mintCast 141: Cinnamony Goodness

News:

  • Interesting revelations on the future of LMDE inside the Monthly Stats report for November. (blog.linuxmint.com) and the Linux Mint roadmap (github.com)

The Main Topic: All Things Cinnamon

What is it?

According to Clem – “It’s a desktop environment which includes a panel with applets, a workspace manager and a window manager. It was originally forked from Gnome Shell (and mutter) and evolved very differently since. In its latest stable version (1.4) it uses nautilus for file and desktop management and Gnome 3 for background services and session management. Going forward it could replace nautilus with either nemo (a gtk3 fork of nautilus 3) or caja (a gtk2 fork of nautilus 2) to guarantee a better integration with cinnamon, centralized settings and to avoid being impacted from what are considered upcoming upstream regressions (loss of computer shortcut, UI changes in nautilus etc..). Technically it’s written in C and Javascript and uses clutter for its UI. It’s layout and design are influenced by Linux Mint, Gnome 2 and Compiz and it comes with innovative features of its own in particular when it comes to workspace management. Its biggest issue is hardware support as clutter requires 3D acceleration and Cinnamon doesn’t always work for everybody depending on their GPU.”

History

Cinnamon was first announced on Dec 22nd 2011, and released the next day as version 1.1.2, and is a fork of the Gnome Shell. It uses Muffin as its window manager. Muffin is a fork of Mutter.
The latest version made available is 1.67, released on Nov 14th 2012. Cinnamon was first included in Linux Mint 13.

Nemo, a fork of the Gnome Nautilus file manager, is now part of the Cinnamon development process. It is up to version 1.12. It made its distro debut in Linux Mint 14.

Philosophy

Traditional layout, advanced features, easy to use, powerful, flexible.

Settings

15 separate areas where a user can customize their desktop environment.

  • Menu – set the text and icon that shows on the panel (start button), as well as hover delay, the showing of places and bookmarks and recent files
  • Panel – choose whether to auto-hide panel, set delay, panel position, number of panels (top & bottom), panel size and panel edit mode
  • Calendar – Choose to show week dates, date format, use of network time or manually set date, time and time zone
  • Hot Corner – choose to make the hot corner icon visible, enabled or disabled, hot corner position, function (scale or expo), whether to have an expo or scale applet
  • Themes – choose theme, choose window theme, whether menus and buttons have icons, and cursor, keybinding, icon and GTK+ theme selection
  • Effects – Enable or disable desktop effects, enable for dialog boxes, choose effects and duration for closing, mapping, minimizing, maximizing and unmaximizing windows
  • Applets – enable or disable any installed applet or get additional applets.
  • Extensions – enable or disable any installed extension or get additional extensions.
  • Desktop – choose icons that show on desktop including computer, home, network servers, trash and mounted volumes.
  • Windows – choose resulting actions from double-clicking, middle-clicking and right-clicking on title bar, how to obtain focus on a given window, the position of the minimize, maximize and close buttons, enable or disable aero snapping, edge flipping, attaching dialog windows to the parent windows, setting of alt-tab switcher style, mouse wheel scrolling through window list applet, and enabling the ability for windows which require attention to come to the current workspace.
  • Workspaces – enable workspace OSD, choose duration and position of OSD, limit workspaces to primary monitor and display Expo view as a grid.
  • Fonts – set text scaling factor, default, document, monospace and window tiling font, set hinting and antialiasing.
  • General – enable Looking Glass logging, enable middle click emulation by clicking both left and right mouse buttons, enable or disable notification display
  • Keyboard – enable key repeat and text cursor blinks, and set their rate, view, set and create keyboard shortcuts
  • Backgrounds – choose your wallpaper and its aspect, gradient and colors.

Themes

Themes can customize the look of aspects of Cinnamon, including but not limited to the menu, panel, calendar and run dialog.

To install a theme: Download it and decompress it in ~/.themes (or /usr/share/themes to install it system-wide).

There are over 100 themes available on the website. Getting, installing and changing themes is very easy, and can radically change the way your desktop appears. You can also create your own theme following the tutorial on the Cinnamon website. There is also a tutorial for how to create an applet.

Applets

Applets are icons or texts that appear on the panel. Five applets are shipped by default, and developers are free to create their own. A tutorial for creating simple applets is available.

To install an applet: Download it and decompress it in ~/.local/share/cinnamon/applets.

Some useful stock applets include one for Accessibility, Brightness (helpful for laptop users), and windows quick list (great if you use workspaces).

If you click on Get new applets, you are taken to the Cinnamon website where there are a large number of applets including one for weather, screenshots, virtual box launcher and much more.

Extensions

Extensions can modify the functionalities of Cinnamon, such as providing a dock or altering the look of the Alt-Tab window switcher.

To install an extension: Download it and decompress it in ~/.local/share/cinnamon/extensions.

Extensions appear to be the least developed of these three cinnamon extenders. I had none by default on my Mint 13 box, and there are only 14 up on the website (as compared to 95 applets).

Troubleshooting

The caret symbol near the system tray is the Cinnamon applet. Clicking on it gives you the “Settings”, “Troubleshoot” and “Panel Edit mode” menu choices. From the “Troubleshoot” menu you can restart Cinnamon, start Looking Glass (more on that in a moment), or restore all settings to default. This is great because you can play with all the themes you want and then reset your desktop environment to the default.

Looking Glass

(not to be confused with Project Looking Glass)

Looking Glass is GNOME Shell’s integrated inspector tool and JavaScript console useful for debugging. You can also access Looking Glass by typing ALT+F2, then lg and enter. This feature gives you a view underneath the covers of Cinnamon. It provides a console-type of view of what is happening on your computer. There are multiple tabs to select from including Evaluator, Windows, Errors, Memory and Extensions. It is very geeky in here. Remember that you can close Looking Glass using the ESC key.

