Linux Mint outlines better, unobtrusive update notifications

The Linux Mint logo on a black grey and green background

Clem Lefebvre, head of the Linux Mint project, has written a blog post outlining new notifications that try not to be annoying but also remind users that they need to perform software updates to keep their computer secure. The details arrive a little over a month since Lefebvre pointed to stats that show some users were not applying security updates and in some cases, people were even running end of life versions of Linux Mint.

The Linux Mint team prides itself on its users controlling their computer rather than the other way around. New Mint versions only ever introduce conservative changes so that the whole operating system doesn’t need to be relearned and users are also given complete control over when, how, and which updates are installed; unfortunately, this mindset has led to some users running outdated, vulnerable software.

The new prefs for Mint Update Manager

To remedy the issue, a new pop-up has been created which lets the user know how many updates are available, it says why updates need to be applied, it lets users view available updates, and gives users the option to turn on automatic updates. If the user dismisses the notification it will come back two days later so it’s not overbearing.

If the user decides to install updates, the notification will disappear for quite a while on the default settings. By default, the notification will appear if an update has been available for more than seven logged-in days or if it’s older than 15 calendar days. The number of days can be changed to anything between two and 90 days depending on how often you want to see updates. Additionally, these notifications will only be triggered by security and kernel updates but this can be adjusted in the settings.

The new prefs for Mint Update Manager

There is also a grace period setting which is set to 30 days by default, essentially, this means that if an update has been applied in the last 30 days, you will not be bugged by notifications until that time has elapsed.

The Mint team hopes that the default settings will work for most people in that they keep their system moderately up-to-date without being overburdened with constant reminders to update their machine. The new notifications are set to arrive in Linux Mint 20.2 but Lefebvre has also said that it could be backported to older versions.

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