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What's new in Linux Mint 21.3 'Virginia'

Linux Mint 21.3 „Virginia“Image: Linux Mint

Linux Mint always follows its Ubuntu base (LTS with long-term support) after some delay. Version 21.3 has just brought its system base up to the level of Ubuntu 22.04.3, i.e. the third update of the Ubuntu LTS version 22.04.

While Ubuntu automatically installs such point releases as part of the update management, the extremely conservative Linux Mint interprets this as a version step that user must actively request, or you’ll otherwise remain with the previous minor version.

Linux Mint also remains cautious when it comes to kernel updates: It does not follow Ubuntu’s step (22.04.3) to Linux kernel 6.2 and stays with version 21.3 of kernel 5.15 with long-term support. This can be changed at any time in the update management under “View – Kernel” but only by actively doing so.

Linux Mint is conservative, but keeps up: The fact that the Wayland window protocol will sooner or later replace X11/Xorg is now also accepted here and in progress. The Cinnamon main edition now offers optional Wayland operation.

Like Ubuntu LTS, Linux Mint will be provided with updates for five years. In the case of version 21.3, this means support until April 2027, as this is counted from the first release of Ubuntu 22.04 (April 2022). The support period applies to all three Mint editions.

Yes – there are still two other flavors in addition to the Cinnamon edition: For the editions with Mate and XFCE, however, nothing changes at all on the desktop, because Mate remains at version 1.26 and XFCE at version 4.18. Only a few marginal changes to the accessories (Warpinator, Hypnotix) are also to be found there.

Linux Mint 21.3: What’s new?

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Not very much. The modular Cinnamon Spices now have the additional item “Actions” in the “System settings” in addition to the previous categories “Applets” (for the system bar), “Desklets” (desktop gadgets), “Extensions” (Cinnamon effects) and “Themes” (visual themes).

These are small additional functions for the Nemo file manager, which were previously located there as “Nemo actions” (such as calling up the system settings or restarting Cinnamon via the right-click desktop context menu). The new “actions” in the system center are therefore just a move to a more prominent location.

A new optional source appears in the application package sources: The “Romeo” repository offers current, but possibly still unstable software packages that can be activated here – at your own risk.

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The “System settings – Screen” item shows the four options: “75%”, “100%”, “125%” and “150%” for “Screen scaling”, provided the feature is activated in the “Settings” tab. The reduction to 75 percent is new, but the entire function is carefully marked as “experimental”.

Another small feature can be seen when right-clicking on a program link in the Cinnamon main menu: The entries now show the additional option “Properties.” This can be used to customize a program launcher, but it is also a quick and easy way to determine the program name.

The Mint team also continues to cultivate its small hobbyhorses:

The Hypnotix accessory is an accumulator of several thousand free IP-TV channels and now gets a new favorites collection for faster channel selection.

The Warpinator is a hobby of Mint boss Lefèbvre: It allows encrypted peer-to-peer data exchange in the local network (without a server) and can now connect directly to the desired device by entering the IP address.

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However, the actual technical advancement of the main Cinnamon edition is clearly the entry into Wayland support. In typical Mint fashion, the option appears cautiously on the login screen as “Cinnamon on Wayland (Experimental)”.

Nevertheless, the Wayland session appears largely stable, but still suffers from the typical small deficits (screenshots, clipboard actions, X11 forwarding, terminal tools such as xrandr, xprop).

For Linux Mint, it is primarily about preparing Cinnamon for Wayland and proving this to its more progressive users. Unlike Ubuntu, Gnome or KDE, Linux Mint is not a driver of the more modern Wayland protocol: According to Lefèbvre, X11/Xorg will remain the standard under Mint in the complete 22 version (i.e. until 2026).

Upgrades from 21.2 to version 21.3

The upgrade from the previous version “Victoria” is optional considering the slight feature improvements, but we recommend the action for one simple reason: Linux Mint upgrades cannot skip intermediate steps. Without version 21.3, you will not be able to upgrade to version 22 in the summer. As a rule, desktop users are best served by upgrading to all minor versions. You can update a running Mint 21.2 computer to version 21.3 “Virginia” with little effort.

When you start the update manager, a message will say that there is a “new version of the update manager” – i.e. the tool you are currently using. You can install this version by clicking on the “Apply the update” button. The tool restarts automatically after the download to load the new version of the software.

Then start the upgrade with “Edit – Update system to “Linux Mint 21.3 Virginia”. The process should only take a few minutes because the difference in packages between the original version and the first point release are not extensive.

The new installation

For new installations, Linux Mint 21.3 can be obtained as usual via the project page, which then links to the actual mirror servers (“Download mirrors”). The selection of the download server is irrelevant for the subsequent language localisation.

Linux Mint still offers three different editions with the Cinnamon, Mate and XFCE desktops, with the Cinnamon edition being the clear favorite and the XFCE version possibly the best choice for older computers.

During setup, all three editions use the familiar and unchanged Ubuntu installer Ubiquity. The option to encrypt the home folder when creating the first user is also still available (“Encrypt my personal folder”).

This article was translated from German to English and originally appeared on pcwelt.de.

Hermann Apfelböck gehört zur Kernmannschaft im Redaktionsbüro MucTec.

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