How to upgrade to a new Linux Mint version

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 26, 2016
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Linux, Linux Mint

The following guide provides you with instructions on how to upgrade a device running Linux Mint to the latest version of the Linux distribution.

The main present that I handed out during Christmas was a shiny new laptop for my girlfriend. The device came without operating system, and I made the decision to install Linux Mint on the device and not Windows.

I installed Linux Mint 17.3 on the device, wrapped it up nicely, only to read a day later that Linux Mint 18 has been released.

So, the first thing I did after she unwrapped her present was to take it away from here to install the latest version of the Linux distribution on the device.

How to upgrade to a new Linux Mint version

There are two main methods to upgrade Linux Mint to a new version. The recommended way, or playing it safe, is to use a new liveDVD to install the new version on the device. This involves backing up all data and software on the device prior to the upgrade, and restoring the backed up data afterwards.

You can read about this method on the official Linux Mint Community site.

What I did was upgrade directly from the running system instead. It is still recommended that you back up your data before you proceed. I had no need for a back up as there was no data on the device other than a couple of changes I made to it after installation of Linux Mint.

Backup Linux Mint

linux mint backup

To back up, select Menu > Administration > Backup Tool. Note that you can also type Backup Tool and select it this way. This works even if the language of the Linux Mint installation is not English.

Select Backup files in the next step, and configure the process.

  1. Select your home directory as the source. You may need to click on "other" to select it.
  2. Select a destination directory for the backup. It is recommended to use an external storage device, or a second hard drive for it.
  3. Click on advanced options afterwards. You may want to add a description for the backup, and modify the settings there as you see fit. It is usually not required though as everything is set up just fine. You may save a bit of storage space if you select an archive format under output.
  4. Select Forward to proceed.
  5. You may exclude files from being backed up on the next screen. This depends largely on how you are using your computer. You may want to exclude the download folder for instance, or any other folder that you don't require that is under the home directory.
  6. Select forward again.
  7. The backup tool displays all parameters of the back up job on the final screen.
  8. Click apply.

To back up the installed software, open the backup tool again.

  1. This time however you need to select "backup software selection" on the first page that opens.
  2. Select a destination for the backup job in the next step.
  3. The program displays the list of software installed by you or an admin. You can select some or all of the programs.

The Linux Mint upgrade

linux mint system information

The first thing you may want to do is check the current version of Linux Mint. To do so, select menu and type "version", and select System Information.

If you prefer Terminal, open a prompt and type cat /etc/linuxmint/info.

Step 1: Using the Update Manager

linux mint update manager

The Linux Mint Upgrade Tool works only if Linux Mint 17.3 is installed on the device. If you are still on Linux Mint 17.0, 17.1 or 17.2, or even an older version, you need to run the Update Manager first.

Also, please note that the KDE edition of Linux Mint cannot be upgraded this way. If you run KDE, you need to download the live version and run the installer using it.

  1. Select menu, type update manager, and then the result from the listing.
  2. Select refresh first (the program may ask you about your updating preference, simply click ok to get to the main interface).
  3. Apply all updates.
  4. Check Edit at the top to see if you get an option to upgrade to the latest "same" version of Linux Mint. So, if you are on Linux Mint 17.1 for instance, see if you get the option to upgrade to Linux Mint 17.3 there.
  5. If you see the option there, select it (e.g. Edit > Upgrade to Linux Mint 17.3 Rosa).
  6. follow the instructions.

Step 2: Upgrade Linux Mint to a new version

upgrade linux mint

The following commands are all run from a Terminal window:

  1. Select Menu, type terminal, and select the result.
  2. First, you need to install the Linux Mint Upgrade Tool. Run the command apt install mintupgrade.
  3. Then, you may want to run an upgrade check, or a simulation of the upgrade, to make sure it will run without issues. The command for that is mintupgrade check.
  4. Once you are satisfied with the result, type mintupgrade download to download the packages require to upgrade to the latest version of Mint.
  5. Then, once they have been downloaded, run mintupgrade upgrade to perform the upgrade. Please note that this will take a while to complete.

