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Linux Mint – Getting Acquainted with Cinnamon

How to install Ubuntu Server 19.10

By now, you should have a fully functional installation of Linux Mint ready to do your bidding. Whether you have already installed the distribution or you are running it from live media, Linux Mint is at your command. Right out of the box, you can browse the web, create and manage files, listen to music, watch movies, and even connect to and administer other machines. In the default installation, Mint includes everything you need to be productive. In this chapter, we’ll explore the most popular Mint desktop environment ( Cinnamon) and how to use and customize it.

In this chapter, we will discuss the following topics:

  • What is Cinnamon?
  • Logging in to Cinnamon
  • Launching programs
  • Task management
  • Workspaces
  • Notifications
  • Creating launchers
  • Bundled applications
  • File management with Nemo
  • Configuring Cinnamon settings
  • Changing the default search engine in Firefox
  • Changing the themes of the desktop

Getting familiar with Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a desktop environment. This is the term that the Linux community uses to describe a user interface thrown on top of the Linux kernel. With Linux, you don’t actually need a desktop environment. In the case of Linux servers, it’s not uncommon to see them with no user interface at all; instead, the administrator would rely on shell commands to configure and interact with a system. In fact, it’s even possible to perform all the basic desktop functions (such as modifying files, listening to music, and browsing the web) using shell commands. These commands call programs that can run without a user interface. However, when using Linux on your desktop or laptop, installing a desktop environment makes things much simpler. Most distributions (such as Mint) include a desktop environment in the default installation. Nowadays, Linux desktop environments have become so efficient that terminal commands are no longer a necessity; you can operate your computer with the comfort of your traditional mouse just like you would with Mac OSX or Windows.

Cinnamon is not the only desktop environment available for Linux. As mentioned earlier, there are others such as GNOME, KDE, MATE, and Xfce. Each desktop environment offers a different style of interacting with your computer graphically. Some may enjoy the eye candy that KDE provides; others may prefer the simplicity of Xfce, while those that use virtual workspaces heavily may enjoy GNOME. If you don’t like one user interface, you can always try another one. Workspaces will be discussed later in this chapter.

Cinnamon is a desktop environment that tries to cater to all types of users. There is plenty of eye candy (such as KDE); it offers a great support for workspaces (such as GNOME), runs fast (like Xfce), and has a few tricks of its own. Due to its popularity, it’s unofficially assumed to be the default desktop environment of Mint. Many of the same developers of Mint work on it even though Cinnamon is actually not exclusive to Mint.

In fact, Cinnamon is actually a fork of GNOME 3.x. When the 3.x series of the GNOME desktop was released for Linux, many users were displeased due to its radical departure from how the environment functioned in the 2.x series. Cinnamon was built on top of GNOME 3.x, but changed dramatically to become its own environment. As of Cinnamon 2.0, it’s now completely separate from GNOME, though its origin remains.

The following screenshot shows off the Cinnamon desktop, which you’ll see right after logging in. We will explore its various functions in the following sections of this chapter.

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