Linux Mint 21 Review: The Best Distro Just Got a Little Better

Linux Mint 21 ‘Vanessa’ is a fantastic upgrade. 

If you haven’t upgraded yet, you can follow our step-by-step tutorial to get help.

But should you proceed to upgrade? Is Linux Mint 21 good enough for users? Does it have any quirks that you should know of?

Here, let me highlight some important information to help you decide whether you should give it a try or not.

Linux Mint 21: What’s New?

If you want to give it a try based on what’s new in it, here are the key highlights:

  • New upgrade tool
  • New Bluetooth manager
  • Addition of a process monitor tray icon
  • Improved thumbnail support
  • Desktop environment upgrades (Cinnamon 5.4.2, Xfce 4.16), MATE 1.26
  • New beautiful wallpapers
  • Ubuntu 22.04 LTS base

You can watch the video to get a quick idea about the changes:

Don’t expect a major visual makeover with the upgrade. In fact, Linux Mint 21 is not a massive upgrade either.

It concerns a few functionality/usability refinements on top of Ubuntu 22.04 LTS.

User Experience and Desktop Environment Upgrades

linux mint 21 home

Linux Mint 21 includes some big under-the-hood refinements, especially, for the Cinnamon edition.

Cinnamon 5.4 features a major rebase of its window manager Muffin, based on Mutter 3.36.

While there were several changes with Mutter, it took time to bring in the same features and optimizations to Muffin.

With Cinnamon 5.4, Muffin’s codebase is much closer to the upstream. This should also translate to better performance and new features down the line. 

Not just limited to technical upgrades, you can notice some visual updates that include:

  • Rounded corners for windows look crispier.
  • Window animation improvements.

For other editions, you will find MATE 1.26, and Xfce 4.16 with the upgrade. No special under-the-hood refinements have been mentioned for those editions. However, with Ubuntu 22.04 as the base, you can expect core upgrades to the experience.

Another enhancement that adds to the user experience of Linux Mint 21 is the support for thumbnails with file types including WebP, AppImage, ePub, MP3, and RAW pictures.

With the file manager, it looks good to have thumbnails for all kinds of file types. It makes it easier to recognize and find what you’re looking for and is also aesthetically better than a question mark of a sort.

Sticky Notes Improvements

linux mint 21 sticky notes

Sticky Notes got some new feature additions with the upgrade. Now, you can create duplicate notes with a single click.

Furthermore, you can tweak the color selection of the notes to pick through a cycle instead of random ones. This should translate to a better user experience with Sticky Notes.

XApps Improvements

Mint maintains a list of XApps, which aims to provide a consistent experience for Linux Mint users, and any other user with a different desktop environment/distro.

Timeshift has joined the list, as the Linux Mint is responsible for developing it further. 

There are also improvements to directory browsing, thingy, and Warpinator.

Keeping AppImage Intact

Ubuntu 22.04 LTS removed a library that made it possible to run AppImage files. So, you will have to fix that manually to use AppImage on Ubuntu.

With Linux Mint 21, you do not have to worry about it. You get the essential libraries pre-installed to have AppImage files run as one would expect.

New Bluetooth Application: Blueman

linux mint 21 blueman

A new Blueman tool replaces the Blueberry tool. 

Technically, Blueberry was a front-end XApp for GNOME Bluetooth. But, with newer GNOME updates, the compatibility was affected, which needed changes to fix it.

Hence, the easier and potentially better way was to use Blueman, which is a powerful Bluetooth utility.

It is easy to use but offers a variety of options for advanced users. So, it is a good addition to Linux Mint 21.

Linux Kernel Update

linux mint 21 neofetch

Mint 21 features Linux Kernel 5.15 LTS, which introduces modern hardware compatibility, and improves NTFS support.

The newer kernel should also provide enhanced support for Intel Alder Lake processors and newer GPUs.

System Resource Usage

linux mint 21 resource usage

Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu. The underlying performance improvement should be there but don’t expect a huge difference in the resource usage compared to the previous Mint edition.

The screenshot above gives you an idea of idle usage with Linux Mint 21 Cinnamon. It could be a different story for Xfce or MATE editions.

Package Updates & Other Improvements

linux mint 21 package manager

Obviously, you can expect newer package updates with Linux Mint 21.

For instance, the latest Firefox browser is pre-installed as a deb file instead of Snap, which is a notable change compared to Ubuntu 22.04 LTS.

The process of uninstallation gets refinements where the application’s dependencies will be evaluated before completely removing it. Furthermore, any associated dependencies installed along the application, which are not needed by the system, will be automatically removed at the time of uninstallation.

You no longer have to rely on apt autoremove command to remove unnecessary dependencies.

Not The Most Exciting Upgrade: Is It?

The Linux Mint team has made it clear that it follows the upstream but filters away the bad changes that users hate.

Whether it is about Firefox being a Snap or anything else, Linux Mint 21 manages to provide a close-to-home experience without forcing the feature upgrades introduced with Ubuntu LTS releases.

About the author
Ankush Das

Ankush Das

A passionate technophile who also happens to be a Computer Science graduate. You will usually see cats dancing to the beautiful tunes sung by him.

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