Cinnamon is a DE(Desktop Environment). DE is a collection of software, which collectively provide you a seamless Desktop experience. They are the reason, normal people who have no knowledge about the internal working of computer are able to use computers for a wide variety of purposes. Cinnamon is one such collection which is different. Different how? We will see, But for now, let’s just say that Cinnamon played a decisive role in making Linux mint, the most popular distro in the Linux world.
Cinnamon uses cinnamon shell ( Shell is the graphical user interface which you see. It acts as a mediator between you and the system) which is forked from gnome shell. Actually, cinnamon is mostly forked from Gnome. Gnome is also a DE ( But a far extensive one than cinnamon), which underwent some radical changes while upgrading from version 2 to version 3. So, cinnamon was born to rescue and recover the distribution known as Linux mint.
Cinnamon is divided into components such as Muffin, Nemo and others. Muffin is its window manager which is mostly irrelevant to new users. Nemo is a file manager which is pretty easy to use. And it is really perfect for basic tasks.
How to get cinnamon?
Cinnamon is actually available for many distros. But, It is developed by the team behind Linux mint. Other distributions slowly started to include cinnamon in their flavors. And it all happened within 5 years. Considering other major Desktop Environments, Cinnamon is still very young. Almost all major distributions except Ubuntu provide Cinnamon. If Ubuntu provided Cinnamon, It would be awkward considering that Mint is already based on Ubuntu.
A Desktop Environment is more or less judged by its looks from the new Linux user’s point of view.
Cinnamon more or less looks like this in the latest version 3.2.x.
Your desktop may seem different based on the distro or version you are using. The wallpaper covers most of the screen. The panel is thin and has a menu on the far left. On clicking the menu, you will get a categorically arranged list of all applications and settings with a search field on top.
On the far right, we have what are known as applets. We will come to them in a moment. First, let’s check out how the lock screen looks like just to judge it.
I changed the wallpaper before locking the screen. It looks real classy though. It is definitely following a minimal design. The whole desktop is trying to maximize the space available for Windows( not the operating system ;). I think when most of the desktop is covered by wallpaper, It influences the looks most. Although the settings and menus are also neat and orderly fashioned. You have many themes available.
Coming to the configuration, Cinnamon provides enough to help yourself make home by personalizing the necessary parts. For example, configuring the menu by right clicking it.
But, Cinnamon also does not allow too much configuration or show too many options, so, new Linux users won’t be scared away. It does not provide activities like KDE.
The configurations are what decide the extent to which a user can utilize his time on a Computer. That is why we are provided with four workspaces. Now, coming to the applets part, they are not just there for show. We can control multimedia players from the sound applet. The WiFi networks from the network manager applet and so on.
The settings are categorized and orderly placed. We can easily understand this setup and where to configure what.
We can also change the themes, icons etc.. From settings. We can even get online themes and install them within the settings.
As I already said, Cinnamon is still not perfectly mature. It still has or at least had a few known bugs. The dragging of windows caused glitches when in cinnamon 2. But, it all seems fixed now. Most of the bugs are fixed and the transitions are smooth. Cinnamon is getting more and more animations. The stability has increased and that allowed the developers to give some time to polish it. You can clearly see the shadows of this dialog box.
But there are still some minor bugs. For example, when I was copying files, the copy dialog directly jumped the blue status forward and stayed there until the copying almost finished and then, jumped to the end in steps. But these are hardly noticeable. So, It is pretty stable right now.
Cinnamon is different. It is not aiming at technical grounds like being lightweight or configurable or pretty. It is just trying to be as simple as it can get for the new users. It is also lightweight when we disable the effects. But The greatest contribution of Cinnamon is making Mint the most popular distribution by bringing a lot of new users into Linux ecosystem. For that reason, Cinnamon is different. Cinnamon is the most user-friendly DE right now.