Linux Mint's purpose is to produce an elegant, up-to-date, and comfortable GNU/Linux desktop based on Ubuntu. Some of the reasons for the success of Linux Mint are:
It's one of the most community driven distributions
It is a Debian-based distribution and as such it is very solid and it comes with one of the greatest package managers
It is compatible with and uses Ubuntu repositories. This gives Linux Mint users access to a huge collection of packages and software.
It comes with a lot of desktop improvements which make it easier for the user to do common things
There is a strong focus on making things work out of the box (WiFi cards drivers in the file system, multimedia support, screen resolution, etc)
New features in Linux Mint 19 MATE
Linux Mint 19 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2023. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop experience more comfortable.
Linux Mint 19 "Tara" MATE Edition
In Linux Mint 19, the star of the show is Timeshift. Although it was introduced in Linux Mint 18.3 and backported to all Linux Mint releases, it is now at the center of Linux Mint's update strategy and communication.
Thanks to Timeshift you can go back in time and restore your computer to the last functional system snapshot. If anything breaks, you can go back to the previous snapshot and it's as if the problem never happened.
This greatly simplifies the maintenance of your computer, since you no longer need to worry about potential regressions. In the eventuality of a critical regression, you can restore a snapshot (thus canceling the effects of the regression) and you still have the ability to apply updates selectively (as you did in previous releases).
Security and stability are of paramount importance. By applying all updates you keep your computer secure and with automated snapshots in place its stability is guaranteed.
The Update Manager no longer promotes vigilance and selective updates. It relies on Timeshift to guarantee the stability of your system and suggests to apply all available updates.
If it cannot find your Timeshift configuration, it shows a warning:
The Update Manager
Updates are sorted by type, with security and kernel updates at the top.
A new type was introduced for updates originating from 3rd party repositories and/or PPAs. Hovering your mouse cursor over these updates shows their origin in a tooltip.
In the past automatic updates were reserved to advanced users. It was assumed that if somebody was experienced enough to set a cron job, they would be experienced enough to parse APT logs and work around regressions. Thanks to Timeshift, which makes it easy for anyone to work around regressions by restoring snapshots, automatic updates can now be enabled easily, in the preferences.
The mintupdate-tool command was replaced by mintupdate-cli. This new command doesn't use dconf, it provides better options and it is easier to use in scripts and in the terminal.
Kernel updates rely on meta-packages rather than manually installing kernel packages. This makes it easier to remove older kernels by using "apt autoremove".
Support for "lowlatency" kernels was added.
The Update Manager switched to symbolic icons to better support dark themes and provides a keyboard shortcuts window in its help menu.
Linux Mint 19 ships with a brand new welcome screen.
The welcome screen
The main page is dedicated to welcoming you to your computer and your new operating system.
The new layout makes it easier to add more information and to guide you through your first steps.
In addition to the welcome screen, the Linux Mint team worked on improving its documentation. An installation guide, a troubleshooting guide and a translation guide are already available. A security guide and a developer guide are also planned.
The Software Manager which was revamped and gained Flatpak support in Linux Mint 18.3, received many improvements.
The Software Manager
In the user interface, the layout was refined and transition animations were added.
The keyboard navigation was reviewed and improved.
The search is faster, asynchronous and you can now search within categories.
An internal cache was developed for APT and Flatpak in Linux Mint. This cache provides an abstraction layer, so that applications such as the Software Manager can handle APT and Flatpak the same way, without worrying about their differences. This cache could potentially be used by other applications in the future, such as the menu or the Update Manager.
Many efforts were made to increase the performance of the cache. This results in the Software Manager launching even faster than before.
Activity and loading indicators were improved. It is now easier to keep track of background activities.
Background activities in the Software Manager
Support was added for .flatpakref and .flatpakrepo, so you can click buttons on the Web or share Flatpak installation files to easily install Flatpak applications.
When available, the Software Manager shows the size and version of Flatpak applications.
Old screenshots are cleaned up.
