back to article Linux Mint 20.2 is a bit more insistent about updating but not as annoying as Windows or Mac, team promises

Version 20.2 of Linux Mint has attempted to address the sticky subject of system update notifications and automation. Linux Mint (aside from the Debian edition) is based on Ubuntu, with Mint 20 editions based on Ubuntu 20.04, this being the most recent LTS (Long-term support) edition. The emphasis is more on stability and ease …

  1. Robert Moore

    Good granularity.

    I love how Mint seems to always, (so far), go for giving you more control, and sensible defaults.

    Keep up the good work guys.

    1. NoneSuch Silver badge

      Re: Good granularity.

      Agreed. It's my go-to distro at home.

      If there's a Zero Day or "critical" patch then tell me. Otherwise, let me address the frequency and type of notifications. I'm an adult and take responsibility for my systems. I don't need nagware and have never had an issue with patching Mint as needed.

      The free community version of Veeam lets me full backup my home systems to a NAS weekly, with incremental deltas each day. They go back years.

      The beauty of Mint is its easy setup. Even if backups failed completely and I had to redo everything from a new ISO, it's only an hours work to get everything running the way I want it.

      1. Ian 55

        Re: Good granularity.

        Didn't Mint hold back some security fixes because... some not OK reason, like having too many of them?

        They've also managed to break "sudo apt-get dist-upgrade" in the past.

  2. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    Linux Bloatware

    It was slower than Windows on the same hardware, so I went back to XP.

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Linux Bloatware

      LMDE is not bad for a desktop operating system. Runs at a very useable speed on my Core2 Duo MacBook Pro. Never tried the Ubuntu edition.

    2. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: Linux Bloatware

      As you said you went back to XP, that suggests you either tried Linux Mint a long time ago, or you are installing it on older hardware?

      I have a 12 year old Dell Optiplex which runs Linux Mint 20 Mate at a respectable speed. Maybe XP would be quicker on the hardware, I don't know. But as XP no longer gets security patches where as Linux mint does, it makes a much more useful general purpose PC running LM, as it can be used online.

      You didn't say which LM version you tried? I would not recommend the Cinnamon versions for XP era hardware, MATE or XFCE would be your better bets. Although even then it all depends on what CPU and RAM you have in the machine as there are lighter distros such as Puppy Linux which can run on machines with 512MB of RAM and single core CPUs.

      1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

        Re: Linux Bloatware

        Core2Quad 9400, 2GB RAM, loads of hard disks. Mint was too damn slow.

        1. Anonymous Kiwi

          Re: Linux Bloatware

          Some people will laugh at me for this, but I find KDE Plasma to be faster than even Xfce.

        2. hayzoos

          Re: Linux Bloatware

          That sounds like the typical 32 bit Windows configuration. The Core2 Quad processor is a 64 bit architecture and 4 core. I cannot recall with certainty but I think XP 32 was license limited to 2 cores. XP-64 was a rare beast, I have only supported two, it seemed a bit unpolished more like server with a sprinkling of desktop config and look and feel. My wife's Vista laptop was a 64 bit processor but 32 bit OS. I think there were a lot of compatibility rumors which caused a lot of 32 bit installs on 64 bit processors back then. The 2GB RAM capacity was quite common for that situation. Even early Win 7 saw a lot of 32 bit installs on 64 bit machines, but at least many had 4GB RAM installed. Many 32bit *nix of that timeframe would state 2GB max for 32 bit but Windows 32 bit would go 4GB with the right license. Server installs are a different beast.

          2GB RAM is very limiting for a 64 bit configuration which is most likely the Mint installed. Trying to compare that configuration with 32 bit XP (it's RAM sweet spot 2GB to 4GB) to a 64 bit OS with what would be considered the low end RAM is an apples to oranges comparison.

          My laptop started with Win 7 64bit and 8GB RAM and is now running Linux Mint 19.x 64bit. It is an Intel Core2 Duo (two cores) and Linux Mint is better on this config.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Linux Bloatware

      OH SURE... NOW you tell us!!!! It's pure junk man... pure.

