Linux Mint 21 Vanessa stable release is now available for download. This is the latest version of the Ubuntu-based distribution, and it includes a significant set of changes compared to the Linux Mint 20.3 release that took place earlier this year.

As always, Linux Mint 21 is available in three different versions: the flagship Cinnamon edition (which uses the Cinnamon desktop by default), the Xfce variant (which uses the Xfce desktop), and the MATE variant (which ships with the MATE desktop by default). Cinnamon is the most popular version of Linux Mint, so let’s focus on its innovations.

Linux Mint 21 is out, here’s what’s new

Linux Mint 21 is based on Ubuntu 22.04 LTS, the latest long-term release of Ubuntu. This provides Mint users with a number of basic settings and archive updates, as well as the convenience of knowing that they are guaranteed to receive security updates for the system for the next five years.

The Mint 21 kernel uses Linux 5.15. This offers (among other changes) a new NTFS file system driver (handy when interacting with Windows partitions), improvements to the EXT4 file system (Mint uses EXT4 by default), and better hardware support, security patches, bug fixes, and more.

Linux Mint 21 ships with Cinnamon 5.4, the latest version of a relatively lightweight WIMP-oriented user interface. In this iteration, the developers changed the desktop to a more modern version of Mutter.

As a result, this update brings notable performance, compatibility, and stability improvements. To its credit, Mint has always been pretty fast, even on legacy hardware.

Linux Mint 21 is out, here’s what’s new

A related change is that the Cinnamon Muffin window manager renders all windows using a GTK theme, rather than a combination of GTK (CSD) and Metacity (SSD) window types as before. Applications look more consistent with each other regardless of which toolset is selected, and window elements look clean and uncluttered. Linux Mint 21 looks much better on high-resolution displays.

Linux Mint 21 is out, here’s what’s new

Linux Mint 21 introduces a new tool for connecting to Bluetooth devices, Blueman, which integrates well with any environment, including Linux Mint’s Cinnamon, Xfce, and MATE. Blueman is built on top of Bluez, “the official Linux Bluetooth protocol stack”.

Linux Mint 21 is out, here’s what’s new

The Nemo file manager also has advanced thumbnails for the following file types:

  • AppImage
  • ePub
  • MP3 (album cover)
  • RAW images (most formats)
  • Webp
  • In addition, some Xapps, such as the Pix image viewer, can also handle many of these formats.

Mint’s Notes app is now able to duplicate existing stickers, and gives each new note a different color (by cycling through the set instead of randomly). The system tray icon has been redesigned to look more harmonious with the rest of the Mint icon set.

When an automated task is running in the background (like system backups, updates, etc.), Mint now places a small indicator in the tray. The idea is that this indicator will tell users if/when there is an active process that may (albeit slightly) affect performance.

Mint 21 also comes preloaded with the latest versions of popular Linux software. It includes LibreOffice 7.3 for working with documents, Mozilla Firefox 103 for web surfing, and Thunderbird 91 for email.

The system requirements for Linux Mint 21 have not changed from Linux Mint 20, so if your computer is modern enough (64-bit processor, at least 2 GB of RAM and 15 GB of free space), installing the OS should not be a problem. You can download the distribution on the project website.