And that is all it takes.

Closing Words

This method of upgrading to the latest version of Linux Mint is not as fast as installing the new version using a live copy of Linux Mint. I do prefer it though, as I don't have to prepare a USB device first (or burn the new copy of the distribution to DVD), before I can get started.

How to upgrade to a new Linux Mint version
Article Name
How to upgrade to a new Linux Mint version
The following guide provides you with instructions on how to upgrade a device running Linux Mint to the latest version of the Linux distribution.
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  1. Charles Rynard said on August 14, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    Thank you for this article or information. After year’s and years of using and having to purchase the various Microsoft products in order to keep my computer working. I had developed very negative outlook with regards to using a computer. In fact I stop using my laptop, trashed my desktop and I found ways to avoid using one. Currently, I am a new user of Linux Mint and have truly enjoyed what I am learning. I spent about four hours a day learning something new with regards to what I can do with the new OS. I spend another two hours a day reviewing my notes and trying out what I learned. I’ve had some positive results and I’ve had some negative results. However at the end of the day I often find myself with a positive outlook regarding what I had learned and find myself looking forward to the next day. In fact I am now using three laptops everyday, because one of then is always being repaired. I just re-burn the hard drives with one of the systems that appear to be functioning correctly. No big deal. I am a retired Structural Engineer, private commercial real estate development company. I can’t thank you enough for the Linux Mint OS program. In fact I plan on attending the Linux event that’s going to take place in San Diego CA., during August 2019. I have lived here for the past 50 years. I just don’t know what class / programs to attend. Got any ideas? Sincerely

  2. Jeff said on January 7, 2017 at 12:20 am

    I play around with Linux distros to see the progress. Its still awful on desktop, not worth the headache. Windows will always be the best for desktop computing. This Linux Mint upgrade broke my themes, so I deleted it. I’m playing with Solus right now. Its much better.

  3. trek100 said on December 29, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    for this great, useful Linux post, Martin!

    Please, please Martin…
    *** more Linux-related articles in Ghacks. ***

    After 20 years of using MS-Windows,
    I dropped it forever
    and I’m NOT going back to “that world”.

    Love Linux!
    (Ubuntu in my case).


  4. Steve said on December 27, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    The only hardware issue I have seen (Mint 18.1 Cinnamon) is with a Logitech wireless keyboard – where the numeric keypad is not recognized. All other keys function just fine.

  5. Xircal said on December 27, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    And what did your girlfriend think about getting a brand new laptop, but without Windows? I would hazard a guess and say she wasn’t too happy.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 27, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      She was very happy, but she is a light computer user, and has me for any troubles. So, no issues on that front ;)

  6. Aor B, not C. said on December 27, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    Fyi, since March 2016, Google no longer support 32bit Chrome for Linux, eg 32bit Linux users cannot download n install the Chrome browser. So, some 32bit Linux users had opted to install the Flashpeak Slimjet browser, a Chromium derivative. Problem is, the Slimjet browser cannot do much web-browsing while downloading videos or iso files at the same time, unless u hv a 1Gbps Internet speed.
    ……. Luckily, recently Adobe has resumed supporting Flash Player for Linux – which was stopped in 2012 with the Flash Player for Firefox stuck at Version 11. So, 32bit Linux users can use the Firefox browser together with the latest Flash Player Version 24 plugin n will be able to do slow web-surfing while downloading videos at the same time.

  7. Guest said on December 27, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    An easier way: Update Manager -> Edit -> Upgrade to “Linux Mint 18.1 Serena”

    Illustrated at:

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 27, 2016 at 1:34 pm

      right, but this works only if you are on Mint 18, not if you are still on 17.x

      1. Guest said on December 28, 2016 at 11:26 am

        No wonder “Step 2” didn’t work.
        I’ll follow your guide when upgrading to Mint 19 : )

  8. Guest said on December 27, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    An easier way: Update Manager -> Edit -> Upgrade to “Linux Mint 18.1 Serena”

    Illustrated at:

  9. ilev said on December 27, 2016 at 9:58 am


    Why have you decided on Linux and not a Chrombook ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 27, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      I prefer to have as little Google as possible in my personal life. That’s the main reason.

