Is Linux Mint Turning Into Home windows?

Linux Mint developers have decided to notify users of any pending updates on their system.

The developers of Linux Mint, a popular Linux distribution, have announced a new feature for the Update Manager that is designed to encourage regular and frequent updates.

Some users in the Linux community made fun of it, saying it was too much like Windows' infamous forced updates. So what's really going on?

New update notifications from Linux Mint

In a blog post on March 31, the Linux Mint development team explained how Mint's Update Manager application will soon display desktop notifications when a user has been working for a long time without updating their operating system. A small dialog box will appear asking the user to either view the updates, set up automatic updates, or sleep until later.

So far, the only indication of available updates was a tiny red dot in the system tray. The developers of the popular Linux distribution claim they are adding the feature in response to research showing a significant number of Mint users are ignoring all updates for an extended period of time and missing critical security updates in the meantime.

The team found in interviews with Mint users that many "were sensitive to the importance of applying updates, but not simply because they were never actually told".

More information: How to update Linux Mint from the desktop

The Mint team then saw it as their responsibility to create an easy-to-use, secure, "out-of-the-box" operating system to remind users of updates when it might have crossed their minds.

However, some members of the Linux community have viewed this as a deterioration for the Mint project.

Update memories gone too far?

One of the most commonly cited reasons for switching from Windows or macOS to Linux is to impose frequent and extensive updates from these operating systems on their users. It's understandable, but this move by the Linux Mint team could create bad memories for these users and feel like a rejection of the libre and hands-off philosophies that many users associate with Linux.

Is Linux becoming Windows?

Not really. The Mint blog also makes it clear that the Update Manager will never apply an update without your consent. The Mint team repeated, "This is your computer, not ours." The function is only a notification function, not an automatic update protocol.

By default, Update Manager does not display any reminders for 30 days after an update is even applied. In PC security time, that's still very generous, and some may say the length of time between updates is dangerous.

If the notification system still feels too tyrannical for you, its functionality is fully configurable. The Mint blog recognized that some users have real reasons not to update, so these users are completely free to take control of the notifications.

By opening the update manager Settings In the dialog box, you can extend the waiting time for reminders to 90 days or deactivate the function altogether. The update manager itself can be disabled if you prefer to update from the command line. Thus, Mint remains an operating system that has complete control over the user.

Linux Mint is getting serious about updating

For security reasons, the decision made by the Linux Mint development team is very important to the users. The developers clearly stated that they will not force updates on a system. In addition, users still have the option to turn off the new feature if they choose to.

When you look at the bigger picture, reminding users of pending updates would not only reduce the number of outdated systems but also improve the overall security of computers running Linux Mint.

The great thing about Linux is that there are tons of distributions to choose from. If this news is putting you off Mint, why not compare it to others and switch?

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About the author

Jordan Gloor
(35 articles published)

Jordan is a tutor and journalist who is passionate about making Linux accessible and stress-free for everyone. He has a BA in English and a thing for hot tea. During the warm season he enjoys cycling on the hills of the Ozarks where he lives.

By Jordan Gloor

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