Saturday, May 19, 2012

Starting out in Cinnamon (w/Linux Mint 12)

[ Note added 2012-05-31: I no longer use Cinnamon. Here's why: ]

I've been using Linux Mint 12 for awhile, and 11 briefly before that, ever since I got fed up with Gnome's decision that the user interface is unimportant.

Thursday a grad student asked me if I'd tried Cinnamon, which apparently he has liked on a few different platforms. This left me with a choice: work on the finals I would be delivering, or mess with Cinnamon. I chose Cinnamon, though I now must admit that my IS 247 exam suffered from insufficient proofreading.

I like Cinnamon, and recommended it to a friend, who didn't see much difference between it and what he had been running (probably Gnome Classic or Mate) on a Mint system.  I responded with a summary of my experiences with Cinnamon to date:

First, switching to Cinnamon on my recommendation should be worth some placebo effect. If not:

The panels are configurable, and it's okay to have just one.

TFM: the wrench & screwdriver  in the main menu leads to a different place from System Tools|System Settings wrench & screwdriver. If you select Menu|Wrench & Screwdriver, one of the options is Hot Corner. Make it visible, place it in a corner not otherwise critically used (it's translucent) and play with it.

I was using Gnome Classic with no effects, because with effects keyboard shortcuts didn't work. With Mate my volume controls (alt-up, alt-down) didn't work. This does everything Mate does without breaking keyboard shortcuts (big deal) and also allowing effects (not a big deal).

I really like Hot Corner.

Cinnamon has more themes than Gnome Classic, but still not one I really like. A little googling, though, led me to a page on creating themes, and it does look simple, except I'll be editing CSS and am unclear regarding what some of the tags are. I'll either find docs or experiment.

What I really want are larger fonts in the panel and top bars on windows that change colors noticeably between selected and not selected.

There is one clear-cut bug that I've seen: Under Cinnamon, Gnome Terminal 3.0.1 doesn't consistently switch its cursor to solid block (from outline) when the window has focus. A minor aggravation.

I have an old (ca. 12/2005) Dell laptop running Ubuntu 10.4 LTS. Ubuntu's LTS is rather short, and has expired, so I think I'll blow that away in favor of the Mint13 RC, Cinnamon, and Mate. If Mate is less buggy in the Mint 13 environment than Mint 12 (they use the word mature to describe it, but I have yet to see evidence of that) it might be a good choice. Anyhow, the new Mint 13, Cinnamon, and Mate on modest hardware seems worth learning about.

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