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A preliminary review of Cinnamon 1.2

I think Ubuntu is a practical joke. After several years of progress, they were finally very very close to the mythical usable Linux desktop. And then they just started fucking with things seemingly at random. At the same time, the GNOME folks started making similarly erratic design decisions.

In response, the Linux Mint folks are making a new UI for GNOME 3 called Cinnamon with the goal of creating a more traditional desktop. They recently released version 1.2. I've been using it for a bit now, and some thoughts are below.

Now, let me get my biases out of the way. I like my taskbar. I think GNOME 2 was the best desktop UI ever created. Nothing has matched it in elegance, usability, clarity, completeness, and stability. So, the concept of Cinnamon of course appeals to me. However, it's still a young project, and it shows. A ton of polish is needed. The GNOME folks spent several years polishing GNOME 2, so it's not surprising that the Cinnamon experience feels a bit unfinished. Off the top of my head, my minor usability gripes are...

All of those are minor nitpicky details. And honestly, before Cinnamon, I was using GNOME 3 Fallback Mode which has its own share of UI regressions since the glory days of GNOME 2. Beyond that, I don't have any real overarching problems with Cinnamon. For me, it's heading in the right direction. If sufficient interest can be generated in the developer community, I think Cinnamon has a good shot at becoming the most popular Linux desktop.

However, it's important to keep in mind that what made GNOME 2 special was the polish. Cinnamon is still far away from matching that, but it's a very encouraging sign that it's so quickly turned into a usable desktop environment.

Lacking the time to help out with development myself, I donated some money to Linux Mint to help support the effort. If you try Cinnamon and like it too, I suggest you do the same.

So in conclusion, if you're still missing that GNOME 2 usability and polish, Cinnamon isn't there yet. It's still too young. But if you'd been looking for a modern desktop environment to carry on the general principles of the GNOME 2 philosophy, Cinnamon just might be that that project.

4 archived comments

  1. Have you tried xubuntu? It uses xfce, an elegant and lightweight environment. It's my personal favorite by far.

    Comment by jordan — February 1, 2012 @ 2:36 am

  2. jordan: XFCE is okay, but it suffers from the same general problem as Cinnamon: a lack of polish, relative to GNOME 2. In addition, XFCE development seems very slow moving (they're not even going to switch to GTK+ 3 for a while). So, I see Cinnamon as more promising for the future.

    Comment by Jeremy Scheff — February 1, 2012 @ 9:15 am

  3. Actually, Lubuntu with LXDE is where the real action is. 🙂

    https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Lubuntu

    http://lubuntublog.blogspot.com/p/artwork.html

    Comment by David — February 17, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

  4. Mint 12 was the first I installed on my Hard Drive, and I miss it now that I replaced it with the Debian Edition. I like all the Mints, and now am experinmenting with Mint 10 from a flash drive. While I was trying Mint 7, I noticed it was virtually impossible to get authentication to add software. Maybe that was peculiar to Mint 7 and has since been resolved, but that alone would be enough to steer me away from any OS. It took me a long time to overcome obstacles to installing downloaded programs in Windows 7, and also using some programs I had used in earlier editions of Windows. I tried following the advice in forums, but unfortunately nothing worked. I expect that one of these editions of Mint will be my last OS; perhaps 13 will be the one. Windows still has some proprietary programs that can't be used in any other program, and has plans to altogether drop one that I have used extensively in the past. For a long time I had to use the program in Safe Mode, then it finally started working. So I have a project to convert tons of files to an open source format. The best programs I see myself using in the future have come from Open Source. Thanks for the great work in Linux Mint and keep it up.

    Comment by Ron Dupler — February 28, 2012 @ 8:19 pm