Linux Mint 18: My Review Part 1 – Upgrading from Mint 17.3

Hi all, this is the first part of a multi-part post about Linux Mint 18. In these posts I’ll talk about my experience with upgrading and using the new Mint. This part is a guide for those who want to upgrade from Mint 17.3 to 18. Note that you can’t upgrade from Mint 17.2, 17.1 or 17, you must upgrade to 17.3 first, and that you can’t upgrade the KDE version this way. By the way, I’m using the Cinnamon version of Mint, but the process is much the same with the MATE and Xfce versions. This upgrade takes place in the terminal; normally nothing goes wrong, but if they do it’s helpful to have a little experience with using the terminal before you begin. Without further ado, here we go.

Initial thoughts

I did at first have some concerns about upgrading to Mint 18 on my system, because it’s so different, as you can see in the pictures below.

Compared to the default, my system is very different; it looks more like MacOS.
Compared to the default, my system is very different; it looks more like MacOS.
Linux Mint 18’s default configuration
Linux Mint 18’s default configuration

Because my system is so different to a fresh install, I was quite worried upgrading would trash my installation. I thought it was worth trying anyway because of the new features (I’ll write about them in my next post). For you, this is quite helpful; if it works on my system, it should work on yours too! XD

Note: You may be asked for your password during the installation, like this:

“[sudo] password for hamish”.

If so, just enter your user password – nothing will appear in the terminal – and hit enter.

Upgrade Prep

Following the instructions here, I made a backup – always a good idea before upgrading – and then enabled unlimited scrolling in the terminal. Yay. Here come the more interesting bits.

Next, you need to install the Linux Mint upgrade tool, which you can do from the terminal, or with a GUI program like Synaptic Package Manager, if you wish to. First though,you should update with package information by opening a terminal with CRTL + ALT + T, and typing (without the quotes): “sudo apt-get update”. Then to install the upgrade tool, type: “sudo apt-get install mintupgrade”

The upgrade tool is now ready to use. The next thing you’ll want to do is check the impact of the upgrade with:

“mintupgrade check”

If everything is fine, you can now start the upgrade (see the instructions below). Before upgrading, resolve any problems you find. The official page on upgrading to Mint 18 (written by Clement Lefebvre) says:

It is extremely important that you pay close attention to the output of this command.

If it shows packages which are preventing the upgrade, remove them (and take note of them so you can try to reinstall them after the upgrade).

Also note any important packages in the list of packages which would be removed, so you can reinstall them after the upgrade.”

Upgrading to Mint 18

First comes downloading the upgraded packages. In my case, ~4 GB of data needed to be downloaded! It will likely be less than that for anyone else 😉 You can do this with:

“mintupgrade download”

Note: This will only download the packages. It won’t upgrade any packages on your system.

Now comes the scary part, where your system begins to change! You can still go back now if you want to (by running “mintupgrade restore-sources”).

If you’ve made your backup, and your sure you’re ready, close any open applications (except maybe the web browser showing this post XD), and run:

“mintupgrade upgrade”

Now the upgrade will start. It may take a very long time depending on the speed of your system, so you might want to make a cup of tea, or go shopping, or leave it going overnight. XD It took around a hour for my fairly quick system, but 2 or 3 hours is reasonable.

Note: It’s important not to panic if there’s a problem; it’s easy to fix most problems. If you’re having trouble, this may help you. I had to fix problems a couple of times by running “sudo dpkg –configure -a” during the installation. After that, I ran “mintupgrade upgrade” again, and the upgrade continued where it left off. Here is one of the helpful notes from the official instructions for if you’re running into trouble:

  • During the upgrade you will be asked to restart services. Just press (enter) to select the default answer when this happens.

You’ll want to restart the system after the upgrade finishes, and then you should boot into your shiny new Mint 18 (it even worked for me XD)!  If not, this is a good time to restore from those backups you took earlier 🙂

After the upgrade

The upgrade process does a lot of stuff for you making it easier, and all in all, the upgrade seems rock solid to me. If you want, you can check out the new features in Mint 18 at I’ll be reviewing these in the next few posts, and giving you my final opinion on Mint 18, as compared to 17.3.

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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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