Panel Edit mode

When moved to the “On” position, you are able to edit the panel, moving icons around, adding applets, and dragging and dropping applets to change their position.

More Cinnamony Links:

Featured Website:

Tip:

  • How to figure out what version of Cinnamon you’re running:
    • dpkg -s cinnamon | grep Version
    • cinnamon –version

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Hosts:: Rob, Scott, James

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Credits: Podcast Entry and exit music provided by Mark Blasco (podcastthemes.com). The podcast’s bumpers were provided by Oscar.

9 thoughts on “mintCast 141: Cinnamony Goodness

  1. Thank you for writing the overview of Cinnamon. It was very helpful to read, as I have a short memory and forgotten everything before 1.2.x.

    Also, another way to know your cinnamon version is apt-cache policy cinnamon , which is useful to see if it has updates and, if you’re using apt pinning in debian, to see if there is a newer version upstream (which there isn’t – cinnamon in sid is 1.6.2, and cinnamon in LMDE is 1.6.7 in the incoming repo).

  2. Hi guys,

    another great show. You are really turning me to the Dark Side. Currently I’m using openSUSE’s Tumbleweed with KDE, but looking at the roadmap of Linux Mint 15 I think I might give it another chance when it comes out. Great show with lots of useful information and I’m looking forward to the next one.
    I was wondering, do you know where one can find a list of all the Mint Tools?

  3. On the topic of LMDE

    1. Linux Mint Debian was thrown together for two reasons; a fall-back if Ubuntu went so totally wacko that it wasn’t feasible to base Mint off of, and for use on older machines with hardware not up to the challenge of today’s requirements. The PAE kernel is an example of the latter. I know this because whenever I’ve loaded LMDE on my netbook running an Intel Atom CPU, I’ve had to go looking for a better kernel. If anyone has tried running Mint 14 and had their machine kick out the installation, you know where to go now.

    2. No… Xfce anymore in LMDE? What!!? Who?! But…! As 25% of the 4% who was using Xfce, I am OutRage-um… meh. No worries. I’m a Geek. I have a terminal, a text-editor, and root access to sources-dot-list. If I want it, I’ll find a way to get it, the same way I can remove what I don’t want. Better to have the resources spent on projects that have the best results than trying to be all things to all people.

    I was taken somewhat aback when the subject of donations came up and the overall consensus was that right now, at least, you’ve got neighbor’s who need the help more. Bah! Humbug! Linux Hippy Talk! Maybe we all need some holiday cheer exposure. Here’s a link to Project Gutenberg’s “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens – always a good read. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/24022

    Thanks for putting the podcast out there, guys. I always enjoy listening.

    -jim

  4. Thanks for another great podcast! I have been using Cinnamon for about 6 months now. I appreciate being able to simply get things done. I don’t consider myself a Luddite, but I can’t understand 1)change for the sake of change and 2) why anyone would think that all devices from cellphones to supercomputers should have the same interface!

    On a different topic, I liked the discussion about Stallman’s spyware comment. While I agree that RMS often takes an extreme position, I do find what Canonical is up to worrying. Here’s why:

    When I use a search engine, I expect to have my activities monitored, sliced-n-diced and recorded. But I took an active step to go to their domain. Since I asked for, and was granted access to their assets, it seems reasonable to me that they set the ground rules for the transaction. OK.
    But I really do NOT want outside entities, like Canonical, to be able to track and monitor what I do entirely inside my system. When I am “at home” and have not crossed into someone else’s domain, I expect some privacy for my actions. My business is my business.

    As an analogy, let’s say Verizon is my ‘cable TV’ provider through FIOS. When I watch some kind of content using their connection, I expect them to track and monitor what I am watching. I don’t really like it, but I know that it will happen, and it is part of the price for the content. If I call Verizon tech support, I expect them to record my call “for quality reasons”. Fine. But I do not expect them to monitor and record my conversations within my house, when I have not left my domain and have not initiated a transaction with Verizon.

    Sounds like I have joined Stallman, right? Well, maybe this is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Verizon had applied for a patent that would cover directed advertising to their FIOS customers. In order to obtain keywords for this directed advertising, they were going to monitor conversations taking place in the room with the TV, using their ‘cable’ box. Thing is, when is your cable box really turned off? Answer is that it is never really off, unless you pull the plug, so I have to wonder just how much monitoring they would be doing after the system took off. Oh, and just because the patent was not awarded, I don’t think they (and others) won’t pursue this avenue for tracking customers. If you think about it, it really wouldn’t be all that difficult to do.

    Just a moderately paranoid thought.

  5. Can somebody who is doing Cinnamon for Mint please explain why they continue to ship a broken Printers preference application since Mint 12?

    The MATE distribution doesn’t have that problem – so it’s not like anybody at Mint doesn’t know how to fix it.

    C’mon people! Could you maybe tear yourself away from some of the “cool” and “fun” stuff and fix a basic and glaring productivity issue?

    I was demoing an install of Mint 14 Cinnamon for a room of very interested and potential adopters last week when I hit that little snag. It was embarrassing – and you could see about half the room immediately lost interest in Mint once that bug cropped up.

  6. Given that Android is based on Linux, are you guys aware of the OUYA console (Kickstarter project) is coming out around March 2013, and that it is an open system, freely hackable by users. In fact, user mods are encouraged by the OUYA people. I wonder how this will fare if/when a Steam console hits the shelves.

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