'For better or worse, the Wayland graphics stack is the future of
Linux and will undoubtedly be the big story of 2017 (unless the Mir
display server actually ships, in which case it might share the
spotlight). What's more, once you've used Wayland in my experience,
you'll want it everywhere. Sadly, only one of the major distros has
Wayland today: Fedora.
That doesn't mean Mint 18.1, which happened to arrive the same day
that our Fedora review published, isn't a great release. But this new
release doesn't have Wayland. Nor will the distro at large have
Wayland until Linux Mint's upstream source, Ubuntu, ships Wayland as
part of an LTS release. That likely won't happen until at least 2018,
when the next Ubuntu LTS release comes out. By that time,
theoretically, Ubuntu itself will be using Mir, and Ubuntu GNOME (and
possibly other flavors) will move to Wayland. Then and only then will
Mint be in a position to move to Wayland. And even then, it may not
happen right away.
That means there's no Wayland in Mint's near future, and it also means
Mint will be a little out of the loop going forward. That's an
interesting transition for the project given that it started out with
a more aggressive development pace, adopting new features and
iterating quickly compared to other Linux distros.
All that changed a couple of years ago when Mint opted to stop chasing
Ubuntu and built off the LTS cycle. Mint is no longer quite as cutting
edge as it once was, which shows up in some important areas like the
kernel (which is only at 4.4 even now). Mint is also still plagued by
the some of the poorly implemented update and security issues that
have dogged it for years. You can keep Mint up-to-date and secure, but
Mint actively encourages users (especially inexperienced) users to
avoid updates. That more than anything else would prevent me from
picking Mint 18.1 over, well, any other distro.
Although Mint 18.1 builds on the same set of base packages found in
the previous release (Linux Mint 18.0), which are based on Ubuntu
16.04, there's still plenty of new stuff in 18.1 to make Mint fans
happy. Most of what's new is not underlying system change; rather,
it's higher level stuff (the stuff that makes Mint, well, Mint).'
Dept. of Computer Science
University of Waikato, NZ
+64 (7) 858-5174