      I was on the street one day back in the 90's and some dude comes up to me and says... "Hey... the first one's free". I'm thinking cool man, I'll try anything once. Well, 20+ years later and many failed attempts to stop using... I'm still wired the fuck out on this junk. I'm so bad off that I can't let the neighbors see me like this, so I removed all the Windows.

    4. NoneSuch Silver badge

      Re: Linux Bloatware

      "It was slower than Windows on the same hardware, so I went back to XP."

      I find that hard to believe. I have two identical NVMe boot drives, one with W10 and one with Mint 20.1 on a dual boot Threadripper system. I see a 11-15% faster compile times and much better video conversion times on Mint.

      Strip all the unneeded crap out of W10, get rid of the telemetry and you'd have a decent OS. Until that happens, Windows isn't even a contender.

      1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

        Re: Linux Bloatware

        That machine is too old for Win 10 in the first place. Microsoft is disappearing into it's own asshole.

    5. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Linux Bloatware

      Go on! Pull my other one!

      1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

        Re: Linux Bloatware

        You have TWO?!?!??!

    6. karlkarl Silver badge

      Re: Linux Bloatware

      I agree that Linux UI systems are absolutely slower than XP.

      However on your XP install, what software are you able to still run? Web browsers are out and most development tools depend on newer versions of the mingw runtime which require more recent NT kernels.

      Windows XP is fast at idling! My recommendation is get comfortable with light Linux environments (possibly even a maximized xterm) and actually use software again.

      1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

        Re: Linux Bloatware

        I use Firefox 52 (Core2Quad 9400) runs fine for most websites, and it runs all of my old sound programs and devices better than my Win 7 Pro i7 4790 does. XP also flies for DTP; it's firewalled and port blocked to hell. Mint a few months ago with Cinnamon was just too damn slow starting up, the browser was bloody slow, too damn slow overall. And not terribly useful, despite the huge choice of programs, most are rubbish.

        1. Piro Silver badge

          Re: Linux Bloatware

          You're getting a lot of downvotes, but I think people really have forgotten how quick XP is. The launch version was of course utterly blazing, windows 2000 like, then after SP2 it got bogged down a bit on machines close to the system requirements, SP3 only made that worse - but on any vaguely capable hardware, even with SP3, it's very, very, very lightweight, and just isn't doing a bunch of background crap at idle.

          I can see why you'd want to run it if you have a use case and are fully aware of its security shortcomings.

    7. BloggsyMaloan

      Re: Linux Bloatware

      >It was slower than Windows on the same hardware, so I went back to XP.

      Why stop there? Go back to DOS and it'll fly.

      For souped-up input try the Sinclair Spectrum word-per-key programming shortcuts.

      The past is a foreign country.

      1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

        Re: Linux Bloatware

        The future looks fsucking grim. I hate the internet. Now.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Linux Bloatware

          Is this the point where someone recommends GhostBSD (still work in process) or AROS?

          1. Anonymous Kiwi

            Re: Linux Bloatware

            Haiku runs like a charm!

            1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

              Re: Linux Bloatware

              Adobe needs to join the Haiku party. It'd be impressive if they managed to with four lines of code.

              Linux Mint Cinnamon was fast on first boot, glacial after a week and then I lost my mind yelled "FSUCKING LINUX BLOATWARE!!!" at it and went back to XP.

              Too many Linux fanboys here... It's great for databases.

      2. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Linux Bloatware

        DOS will fly on one CPU thread until it is waiting for IO, then the whole system will lock up until the IO operation is done.

    8. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Linux Bloatware


      Nice name btw. I do believe there can be issues running Mint >17.3 on some dual core processors. The boot up and shutdown seems to take much longer although I dont think it affects the running of the machine beyond that.

      If you are using XP its probably an old enough machine to be dual core.

