Article from Issue 256/2022

In the news: Linux Mint 20.3 Now Available; Linux Gets an Exciting New Firmware Feature; elementary OS 6.1 Has Been Released; Intel Releases Linux Patch for Alder Lake Thread Director; New Multiplatform Backdoor Malware Targets Linux, macOS, and Windows; and WhiteSource Releases Free Log4j Detection Tool.

Linux Mint 20.3 Now Available

Users of the popular Linux Mint distribution can celebrate the new year by downloading a new release, version 20.3 ( This latest iteration is based on Ubuntu 20.04.5 LTS. Although it doesn't have any game-changing new features, it does offer a lot of subtle UI tweaks and a very helpful document manager app.

As for the polish, the default Mint theme doesn't lean so much on the color green and includes larger titlebars, bigger controls, and rounded corners. A number of the default apps also default to a dark theme.

Some of the app improvements include the calendar tool showing events from multiple sources, some tweaks to the Nemo file manager (including the ability to rename a moved or copied file to avoid overwriting a duplicate), new styling for the run dialog, major updates to the Notes app (which includes a new search function), a channel search option for Hypnotic (Mint's internet TV app), and the ability to switch between tabs with the Ctrl+Tab keyboard shortcut with the Xed text editor.

There's also the new Thingy app, which is a document manager that provides quick access to favorite and frequently opened documents. Thingy also keeps track of reading progress, so when you re-open a document it'll start where you left off.

To find out everything that's in the new version, make sure to check out the Linux Mint 20.3 release notes (

Linux Gets an Exciting New Firmware Feature

When you upgrade your motherboard firmware (such as the BIOS or UEFI), you have to reboot your system. Thanks to a new patch from Intel, both BIOS and UEFI updates can be done without forcing a reboot.

How is this possible? Currently, an upgrade is done by uploading the firmware from within the operating system. The desktop or server is then rebooted, at which point the firmware is transferred to the motherboard and is flashed to either the BIOS or UEFI. However, there's a new API specification, called Platform Firmware Runtime Update and Telemetry (PFRUT), which makes it possible to flash the firmware without the reboot. Intel has been working on PFRUT (previously dubbed Seamless Update) for quite a while now, in order to reduce downtime for servers. The idea is to enable such machines to reach that mythical 100 percent uptime.

The new driver, pfr_update, will be introduced in Linux Kernel 5.17 and is designed primarily for system firmware updates to patch critical bugs and security issues. This would make it possible for admins to patch firmware for critical issues, without having to suffer downtime.

One of the biggest surprises to come along with PFRUT is that it will only be available for Linux (so Windows users need not apply).

You can read about the patch in this entry (

elementary OS 6.1 Has Been Released

The developers of elementary OS have been hard at work delivering the first point release for Odin (the sixth iteration of the distribution). Normally a point release wouldn't receive a new name and identity, but the developers felt there was enough polish added to warrant the change.

The new release of elementary OS comes with an AppCenter that continues to fill out with applications. Since elementary OS http://( has added Flatpak support, you'll find over 90 curated apps in the AppCenter. The shift from Debian packages to Flatpak has made it possible for developers to push out rapid and frequent updates. And thanks to the added Flatpak support, along with curated apps you'll find plenty of non-curated apps to fill in the gaps. The AppCenter itself has received plenty of attention with a reworked home page and banners featuring the most recently released applications.

As for the desktop, release 6.1 brings improvements and polish across the entire space. You'll find a redesigned quick window switcher (used with Alt+Tab), refreshed dialogs, an improved File Chose portal, a dark style that's more widely respected across desktops, a more powerful search within the Applications menu (which can now search for bookmarked folders and locations such as downloads, pictures, and network shares).

And for those who prefer to set their hostname during the installation, the elementary OS 6.1 installer now allows you to do just that.

There's plenty more updates and polishing that went on to create elementary OS 6.1. Read more in the official elementary OS blog (

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