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Linux Mint is one of my favorite distributions. The flagship (or default) Cinnamon desktop is why I like it so much.
The user experience offered by Cinnamon desktop may not be mind-blowing or fancy. But, the desktop environment provides enough reasons for users to like it and easily work with it to get things done.
At the end of the day, that’s what we want. A user interface that works as expected and does not get in the way.
I think Cinnamon desktop does a few things right to give you an exciting experience. Let me mention some of those here.
If you did not know, the Cinnamon desktop is a fork of the GNOME 3 created in 2011 by Clement Lefebvre (Linux Mint creator) with enhancements over the years.
The primary objective of building Cinnamon was to keep the GNOME 2 desktop style alive.
And that is why you get a familiar desktop layout compared to the most popular consumer desktop operating system, i.e., Windows.
Of course, Windows 11 has evolved its usual layout with time. But, accessing a start menu, a taskbar, system icons in the tray, and a couple of window decorations make it easy to grasp.
Whether you are a Windows user or a macOS user, the Cinnamon desktop layout should not feel challenging at all.
To help you further, the “Welcome Screen” in Linux Mint provides you with all the information quickly.
To get a comfortable experience with Cinnamon desktop (usually with Linux Mint), you have the following system requirements:
In the modern computing age, these specifications should suit almost everyone. So, you do not have to worry about needing an insane amount of memory or disk space to run a Linux distro powered by Cinnamon.
Of course, you can try installing Cinnamon desktop on Ubuntu.
But, for this article, we consider Linux Mint as the ideal use case.
When we think about a lightweight desktop environment—we usually imagine a bland user interface that focuses on performance.
With Cinnamon desktop, that is not the case. It does include subtle animations and features icons/themes that make up for a modern look, if not the best.
It looks pleasing to the eyes with a minimal approach.
Typically, I am a sucker for pretty user interfaces, but I can still live with Linux Mint’s straightforward user experience running it on a dual-monitor setup (1440p + 1080p).
It may not be the best dual-monitor experience with Linux Mint Cinnamon edition (no dock/panel on the second screen for me). So, there is little room for improvement.
You might already know that KDE is probably the king when it comes to giving the ability to customize out-of-the-box.
We have super useful guides if you are curious about going that way:
But, for many users, it is overwhelming.
I think Linux Mint gives the right amount of extra controls/customizations, which you also learn on its Welcome Screen.
Some of the elements that you can easily customize include:
You can head to the system settings and navigate to “Themes” to find the essential tweaks.
Recommended Read: 7 Ways to Customize Cinnamon Desktop on Linux
Linux Mint supports various add-ons to enhance your experience. These are all part of its Cinnamon Spices offering. They include:
Applets and Desklets are tiny programs that you can add on top of the panel (near the system tray) and the desktop, respectively.
You can manage system default applets or download more from the official repositories:
Similarly, you can add a Desklet from the available defaults or get a new one from the repositories.
Plenty of valuable utilities to monitor system resources, check the weather, and more.
In addition, you get access to various themes built by the community that could easily give you a look you always wanted.
To complement all the above spices, you can use extensions to make the panel transparent, add a watermark to your desktop, enable windows tiling, and add some exciting window animations.
Why do I highlight the user experience again?
The best part about Cinnamon desktop is that it evolves in a way that respects and supports all functionalities.
For instance, if you want to install an app you enjoyed using on KDE Plasma, it should work the same way here. There’s nothing special with Cinnamon desktop that would break the experience.
Similarly, the desktop adds features that try to co-exist with services from other desktop environments. For instance, calendar events support using GNOME Online Accounts.
The dock, taskbar, or panel comprises an integral part of the user interface.
Yes, other desktop environments allow you to customize the same to some extent. With Cinnamon, you get a good amount of control to tweak it.
I think you get all the essential options a user would want.
GNOME and KDE Plasma are popular desktop environments. However, Cinnamon is not far off on essential parts to provide an optimal user experience.
What do you think of the Cinnamon desktop environment? Do you prefer to try it with Linux Mint? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
A passionate technophile who also happens to be a Computer Science graduate. You will usually see cats dancing to the beautiful tunes sung by him.
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Tried out all of them.
Gnome went into no-no from 3. KDE is good, but has problems on multilanguage systems.
Currently using openSUSE Thumbleweed (which is great -maybe the best WS I’ve ever had! Switched from years in Fedora, Ubuntu). And on openSUSE I use Xfce. It is mostly the dekstop how it should be. Ie. Nothing else than a desktop -in a very good way.
I agree, when Gnome2 went away I tried Cinnamon first, but wasn’t that impressed. Then I tried Mate and am a long time user now. I found Mate to be more like Gnome2, l like the panel and it’s applets better and find it easier to customize. Still if Mate every disappeared Cinnamon would be my next choice, followed by Xfce. I am always glad to have choice.
My first Linux installation was Slackware in 2001, but it only lasted a couple months. I double booted Windows with Ubuntu 5. In 2015 I finally left Windows behind and fully commited with Linux Mint, and until version 21, I’ve never any problem to upgrade Mint, but maybe it just because I have some PPAs installed on my system but I’m too lazy to work it out, so I install a new Mint on another partition.
I dual-boot Windows 11 with Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) 5. Users can customize the desktop environment, the lock screen, and the login screen to make Mint a fully customizable distribution (this is true for both the Ubuntu and Debian editions AFAIK). I prefer LMDE because it is based on Debian (a community distribution).
My first GNU/Linux distribution was Mandrake, a company-based distribution. It morphed into Mandriva when Mandrake Linux merged with another distribution (I forgot the name), then when the company stopped supporting the distribution, I moved on to Mageia, a community-based fork of Mandriva. When Mageia reached version 8, I ran into issues I could not overcome, so I searched for a new distribution and found Linux Mint and LMDE. With the LMDE edition of Linux Mint, if Ubuntu ever goes the way of Mandriva, I won’t be affected, and the Mint user community will have an excellent alternative to fall back on. LMDE has all the functionality and characteristics of the default Linux Mint distribution. It is essentially a clone based on Debian rather than Ubuntu.
I would recommend either edition to anyone who is interested in trying out GNU/Linux and wants an easy to use/install distribution that they can not only use right ‘out of the box’ but customize to their preference as they become familiar with it and the customization tools it includes. As a side note, Linux Mint (and LMDE) are vintage PC friendly too, so if you want to extend the useful life of an older device, either edition makes an excellent choice.
I abandoned Windows years ago and took to Ubuntu, standard settings, then discovered Mint Cinnamon a couple of years ago. Perhaps not dramatic, or beautiful, but most importantly it is stable, just works, and has a logical layout. I can get on with my work without worrying about possible hiccups from the system. There is none better.
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