If you were reading Neowin at the weekend, you may have seen that the Linux Mint 21.1 Beta ISOs were undergoing testing before release. For those eager to try out the Beta, the wait is now over. The Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce editions are now available for download. While they should all be pretty stable, they are Betas, so you may encounter bugs, which you should report.
The main change in this update is the theming used. In this update, the Mint team has opted to make colours more vibrant but reduced where they are used, making sure they’re not too distracting. In this update, accent colours have been removed from the panel and in menus and folders are now yellow. Controversially, the Mint team has also opted to use the blue Aqua theme by default, taking away the familiar mint colour.
While this is a big change, one of the core philosophies of the operating system is that users are in control. For that reason, when you see the Welcome screen after installation, one of the first things you’ll be able to do is choose the accent colour and whether you’ll use the light or dark theme. If you want the old theme back in its entirety, select the “Mint-Y-Legacy” theme, it’s installed by default.
Another change users will immediately notice is the icons that are shown on the desktop. The home folder has been removed from the desktop because it’s easy to get to from the main menu and the panel or by pressing Super + E on the keyboard (Super is the Windows key). The only things on the desktop now are the installation icon, items you drop on the desktop, files placed in ~/Desktop, and mounted devices.
Other notable changes include a new default cursor and several new alternatives, as well as new sounds that are “modern and reassuring”. Additionally, there are different icon themes to select including Mint-X, Mint-Y, Mint Legacy, Breeze, Papirus, Numix, and Yaro.
For a point release, this update is certainly a big one. Linux Mint is normally known for its slow, gradual changes, so users aren’t too shocked, but this update gets away from that a little bit. If you’d prefer to revert to the old look, you can do so easily by selecting the old theme and cursor.
The Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce Betas are available to download now. If you don’t like what you’ve read about the new changes and want to stay on Linux Mint 21, that’s fine. It will continue to receive updates until 2027.