Spice Up Your Desktop with Cinnamon!

If you are disgruntled by the new interfaces provided by recent distribution releases, namely GNOME 3 and Unity, you might want to take a look at Cinnamon. With its traditional feel and extreme theme-ability, Cinnamon is a desktop interface bound to spice up anyone's computer. The general feel is that of GNOME 2, or perhaps XFCE, but its polished look and downloadable themes make it truly exciting to behold.

(Screenshot from http://linuxmint.com.)

Development has revolved around Linux Mint, but Cinnamon also can be installed on Ubuntu for those so inclined. If you've never seen it in action, be sure to give it a whirl: http://cinnamon.linuxmint.com.


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


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anduzzu's picture

Mint Cinnamon is really slow. IMHO Mate is faster even than Mint Xfce. But I still love Mint Xfce.

Someday may be a winner

timh's picture

I was always an out-of-the-box Gnome desktop user, until Gnome 3 came along and ruined it all.

Of all the alternatives I've checked so far, I like Cinnamon the best. Not only is it a nice clean - and more importantly USABLE - desktop, but a little internal investigation indicates that it may be a lot easier to roll my own applets for Cinnamon than for most desktops. And the loss of the applets was one of the major kills for Gnome 3, since I live half my life in desktop applets.

Unfortunately, there is that minor little issue with the whole display freezing up on a distressingly frequent basis. If they can cure that, then I'll probably make Cinnamon my permanent home. The way Gnome used to be.


sandra0045's picture

I stumbled upon your site I found very rich, structured, readable. A site that can compete with many professional sites.


I loved Gnome 2 and IMHO Mate

anduzzu's picture

I loved Gnome 2 and IMHO Mate is just a substitute which eliminates the learning curve, but is not as good as Gnome 2.

Nothing, will make me switch

Diego Simak's picture

Nothing, will make me switch from fluxbox:


Best Gnome 3 experience

javadoony's picture

For me, Cinnamon saved Gnome 3. I'm running Cinnamon smoothly on a Sandy Bridge processor with, gasp, ATI graphics. Without Cinnamon, Gnome 3 is intolerable.

Productivity and desktops ...

CsProf's picture

I'm still using FC-14 with Gnome 2 because it just works. I tried FC-17 with the new desktops, but they interfered with my productivity. Until I get an environment that supports my productivity, I can't take a chance with upgrades.

If something works well, why change it? Gnome 2 was a great productivity tool but I'm not impressed with its successors.

Another thing cinnamon lacks

Anonymous's picture

Another thing cinnamon lacks and/or will be lacking depending on the day of the week is, ALL of the updates of Gnome Shell. The problem with the fork Mint devs have decided to take on is they now have to physically patch-in any upstream updates that they may feel are worthy of their pathetic attempt at a _fork_ There's a reason Gnome Shell is still getting updated so frequently and is under active discussion and it isn't because it's dying. It's only just beginning. Mint didn't take off in fan boys are not much far off from that of Windows or Mac, which both took years to become as *stable* as they are today, and Gnome 3 is pretty much already there. Notice how the beta Catalyst 12.6 driver fixed certain crashing under Gnome Shell, doesn't that mean more people are responsible for the problem than just the Gnome devs, hmmmm.....

Cinnamon isn't a fork of the

Anonymous's picture

Cinnamon isn't a fork of the Gnome Shell. MGSE was Mint's "fork" and in the end the Mint developers thought it would be better to just write their own shell.

Cinnamon runs on top of Gnome 3 like Ubuntu's Unity does - neither of them are based on Shell.


FreeRangeRadical's picture

Well, no offense, but it looks like Windows. Same nested menus, same overall feel. In fact, I can't see how it appears different in any significant way.

The thing I love about Unity (the 12.04 version, NOT the 11.10 version) is that it DOESN'T look like Windows. The dash, launcher, and to a lesser degree, the HUD, make Unity stand out from the crowd, even from OS X, which is no great shakes, anyway.

I'm reminded of the pre-upgrade reviews that people were writing about Ubuntu 12.04..."the new desktop is SLIGHTLY more orange...". Well, how about THAT? It's more frickin' ORANGE! That'll make all my Mac using friends...ORANGE...with envy, yeah?

Sometimes, the thing about incremental change is that it's so...incremental.

I understand. You like Cinnamon. It's spiffy. When people see my desktop at startup, the most common comment is, "What the..WOW! What IS that?" and they say it appreciatively. So I'll keep Unity because my desktop looks NOTHING like Windows or Mac, and that's a good thing.

one of the most retarded

Anonymous's picture

one of the most retarded comment i have seen...if you just want to 'wow' other people with your desktop i suggest that you just get a functionless pretty background for your computer instead

So... The only thing you're

Neruson's picture

So... The only thing you're interested in is impressing your friends?

