7 Reasons Why Cinnamon is a Fantastic (Yet Underrated) Linux Desktop Environment

Cinnamon is a nice desktop environment. Want to know why? Here are some good reasons behind it.
Warp Terminal

Linux Mint is one of my favorite distributions. The flagship (or default) Cinnamon desktop is why I like it so much.

The user experience offered by Cinnamon desktop may not be mind-blowing or fancy. But, the desktop environment provides enough reasons for users to like it and easily work with it to get things done.

At the end of the day, that’s what we want. A user interface that works as expected and does not get in the way.

I think Cinnamon desktop does a few things right to give you an exciting experience. Let me mention some of those here.

If you did not know, the Cinnamon desktop is a fork of GNOME created in 2011 by Clement Lefebvre (Linux Mint creator) with enhancements over the years.

1. Familiar User Interface

A screenshot of Linux Mint Cinnamon Desktop
Linux Mint Cinnamon Desktop

The primary objective of building Cinnamon was to keep the GNOME 2 desktop style alive.

And that is why you get a familiar desktop layout compared to the most popular consumer desktop operating system, i.e., Windows.

Of course, Windows 11 has evolved its usual layout with time. But, accessing a start menu, a taskbar, system icons in the tray, and a couple of window decorations make it easy to grasp.

Whether you are a Windows user or a macOS user, the Cinnamon desktop layout should not feel challenging at all.

Linux Mint Welcome application, lisitng many tweaks available like desktop colors, panel layout etc.
Linux Mint Welcome

To help you further, the “Welcome Screen” in Linux Mint provides you with all the information quickly.

2. Lightweight

To get a comfortable experience with Cinnamon desktop (usually with Linux Mint), you have the following system requirements:

  • 4 GB RAM
  • 100 GB of disk space
  • 1024×768 resolution screen

In the modern computing age, these specifications should suit almost everyone. So, you do not have to worry about needing an insane amount of memory or disk space to run a Linux distro powered by Cinnamon.

Of course, you can try installing Cinnamon desktop on Ubuntu.

But, for this article, we consider Linux Mint as the ideal use case.

3. Fast Performance Without Sacrificing User Experience

When we think about a lightweight desktop environment—we usually imagine a bland user interface that focuses on performance.

Several apps are opened in the Linux Mint Cinnamon Desktop
Linux Mint with Apps open

With Cinnamon desktop, that is not the case. It does include subtle animations and features icons/themes that make up for a modern look, if not the best.

It looks pleasing to the eyes with a minimal approach.

Typically, I am a sucker for pretty user interfaces, but I can still live with Linux Mint’s straightforward user experience running it on a dual-monitor setup (1440p + 1080p).

It may not be the best dual-monitor experience with Linux Mint Cinnamon edition (no dock/panel on the second screen for me). So, there is little room for improvement.

4. Default Customization Options

You might already know that KDE is probably the king when it comes to giving the ability to customize out-of-the-box.

We have super useful guides if you are curious about going that way:

But, for many users, it is overwhelming.

I think Linux Mint gives the right amount of extra controls/customizations, which you also learn on its Welcome Screen.

Customize Cinnamon desktop theme using system settings

Some of the elements that you can easily customize include:

  • Desktop color (accent)
  • Light/Dark theme toggle
  • Panel layout
  • Icons, buttons, and mouse pointer.

You can head to the system settings and navigate to “Themes” to find the essential tweaks.

7 Ways to Customize Cinnamon Desktop in Linux [Beginner’s Guide]
Linux Mint is one the best Linux distributions for beginners. Especially Windows users that want to switch to Linux, will find its flagship Cinnamon desktop environment very familiar. Cinnamon gives a traditional desktop experience and many users like it as it is. It doesn’t mean you have to co…

5. Official Add-ons to Spice Up Your Experience

Cinnamon desklets like clock, photo frame etc., listed in the Desklets tweak settings
Linux Mint Desklets

Linux Mint supports various add-ons to enhance your experience. These are all part of its Cinnamon Spices offering. They include:

  • Themes
  • Extensions
  • Applets
  • Desklets

Applets and Desklets are tiny programs that you can add on top of the panel (near the system tray) and the desktop, respectively.

A system monitoring applet cinnamon
System monitoring Applet

You can manage system default applets or download more from the official repositories:

Manage applets in Cinnamon or download applets using the applets settings
Manage Applets

Similarly, you can add a Desklet from the available defaults or get a new one from the repositories.

Manage Desklet in Cinnamon or download new to your collection
Manage Desklets

Plenty of valuable utilities to monitor system resources, check the weather, and more.

In addition, you get access to various themes built by the community that could easily give you the look you always wanted.

Download and manage Cinnamon themes
Download Themes

To complement all the above spices, you can use extensions to make the panel transparent, add a watermark to your desktop, enable windows tiling, and add some exciting window animations.

Linux Mint Extensions: Add a gtile tiling extension to tile the windows in multiple configurations

6. Compatible and Seamless User Experience

Why do I highlight the user experience again?

The best part about Cinnamon desktop is that it evolves in a way that respects and supports all functionalities.

For instance, if you want to install an app you enjoyed using on KDE Plasma, it should work the same way here. There’s nothing special with Cinnamon desktop that would break the experience.

GNOME Online accounts in Cinnamon
GNOME Online Accounts

Similarly, the desktop adds features that try to co-exist with services from other desktop environments. For instance, calendar events support using GNOME Online Accounts.

7. Panel Customization

Linux Mint Panel Customization options are opened, which can be used to tweak settings like panel height, panel appearance etc.
Panel Customization

The dock, taskbar, or panel comprises an integral part of the user interface.

Yes, other desktop environments allow you to customize the same to some extent. With Cinnamon, you get a good amount of control to tweak it.

I think you get all the essential options a user would want.

Wrapping Up

I believe the system updates mechanism in Cinnamon is better than others.

Beginner’s Guide to System Updates in Linux Mint
New to Linux Mint? It has an excellent system updater tool. Learn about this tool and the best practices you should follow.

It's just one of many things Mint does better than Ubuntu.

8 Reasons Why Linux Mint is Better Than Ubuntu for Linux Beginners
Which one is better, Linux Mint or Ubuntu? This question has been there ever since Linux Mint came into the picture, and this article does not answer this question. Well, not entirely. So, what is this about, then? I have been an Ubuntu user for a long time. I stray

GNOME and KDE Plasma are popular desktop environments. However, Cinnamon is not far off on essential parts to provide an optimal user experience.

What do you think of the Cinnamon desktop environment? Do you prefer to try it with Linux Mint? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

About the author
Ankush Das

Ankush Das

A passionate technophile who also happens to be a Computer Science graduate. You will usually see cats dancing to the beautiful tunes sung by him.

Become a Better Linux User

With the FOSS Weekly Newsletter, you learn useful Linux tips, discover applications, explore new distros and stay updated with the latest from Linux world


Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to It's FOSS.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.