Linux Mint 19.3: My review – mostly great with a few issues

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

Hi all. The last post I did on Linux Mint was very popular, so I thought it only right to do another one. I’m focusing mostly on the Cinnamon edition for this post, but most of the features are for all editions, so this should be generally applicable anyway. I came from Mint 19.2, so I’ll be covering the differences I noticed in Mint 19.3. I won’t be reviewing everything as I haven’t used everything, but I will review all the things I have used so far in the month and a bit since I upgraded.

System Reports

The new system reports GUI was something I noticed immediately because it popped up and warned me about a few things. I was missing some language packs, which I didn’t even know, so I installed those. It also told me to set a root password, which I thought a bit weird, because I’ve always been told not to set one unless absolutely required, in order to prevent root logins. So I ignored that one.

After that, it told me that I should be using the XAppStatusIcon system tray, something that I’ve been looking forward to, and that brings us on to the next thing on my list.

Mint 19.3’s New System Tray

I was very keen on this, because ever since my old GNOME 2 days (when I first started with Linux), tray icons have been finicky, glitchy and generally annoying. This has been no different in MATE and Cinnamon. Ubuntu Unity kinda fixed it, but most icons didn’t display at all, so whether that should be considered a fix is debatable XD. I digress.

So, I enabled this, and at first it all seemed great: icons displayed at the right size, the whole system tray didn’t glitch out every time an icon updated (like when connecting to a network), and the icons appeared reliably every boot. However, not all my programs recognised this new system tray! This made me sad, because things like Nextcloud, the HP printer UI, and Nixnote (a note-taking app I’ve since replaced with Joplin) no longer had system tray icons. The HP GUI quit altogether saying it couldn’t find a system tray.

So while I love this new feature, sadly I can’t use it (yet), so back to glitchy icons for me. Note that the Mint team are aware of and working on these issues and others. I will try this again soon and update you.

Blueberry

Blueberry’s GUI has had a redesign, which I think makes it much nicer and easier to use. I personally use this with a Bluetooth headset, and not very often, but for anyone who uses Bluetooth regularly this will be very welcome I imagine.

General / Miscellaneous Improvements in Mint 19.3

Xed’s ability to right click links has been helpful for me. Also, the system generally seems to be faster and more responsive. I thought I’d notice this most on the more powerful desktop with Cinnamon, but I actually noticed this far more on my underpowered laptop with MATE.

In general the UI felt smoother, and things like the menu opened much faster. Also background CPU usage seemed lower, and doing things like playing Youtube videos was much smoother (the laptop can barely play SD quality video even with both CPU cores maxed out). I didn’t really notice anything on CInnamon, but it goes to show that little cumulative improvements make a big difference on slow hardware.

I also really like the new logo, splash screen, and the addition of a GRUB theme is welcome. As always. the new desktop backgrounds are very pretty and fit in nicely.

Mint 19.3 – Summary

Mint 19.3 is another solid release from the Mint team. I don’t remember there being a bad release, even going back to Mint 13. The move to LTS-based releases only was a good move I think, things seem very stable and polished, not that it was buggy before.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this review, and stay tuned for more posts coming soon.

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About Hamish McIntyre-Bhatty

I'm currently studying for a Computing and IT degree with the Open University, and am a software developer as well. I enjoy coding in Python, C++ (still learning), and Java. Having written 4 open-source programs (hosted on launchpad.net), set up my own website, and started volunteering at Wimborne Model Town to work on their river control system, I still find the time to enjoy cycling, acting, photography, and playing bass guitar. I go climbing every now and then as well. More recently, I wrote my first commercial program, Disk Verifier, and created a PSID Unlocker GUI for Parted Magic. I also create tutorial and other informative videos for Parted Magic LLC.

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