Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Installing Latest Cinnamon 1.6.7 - Unity Replacement for Ubuntu

Almost everyone seems to be tired of Ubuntus Unity desktop environment. If you are searching for an alternative for Unity, then this tutorial cum review will help you switch to another Desktop Environment called Cinnamon.
Cinnamon is the latest desktop environment from Linux Mint. It offers a more traditional look and feel of GNOME2-like layout with the speed of GNOME3, and you can install it on Ubuntu 11.10/12.04/12.10/13.04. It is basically a project to re-create GNOME2 on top of GNOME3. Cinnamon is simple to use and a best alternative to Unity. Personally I find it a slightly better to use than GNOME3 and a lot better than Unity.

The good thing about these opensource community-based Linux systems like Ubuntu is that theyre absolutely free to use and youre free to customize them as per your requirements.
With that said, I will introduce you to Cinnamonan elegant desktop session that is a perfect alternative to Unity. In this tutorial, Ill show you how to install and use latest cinnamon on whichever version of Ubuntu that you run after 11.10.

My eye candy desktop screenshot on Cinnamon.


There are two PPAs maintained, one by Merlwiz79 and second by Gwendal LE BIHAN.
Merlwiz79's PPA for Cinnamon is poorly maintained. The latest updated version is 1.2.0-2 for Ubuntu 11.10. And the one maintained by Gwendal’s PPA at launchpad is 1.6.7-0 for Ubuntu 11.10/12.04/12.10/13.04. I would recommend you to use Gwendal’s PPA.

To install Gwendal’s PPA using command line follow below mentioned steps.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gwendal-lebihan-dev/cinnamon-stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install cinnamon cinnamon-session cinnamon-settings

You can also go the GUI way to install the ppa into your local repository.
First move to Gwendal's PPA, click on 'Technical details about this PPA' to expand it. Select the version of Ubuntu you are using and copy the PPA mentioned in the first line. Remember to copy the whole line. See the below screenshot.

Next go to Dash of your Unity Desktop and search for 'Update Manager' and click on 'Settings' at the bottom-left corner of the window.
Go to the 'Other Software' tab and click on 'Add'.
Now paste the previously copied PPA in 'APT line' and click on 'Add Source'.
Refer the below shown screenshot for more details.

Starting Cinnamon
All other desktops that you were trying to fit in will be there as they are. Cinnamon doesn't replace any other desktop environment. It just adds a new option to the login screen. You just have to logout and select cinnamon from your login screen and log back in.

Using Cinnamon
Cinnamon has a single panel on the bottom of the screen just like good old GNOME2.
Youll find menu at bottom left corner, very similar to Linux Mint's traditional applications menu. Whereas GNOME3 has a full-screen applications menu.

The highlighted icon represents cinnamon sub-menu.
Here applications can also be added to panel from the main menu by right-clicking on them. Refer the below mentioned screenshot.

At the bottom right side of panel you'll find trash, workspace-switcher, bluetooth, network, music & cinnamon calendar. You'll also find cinnamon-settings where you can tweak your desktop as you want. Cinnamon-settings is also available from the main Menu. You can also place the panel at the top using the panel settings inside cinnamon-settings.

The cinnamon-settings can be accessed from ‘Other settings’. It includes settings for workspaces, themes, effects, desktop icons and window behavior. As said earlier the icons have good spacing which makes the visibility clear & polished.

Some of cinnamon features are rough around the edges. Still, it is much impressive to replace Unity or GNOME3. Lastly I would say that Cinnamon is what a proper desktop should be and the project to keep an eye on.

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