Linux Mint 19.2 Tina Release

The Linux Mint team has published a new development snapshot, Linux Mint 19.2 beta, which is available in three editions – Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce. The new beta offers the ability to see how long specific kernels will be supported in the update manager and multiple kernel versions can be installed or removed at once.

The System Reports tool makes it easier for users to find and share information on forms and other on-line mediums. In addition, Cinnamon desktop resource usage has been improved: “Although the amount of RAM consumed by Cinnamon largely depends on the video driver, Cinnamon uses significantly less RAM than before. On a test VirtualBox virtual machine, Cinnamon 4.2 uses approximately 67MB RAM (compared to 95MB RAM for Cinnamon 4.0). Many optimizations were done in the Muffin window manager.

These changes aim to reduce input lag and make windows feel smoother and lighter. The ability to switch VSYNC on or off no longer requires restarting Cinnamon. A combobox was added to the general preferences so you can choose your VSYNC method.”

(1) It’s very disappointing that the longstanding bug in the panel clock is still there. If you try to change the clock settings, the clock disappears (unless you change it to one of the gimmicky settings like fuzzy or LCD). Hint – this same Clock works fine in Xubuntu.

(2) It is silly that “Desktop Settings” on the right-click menu and “Desktop Settings” in the main menu are two completely different things. The one in the main menu should be changed, even if only slightly. For instance, you could change it to “Desktop WM” with a more sensible description underneath such as “Change the window manager”.

Also, I found that on a 19.2 Live USB nothing comes up if I click this item – yet it does work on an installed system.

(3) You have umpteen different colours for icons etc but when it comes to title bars and window borders, we only seem to get grey (or black). Some of us find this drab, and another group of people dislike not having a clearer distinction between active and background windows. The whole user interface for changing themes and colours needs a complete revamp. In the meantime, bearing in mind nearly all Xfce users will be using xfwm.

I suggest that in the Window Manager settings you add a few more window styles taken from the xfwm4-themes package. These should include at least “Default 4.6” (which is perhaps the plainest and least distracting) and maybe a few others which similarly take their colour from the theme chosen in Appearances.

(4) On a similar theme (sorry!) maybe in due course the Mint-X and Mint-Y colours could be re-jigged. Some seem quite similar (eg Blue/Teal/Aqua or Sand/Brown/Orange) but we seem to lack a brighter red colour (not rust!) and a darker green colour. I know it’s probably heresy to say so but the basic mint colour is – well – a bit grey……

Linux Mint 19.2 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2023. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use.

The good thing about it is that it allows the user to know what software he should launch after installation. If he checks these programs he will definitely be ready to go:

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Actions to take in Mint Welcome

And as you can see, there are links for the official documentation and support forums.

One of the new software in Mint 19 is a program called “Timeshift”. Which is a program that allows user to create continuous snapshots/backups of his current system (the entire disk). It supports both Btrfs (on Btrfs filesystems) and rsync (if you are using non-Btrfs filesystem like ext4):

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Mint Timeshift

The program is full of options and features. You can use it to automatically backup your system on specific time:

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Mint Timeshift Settings

The nice thing about is that it tries to not use much disk space for backups. On a Btrfs filesystem this is easy due to its structure, but via rsync, the first full system backup that you create will be used as a base for later backups, meaning that only changes will be counted from afterwards. So if you change a file after creating a backup, only that new file will be saved, not the entire system files.

When you click on a snapshot, you’ll be able to browse its files:

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Opening Backup Files in Timeshift

Mint Software Center got revamped. Now it also supports installing Flatpks (from Flathub), which will enable users to install modern up-to-date applications in a single click. However, due to runtime dependencies, it’s worthy to note that each initial application downloading size is few hundreds of megabytes even if it was a small app. It is also somehow weird that they went with Flatpak over Snaps despite the last one being developed by their parent distribution (Ubuntu):

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Mint Software Manager

Here’s the category page:

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Flatpaks at Software Manager

Browsing multiple apps and installing a bunch of them is fast and doesn’t cause a hang, unlike Ubuntu Software Center (or GNOME Software) which would take ages.

I really like Mint Software Manager, it mainly shows you graphical/desktop apps by default in its categories and in the main interface, but you can use it to install packages too. It’s so nice to deal with a beautiful graphical interface and a quick & functional one at the same time. I tried installing 10 applications in a row and all of them finished just one minute prior to choosing the last one. And with the new support for Flatpaks from Flathub, users will be able to put their hands on the latest releases of major open source programs.

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Installing an app from Software Manager

Synaptic, the best graphical package manager in the entire Linux desktop history, is also installed by default in Linux Mint 19 (and also previous releases):

The update manager continued to improve in Mint. This time it was updated by adding an option in the preferences window to enable auto-upgrades. Kernel packages management were improved. too. ere’s a GIF for its options:

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Mint Update Manager

Managing software sources in Linux Mint is still an easy process:

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Software sources in Mint 19

There’s also a small tool for viewing system reports:

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Mint System Reports

As usual, a nice set of new backgrounds is available in Mint 19:

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Linux Mint 19 backgrounds

Many colorful icon themes also exist:

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Linux Mint 19 Icons

One of the noisy things in Linux Mint is that the default search engine in Firefox is set to Yahoo. But Yahoo sucks and most likely people would want to use Google, but in Linux Mint, the option to use Google as the default search engine is removed:

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Search engines in Firefox on Linux Mint

This is due to an agreement between Yahoo and Linux Mint developers which enables them to receive money for each search query issued by their users. Mint developers use that money for paying the costs of the project.

Of course, such agreement is questionable but the real issue here is removing Google from the browser’s option. The original Firefox does include Google and users would have been able to choose it from settings, but in Mint, it’s removed, most likely to increase developers’ revenues with users who wouldn’t bother searching for a solution, which is a really horrible thing to do. Earning money over that much of users convenience is not good.

On our Lenovo Thinkpad x260 which comes with 4GB RAM and an SSD disk, Linux Mint 19 boots in an astonishing small time as just 5 seconds, which makes it the fastest distribution tested on that laptop so far:

mhsabbagh@mysimplepc:~$ systemd-analyze
Startup finished in 4.622s (kernel) + 1.037s (userspace) = 5.659s
graphical.target reached after 1.030s in userspace

Memory usage is not that high. Cinnamon feels way less heavy on the PC than GNOME Shell, and MATE feels even more lighter:

# Cinnamon
mhsabbagh@mysimplepc:~$ free -m
              total        used        free      shared  buff/cache   available
Mem:           3378         552        2245          66         580        2543
Swap:          4095           0        4095
# MATE
mhsabbagh@mysimplepc:~$ free -m
              total        used        free      shared  buff/cache   available
Mem:           3378         460        1588          54        1328        2614
Swap:          4095           0        4095

Linux Mint 19 is available in Cinnamon 3.8MATE 1.20 and Xfce 4.12. All of which have their own new features and improvements in the latest release (except for Xfce which is 3 years old). Mint 19 also comes with Linux kernel 4.15, Firefox 60, LibreOffice 6.0.3, GIMP 2.8 beside many other small utilities and programs depending on the desktop environment you choose.

We didn’t suffer any hangs or bugs with the new distribution so far. It seems that it will be safe to upgrade to it as soon as the Linux Mint team pushes instructions on how to do it from older releases.

Overall, Linux Mint 19 is amazing. In just few minutes of using Mint’s set of system programs and tweaking the system to your needs you’ll be able to happily start doing your daily work.

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