Linux Mint 19.1 Cinnamon: The Top 5 Things To Know

Five things new users should know about Linux Mint 19.1

Image of the Linux Mint logo.

According to Distrowatch, Linux Mint is one of the top five most downloaded distributions. With good reason. Linux Mint makes using the open source platform incredibly easy. And with the default Cinnamon desktop, users feel instantly at home with the interface. 

With the release of Linux Mint 19.1, there are plenty of features that should give every computer user pause to consider migrating to this platform. Let’s take a look at some of the more important features that you need to know about. Some of these features are recent additions, while some have been around for a while.

Desktop Layout

When you first log into Linux Mint, you will be greeted by a Welcome window. This welcome window is a great addition to the desktop, as it will guide new users with their first steps using the operating system.

Speaking of “first steps,” within that Welcome window is a section called First Steps. In that section, you’ll find an entry called Desktop Layout. From that entry you can select either a Traditional or Modern layout. The difference between the two is subtle but important.

Screenshot of the Desktop Layout section in the Welcome app.

With the Tradition layout, you will see a smaller panel where open applications minimize to separate, clickable “tabs” that spread out across the panel. This is more in line with Windows XP.

Screenshot of the Traditional layout.

In the Modern layout, open applications minimize to clickable icons that function more along the lines of Windows 7.

Screenshot of the Modern layout.

So if you prefer a Windows XP-like experience, go with the Traditional layout. If you prefer Windows 7, go with the Modern layout.

The First Steps section also includes the following:

  • System Snapshot setup
  • Driver Manager
  • Quick links to Update Manager, System Settings, Software Manager, and the Firewall Manager

Software Manager

Every good desktop operating system worth its weight has the means of making it easy for users to install software. Linux Mint is no stranger to such a tool. If you click on the Mint desktop menu, you’ll see the Software Manager entry. Click that to reveal what many might call an “app store”. 

Screenshot of the Linux Mint Software Manager.

The Mint take on this is clean and easy to use. With this tool, you can install upwards of thousands of software titles with a simple point and click.

Easy Updates

It is crucial that you keep your software updated. Why? Because when security vulnerabilities are found, they're usually fixed with an update. Linux Mint makes this process easy. When new updates are available, you’ll see an i (within a shield) in the system tray.

Screenshot of the update notifier.

Click the i to open the Update Manager. From that window, click Install Updates. When prompted, type your user password and the updates will download and be applied. 

Screenshot of the Install Updates button.

If you find the kernel (which will be called linux-image) has an update available, you will have to okay that before the update will proceed. Also note, if the kernel does update, you will have to reboot the computer, before the updates will take effect.

Updating to a Newer Kernel

One very important feature that found its way into Linux Mint 19.1 is the ability to install newer kernels. Why would you want to do this? Newer kernels often include new features and security/performance improvements. Prior to 19.1, in order to install a newer kernel, you’d have to do it from the command line. That manual method is no longer necessary. 

From within the Update Manager, click View > Linux Kernels and a new window will open, displaying all the available kernels that can be installed. Locate the kernel you want, click it, and then click Install.

Screenshot of installing a newer kernel on Linux Mint.

A Word of Warning

Installing a newer kernel does come with risks. Because these kernels aren’t as well tested as the default kernel, you could wind up with devices that don’t work (such as wireless and bluetooth). If you do install a newer kernel, and find something isn’t working, you can always boot the old kernel and then remove the newer kernel with the same tool used to install it.

It’s Linux

Okay, this shouldn’t have to be said, but Linux Mint is, well, Linux. What does that mean? First and foremost, it means you will be working with a very reliable and secure operating system. Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu Linux. In the case of Linux Mint 19.1, it is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Long Term Support). Ubuntu Linux is one of the most stable and user-friendly platforms on the market. As a user of Linux Mint, you won’t have to worry about random crashes and other instability issues you might find with the likes of Windows.

Because this is Linux, you won’t be running Windows applications, unless you take advantage of WINE. Worry not, as Linux Mint has nearly every application you can imagine ready to be installed (for free) from the Software Manager.

Linux Mint is one of the more user-friendly and reliable operating systems available. So if you’re looking to give Linux a try, you could certainly do worse than this take on the open source operating system.