I have been using Linux desktop distributions for almost 30 years. Recently, I’ve reviewed many of the best Linux desktop distros for newbies and experts. Then I spent the last few days looking at the latest version of Linux Mint 20.3, “Una”. And, once again, Linux Mint is the best desktop distro for newcomers and power users.
As always, I like Mint’s default Gnome-2 based Cinnamon desktop. But Mint gives you a choice of many fully supported interfaces, including MATE, a Gnome-2 fork, and the ultralight Xfce. Most desktop users will be happy with Cinnamon or MATE. But if you have old, low-power systems, Xfce is a great choice.
Even PCs built in the 2000s can run Mint; If your PC has 64 bit AMD / Intel processor, it can run Mint. The full version of Linux Mint only requires 2GB of RAM, but you can run it with just 1GB.
This is not Windows – running on 4GB is nothing but hassle.
You will also need at least 20 GB of disk space, but Mint recommends 100 GB. Finally, you will need a graphics card and monitor that supports a resolution of 1024 × 768. In others terms, you can pretty much run Mint on any PC built in the past decade.
Updating to Linux Mint 20.3 from Mint 20.x is straightforward. You can also easily install Mint on Windows PC and other computers.
In my case, I updated Linux Mint 20.3 from Mint 20.2 on my 2020 Dell Precision 3451. This model, which comes with Ubuntu 20.04, is powered by an 8-core 3 GHz Intel i7-9700 processor. It also includes 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. That’s a lot more computers than Mint needs.
I don’t recommend installing Mint 20.3 on your main PC unless you are an expert. It’s always best to make sure everything is working fine on a test box before upgrading a production machine to a new operating system, be it Linux, Windows, or whatever.
This latest version of Mint is a Long Term Support (LTS) release (it will be supported until summer 2025). Under the hood you will find Linux kernel 5.4.0-92 and Linux firmware 1.187. For its foundation, Mint is still based on Ubuntu 20.04. Going forward, Mint has no plans to leave Ubuntu 20.04 until 2023. Unlike Fedora, Linux Mint is not a cutting edge distribution. He favors stability over experimentation.
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But it always offers handy new features.
First off, Cinnamon 5.2’s new default interface comes with larger title bar buttons, rounded corners, a cleaner theme, and dark mode support. The result is a more attractive and useful office. If you don’t care, that’s okay; you can revert to the original Mint-Y theme version 20.2, “Mint-Y-Legacy”, by simply installing the “mint-themes-legacy” package and changing your theme to Mint-Y-Legacy.
The Cinnamon 5.2 calendar application now also synchronizes with the evolution data server. Using this, it can support many online calendars and apps. For example, if you are using GNOME or the Evolution Calendar, it works automatically. If you are using Google Calendar, just connect GNOME Calendar in online accounts. If you are using Thunderbird, you will need to install an add-on to integrate it with evolution-data-server, and it will also start to sync. I find it very practical.
Cinnamon’s Nemo File Manager also has a small improvement. In the past, when files were moved or copied and their names conflicted with existing files, Nemo only allowed you to ignore, ignore, or overwrite files. Today, you can choose to rename them automatically to avoid conflict. I run into this annoyance all the time, so for me it’s a useful new tip.
The Hypnotix IPTV Viewer is also better than ever. This program allows you to watch a variety of Internet TV channels, such as Pluto TV, from all over the world.
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Mint continues to fully support Flatpak for application installation as well as the usual Debian / Ubuntu package management tools. If you want to use Ubuntu Snaps instead, you’ll need to manually enable it.
For its default apps, Mint offers the usual selection of the best Linux desktop programs. These include LibreOffice 6.7.2 for its office suite, Firefox 95 for its web browser, and Thunderbird 78 for its e-mail.
Overall, this is a minor update for Mint. I found it interesting, but if you’re happy with Mint 20.2, there’s no compelling reason to upgrade to Mint 20.3.
If you are looking for a good Linux desktop to replace Windows or another Linux, I highly recommend you upgrade to Mint 20.3.