Linux Mint 19 Cinnamon ‘Tara’ Review

Linux Mint 19 Cinnamon Review

The latest LTS release has had long gestation period and it’s yet another solid release


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Originally based on Debian, but now built on Ubuntu’s LTS releases, Mint follows a ‘release when ready’ cycle, instead of a fixed schedule as preferred by Fedora, Ubuntu and many others.

Codenamed Tara, the latest release of Linux Mint ships after nearly a month spent fixing the myriad bugs reported in the beta release. In a blog post, the Mint Team expressed gratitude to the community for the steady stream of bug reports on the beta, which helped the developers take corrective measures. This nearly zealot-like community involvement and the tireless efforts by the developers are the reason for Mint’s soaring popularity, and has helped position the distribution as one of the most newbie- friendly distros available.

With Mint 19, the distribution has dropped its KDE edition, and now produces three variants favouring Cinnamon, Mate and Xfce desktop environments.

The project still provides installable live images for both 32- and 64-bit machines.

The homegrown installer enables you to add proprietary codecs and drivers for devices such as graphics cards, but users can also use the ‘Install Multimedia Codecs’ utility to add these post-installation. You can choose to encrypt the root partition, which requires entering a passphrase, or alternatively only encrypt the home directory. The release notes, however, advise against the latter option, as it’s slower than whole-disk encryption.

Mint 19 boots to the desktop in just a little over 10 seconds on a machine with just 4GB RAM. Unfortunately, the performance is only slightly better with 16GB RAM. While the boot time is on par with similar desktop distros such as Ubuntu, OpenSUSE and Fedora, it’s slower than certain rolling-release variants such as Manjaro Linux and Solus.

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Above If you have an Nvidia graphics card, the distribution also features Driver Manager, which can help you install the driver for your specific card

If you want to spruce up the Look of your installation, the Extensions utility enables you to add a Large number of effects such as wobbly windows and workspace scroller

In addition to a custom beginner-friendly backup utility, the latest release of Linux Mint also features Timeshift. The tool, which was originally introduced to the Mint community with Mint 18.3, is designed to help you create snapshots of your working installation, using either rsync or btrfs. Should you accidentally break the system, such as when you’re testing experimental software, you can revert the system to a previous snapshot state. Best of all, you can even automate snapshots on a weekly, monthly, or even hourly basis depending on your needs. You can also choose to make only incremental snapshots with rsync, which helps save disk space.

Several essential components such as the Nemo file manager and the Update Manager have undergone improvements. The latter now advises users to deploy all updates as they become available, since system stability and longevity is guaranteed by Timeshift snapshots. Should your installation grow to include packages from different third-party repositories and PPAs, the Update Manager now identifies the source of each of the available updates.

If you want to spruce up the look of your installation, the Extensions utility enables you to add a large number of effects such as wobbly windows, a workspace scroller, a Compiz-like 3D cube and so on to the desktop.

While the distribution still includes Synaptic, Software Manager is the primary application for handling software. Unlike its peers on other distributions, Mint’s Software Manager can easily be navigated using just the keyboard, and now supports searching within categories.

With its focus on performance, and the inclusion of a backup and snapshot tool out of the box, Mint 19 is a polished release and should appeal to novices and experienced users alike. Although APT remains the underlying package-management system, the distribution continues to improve its support for Flatpak with the latest release, now featuring single-click install of packages.

Thanks to a long history of stable releases under its belt, Mint has created a distinct identity for itself, which is rare for derivative distributions.

[Shashank Sharma]

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