  10. SocialMediaGrandpa said on December 26, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    Once Win7 ends I guess I’ll finally have ot make the jump to Linux. Can’t stomach Microsoft anymore, won’t do Apple. Mint seemed like the most appealing/easiest thing to go with when I looked into it a little a while ago.
    So yeah, regular Linux content wouldn’t be bad. Maybe from the perspective of “So, you’ve finally been forced to drop Windows. Here’s what you do to survive”.
    Maybe something about Windows emulation, how to run Windows programs on Linux etc.

    1. martin said on July 22, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      I had Packard bell desktop came with Windows 7. Did an auto upgrade to windows 10 and from that point on the computer never worked right. Three weeks later after two full hours of frozen screen followed by reboot after reboot my hard drive threw its hand in. I bought another hard drive and decided NOT to use MS but chose Mint instead. I had no previous knowledge of installing OS but Mint went on flawlessly. My computer has never worked so well. Now toying about with upgrading to Mint 18.2. The only issue i have had is with printer driver being quite difficult (for me to find). very happy with Linux. All computers should run this way. Thank you

  11. TimH said on December 26, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Whatever Linux you use, if you can partition the HDD with a /boot partition (say 1GB), a swap partition (say 8GB), a / partition (20 – 40GB), and then the rest as a /home partition then updating or swapping distros becomes much better and safer. This is because most installs default to wiping the / partition.

  12. jasray said on December 26, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    As much as I appreciate Mint Cinnamon enough to use it on USBs and one older computer . . . I’ll let others read and think for themselves:

    “Today, Clement Lefebvre, Linux Mint leader, concedes that his team simply doesn’t have the resources to meet its goals. You see, the team is finding it very difficult to maintain a KDE Plasma version of its operating system, so it has turned to the Kubuntu team instead. The question becomes, why bother? KDE users should simply use Kubuntu and the Linux Mint team should stay focused on Cinnamon and Mate. Am I right?”

    And the old news:

    The copy-cat distros all based on Ubuntu–where would they all be without Canonical?

    It’s one reason Microsoft maintains market dominance–not that it’s any better or worse than Linux; rather, it’s pooled a lot of talent that can focus on development. Linux–it’s a kernel that anyone can plaster with a desktop interface. Try “Top Noodle.” Great little distro! Add a few programs, and magic.

    No, really, I miss the originality of Linux and would recommend Erik Veenstra’s version of Qemu Pup:

    Not a dual boot, not really a virtual machine; a super handy tool for travel.

  13. Ron said on December 26, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    More Linux articles, please! Especially Mint.

  14. Idea said on December 26, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    Hi Martin,

    would it make sense to use this present you gave to your girl friend as an example to report about all the good and bad that might happen in the Mint future ? And the possible solutions ?

    Many would like to abandone MS and switch to Linux but are hold back by the still too technical approach, despite releases like Mint. This is not ment as an insult, but these linux geeks seem not to be able to: 1. realize their big chance to spread this system because of MS wrongdoing
    2. express themselves in an understandable way for the normal, not sooo savvy user

    Maybe you could break the ice and open the doors a little by putting your and your girl friends experience on the table. I am sure in the long run your webpage would get even more visitors.
    Just an idea and “schönen zweiten Feiertag plus guten Rutsch ins Neue”.

  15. trek100 said on December 26, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Martin –
    Which laptop
    (Brand and Model) did you get?

    I heard that installing Linux (Ubuntu -OR- Mint)
    on any laptop
    is problematic…
    ( ie: not as easy as installing on a regular PC desktop ).

    – Any suggestions for installing Ubuntu or Mint
    ** on a DELL laptop **?
    – Which DELL laptop model to buy, to install Linux on it?
    – Any experiences out there (positive or negative)?.


