Exploring the Cinnamon and Mate desktops environments

A Taste of Mint

Article from Issue 166/2014

The Cinnamon and Mate desktop systems have stirred up plenty attention around the Linux world. We'll show you around these innovative new desktop systems and help you decide which is right for you.

Born in the quest for a better and more polished alternative to Ubuntu, Linux Mint [1] has become a distribution to reckon with. Mint has been steadily moving up the distro popularity charts, closing up on its progenitor. Several factors contribute to the success of Linux Mint: a predictable release schedule, attention to detail, unique and genuinely helpful tools and utilities, and support for proprietary codecs.

Another big contributor to the latest surge in Linux Mint's popularity is the new in-house Cinnamon desktop environment [2] and the decision to include the Mate (pronounced maté) desktop [3] as an alternative. Forming the Mint distro around Cinnamon and Mate, rather than settling for the classic KDE and Gnome desktop options, was a risky move, but it looks like it's paid off. Linux Mint has established a reputation as a versatile and user-friendly distro, and these additional desktop options distance Mint even further from Ubuntu.

The story of Cinnamon and Mate starts with the story of Gnome – the great GNU desktop used in Linux systems around the world. The major update from Gnome 2 to Gnome 3 brought in many fundamental changes to the Gnome desktop. Some of the changes were based on the desire to make an interface that adapted more readily to mobile devices, but the Gnome developers also took some bold steps to reinvent the conventional desktop metaphor in favor of a new vision that they thought would ultimately be more intuitive and convenient.


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