux distributions. However, as time went on, significant differences began to exist between the two, making development difficult; therefore this new version has a clean ‘rebase’ of Mutter. Also, window rendering is now done using the GTK theme, which was not the case before – this contributed to better system performance. Although it is no longer possible to make different settings (because there is a cleaner default set than before), the animations have been improved and it is possible to configure their speed.

At the Bluetooth device level, Blueberry (which depended on the gnome-bluetooth library) has been replaced by Blueman. This change improves the connection to headphones and audio profiles, as well as providing more information about connected devices, which is visible in the toolbar.

At the printer and scanner level, IPP is used, a standard protocol that communicates without the need to install proprietary drivers. However, if the printer does not work, just uninstall the ipp-usb, airscan packages and use the manufacturer’s drivers. There are also more improvements that make it easier to uninstall apps that rely on Nvidia’s PPA and graphics card drivers.

Details make the difference
For someone who has never used a Linux distribution, the first contact with Linux Mini should be a positive one – there are details that we feel are important and that help make for a good first experience. For example, the welcome menu shows you how to do your first setup: customizing colors and layout, backups, installing or uninstalling updates and packages, firewall, driver manager, documentation, where to find help, and how to volunteer to contribute to the project. Several graphical tools have also been created that make the use of a Linux terminal unnecessary, making overall system maintenance easier; even its stability over time is impressive.

The layout of Cinnamon is quite familiar to anyone who is used to Windows, which makes the user experience very smooth for any user.

The experience I’ve had with this new update has been very positive without a doubt. I used the same hardware on which Ubuntu 22.04 was installed and I immediately noticed the difference: faster system boot, with an encrypted disk. I found browsing with Cinnamon to be more fluid and apps to open faster than in Ubuntu. I believe it is related to the use of snaps in Ubuntu. The feeling I had was that Linux Mint 21 performed better on the tested hardware, which does not mean that with other characteristics the result would have been different – so I may be unfair in the result. I admit that it is not my choice of distribution for everyday use, but from my experience, it is one of the main alternatives, especially for those who have never used Linux systems.

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