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Install Linux Mint’s New Cinnamon Desktop on Ubuntu

Tired of Ubuntu’s Unity desktop environment? Try Cinnamon, the latest desktop environment from Linux Mint. Cinnamon offers a more traditional, GNOME 2-like layout, but it’s based on the modern GNOME Shell — and you can install it on Ubuntu.

One day, Cinnamon will be Linux Mint’s default desktop environment. It’s forked from GNOME Shell instead of being based on GNOME 2, so it can take advantage of modern technologies and shed GNOME 2’s outdated software.

Cinnamon vs. MGSE vs. MATE

Linux Mint has quite a few different desktop environments. Mint GNOME Shell Extensions (MGSE) offers several extensions that modify the way GNOME Shell works — Cinnamon builds on MGSE and replaces it. Linux Mint also includes the MATE desktop, which is a fork of the outdated GNOME 2 desktop environment. Cinnamon is more forward-looking than MATE, but doesn’t abandon GNOME’s traditional interface like GNOME Shell does.

Installing Cinnamon

You don’t have to use Mint to get the Cinnamon desktop. It’s available in a personal package archive (PPA) for Ubuntu 11.10 and 12.04.

First, you’ll need to bring up a terminal and run the following command, which adds the personal package archive to your Ubuntu system as a software source:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:merlwiz79/cinnamon-ppa

Press Enter when it prompts you

Second, download a list of available packages by running this command:

sudo apt-get update

Now you’re ready to install Cinnamon’s packages with this command:

sudo apt-get install cinnamon cinnamon-session cinnamon-settings

Type Y and press Enter when prompted.

Use another Linux distribution? You can find instructions for your distribution, or just a link to download the source code, on Cinnamon’s official download page.

Starting Cinnamon

Cinnamon doesn’t replace your existing Ubuntu desktop environment. It just adds a new option to your login screen. You’ll need to log out before starting Cinnamon.

After logging out, select Cinnamon from the login screen and log back in.

Using Cinnamon

Cinnamon comes with a single panel on the bottom of the screen, just like Linux Mint’s GNOME 2 desktop environment did. At the left side, you’ll find a menu that’s more similar to Linux Mint’s traditional applications menu than it is to GNOME Shell’s full-screen applications menu. Unlike GNOME Shell, the panel also contains a traditional window list.

At the right side, you’ll find music and network icons, a clock and workspace switcher. The music applet is particularly polished — it lets you control music players from your panel.

You can launch the Cinnamon Settings application from the menu, but it has few options at the moment. Linux Mint want Cinnamon to be much more configurable — another difference from GNOME 3 — but most options aren’t available yet.

Disabling the Global Menu

You might notice Ubuntu’s global menu bar still appears at the top of the screen. If you want to get rid of it, just run the following command, then log out and back in:

sudo apt-get remove appmenu-gtk3 appmenu-gtk appmenu-qt

Want it back? Just replace “remove” with “install” to reinstall the packages:

sudo apt-get install appmenu-gtk3 appmenu-gtk appmenu-qt


Cinnamon is still new, so don’t be surprised if some features are rough around the edges. Still, it’s an impressively modern take on a traditional Linux desktop layout. Cinnamon and Linux Mint are projects to keep an eye on.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 01/27/12

Comments (37)

  1. Cam2644

    I’ve tried it on Mint and it’s good but I must confess to have started liking Gnome 3- the default on Mint 12.
    I think many desk top users would prefer it on Ubuntu to Unity,however.

  2. Bob-El

    This looks interesting. Can the panel be moved from the bottom to the top?

  3. Chris Hoffman

    Yup, a new version just came out. You should be able to use the configuration tool I mentioned in the article to switch between desktop layouts now. You can have the panel at the top, or use a classic GNOME 2 layout with both top and bottom panels.

  4. Johan Nilsson

    How is Cinnamon compared to Gnome classic or Gnome fallback?

  5. Chris Hoffman

    Cinnamon feels really polished and attractive; I was really impressed.

    The menu, desktop effects and other features feel more like an evolution of the old GNOME environment. GNOME 3 and Unity feel like a big leap in another direction.

    Of course, the choice of desktop environment is all about personal preference.

  6. Thomas O'Neil

    I successfully added the repository to ubuntu 11.10:

    sudo apt-get install cinnamon cinnamon-session cinnamon-settings

    But then got these error messages when I try to install with:
    sudo apt-get install cinnamon cinnamon-session cinnamon-settings

    E: Unable to locate package cinnamon
    E: Unable to locate package cinnamon-session
    E: Unable to locate package cinnamon-settings

    Any suggestions to help resolve? Thanks!
    Thomas

  7. Citrus Rain

    I guess I’ll be installing this. Hopefully the start menu won’t be laggy and crashy.

    Since my TV is my monitor, I’m having a tough time deciding what GUI I like for it. Since the dock is nice for such a setup. But the menu takes too long to open something not docked. Meanwhile, Gnome 3 has squares in like… every other letter on the labels & menus that I still need to fix.

    Half expecting this to feel too small.

    Ohhh first world problems.

  8. Thomas O'Neil

    Meant to say I successfully added the repository with:
    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:merlwiz79/cinnamon-ppa

    Thanks again for any suggestions.

  9. Thomas O'Neil

    Got the install problem solved with help from askubuntu.com. Turns out I had to remove two other repositories that were preventing apt-get update from working properly. Then it installed just fine.
    :-)

  10. Chris Hoffman

    Thanks for sharing the solution to your problem, Thomas! Hopefully it will help other readers.

