So the GNOME 3 side of the Linux/BSD desktop is a mess at the moment. The messy situation has led to the development of MATE, a fork of GNOME 2. It also prompted Linux Mint‘s development team to make GNOME 3 more user-friendly than the stock GNOME 3 desktop. That effort, GNOME 3 + MGSE (Mint GNOME Shell Extension), was a good attempt, but in many ways, made things even more convoluted. I wrote about as much in my review of Linux Mint 12 (see Linux Mint 12 review).
Cinnamon is another attempt to make the GNOME 3 desktop acceptable to those in the community who have so far refused to have an unpalatable substance rammed down their throats. While MATE is a fork of GNOME 2, Cinnamon is a fork of GNOME 3 Shell. And though better than the other attempts, it does not really represent a sharp break from GNOME 3 + MGSE. Imagine GNOME 3 + MGSE without the Applications view or menu, and you have Cinnamon. The last two updates added some much needed configurations options to the menu, but much still needs to be done.
For example, the Activities/Themes view should be completely removed. With a standard-style menu and a bottom panel with workspaces, Activities no longer serves any useful purpose. In fact, the Activities view is more a distraction on the desktop. Also, the number of workspaces or virtual desktops is not fixed, so any time you open an application in a workspace, a new workspace is created. This is not nearly as bad as Activities, but that is not how it should work. And the Frippery Static Workspaces extension available at http://extensions.gnome.org is not compatible with Cinnamon. Actually, all extensions available on that website are not compatible with Cinnamon.
Despite the few shortcomings, Cinnamon is a refreshing attempt, and it does bring something to the desktop that has the potential to be special down the road. I hope future updates will make that happen.
You can add or remove items from the panel by right-clicking on an existing application icon. This is also nice.
This screen shot shows the desktop with three workspaces (see arrow). A new workspace is created automatically when a new application is opened. We need a user-configurable and fixed number of workspaces.
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