    9. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Linux Bloatware

      "It was slower than Windows on the same hardware, so I went back to XP."

      Probably defaulted to VESA or something equally generic for the graphics driver. Without vendor support, detecting devices and installing the correct driver is sometime problematic. Especially on older XP era kit. Likewise, even with the correct driver installed, without proper vendor support it may not perform as well as a vendor supported driver on Windows.

      1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

        Re: Linux Bloatware

        Yep, I think you're right re: graphics drivers - that machine has an old ATI 5450, browser runs like a fat sausage along a sidewalk in the snow.

        If some sort of Linux mafia could wave as much cash in vendor's faces as Microsoft does, Linux would be rapidly improved on the desktop... but that'll never happen. Too many flavours and factions.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "The upgrade notes also suggest running a utility called usrmerge, which simplifies the directory structure. This has been done since Linux 20."

    This is something that's always been a bit variable across different Unix/Linus implementations. I'm a bit concerned about the logic of merging /sbin, though; IIRC the logic for this was that it contained stuff root might need in single user mode when /usr might not have been mounted.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      If you follow the link in the article, it gives a concise reasoning behind the merge, and the pros/cons.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Stuff has moved around a lot over the years. I can remember when everything was in /bin, /lib and so forth with /usr being for users' home directories plus a few things like /usr/spool. Then it got more and more crowded so /u was set up for users and that started to get crowded and it was split with a /u2 before /home was used. All these changes had a rationale, sometimes clearer than others. I still don't get the rationale for putting www and mysql data in /var. Yes I know it's supposed to be for changeable stuff but you're liable to find you have to reformat it to do a reinstall because, certainly with apt based systems, there's a install-related files in there and the installer seems to expect it to be clean. I tried not reformatting as an experiment and got errors so those files live in /srv now with links back to where they're expected.

        1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

          Since I started using ZFS (okay, on FreeBSD in this instance) I've taken to giving www and mysql etc their own filesystem with symbolic links as appropriate. I'm still not 100% sure that maintaining a couple of dozen filesystems is the right way forward but it gives me a certain degree of flexibility to tweak this and that and I guess I just like the idea of stuff being "contained". Though I have finally put / and /usr on the same filesystem as I couldn't think of a good reason not to, and certainly not one that was worth the inconvenience.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Yes. /home needs to sit where it won't be reformatted if you reinstall - which you might do, even for a version upgrade. Likewise if you have other a large data requirement. The other requirement which you might have that needs to avoid reformatting is locally installed S/W, /usr/local and/or /opt. But, yes, /usr on the root partition might not be a problem these days.

            The other thing to remember is that in the Unix/Linux world we tend to have swap on its own partition.

            1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

              I did wonder about merging /usr/local but keep it separate for the same reasons you mention; I generally feel happier about having as little on the "system drive" as possible in case e.g. an upgrade goes horribly wrong. Keeping /usr separate seemed to make more sense back in the days I ran systems with 150MB ESDI drives (yeah I know... someone decided they were "faster" than SCSI) and was often on a separate physical device because of supposed performance benefits. Nowadays I have to wonder if there's really that much point to maintaining /usr at all as it's mostly been "stuff that doesn't fit in root", at least IME (I think user directories in /usr either pre-dated my sysadmin days or were on other Unices; the Motorola SVR3 I started off with was quite dull but solid).

              Keeping stuff separated also makes my horrid homebrew backup system easier to manage as I can configure it to skip e.g. /rec/video (I couldn't think of a particularly good naming convention so ended up with /rec(reational stuff) for videos, games, music etc) for backup media with limited space.

