How to Upgrade to Linux Mint 21 [Step by Step Tutorial]


This is a regularly updated guide for upgrading an existing Linux Mint install to a new available version.

There are three sections in this article that show the steps for upgrading between various major versions of Linux Mint:

  • Section 1 is about upgrading to Mint 21 from Mint 20.3 (GUI upgrade tool)
  • Section 2 is about upgrading to Mint 20 from Mint 19.3 (Command-line based upgrader)
  • Section 3 is about upgrading to Mint 19 from Mint 18.3 (if someone is still using it)

You can follow the appropriate steps based on your current Mint version and requirement.

This is a regularly updated guide for upgrading an existing Linux Mint install to a new available version.

The guide has been updated with the steps for upgrading to Linux Mint 21 from Mint 20.3. Linux Mint now has a GUI tool to upgrade to the latest version.

Things to know before you upgrade to Linux Mint 21

Before you go on upgrading to Linux Mint 21, you should consider the following:

  • Do you really need to upgrade? Linux Mint 20.x is supported for several more years.
  • You’ll need a good speed internet connection to download upgrades of around 1.4 GB.
  • It may take a couple of hours to complete the upgrade procedure based on your internet speed. You must have patience.
  • It is a good idea to make a live USB of Linux Mint 21 and try it in a live session to see if it is compatible with your hardware. Newer kernels might have issues with older hardware, so testing it before the real upgrade or install can save you a lot of frustration.
  • A fresh installation is always better than a major version upgrade but installing Linux Mint 21 from scratch would mean losing your existing data. You must take backup on an external disk.
  • Though upgrades are mostly safe, it’s not 100% failproof. You must have system snapshots and proper backups.
  • You can upgrade to Linux Mint 21 only from Linux Mint 20.3 Cinnamon, Xfce and MATE. Check your Linux Mint version first. If you are using Linux Mint 20.2 or 20.1, you need to upgrade to 20.3 first from the Update Manager. If you are using Linux Mint 19, I advise you to go for a fresh installation rather than upgrading to several Mint versions.

Once you know what you will do, let’s see how to upgrade to Linux Mint 21.

Upgrading to Linux Mint 21 from 20.3

Check your Linux Mint version and ensure that you are using Mint 20.3. You cannot upgrade to Mint 21 from Mint 20.1 or 20.2.

Step 1: Update your system by installing any available updates

Launch the Update Manager with Menu -> Administration -> Update Manager. Check if there are any package updates available. If yes, install all the software updates first.

Check for Pending Software Updates

You may also use this command in the terminal for this step:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y

Timeshift is a good tool for creating system snapshots, but it’s not the ideal tool for your documents, pictures, and other such non-system, personal files. I advise making a backup on an external disk. It’s just for the sake of data safety.

When I say making a backup on an external disk, I mean to simply copy and paste your Pictures, Documents, Downloads, and Videos directory on an external USB disk.

If you don’t have a disk of that much size, at least copy the most important files you cannot afford to lose.

Step 3: Install the upgrade tool

Now that your system is updated, you are ready to upgrade to Linux Mint 21. Linux Mint team provides a GUI tool called mintupgrade for upgrading Linux Mint 20.3 to Linux Mint 21.

You can install this tool using the command below:

sudo apt install mintupgrade

Step 4: Run GUI Tool from the terminal

You cannot find the new GUI tool listed in the App menu. To launch, you need to enter the following command in the terminal:

sudo mintupgrade

This simple yet comprehensive tool takes you through the upgrading process.

mint upgrade tool home page
Mint Upgrade Tool Home Page

After some initial tests, it will prompt for a Timeshift Backup. If you already have a backup created, you are good to go.

upgrade tool prompting no timeshift snapshots
Upgrade Tool Prompting No Timeshift Snapshots

Else, you need to create a backup here since it is mandatory to continue.

taking snapshot with timeshift
Taking Snapshot With Timeshift

Some PPAs might be already available for Ubuntu 22.04 and thus for Mint 21. But if the PPA or repository is not available for the new version, it may impact the upgrade procedure with broken dependencies. You will be prompted the same within the upgrade tool.

kazam ppa does not support jammy
Kazam PPA Does Not Support Jammy

Here, I used Kazam latest version through its PPA. The same PPA is supported only up to Impish, showing the error since Linux Mint 21 is based on Jammy.

You will be given the option to disable the PPAs through Software Sources within the upgrade tool.

disable unsupported ppas in software sources
Disable Unsupported PPAs in Software Sources

Since the PPA is disabled, the package becomes ‘foreign’ because the version available from the repository doesn’t match the ones from Mint repositories. So you need to downgrade the packages to a version available on the repository.

downgrade package to avoid conflicts
Downgrade Package to Avoid Conflicts

The upgrade tool now lists the changes that need to be carried out.

list changes that need to be done
List Changes That Need to be Done

Upon accepting, the tool will start downloading packages.

phase 2 simulation and package download
Phase 2 – Simulation and Package Download
package downloading
Package Downloading
upgrading phase
Upgrading Phase

It will list orphan packages, that can be removed. You can either remove the whole suggestions by pressing the “Fix” button or will keep certain packages.

Keep Certain Orphan packages

In order to keep packages from the orphan packages list, you need to go to the preferences from the hamburger menu on top left.

selecting orphan packages you want to keep with preferences
Selecting Orphan Packages You Want to Keep with Preferences

From the preference dialog box, you need to go to Orphan Packages and use the “plus” symbol to add packages by name.

specify name of the package to keep
Specify Name of the Package to Keep

Once done, it will continue upgrading and after some time, you will be prompted a successful update notification.

upgrade successful
Upgrade Successful

At this point, you need to reboot your system. Upon rebooting, you will be in the new Linux Mint 21.

neofetch output linux mint 21
Neofetch Output Linux Mint 21

Did you upgrade to Linux Mint 21?

Upgrading to Linux Mint 20 might not be a friendly experience but upgrading to Mint 21 is made a lot more simple with the new dedicated GUI upgrade tool.

I hope you find the tutorial helpful. Did you upgrade to Linux Mint 21 or you opted for a fresh installation?

If you faced any issues or if you have any questions about the upgrade procedure, please feel free to ask in the comment section.




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