Cinnamon Desktop – I think this is the desktop environment that those looking for something familiar and who do not want to fight their desktop will be very happy to use. It is new technology (GNOME 3) in a familiar format, and out of the box, it brings some very cool effects to the desktop not available on a default installation of MATE, even a default installation of KDE. A screen shot of the default desktop with the menu showing the Applications column.
Cinnamon comes with its own Control Center from where aspects of the desktop can be configured. Other graphical management applications are accessible from the System Tools, Preferences and Administration menu categories.
Aside from a few applications, Linux Mint 13 MATE and Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon share the same set of installed applications. There is, for example, Firefox for Web browsing. By default, Firefox 12 is the installed version, but on my test installations, it has since been upgraded to the latest and greatest version – Firefox 13. There is the GIMP, LibreOffice, Pidgin Internet Messenger (IM client), Mozilla Thunderbird (email client), Banshee music player, and Totem and VLC media players. In other words, almost every type of application you will need are installed out of the box.
On both editions, you can install anything that is not installed by default using Linux Mint’s Software Manager, a graphical package manager similar to Ubuntu’s Software Center. The main interface is shown in this image.
I have never felt any need to use MATE, not even for a minute. Cinnamon on the other hand, is a little bit more inviting, even though KDE, my desktop environment of choice at the moment, offers a lot more of what I expect from a desktop environment. Cinnamon is the future of Linux Mint, and I think that at some point, the MATE edition will be dropped completely. For the present, if you are trying to decide between MATE and Cinnamon, give the latter a try. You will enjoy using it more than MATE.
Screen Shots: View more screen shots from my test installations of Linux Mint 13 MATE and Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon.