While many on the related blog post for the [_21.1 BETA release_ announcement page](https://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=4442) laud the new look of several applications, I cannot help but feel such changes rob Linux Mint of its distinctive look and charm, taking Mint from its instantly recognizable desktop to something decidedly more generic and bland. I cannot fathom the reason for new sounds, either. I'm not certain the goals of making Mint more _trendy_ and _beautiful_ were achieved. Unless these refer to making it look more akin to Windows 11, which nemo's new manila folders with blue highlighting echoes. The new, more vibrant colors of Windows 11 icons were also rightfully criticized as being poor choices, but Mint seems determined to follow in its footsteps. Good defaults matter, and I believe these UI changes are not.
That notwithstanding, the non-UI improvements everywhere are well justified and should make Linux Mint more comfortable for all to use. Flatpaks were rather inconvenient to use, and much work has gone into making those easier to manage. Especially exciting is the new _ISO Verification Tool_!
"The north-German state of Schleswig-Holstein plans to switch to open source software, including LibreOffice, in its administration and schools.
In doing so, the state wants to reduce its dependence on proprietary software, and eventually end it altogether. By the end of 2026, Microsoft Office is to be replaced by LibreOffice on all 25,000 computers used by civil servants and employees (including teachers), and the Windows operating system is to be replaced by GNU/Linux."
This article by Mike Saunders shows several photos from the Open Source conference, also linking to an interview with the Digital Minister Jan Philipp Albrecht and a PDF of the Parliment's Planning. (both in German)