              Oh yeah, and swap. The idea of a swap "file" has always made me a bit uncomfortable; might work for VMS but Unix seems to have the potential for things to not work out as planned, such as with the aforementioned ZFS which could get its knickers in a twist (going back a bit; haven't checked to see if that's been resolved yet as I'm not that interested and it seems to be asking for trouble regardless) and I recall some "issues" with a recent Linux too. I'm not totally convinced that my alternative of putting swap on a gmirror partition is entirely sensible but after weighing up the pros and cons of unintended consequences vs. a HDD with active swap disappearing, I, er, flipped a coin. I've probably configured way too much on the basis that I'm still using the 30+ year old "1½-twice the amount of memory" as a guideline and then I'm all "ARGH IT'S USING 12K OF SWAP WHAT HAS GONE SO CATASTROPHICALLY WRONG?!!" etc. Well okay, 12K of paging but YKWIM, "swap" being the usual terminology even if it's wrong (unless it's VMS, which explicitly has both; yes I still miss VMS, even though I was all "meh, it's VMS" when I was at DEC). Why am I even telling you all this stuff you probably know better than I do? I dunno, I'm awake enough to write reams of nonsense but not awake enough to know when to stop.

              1. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge

                >>unless it's VMS, which explicitly has both; yes I still miss VMS, even though I was all "meh, it's VMS" when I was at DEC)

                VMS - the OS to end them all... have a beer even though it is only Tuesday morning!

                1. David 132 Silver badge

                  Don't worry, Poettering will be along shortly with his own from-scratch reimplementation of the Linux directory structure, no doubt putting everything into a black-box binary blob where the only allowable username is "poettering" ("Works fine on my system. WONTFIX.").

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did I misread that?

    Memory leaks are better handled, not only by fixing some bugs, but also by adding an option to limit the amount of memory Cinnamon uses.

    Whaa? If Micros~1 pulled a fast one like that the amount of ridicule would break the internet.

    I could sorta understand known memory leaks in v1.0 but this is v5.0! 'Ship now, fix later'?

    Not a Cinnamon user, so how bad is the situation really?

    Also, file manager with built-in grep for file contents and the sticky notes? That's XP/Vista era stuff, not something that should be the key selling points in 2021!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Did I misread that?

      "That's XP/Vista era stuff"

      Not sure how much of a negative that is, considering XP's search was the last usable search. Well, not unless you consider that weird search syntax they moved to, that nobody knows/cares to know, which most certainly is not GREP syntax (because then it would be usable).

      The sticky notes thing is kind of legit, as long as Microsoft doesn't accidentally delete notepad (which BTW, WTF happen to EDIT... is that gone too? Just too many usable options I guess.)

    2. Robert Moore

      Re: Did I misread that?

      > Not a Cinnamon user, so how bad is the situation really?

      I have not noticed any significant memory leaks in Cinnamon on multiple personal systems.

    3. mtwebster

      Re: Did I misread that?

      If you run just the core Cinnamon with no 3rd-party extensions, you'll never have an issue - depending on your hardware you'll probably never cross 2-300mb for the process, even after weeks. The potential for leaks comes in with third-party add-ons - applets, extensions, etc..

  5. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    All I know

    Is that Mint 19 seems quite a bit slower than 18. Yes, I'm running 10 year out hardware. This _is_ Linux, after all.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: All I know

      The Desktop environments usually are. This is not limited to Mint, nor to recent releases... For my purposes, WindowMaker or LXDE are good enough. I'm running mint on a 6 year old AMD (under) powered notebook / netbook and a 11 year old Intel one. Apart from resource hogs like discord they work well enough to not warrant replacement right now.

      1. Anonymous Kiwi

        Re: All I know

        5yo AMD here, Windows is unusably slow and Ubuntu is bloated. I switch between Mint and Debian.

  6. Doctor Trousers

    I'm all for it. I think a lot of people move over from Windows to Mint (or Ubuntu), and then ignore updates because they assume that they will be a giant pain in the ass. It's a reasonable assumption to make too, if your only experience of using a PC is using Windows, because Windows updates really are just utterly, relentlessly terrible. Give people a little bit of a push to install updates, just to get rid of the notification, and they'll realise that updates on Mint are completely painless, quick, unobtrusive, and 99% of the time don't even require you to reboot.

