Linux Mint 20 “Ulyana” is here with long term support of 5 years. This release is available in Cinnamon, Xfce and MATE editions and the following is a review of the Cinnamon edition.
Installation was done on a VirtualBox machine with 2 GB RAM and 2 core CPU. Installation was super easy as always. Availability of minimal installation option like the one in Ubuntu installer would have been better.
Main highlight of Linux Mint 20 is the file transfer application called Warpinator. You can now simply drag and drop files to send them from one system to another on the same network, without any further configuration. I was not able to test this tool as installation was on VirtualBox.
2) Fractional Scaling
Linux Mint 20 comes with Cinnamon 4.6 with fractional scaling support. Option is available in display manager to select scaling of 125%, 150% and 175%. I was not able to test this as only 100% and 200% was available in VirtualBox.
3) Nemo Performance
New version of Nemo gives priority to directory contents and navigation through directories. Thumbnail creation is delayed to improve performance. This improvement is noticeable in directories with large number of files.
4) Theme Improvements
Some adjustments were done fine tune theme colors to make it more attractive by considering the opinions of Linux Mint community.
5) New Welcome Screen
The welcome screen now asks for the favorite color of the user and whether user prefers a dark variant to select the preferred theme. There are options to install drivers and setup system snapshots, which will definitely help newcomers.
6) NVIDIA Render Offload
On-Demand mode is available for Nvidia GPU users. In this mode, Cinnamon session will be rendered by Intel and user can use Nvidia GPU to render graphics intensive applications.
Improvements are also present in tray icons and Xapps.
Memory usage have slightly increased when compared with previous release. If you are having an aged system, disabling some startup applications or switching to Xfce edition would help.
Chromium and Snap Packages
Linux Mint doesn’t officially supports snaps and APT packages are not allowed to install snaps. This means that the ‘chromium-browser’ package is not allowed to install the snap version of the browser. The ‘chromium-browser’ is an empty package and installing it using terminal doesn’t show any information regarding this. But software center provides much more clarity on this.
Cinnamon currently doesn’t support Wayland and it seems there is no timeline set for Wayland support. Many popular desktops including Gnome, KDE, MATE and LXQt already supports Wayland or its under development. This might not be an issue for normal Linux Mint users as they might not be aware of display server they are using. But X.Org have already moved to strict maintenance mode and Wayland is receiving more importance. Security issues in X.Org are never going to be fixed and many distributions have chosen Wayland as the default for its session. Also, application support for Wayland have improved a lot in the last few years. For instance, Firefox, the default Linux Mint web browser supports video hardware acceleration in Wayland only.
Linux Mint is still one of the best Linux distribution out there with an active community. Linux Mint team considers the requests of the community and beginners. Inclusion of utilities like Timeshift and System Reports makes the life of users ease.
The reason put forward by the team on Snap support is understandable. But I wish Linux Mint supported Snaps out of the box by resolving the issues by connecting with Ubuntu team. Even though Linux Mint offers Flatpak, inclusion of Snaps will give users access to lots of applications which are not yet available as Flatpaks. Also, providing Wayland as an option will be better as other desktops are maturing on Wayland and X.Org is moving to maintenance mode.