  11. max

    unity is the way to go with gnome 3.2 options

  12. Chris Hoffman

    Desktop environments are one of those things we’ll never be able to agree on. Everyone has their own favorite.

  13. f1

    it’s so cool. How do i resize the menu though? it appears so small on my screen.

  14. Chris Hoffman

    That option might not be in there yet. If you can’t find it in the Cinnamon configuration app, you’ll probably have to wait. Lots of options were just added and I’m sure they’ll continue to add them.

  15. f1

    cool, thanks

  16. dave

    I got the same error messages, but when I rebooted, Cinnamon was installed anyway, I’m using it now.

  17. Ariya

    Just keep on adding apps to the favourites and you’d find the Cinnamon menu going out of the top of the screen, and you’d never find the one on the top. When, it came first with Mint, I wrote about it, but still Mint produced this useless menu!

  18. Chris Hoffman

    Hey Ariya, you should probably report this sort of bug to Mint so they can fix it: https://bugs.launchpad.net/linuxmint

    If you already have, I sympathize. I’ve had bug reports ignored for years by some projects, too.

  19. Ernesto Posse

    It doesn’t install for me. Adding the repository worked fine as did the apt-get update, but on install cinnamon I get this:

    The following packages have unmet dependencies:
    cinnamon : Depends: libecal1.2-10 (>= 3.2.2) but 3.2.0-0ubuntu1 is to be installed
    Depends: libedataserver1.2-15 (>= 3.2.2) but 3.2.0-0ubuntu1 is to be installed
    Depends: libedataserverui-3.0-1 (>= 3.2.2) but 3.2.0-0ubuntu1 is to be installed
    E: Unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages

  20. Chris Hoffman

    Hmm. It looks like it can’t install its dependencies — those versions should be available in the updates repository. If you go into the Software Sources window application (type “Software Sources” into dash to find it), is the updates repository enabled?

  21. Daniel

    Looks simply beautiful!

  22. Ariya

    The Cinnamon is a complete failure.

    Let’s try an experiment; go on adding next 10-12 applications to the favourites bar, and what do you get? The first few applications go out of the top of the screen and you can’t reach them. Now, try adding the same amount of applications to the left side bar in Unity, and what you get? You can reach the topmost and also the very bottom one.

  23. Quint

    I had this installed on a Pentium 4 laptop with 1GB of RAM. It worked beautifully. Took forever to install Ubuntu 11.10 using the Alternative Install method, but then I immediately installed Cinnamon and Wow. Then I made a huge mistake of trying to install Linux Mint 12 Gnome and it broke the install. I reinstalled Ubuntu 11.10 and now I am having the same issues as others trying to install Cinnamon. Can anyone help? Please!

  24. Ariya

    Chris Hoffman, do you think it was not reported? Also, the developer didn’t see that? Why waste time on a old fashioned DE, just to steal some Ubuntu users to Mint? Clem’s LMDE was also a failure!

  25. Scott

    I added the repository, and it looks like everything installed correctly. But when I log back in and choose Cinnamon, all I get is and empty desktop and the screen “flickers”. I can use Gnome Classic and Unity without any issues on the same system. Anybody else experience this glitch?

  26. Chris Hoffman

    @Scott

    Cinnamon is based on GNOME Shell, and, well — from what I’ve heard, GNOME Shell has issues with some graphics hardware and doesn’t seem as robust. It’s possible Cinnamon just inherited this problem from GNOME Shell.

  27. Scott

    Thanks Chris. I assumed that it might be my make/model of video card. I’ll swap it out and see if that makes a difference. Cinnamon looks really good… Can’t wait!

  28. Ariya

    If you don’t add any extra apps to the favorites bar, you are okay with it, but otherwise the menu is going to make your life terrible with the Cinnamon DE.

  29. Jim

    Install was a snap, And when selecting any of the items on the toolbar they work fine – but if I click the menu (the two left hand icons) I get garbage for the icons. Is this a resolution problem or does cinnamon not like 11.10. I’m stymied.

    Thanx

  30. Chris Hoffman

    @Jim

    I suppose it’s possible that’s also a graphics driver problem. I’m not sure, exactly. It is beta software, after all.

  31. Jim

    You were absolutely right. It was a graphics driver issue. Thanx

    Jim

  32. orb

    Disabling the Global Menu

    You might notice Ubuntu’s global menu bar still appears at the top of the screen. If you want to get rid of it, just run the following command, then log out and back in:

    sudo apt-get remove appmenu-gtk3 appmenu-gtk appmenu-qt

    Didn’t work. Suggestions?

  33. Chris Hoffman

    @orb

    Hmm. It certainly worked for me.

    Are you having the issue with Firefox? A quick Google reveals that you may need to disable the “Global Menu Bar Integration” add-on in Firefox’s add-ons window

    Some people recommend restarting your computer after running that command, but the log out and log back in should do it.

  34. orb

    i have the global menu bar on my desktop in cinnamon..im running ubuntu 11.10 and that was what i was trying to get rid of, because it shows “underneath” the flipped menu bar for cinnamon. (i like mine on top.)
    the only issue i have with ff is that since 4.0 it pretty much blows, lol

  35. orb

    oh, and i did reboot afterwards. sorry for the double post.

  36. Chris Hoffman

    Sorry, I’m not sure what else to say — removing the packages with that command should remove the global menu bar from your system entirely. Maybe try running the command again?

  37. robin

    try the same command. but replase remove with purge. and then restart

    that did it for me. I’m using ubuntu 11.10

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