    1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

      True. The only update that caused me significant pain was systemd which... well, yeah.

      1. Anonymous Kiwi

        I'm guilty of never having kept a distro installed long enough to see a systemd update :~)

    2. FuzzyTheBear
      Thumb Up


      easy and never had a surprise after a reboot for a new kernel.

      that's something we got to give the linux os credit for. reboots are almost never required to run the newly updated software. remarkable achievement.

      1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

        Re: painless

        never had a surprise after a reboot for a new kernel.

        I have just recently, non-booting system :-( Probably would have resulted in a full reinstall or a painful system restore in winblows.

        On Linux it was simply a matter of booting off a disk and run timeshift to restore the hour old snapshot (gotta love BTRFS). Then retry the updates: applications - no problem, then the kernel - no problem, lastly the nvidia driver - GUILTY. Restore and mark the latter update as never install this version. Bit of a bummer as looking at the release notes there's something in it to address issues with resume from suspend. That's never worked for me and is something I would like to have working.

      2. Anonymous Kiwi

        Re: painless

        something we got to give the linux os credit for

        Well... It should be expectation, we should discredit other oses for making you reboot while they install.

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: painless

          A reboot to install updates, I kind of tolerate (yeah, you're right, Windows has conditioned us to accept a low bar).

          However, what really, really makes me lose my rag, blow my top, and consider committing extroverted suicide (aka "murder"), is the way Windows 10 just reboots without asking, once it detects you've left your PC unattended for a certain time. The number of occasions on which I've come back to my PC, only to find all my applications and documents have been closed/vanished because it decided a reboot to install the latest version of Edge ("pleeeeeeeeeeease use our browser, if we reset your defaults from Firefox to Edge enough times we'll persuade you, right?") was more important than my productivity.

          Icon is what I'd like to do to the morons at Microsoft who sanctioned this.

          1. Doctor Trousers

            Re: painless

            Rebooting without asking is terrible, even worse for me is the opposite, ie I want to reboot or switch off the machine, but when I try I get "Windows is configuring updates, please do not switch off your machine"

            This is infuriating as hell when the reason I'm switching the damned thing off is because it's a laptop and the battery is about to run out. Even more infuriating when, to the best of my knowledge, the thing is completely up to date, it's been rebooted since the last update was installed, yet somehow, out of the blue, we get 20 minutes of "Windows is configuring updates......."

            Yeah. Linux definitely never does that.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ubuntu almost always asks me to reboot after installing updates. YMMV

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The reason is Windows updates doesn't update your applications like Linux usually does - I do not need to reboot every time I update Firefox in Windows either - or even when you update Windows apps from the Windows store. You don't even need to reboot to update video drivers.

        But any kernel patch will of course need a reboot - I never seen yet a Linux desktop system attempting kernel hot patching by default.

        As usual, Linux worshipers can't tell apart oranges from apples.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Their update logic is different. Fedora always reboots, even for updates to apps you're not running.

  7. a_yank_lurker


    I have no issue with being notified of an important update such as 20.2. I like that LM allows me to update when it is more convenient for me rather how the Rejects of Redmond try to ram major downgrades to BaaD (Bloatware as a Disservcie/Disgrace) down users throats.

  8. xyz Silver badge

    Funny you should mention windows update...

    I was working on a doc last night and windows update kindly informed me new critical updates were available and i should download them... Bloody laptop hasn't been connected (not even a sniff) to the internet for months.

    1. Anonymous Kiwi

      Re: Funny you should mention windows update...

      i t s b l u e t o o t h e d t o y o u r c o v i d v a c c i n e

  9. Andy E
    Thumb Up

    I like it

    Using bits and pieces left over from numerous PC upgrades I built a system and loaded Mint to see what this Linux stuff was. There was a steep learning curve but eventually I got it setup as I wanted. Its not a box I use every day but it seems stable and lets me know when there are updates available. The updates themselves have not caused me any issues although you do tend to get more prompts requiring user input than Windows or Mac updates.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I like it

      "The updates themselves have not caused me any issues although you do tend to get more prompts requiring user input than Windows or Mac updates."