Very Restrictive

syncdram's picture

Gnome shell, Unity and Cinnamon included are very restrictive all in there own ways. Whats happening to Linux? Its said changes need to be made because of its brokenness. Boloney! Get back in the drivers seat and find a distro that puts you back behind the wheel and not these distributions that have put duct tape over every ones mouth and tied there hands behind there backs! I'm using Vector Linux now a fast xfce or kde desktop distribution that's very worth looking at. Then the band-aid of Cinnamon won't be needed.

I'm running Cinnamon on

Neruson's picture

I'm running Cinnamon on Fedora 17 here and it's very nice. The only bug I've noticed is that after a I install a program and click on the Menu Cinnamon usually crashes and restarts itself which isn't too annoying. I got sick of using the Gnome Shell after the 3.2 release and the Cinnamon repo saved me from switching distros not to mention DE's. I've been a Fedora/Gnome guy since I started on Linux with Fedora 7, and while it still has a lot of growing up to do before it becomes a full replacement for Gnome 2 it's already more usable than the Gnome Shell for me.

I've also been using SolusOS on my laptop. It's a nice little distro and since Ikey seems to directly listen to his user base I'm very excited to see what his fork will be like. From the screenshots I saw, his version of Gnome 3.4 looks very much like Gnome 2 :)


I'm personally happy about these forks. The Gnome developers may have lost their minds, but I'm glad their users and other developers haven't given up on the Gnome / GTK3 code base because that is some wonderful stuff. The only thing wrong with Gnome 3 is the Gnome Shell IMO :)

Really like Cinnamon as a

hans gruber's picture

Really like Cinnamon as a D.E. but it freezes hard on a regular basis and I have to
Ctrl Alt Backspace to get out of it. Plus every couple hours the whole desktop
disappears-except for the wallpaper then reappears after 5 seconds. Both these
bugs are workflow killers. Thinking of switching to LMDE with Mate soon, or maybe


matthekc's picture

I have been running Mate since Mint 13 came out. So far it's stable and more or less the same as Gnome2. I don't really want to think about my DE I already know Gnome2, I am happy and comfortable.


hans gruber's picture

Exactly, Mint-13 with Mate is rock solid with only an occassional minor glitch. It's not whizbang like Cinnamon but I 'll trade the eye candy for stability.

Not a single problem...

Lola's picture

I'm using Cinnamon with Linux Mint 13 in a Sandy Bridge with integrated Intel graphics and it works flawlessly. I never had a freeze nor a desktop restart... nothing.
I guess most of the problems are due to faulty graphic drivers with bad 3D acceleration support (ATI cards and some Nvidia).

desktop freeze

styven's picture

My cinnamon desktop freezes regulary on a an AMD quad core, nvidia graphics, 4gb memory desktop.
However it only locks up on when using 2 applications...............

Libre Office, will lock up nearly every time.
Openshot, will lock up some of the time.

Annoying considering i ran Ubuntu 10.04 for ages perfectly fine.


The Cinnamon "freezing" is a

Anonymous's picture

The Cinnamon "freezing" is a well-known upstream issue at the moment, and is currently under investigation. Check out the Linux Mint forum, theres a long thread about it there.

Cinnamon vs. MATE

Erik W.S's picture

Cinnamon looking much better than Unity. However there are some bugs and i've found MATE as much more stable. So i mostly use MATE, test and wait for new updates to see is Cinnamon becoming more stable later. Besides - you can customize MATE desktop much more than Cinnamon. Perhaps it tells better that Cinnamon ain't at all ready for mainstream Linux Mint desktop. Maybe 2014?


natty's picture

Cinnamon is slow as hell and practically unusable in my experience, and that's running on a sandybridge quad core laptop.
Must be even slower on older hardware.


Benjamin's picture

I'd suggest you may want to check your setup there, natty. I've had Cinnamon running in various setups, most regularly a pretty basic Dell dual-core effort, and it works fine. Are you setup for 3D acceleration properly?

ah ok! Will do that tonight!

natty's picture

ah ok! Will do that tonight!

no problems with my gfx card.

natty's picture

no problems with my gfx card. 11000 fps on test.
I prefer MATE. Gnome 2 is way faster than gnome 3.

Not Just for Ubuntu

RikkiKarmacide's picture

But wait, there's more! You can even sprinkle Cinnamon on your Fedora, Gentoo, SUSE and other delicious flavors! http://cinnamon.linuxmint.com/?page_id=61

(Haven't tried it yet, cuz I'm a newb and I still don't get how my Radeon is supposed to work.)


NOYB's picture

Mint and Cinnamon make a very sweet combination. Yummy.

Mint ? still not.

faeru's picture

Imho, mint lacks (at least) two very important features :
- upgrade was scuttled
- Full disk encryption