MATE 1.20 supports HiDPI displays with dynamic detection and scaling.
HiDPI support in MATE
Toggling HiDPI triggers dynamic resize and scale, no log out is required.
Support for DRI3 and XPresent was added in Marco. This results in better frame rates when playing games.
Marco now supports quadrant window tiling.
Cursor keys can be used to navigate the Alt-Tab switcher and keyboard shortcuts to move windows to other monitors.
MATE Terminal now supports background images, new Solarized themes and keybindings to switch tabs.
Panel applets size correctly based on the units being displayed and many graphs are dynamically scaled.
Engrampa, the archive viewer, received improved support for encrypted 7z archives.
HiDPI support gets better with every new release.
All the Linux Mint tools use GTK3 and support HiDPI.
Mint-Y, the default icon theme, ships with "@2x" icons which look crisp in HiDPI.
Gksu, which used GTK+, was removed and all the tools which were using it were migrated to pkexec.
Within the default software selection, only a few remaining applications still lack support for it: Hexchat, Gimp and Tomboy Notes.
Xed, the text editor, uses a new preferences window. This type of window is provided by libXapp and could be used by more applications in the future.
The look and feel was refined and adjusted for GTK 3.22.
A keyboard shortcuts window was added in the help menu.
A new plugin was added for word auto-completion. This plugin doesn't use dictionaries but it is able to auto-complete words which are already present in the document.
The PDF reader, Xreader, also received a libXapp preferences window and support for optional toolbar buttons.
If you enable the option to "Remember recently accessed files" in your "Privacy" settings, Xreader displays and provides quick access to your recently opened PDF and ePub documents.
Xreader showing recent documents
It is now possible to change the size of the thumbnails and that size is remembered for each document.
Zoomable thumbnails in Xreader
Annotations can now be deleted.
ePub support was improved. Thumbnails were fixed and it is now possible to save ePub documents.
Support for smooth scrolling was improved.
The USB stick formatting tool now supports exFat.
The Software Sources tool is able to show the installed packages from a PPA.
A new option was added to the login screen to improve multi-monitor support. You can choose among your monitors which one should show the login form (by default the form jumps from one screen to another as you move your mouse cursor between them).
The multimedia codecs now include the Microsoft fonts.
All the Mint tools support HiDPI, GTK3 and Python3. Many also transitioned to AptDaemon and pkexec.
Pidgin was removed from the default software selection. It will continue to be available in the repositories but it is no longer installed by default.
The PIA Manager, the set up tool for PIA VPN connections (available in the repositories), now remembers your username, password and gateway settings.
This release ships with linux-firmware 1.173 and the Linux kernel 4.15.0-20.
Linux Mint 19 features a superb collection of backgrounds from Aaron Thomas, Bruno Fantinatti, Eva Blue, Ezra Comeau-Jeffrey, Jakob Owens, Jan Kaluza, Joanna Kosinska, Johannes Plenio, Jonathan Ferland-Valois, Josh Spires, Luke Stackpoole, Micha Sager, Monika, Oskars Sylwan, Rachael Smith, Sezgin Mendil, Tom Vining, Vladimir Proskurovskiy, Will H McMahan and Willian Justen de Vasconcellos.
An overview of the new backgrounds
New Linux Mint backgrounds from Bookwood and Kevin Tee were also added:
New Linux Mint backgrounds
The default theme switched to Mint-Y, but Mint-X is still installed by default as an alternative.
Many news icons were added to the Mint-Y icon theme and the places icons are available in multiple colors.
To improve look and feel, but also support for HiDPI and dark themes, many of the tools and applications shipped with Linux Mint switched to symbolic icons.
Linux Mint 19 features MATE 1.20, a Linux kernel 4.15 and an Ubuntu 18.04 package base.
Linux Mint 19 will receive security updates until 2023.
Until 2020, future versions of Linux Mint will use the same package base as Linux Mint 19, making it trivial for people to upgrade.
Until 2020, the development team won't start working on a new base and will be fully focused on this one.