Linux Mint is fast becoming one of the most popular versions of Linux because it aims to listen to what users want.
One of the things that most Linux users want right now is a stable interface that they feel at home with. With that in mind Mint developers have just released version 1.3 their new Cinnamon desktop.
Over the past year Linux desktop interfaces have undergone huge changes. The old and trusted Gnome2 desktop has been mostly replaced by Gnome3 and Ubuntu has thrown out almost all of the traditional interfaces in favour of Unity, its own radical new desktop.
While in theory this is good for users, most are feeling frustrated by the rapid and radical changes.
Mint has responded to this with Cinnamon, a desktop based on the Gnome Shell but including a range of additional features to make it more closely resemble the traditional Gnome2 desktop. Mint is also throwing its energy into a second interface, Mate, which is not just a tweaked Gnome3 desktop but an actual port of Gnome2.
On the upside most users will soon be able to find the desktop that most suits them. On the downside being a brand new Linux user now will be a daunting task with many decisions to be be made just around which desktop to use.
Mint’s new desktop, Cinnamon, is a reworked version of the Gnome 3 Shell that aims to have more in common with the desktops of the past than those of the future.
Both the Unity and Gnome 3 interfaces are moving away from the traditional design of desktops to new interfaces built around tasks as opposed to files. Not everyone is a fan, however, and many Ubuntu users have been holding onto the old Gnome interface (the pre-3.0 version) and resisting the change to the new.
Cinnamon attempts to marry the two worlds. It is built on the Gnome3 code but has a set of additional extensions, known as Mint GNOME Shell Extensions, which mimic the behaviour of Gnome2. So users can add the usual panels to their desktop and perform many of the other functions they used to.
Mint founder and leader Clement Lefebvre has diplomatically sidestepped possible controversy by saying that the decision in favour of Cinnamon was not because Gnome 3 was wrong it’s just that Gnome 3 was “not right” for Mint.
A second choice
Cinnamon is not the only desktop being worked on by the Mint developers, however. They are also working on a second option for Mint users which is not just a tweaked Gnome3 desktop but an actual fork of Gnome2. Called Mate, this new desktop takes the code from Gnome 2.32 and reworks it as the Mate desktop.
One of the problems with Gnome2 is that it conflicts with Gnome3 and so running the two side-by-side is almost impossible. The Mate project aims to fix these incompatibilities and make it possible to have a true Gnome2 desktop running alongside the newer Gnome3 desktop.