Is the Mint app safe?

Linux Mint - the most important practical tips for everyday life

Hermann Apfelböck

With Linux Mint, we are introducing you to the undisputed top dog on desktop - and there are good reasons for this popularity.

EnlargeLinux Mint - the top dog on the PC desktop

Linux Mint is a system that is known for being fully equipped. System, application software, codecs, tools - everything is on board. The system has all the attributes you would expect from an operating system.

Modern Linux kernel, solid Ubuntu substructure, long-term support until summer 2021, a polished surface and a wide range of software form the basis for carefree operation on PCs and notebooks.

Download:Linux Mint

Linux Mint Cinnamon has moderate requirements and runs on every reasonably modern PC and notebook. The memory requirement after registration is around 450 MB (increasing during operation), two GB of RAM or more are recommended. A dual-core CPU from one GHz upwards is a minimum and an Intel / AMD / Nvidia graphics chip is required for the desktop effects.

EnlargeLinux Mint has been number one at Distrowatch for years.

The recipe for success of the Ubuntu offshoot

Linux Mint emerged from Ubuntu in 2006 and, unlike Ubuntu itself, has dedicated itself entirely to desktop use on PCs and notebooks. The Mint start in 2006 had a non-ideological motive: In an effort to offer the user a fully equipped system with application programs for all areas, Mint also provided non-free software on its Ubuntu basis from the beginning, in particular multimedia codecs. Linux Mint did not take the decisive step until 2011: In that year Canonical declared the simplistic Unity interface to be the standard Ubuntu desktop and also in 2011 the Gnome developers buried the classic Gnome interface with version 3. Unity and Gnome 3 are not for users who are looking for a classic start menu, an adaptable interface and a freely usable desktop. Clément Lefebvre's Mint team took on the late Gnome 2 desktop and built Cinnamon from it. This surface, now at version 3.0.7, is on the one hand something for ultra-conservative users, on the other hand it is also a treasure chest for creative system builders, which invites you to customize it in every corner with many modern functions. In addition, Cinnamon has received numerous fine-tuning since 2011, which gives Windows users a sense of home. Often it is just a matter of little things such as a familiar hotkey, the snap-in behavior of windows or an identical click action when renaming files. Everything together ensures great integrative power that appeals to very different target groups.

Further in-house developments by the Mint team are nowhere near as significant as the authoritative Cinnamon. The graphical “application management” (mintinstall) for software installation is at least on par with the Ubuntu software center: a click on “Recommendations” shows the programs with the most frequent downloads and the best ratings. Double-click on an entry to get further information such as screenshots, descriptions and user comments. With "Install" you set up a program.

Reading tip:Linux Mint: Simply install free software

With the "update management" (mintupdate), Linux Mint goes idiosyncratic ways with a level categorization that hides important updates from the Ubuntu repositories as level 4 and 5. It remains at the discretion of the user to change this manually. The Mint team has also eased its special path since Linux Mint 18 with a new basic configuration. The three basic settings "Do not damage my computer", "Optimize stability and security" and "Always update everything" control whether the system never, partially or always allows the exchange of basic components.

The other little Mint extras such as mintbackup (backup), mintupload (server uploads) or mintnanny (internet lock) are sometimes useful, but certainly not a decisive criterion for Linux Mint.

EnlargeMint sticks to its idiosyncratic update strategy, but simplifies the update configuration.

Linux Mint release policy

Linux Mint is always based on the current LTS version of Ubuntu, the current Mint 18 is therefore based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (the following article explains the release policy of Ubuntu). The successor to and dependency on Ubuntu LTS has the advantage for Linux Mint of always securing five years of long-term support, just like Ubuntu LTS - currently until 2021. On the other hand, Linux Mint inevitably lags a few months behind when it comes to the topicality of the core components. The exact version number 18.1 indicates with the "1" that Mint is still up to date with Ubuntu Point Release 16.04.1, while Ubuntu has already reached 16.04.2 since the beginning of 2017. Linux Mint takes a few months to catch up. However, this only results in a disadvantage if Mint is to run on the very latest hardware that requires the latest drivers in the Linux kernel.

The system can be upgraded to the next higher version or the next higher point release if required using the mintupdate tool ("update management"). Since the tool itself may still be in an older version, first go to "Refresh". If a newer version of the "update management" (mintupdate) is then offered in the main window, install it using the "Install updates" button. The update management then offers the additional option “Update system to Linux Mint XX.X” under “Edit” - if a new version is available.

EnlargeThe desktop supports the vertical arrangement of the system bar (s).

The Mint editions and their direction

Although the Mint team has invested most of its money in the Cinnamon desktop, Linux Mint does not miss out on a number of prominent interfaces and, in addition to the main edition, also offers a Mint Mate, Mint XFCE and Mint KDE. However, we do not see a valid motive for using these variants: Here you can just as easily use the Ubuntu original (Ubuntu Mate, Xubuntu, Kubuntu). The small tools like Mintbackup, which Mint also includes with these variants, can hardly justify the choice of Linux Mint.

A special case is LMDE 2 - the Linux Mint Debian Edition. It is not based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, but on Debian 8. Roughly characterized, the Debian basis is a bit more economical and faster than Ubuntu, and the “stable” branch of Debian chosen here is one of the most robust Linux has to offer. Everyday system work with the Cinnamon desktop does not differ that much from a Linux Mint Cinnamon Edition, although there is still an older Cinnamon version. The software also shows older version information under Debian. Information on the Debian Edition can be found on the project page under "Download -> LMDE 2".

Also interesting:Desktop and system centers under Linux Ubuntu and Mint

The authoritative and recommended edition is and remains the "Linux Mint Cinnamon Edition". It is suitable for all reasonably up-to-date PCs and notebooks. The excellent surface Cinnamon is the flagship of Linux Mint and cannot be integrated on other Linux systems or only with pull-ups. Cinnamon is the subject of the following practical tips.

EnlargeThe Mint-Y themes introduced with Mint 18 modernize the surface in a striking way.

Cinnamon: concept and elements

Linux Mint with Cinnamon is a classic, conservative desktop:

There is a System bar, which contains typical elements from the installation, such as the start menu, window list, network manager, sound applet and user display. However, the bar can be individually expanded, re-sorted or slimmed down without restriction (see “Applets” below). The current Cinnamon 3.2 now also offers the vertical arrangement of system bars on the right and left.

The Start menu is in turn just an applet on the system bar and shows a program overview sorted by category and an instant search field for manual searches. The menu also contains a quick start bar ("Favorites") on the left for particularly important applications and the controls for switching off or logging off. The start menu can be completely rebuilt, favorites or shutdown switches are also optional.