A quick dip into Linux Mint 20 (Cinnamon and MATE)

Linux Mint Official Logo by Clement Lefebvre [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]
Clement Lefebvre [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]

Seeing as I’ve been a user of Linux Mint for quite a long time (since Mint 15), I thought it’d be good to have a quick look at Linux Mint 20 and share my thoughts on it, seeing as I already did this for Linux Mint 19.3.

As with some of my other posts, there’s a YouTube video accompaniment. In this case, this is a screencap with a voiceover. I’ll cover installation as well as some of the new features and improvements that stand out to me.

The Video

The Writeup

So, I started by looking at Linux Mint Cinnamon, seeing as it’s kind of the flagship version. I used virtual machines to do this.

Linux Mint 20 Cinnamon – Installation

Right off the bat, the boot menu looked different to me, but I could be wrong there. It booted off the live disk very quickly, and I immediately had a look at the menu. The icon in the taskbar is now different, but besides that the menu seemed very similar. It was also nice to see some new privacy options in System Settings – I just happened across these.

Having decided that was enough faffing, I started up the installer, and found it was very similar to the current installer that Ubuntu uses, unsurprisingly. There wasn’t much of note in the installer, apart from to note that installing the multimedia codecs seemed to add quite a lot of time to the installation (but is probably worth doing).

Linux Mint 20 Cinnamon – first impressions

Themes and welcome screen

I noticed it uses the same splash screen as Mint 19.3 (I couldn’t see this when booting from the install media). The start screen looks very similar to that found in Mint 19.3, but the options have been slightly reorganised in a more intuitive way. Also, there are now theme options on the start screen, and a choice of light and dark themes. These all look amazing, and I love the addition of a dark theme as I’ve wanted one for ages on Cinnamon. You can also change your panel display options here, which isn’t a new feature, but not something that I realised was there.

After this, I had a quick look in System Settings and noted that the theme options are still available in there for more fine-grained control, which is good. There’s also a shortcut to GNOME disks there now, which is a useful addition.

The dark theme also carries across well into Qt-based applications such as the HPlip-GUI (manager for HP printers and scanners).

New icons and system tray

The symbolic icons that are now used in the system tray also look a lot nicer to me. I think this is mostly because my system tray looks like this:

My system tray

As you can see, there are a lot of differently-coloured icons that aren’t displaying very well. Some of these are already symbolic, interestingly, but most aren’t. I think if a few more of these were symbolic, (or just displayed properly) it would look a whole lot better. The good news is that Mint 20 comes with better system tray icon support, fixing the glitching issues, and it worked for most of the applications I tested (pCloud and HP-GUI worked, Joplin didn’t).

Linux Mint 20 MATE – first impressions

Note that we’ve already looked at most things by using the Cinnamon version, so this section is shorter, but almost everything above applies here as well 🙂

Apart from some slight glitchiness with my desktop background, all was fine. MATE also has the desktop colours and dark mode options, which is nice to see. The main menu also looks a bit cleaner than before I think. The menu button is a bit smaller than in the Cinnamon version, but on the whole both versions look pretty similar out of the box.

As far as I can tell, the new system tray set-up works well with MATE too. I will also note that since I recorded the video I’ve updated my laptop (which runs MATE) and it seems fine, and also generally runs quicker than it did with Mint 19.3.


I thought I’d have a quick look at Warpinator, Linux Mint’s new file transfer program. It looks really nice, and looks like a very convenient way to transfer files between systems, but unfortunately I had no easy way to test it.


Linux Mint 20 looks like a really solid release, and I’m excited to be using it (I’ve already upgraded my laptop). The new features seem very well designed, the themes look great, and in my experience everything is a little bit quicker than before, which is certainly welcome on my somewhat under-powered laptop. To download Linux Mint 20 and look at the official announcements, head to www.linuxmint.com.

That’s it for now, but stay tuned, as I have quite a lot of interesting things I plan to write about soon!

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About Hamish McIntyre-Bhatty

I'm a self-employed software developer working on Free Software projects, as well as studying for my degree with the Open University. Being pedantic when it comes to detail is fortunately useful for both of these things! A strong believer in free software, I have a few pay-for programs available under the GPLv3 and enjoy reporting bugs and helping to improve various open source projects, including volunteering at Wimborne Model Town to work on their river control system.

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