Cinnamon (desktop environment) (Redirected from Cinnamon (software))

Developer(s)Linux Mint team
Initial releaseDecember 20, 2011; 12 years ago (December 20, 2011)
Stable release
6.0.4 Edit this on Wikidata / 4 January 2024; 46 days ago (4 January 2024)
Written inC (GTK), JavaScript, and Python
Operating systemUnix-like
TypeDesktop environment

Cinnamon is a free and open-source desktop environment for Linux and other Unix-like operating systems, which was originally based on GNOME 3, but follows traditional desktop metaphor conventions.

The development of Cinnamon began by the Linux Mint team as the result of the April 2011 release of GNOME 3, in which the conventional desktop metaphor of GNOME 2 was discarded in favor of GNOME Shell. Following several attempts to extend GNOME 3 so that it would suit the Linux Mint design goals through "Mint GNOME Shell Extensions", the Linux Mint team eventually forked several GNOME 3 components to build an independent desktop environment. This separation from GNOME was finished with the release of Cinnamon 2.0.0 in October 9, 2013. Applets, extensions, actions, and desklets made explicitly for Cinnamon are no longer compatible with GNOME Shell.

As the distinctive factor and preeminent desktop environment for Linux Mint, Cinnamon has generally received favorable coverage by the press, in particular for its ease of use and gentle learning curve. In regard to its conservative design model, Cinnamon is similar to the Xfce, MATE, GNOME 2, and GNOME Flashback desktop environments.


As with many other desktop environments based on GNOME, including Canonical's Unity, Cinnamon was the result of disapproval and dissatisfaction of the GNOME team's abandonment of a traditional desktop experience in April 2011. Until then, GNOME (i.e. GNOME 2) had included the traditional desktop metaphor, but in GNOME 3, this was entirely replaced with GNOME Shell, which by default lacked a taskbar-like panel and other basic features of a conventional desktop. The elimination of these basic features was unacceptable to the developers of distributions such as Mint and Ubuntu, which are geared to users who wanted interfaces that are familiar and easy-to-use.

To overcome these differences, the Linux Mint team initially set out to develop extensions for GNOME Shell to replace the abandoned features. The results of this effort were known as the "Mint GNOME Shell Extensions" or MGSE. Meanwhile, the MATE desktop environment had also been forked from GNOME 2. Linux Mint 12, released in November 2011, subsequently included both, thereby giving users a choice of either GNOME 3 with the MGSE or a MATE desktop that closely resembled GNOME 2.

However, even with MGSE, GNOME 3 was still largely missing the comforts of GNOME 2 and was not well received by the user community. At the time, some of the missing features could not be replaced by extensions, and it seemed that extensions would not be viable in the long run due to concerns of significant changes upstream from the GNOME team. Moreover, the GNOME developers were not willing to cooperate with the wishes of the Mint developers. To give the Mint developers finer control over the development process, GNOME Shell was forked as "Project Cinnamon" in January 2012.

Gradually, various core applications were adapted by the Mint developers. Beginning with version 1.2, released in January 2012, the window manager of Cinnamon is called Muffin, which was originally a fork of GNOME 3's Mutter. Similarly, since September 2012 (version 1.6 onwards), Cinnamon includes the Nemo file manager which was forked from Nautilus. Nemo was created in response to disapproval of some upstream changes in Nautilus 3.6 that significantly altered the functionality and user interface of Nautilus. Cinnamon-Settings, included since May 2013 (version 1.8 onwards), combines the functionality of GNOME-Control-Center with that of Cinnamon-Settings, and made it possible to manage and update applets, extensions, desklets and themes through Cinnamon-Settings. Gnome-Screensaver was also forked and is now called Cinnamon-Screensaver.

Since October 2013 (version 2.0 onwards), Cinnamon is no longer a frontend of GNOME like Unity or GNOME Shell, but rather a completely independent desktop environment. Although Cinnamon is still heavily built on GNOME technologies and utilizes GTK, it no longer requires GNOME as a dependency in order to be installed.

Further improvements in later versions include a desktop grid, wildcard support in file searches, multi-process settings daemon, desktop actions in the panel launcher, separate processes for desktop handling and file manager in Nemo; an additional desktop panel layout option that offers a more modern looking theme and grouped windows; improved naming for duplicate applications in the menu (i.e. Flatpak vs. deb packages), pinned files in Nemo, touchpad gestures, customizable context menu items in Nemo called "Actions", and an emphasis on performance improvements.

Software components

Nemo file manager is based on GNOME Files


Xed v1.2.2

Cinnamon introduces X-Apps which are based on GNOME Core Applications but are modified to work across Cinnamon, MATE and XFCE; most of these applications have a traditional user interface (UI).


Features provided by Cinnamon include

  • Desktop effects, including animations, transition effects and transparency using composition;
  • Panels equipped with a main menu, launchers, a window list and the system tray can be adjusted on left, right, upper or lower edge of the screen
  • Various extensions;
  • Applets that appear on the panel
  • Overview with functions similar to that in GNOME Shell; and
  • Settings editor for easy customization. It can customize:
    • The panel
    • The calendar
    • Themes
    • Desktop effects
    • Applets
    • Extensions
  • Volume and brightness adjustment using scroll wheel while pointing at the respective taskbar icon.
  • Hot corners on the screen

As of 23 January 2024, there is no official documentation for Cinnamon itself. That said, there is documentation for the Cinnamon edition of Linux Mint, with a chapter on the Cinnamon desktop.

Overview mode

New overview modes have been added to Cinnamon 1.4. These two modes are "Expo" and "Scale", which can be configured in Cinnamon Settings.


Cinnamon can be modified by themes, applets, desklets, actions, and extensions. Themes can customize the look of aspects of Cinnamon, including but not limited to the menu, panel, calendar and run dialog. 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. Desklets are miniature applications that one can place and run on the desktop, providing quick access to information and functionality. Actions are tasks that can be executed from the context menu of the Nemo file manager. Extensions can modify the functionalities of Cinnamon, such as providing an alternative menu to launch applications or altering the look of the Alt+Tab ↹ window switcher.

Users can find themes, applets, desklets, actions, and extensions from Cinnamon Spices, the official repository where developers can share their creations for users to download and rate.


Distribution Since version Since date Officially


Arch Linux Also available for EndeavourOS, which uses Arch repositories.
Fedora Linux Cinnamon is available as a spin or is available in the Fedora repositories.
Funtoo Linux
Gentoo Linux
Linux Mint Ubuntu-based release: 12

LMDE: 1? - Update pack 4

The Cinnamon desktop environment has been included and available in Linux Mint since version 13 in May 2012.
Manjaro Linux

There are three official editions of Manjaro: Xfce, KDE Plasma 5 and GNOME. While not official releases, Manjaro Community Editions are maintained by members of the Manjaro community. They offer additional user interfaces over the official releases, including Budgie, Cinnamon, Deepin, i3, MATE, and Sway.

Sabayon 8
Ubuntu 23.04 Ubuntu Cinnamon is an official Ubuntu derivative that utilizes the Cinnamon desktop environment.
Void Linux


In their review of Linux Mint 17, Ars Technica described Cinnamon 2.2 as "being perhaps the most user-friendly and all-around useful desktop available on any platform."

In their review of Linux Mint 18, ZDNet said "You can turn the Linux Mint Cinnamon desktop into the desktop of your dreams."


See also

This page was last updated at 2024-02-23 05:02 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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