Linux Mint 20.3 with an adapted interface and moderate model updates

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Version 20.3 of the Linux Mint desktop distribution was released. Users are not faced with too many changes: A little polishing of the user interface (UI), updated programs and new functions in Mint’s own applications represent the biggest changes.

Linux Mint has blossomed into an extremely popular Linux distribution for use on desktops in recent years. The current Mint version 20 lures users as a release with long-term support, especially with extensive support until 2025. In the open source scene, however, the custom has also established itself of only cautiously changing LTS systems after their first appearance . The third minor version of Linux Mint 20 follows this trend: “Una” brings minor UI changes as well as some updates to Mint’s own applications.

Mint users are most likely to notice the new standard Linux Mint theme. No matter which edition the user chooses – Mint comes with Cinnamon, Xfce and MATE – optical changes can be seen in all three versions. Overall, the mint theme should now appear a bit “rounder” and “softer”.

Rounded corners on the windows also contribute to this, as does a revised color palette. The standard green that Mint uses in the default theme is a bit more matt. On top of that, a dark mode is available that allows individual applications to be displayed in dark colors, even if the desktop itself uses light colors. Various mint applications such as the MPV front end Celluloid now support a dark mode ex works.

At the same time, the developers muck out their topics: The “Darker” variants are no longer included in Linux Mint 20.3. These were a mix of light and dark mode, but came under constant criticism for struggling with low contrast. At the same time, the Mint developers are adding the original version of the “Mint-Y” theme, which was used up to Mint 20.2, as a new theme. So if you can’t get used to the changes to the standard theme in Mint 20.3, you can use the old variant. Therefor the package mint-themes-legacy to install.

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The Mint developers have revised the IPTV frontend Hypnotix properly. Hypnotix comes with a catalog of IPTV channels that are available free of charge. In Mint 20.3, Hypnotix now offers a search function that saves a lot of clicking in the catalog. Hypnotix supports dark mode. Attention to detail is expressed in the new flag icons for showing the countries of origin of the streams.

Screenshot of the Celluloid application that is currently playing a video showing part of the globe

Screenshot of the Celluloid application that is currently playing a video showing part of the globe

A number of MINT applications, such as Celluloid here, have support for their own dark mode in Mint 20.3.

(Image: screenshot)

Anyone who works a lot with Office documents will be happy about the new Thingy application in Linux Mint 20.3. It lists all Office files that it finds and, when requested by the user, sorts them according to various criteria, such as the last edit. Thingy not only supports typical office formats, but also PDF and ebook formats such as EPub. In practice, Thingy saves time when searching for documents. The most recently edited files can be opened in seconds with a click.

In addition, the Mint developers have made many small changes for users, especially for their own applications. The “Sticky Notes” application, which statically displays notes in a widget on the desktop, now also has a search function and offers more formatting options. The calendar widget, which makes the calendar directly accessible from the system tray, shows appointments directly on the Cinnamon desktop – and it is standardized from all calendars.

In addition, Mint 20.3 primarily operates model updates. The HPLIP package is version 3.21.8 and improves support for printers and scanners from HP. A new version of the XReader PDF viewer offers better support for Japanese manga and now displays them in the correct order and reading direction. A new version of the Bluetooth tray icon enables Bluetooth to be switched on or off with a click of the mouse. A number of new wallpapers round off the new version: The “artwork” theme is traditionally high on the list of preferred themes at Mint.

Under the hood, of course, the base remains the Ubuntu 20.04 operating system, which is itself an LTS version. On the one hand, this saves resources for the Mint developers, because maintaining your own LTS basic system would be extremely time-consuming. However, the procedure also has limitations: Mint 20.3 comes with a rather dusty kernel 5.4, supplemented by the typical distributor updates from Canonical. The scope of the package also largely corresponds to that of Ubuntu 20.04, which literally makes some standard applications look old. After all: Thanks to a partnership between Mint and Firefox, Firefox 95 is already included, and it should be on Friday Linux-Mint the update to Firefox 96 push in.

Heise download provides ISO images of Linux Mint 20.3. Anyone who is already using Mint 20.2 can install the update as usual via the system’s package management. Because the changes are clear, the update is recommended to all Mint users.


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