      That's because by default, you are not the admin user. On Windows, you probably are an admin level user.

  10. Mozzie

    Daily driver, but...

    I've got to agree with some points made already.

    Systemd is a horror. Poeterring sympathisers tried taking me down whilst looking for advice on forums but last year I set up a home lab to try some new distros, learn some stuff (LFS etc etc) and spent three weeks learning init systems inside out as it's where my knowledge faltered in day to day work. Systemd is an abomination with no justification. It's been the loss of a number of hours of work on all three of my Mint machines so presume updates to it have been the issue.

    Someone mentioned jumping ship to XP. Sometimes having to deal with older CNC controllers, legacy databases, old storage media I've needed to nip into XP for one off tasks. On the hardware mentioned (Q9400, 2GB Ram) unfortunately I can confirm that XP feels much speedier than Mint ever since 17.1 and even the browser is fine for most non-streaming sites.

    I've found myself rebooting after updates a lot but then there has been a lot of kernel, microcode and firmware updates so hardly surprising. Cinnamon is a bit of a dog on my machines but it doesn't seem to like crappy Intel onboard graphics like on my i3-8100. Mate is great, stays out of the way and except systemd I've yet to experience a crash with Mint 20.x across six machines up to 11 years old.

    Plus, PPA's are bloody useful.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Daily driver, but...

      Have you tried MXLinux? Debian, no Systemd (disabled by default but you can switch it on if you want).

      I'm running it on one of my low power machines, Small footprint, about 15 gig installed and very fast on old hardware. I'm using the Plasma desktop and it is faster than Mint 19/20 XFCE on the same machine.

      I originally looked at it as I'm running KDE Neon, (which I really like) on an Acer netbook (R11 4 gig of ram with a 32 gig emmc hdd). Problem is it's bloating up and filling the disk so I was looking to use something smaller and without Systemd.

      As it turned out I got around the space problem by plugging a 240 gig Crucial SSD into the USB3 slot, dd'd the internal disk and it's a big improvement in speed as he machine was being strangled by the emmc disk. If I hadn't done that I'd have switched to MXLinux permanently.

    2. Ian 55

      Re: Daily driver, but...

      Agree about systemd.

      PPAs do require a large level of trust though.

  11. codejunky Silver badge


    I am running mint 19 for now. I would upgrade (mostly to see the shiny shiny) except ubuntu has issues with the upgrade with an encrypted swap partition and so mint does too. Overall I do recommend mint to ex windows users (and a few current ones too).

    1. DrSunshine0104

      Re: Cool

      Instead of encrypting the ENTIRE filesystem and then dealing with LVMs, I wish there were distros (none that I know of) that would use BSD approach of using on-boot transient keys to encrypt the swap. I am only concerned with my user data needing encryption but hate messing with luks and then lvm if I need to recover something.

  12. DrSunshine0104

    I tried Mint many years ago and wasn't that impressed, sure default codec installation might be nice, but a middle-to-high skilled Linux user nothing that stuck out to me. But I distro-hopped and gave it another test drive a few months back and was enjoying the polish of a good collection of features and options; it is good features that don't feel tacked on, intrusive or bloated. The big plus is Mint has stripped out the some of questionable parts of Ubuntu by default, and my personal favourite is the Debian version of Mint. The update 'nags' of Mint are not intrusive and unless you have good reason, I think you should always update your daily driver.

    Although I did have a Mint update bust GRUB recently, but I find it more trouble to rescue boot and fiddle with GRUB entries; just keep good partition layouts and reinstall.

    I used to be more apathetic about SystemD, I have personally never had a SystemD failure. But the arguments having init and subsystem separation has won me over especially with the more recent examples of SystemD being attacked. A Devuan-based Mint would be nice mix, but I am not that skilled in package management to cook up that dream.

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