Ubuntu Cinnamon 13.04 Review

very good
key review info
application features
  • Very good start menu
  • (3 more, see all...)

Ubuntu comes in all shapes and sizes, but there is no Cinnamon-flavored Ubuntu distro out there. Nonetheless, users can install and use Cinnamon just like any other software. We'll let you be the judge of its merits.

Some users might remember that Ubuntu used to sport a GNOME Classic mode that was a lot simpler and easier on the system resources.

That feature has been phased out and users have switched to other distributions which didn't have Unity and which still retained that 1998 look. Some of them are in existence right now, and others are called Linux Mint, with all its flavors.

It's also true that Linux Mint has received a number of improvements over the years, but there aren't any major design changes, making it essentially an operating system for people who can't really let go of the past.

Here is where Cinnamon comes into play. Linux Mint developers needed something that was like GNOME, but not quite. The story is a little longer and it doesn't really matter right now. The result of their quest was the release of Cinnamon, a GNOME 3-based environment that seems to be original, but not quite.


You don't actually need Linux Mint to see it in action. Canonical has an antique version in their repositories and you won't need that version. It's old and it lacks many features.

You will need to install the latest version, which packs a lot of new features. Cinnamon is available for a host of operating systems, but we'll focus for now on Ubuntu. The developers are providing a PPA and all you will have to do is open a terminal and enter the following commands.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gwendal-lebihan-dev/cinnamon-stable

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install cinnamon

After all the packages have been installed, you will have to log out and choose another desktop environment from the list (accessible by clicking the Ubuntu symbol in LightDM). Use your credentials and voilà, you're in.


Cinnamon is not all that different from everything else, but it does feature a very good start menu, with a powerful search feature that is fast and smooth.

The start menu is probably half the appeal of this desktop environment. Another important and attractive feature is the way the developers have implemented the animations. They look very good and integrate well into the overall functionality. Without these animations everything would seem very, very boring.

Another nice addition is the fact that users can dismiss the system messages, feature which is not available in Ubuntu 13.04, or any other version for that matter.

Cinnamon developers have also understood that users like to customize their experience. That's why downloading and installing new themes is embedded in the Settings and it's really easy to do. Some Cinnamon users might remember that it was the same for Ubuntu, up until a few years ago.

If you use Cinnamon only for a limited time or just for casual Internet browsing, you might not notice that it's actually plagued by quite a few minor problems. They might not seem much, but they do tend to get on your nerves when using the system on a daily basis.

First of all, the name of the software is displayed in the title bar, but some themes don't work well with compiz or other window decorators. Thus, you might notice that only a part of the name is showed.

That nice notification system we praised a little earlier has the nasty habit of trimming a link if it doesn't fit in that small box. This means that it will not work and the user will have to go to the application that generated the notification.

Cinnamon also features multiple desktops, but the transition between them is sloppy and it's not fluid and seamless, as it should be. The button to switch between applications situated on different desktops is placed in the bottom right corner and needs two clicks to work it properly.


Cinnamon does a lot of things right and, with a little work, it will catch up to the rest of the crowd. Maybe its functionality is better in Linux Mint and Ubuntu is the culprit for all the problems I mentioned before, but my feeling is that it still needs a little more time to mature.
user interface 4
features 4
ease of use 4
pricing / value 5

final rating 4
Editor's review
very good

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