Regrettably, this is the first time I have reviewed the Cinnamon desktop which is the new shining star of the Linux Mint Project. This release is one that should not be missed for Linux Mint lovers. I was highly impressed while reviewing this release, mostly by the simplicity, and the sleek design. Linux Mint 13 Maya Cinnamon edition is loaded with new features and goodies that should not be overlooked.
I expect that Linux Mint 13 would be the perfect choice for users wishing to experiment with Linux for the first time. This is probably a viable choice to recommend to your friends as well. The easy installation process and helpful welcome screen is just the tip of the iceberg. Linux Mint 13 offers simple configuration, very reasonable stability and compatibility, and of course all the tools new users might require are included as well.
For those of you that are ready to try Linux Mint 13 Maya you can download a copy from their website. You can then burn a live DVD and sample Linux Mint 13 first, or you can proceed directly with the installation.
After booting to the live desktop you can double click on the install Linux Mint icon that sits on the desktop. Next you can just follow the on-screen instructions offered by the user-friendly installation wizard to complete the process.
When the installation has finished you can restart your system, you will then arrive at the new MDM display manager. The MDM display manager is based on GDM 2.20. This display manager is known to have more features than any display managers currently available.
A graphical utility has been supplied for MDM configuration. By default the MDM display manager remains rather vacant, but still looks very sharp. Only a few default actions to be available, this can surely be changed.
From the login screen users can choose different languages, different sessions, or the system can be suspended, restarted, and shut down. Type your username and password into the input box when prompted to access your desktop.
The Cinnamon desktop simply offers a modern looking user interface not all of the changes enforced by the Gnome 3 shell. Extensions can however be used to add additional features.
After you finish with the MDM display manager you will notice the Linux Mint welcome screen when your desktop is finished loading. From the welcome screen you can find many ways to get help or information concerning Linux Mint.
The interface will soon be explained in detail, first lets take a look at the basics. The Cinnamon desktop provides a customizable panel, menu, and workspace switcher. The tight integration between the file manager and the desktop is also highly convenient for new users.
I really love the look of the new Linux Mint menu, this menu can be found inside the bottom panel on the left. Unfortunately configuration settings are lacking. You can change the menu text and menu icon using the Cinnamon settings tool.
You can right click on launchers inside the main menu to add them to the panel. Launchers can also be added to the desktop or the favorites panel inside the menu.
You can add new applets to your panel using the Cinnamon settings manager. There are many helpful applets available to choose from, and more can be downloaded through the user-interface.
The Cinnamon settings manager also contains a graphical user interface for all of your panel settings. These settings can be found by right-clicking on the main panel as well. Only a few standard settings are available, auto-hide, panel location, draggable launchers, etc.
The default file manager for Linux Mint 13, as expected, happens to be Nautilus 3.4.1. I seem to be unable to find any release notes for the latest updates unfortunately.
One of the most notable recent changes to Nautilus is the inclusion of undo support which was added for the 3.4 release. I expect that 3.4.1 has simply fixed a few minor bugs. New users will certainly love the simplicity offered by the Nautilus file manager, along with the extensive list of features.
Less experienced users should turn to the MintInstall software manager which is very user friendly. With this tool you can install or remove software, users can even add reviews for their favorite software. Detailed software descriptions with screenshots are also included.
The Cinnamon desktop uses the light Muffin window manager which takes advantage of GTK+ 3.0 and the Clutter libraries to provide some fantastic desktop effects.
Several window effects can be found in the Cinnamon settings manager. Users can add effects for closing windows, minimizing windows, or maximizing and unmaximizing windows. The effect itself can be changed or the time range for the effect.
I was thoroughly impressed by the vast list of themes available for the Cinnamon desktop. Many come installed by default, more can be added using the get new themes options that is offered inside the theme settings window.
The workspace switcher has also received a few updates, the new scale and expo modes are available for users that want a change. You can use expo mode to manage all of your available workspaces, or scale mode to see all of your open windows.
Many of the settings for the Cinnamon desktop and installed utilities can be found using the Gnome Settings Daemon, all settings modules can be found inside the panel menu applet.
As I mentioned briefly, the Cinnamon settings manager can also be found inside the main menu under the administration tab. This settings manager also contains several modules that can help users configure different aspects of the desktop. In general the Cinnamon settings seem preferable to the Gnome/Ubuntu equivalents.
Now for the best part of the Cinnamon project, the extensions! The Cinnamon desktop offers a huge variety of helpful extensions that will add many fun features to your user interface. Try the CinnaDock extension for a typical dock style navigation bar, or try the CoverFlow Alt-Tab extension which will let you scroll through your windows with ease. Extensions are easy to install, and new extensions are being added all the time.
The list of available wallpapers is really amazing, they mostly consist of high quality photography, and beautiful landscapes.
I am happy to report that the new version of Cinnamon has performed almost flawlessly despite the speedy development. There were no stability issues to speak of this time around. This surely means that there will be more great things to come in the future.
I found the interface very easy to navigate, I really love the menu and the new workspace switcher improvements. The selection of applications is really perfect for users switching from Ubuntu, or even Windows. There are many tools and applications for the every day user, both for work, or for play. Enjoy Linux Mint 13 Maya!