    1. Vrai said on December 27, 2016 at 5:17 pm


      I have installed various distributions of Linux (Mint, Ubuntu, Manjaro, Puppy, CrunchBang, SliTaz, etc.) on various laptops (HP, Dell, Acer, Asus, etc.) and never had a problem.

      Several years ago the only issue would be with the wireless card. Some worked out of the box but others would require an ethernet connection in order to download and install the required firmware. Doesn’t happen much anymore.

      Sometimes touchpads do not have the full functionality or settings I would prefer.

      Only the newest most modern equipment may pose a problem if the device manufacturers do not release drivers/firmware for Linux and the kernel devs must back engineer some. Generally just a short lag until everything works.

  16. paulus said on December 26, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Great choice to go for H.P. notebook because H.P. always has the best M.T.B.F..

    I am loving Mint as a o.s. much more (Not only because Mint has a much smaller installment fingerprint
    and because its much nicer to use but also because Mint has a much lesser issues.) than Ubuntu.

    Thanks for the handy upgrade instruction manual you wrought up here.
    Wishing you and Julia a great Christmas Martin.

  17. Nathan said on December 26, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    It’s nice to see Linux articles on site, after all the problems Microsoft put people through. Those of you who care about privacy should all learn Linux, at least on the surface with an interface (not necessarily a terminal). It’s really easy and Linux market share keeps on growing after the arrival of Windows 10.

    This is a lesson of life. You either adapt, or you die. Since Microsoft doesn’t care about your survival, it is up to you to decide what is right by you. The choice is yours.

  18. Red said on December 26, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Martin, I’m guessing that’s Cinnamon? I’m just curious which desktop version you rather use.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 26, 2016 at 2:11 pm

      Yes that is Cinnamon. I first thought about installing Mate as I did not know how good the device — fairly low-performance — can handle Cinnamon but it turned out to be fine. I would have switched to Mate otherwise.

  19. buck said on December 26, 2016 at 11:14 am

    As good as Mint was, this upgrade process was the primary reason I moved away from Mint to a rolling release distro.

    My experience is it is much easier, and safer, to update your system once every 1-2 weeks with small changes, than once every 6 months with very large changes. Having to re-install a system every 6 months doesn’t really make much sense either, lots of software changes so backup up config files may or may not work. Having to wait up to 6 months for new functionality or bug fixes can also be very frustrating.

    Still light years better than W10 or the other recently “telemetry patched” Microsoft OSes.

    Great to see Linux articles back on the site :)

    1. asdf said on December 26, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      “Great to see Linux articles back on the site :)”

      This! We want more! :)

      1. Robert said on December 26, 2016 at 6:06 pm

        Agreed :)

    2. Bob Hill said on December 26, 2016 at 11:28 am

      Hello Buck, I agree with your comments about rolling releases. Which rolling-release distros did you look at, which one did you finally decide on, and why did you prefer that final choice? Many thanks in advance, Bob.

      1. buck said on December 27, 2016 at 9:28 am

        Better to link to a thread with Manjaro users explaining why they use Manjaro

      2. buck said on December 27, 2016 at 9:19 am


  20. Dana said on December 26, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Ive updated without a hitch,no back up. Mint is a great OS.

  21. Robert said on December 26, 2016 at 9:35 am

    I tried upgrading from 17 to 18 on two of my computers and both of them failed. Luckily I used Image For DOS from TeraByte Unlimited to make a system backup as I didn’t have time to do a clean install right away. I finally got around to installing Linux Mint 18.0 and personalizing the system and a short time later 18.1 became available. I used the upgrade manager for the update and it worked like a charm. I like Linux Mint a lot.

  22. awfd said on December 26, 2016 at 9:09 am

    18 came out half a year ago. the one popped up recently was 18.1. you sure you got the latest one? that said.. 18.0->18.1 is pretty painless compared to 17.3->18.0. no faffing around with the terminal, all done in the update manager.

    mind you. they keep saying there’s no need to upgrade for the sake of upgrading.

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