Cinnamon 2.8 Ready to Try
As Cinnamon 2.8 approaches official release later this month, the developers have made the pre-release version available to early adopters. If you are eager to try it, there are two different options. Mint users can install it through the package manager. Otherwise, you can build it from source.
Although the dev team still is making daily changes to the code, their current focus is very much on fixing bugs and regressions rather than adding new features. If you do decide to try it out, and notice a fault, you can raise an issue via the GitHub page.
Cinnamon 2.8 brings a lot of changes. There are more than 200 individual items in the changelog, which includes added features and bug fixes. There are plenty of subtle cosmetic tweaks as well.
The changelog makes for interesting reading. Some of the changes will be completely invisible to end users, as they affect only the build process. For instance, there has been an effort to remove hard-coded paths from the source. This will have the benefit of helping the transition to a reproducible build.
There also are plenty of entries that simply state "code simplification", "code cleanup" or "removed duplication". This shows there has been a concerted effort to refactor the code base. This is good news all around. Code without excessive duplication is cleaner, easier to understand and debug. It's quite common for undetected defects to be eliminated this way, so refactoring is a good sign for the health of the project. Other changes will improve overall performance, such as more efficient code for adding and activating applets.
A lot of typos have been removed from the interface and documentation. Although this change doesn't affect Cinnamon's functionality, it's a welcome improvement that will help users.
The alt-tab window switcher has several improvements, including streamlined animations and effects. The sound applet has been decluttered, with some options moving to the context menu. A few other cosmetic changes have been made, with better spacing and alignment for the visual elements.
The workspace switcher has seen some modifications that apparently make it more themeable. It also has gained a context menu for adding a new workspace, which is really essential for efficient use.
Although you can get a taste of the changes by reading through the changelog, it's no substitute for trying it firsthand. If you're in an adventurous mood, the installation instructions are quite straightforward. You can read all about it at http://segfault.linuxmint.com/2015/10/early-access-to-cinnamon-2-8. Why not take it for a spin, and let us know what you think? Of course, if you're a little more conservative, you can wait for the official release and try it then. The developers have promised a detailed blog post explaining the changes, with screenshots to illustrate.