Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cinnamon 1.6.1 review

Using a third-party repository, it is possible to install Cinnamon 1.6.1 on Ubuntu 12.04 / .10. This is what I have done, and I have some criticisms regarding this release. The overarching theme is: the cinnamon team listened to Linus's advice of "If it compiles, it ships".

There is no doubt that cinnamon is a beautiful desktop environment. It has most of the features that Unity does with semantic searching and consumes less RAM than Gnome 3 or Unity. However, like the other versions, Cinnamon consumes slightly more CPU cycles than other popular desktop environments. If your processor is the weakest part of your computer, then this could result in the dreaded bottleneck.

Another advantage is the maturity of the Cinnamon API. There is an increasing number of extensions and third-party support available for it. Extensions can be read about in more depth here: 

These are not as required as they were for Gnome 3, since Gnome was quite a screw-up compared to previous versions.

 Expo, as expected, is just as good as it always was. Now there is a new feature that allows you to rename windows and even destroy them directly from the Expo dash.

But there is another disturbing bit of information that goes along with Cinnamon. One developer has been working on porting the Gnome keyboard shortcut option interface over to Cinnamon, and got stuck in the middle of his work when the release date hit. Whoops!

This means that custom keyboard shortcuts are a thing of the past. Until the developer finishes his work (hopefully before 1.6.2 launches) the default keyboard shortcuts will have to suffice. Yes, this does mean  closing windows with the awkward Alt+f4 combination, or moving them with alt+click.

To make matters even worse, programs that work as a graphical buffer between the configuration file and the input have all been broken by this impending migration, leaving the ability to make your own keyboard shortcuts COMPLETELY broken.

In lighter, better news for Cinnamon their new file manager, Nemo, has been finished and shipped with 1.6.1. Nemo is based on an earlier version of Gnome's Nautilus file manager, since the Gnome developers have been busy stripping features from their latest file browser. Also, Cinnamon no longer has memory issues. It tends to idle in the hundreds, where before it was not uncommon to have Cinnamon reach massive memory humps up to 800 MiB. And although Cinnamon does tend to consume more CPU Cycles than other desktop environments, the 17% CPU bug associated with opening the cinnamon menu has been fixed, meaning that searching can begin as soon as <Mod4> is pressed.

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