I have been running the Cinnamon DE on my Mint Box for past few months and must admit that I'm greatly impressed with it. It features a polished and elegant interface and is fluid and responsive to my workflow and computing needs.
For those of you do not know about the project, Cinnamon is a fast evolving, sleek, solid and modern Linux desktop maintained by Linux Mint team and built with help of a vibrant community. It is a fork of GNOME shell team but with an intention to offer the traditional desktop metaphor to the user. With every release, developers have done a wonderful job of creating a stable environment by incrementally adding features and have made using the desktop a breeze.
I would like to briefly touch upon the salient features offered by Cinnamon desktop, viz, A. Control Center / System Settings B. Cinnamon Spices C. Window / Workspace management
Control Center / System Settings
Cinnamon features a very intuitive and powerful customization tool to mandodify the desktop to one's preferences. It allows you to customize appearance like changing default font of the system, setting keyboard shortcuts, manage hardware settings (bluetooth, printers, etc) , change default behavior and administrative tasks such as adding users / groups.
Another cool setting is allowing the logged in user to set a lock message when you're away. Eg: At Meeting Room Tesla or Call out peek-a-boo to find ME.
Another fancy feature is the ability to add custom sounds to events such as logging in, plugging in USB device, logout, etc. Your desktop will be whirring in action now.
These are optional components of desktop (few available by default) and are equivalent of widgets / plug-ins that you may have used in other systems. Cinnamon hosts a wide range of a splendid and thoughtful collection of x-lets (Applets, Desklets, etc) and are available in Cinnamon Spices site .
- Applets - Add-ons that sit on your panel for quick tasks such as changing sound track, connect to bluetooth device, monoitor network usage, view news feeds, CPU temperature, so on and so forth. Even the default Menu can be customized to one's taste.
- Desklets - Add-ons that lets you adorn the desktop layout with as Clock, Weather Monitor, Comic Reader, Photo frame, Thought for the day, Sticky notes, Calculator and much more.
- Extensions - Add nice decorations to your desktop (eg: wobbly window effect, Changing backgrounds automatically, Desktop cube effects while switching workspaces)
- Themes - A range of fancy themes to everyone's taste and can be switched instantaneously.
Also, developers can independently develop these add-ons and host in Cinnamon spices site for free. Spices site also supports comments and rating mechanism to give feedback to developers.
Window / Workspace Management
Akin to other popular Linux DE's, Cinnamon allows mutiple workspaces to streamline your workflow activities. For instance, I have defined two workspaces Browsing and Media to categorically place my open applications. Helps me keep a clutter-free desktop. Cinnamon comes with an 'Expo' mode to have an overview of all open workspaces and 'Scale' mode to view all open windows, both of which can be defined in Hot corners and triggered by hovering to screen edges or using certain keystrokes.
Notable among Cinnamon's rich window management features and the ones I use quite often are Window Snapping and Window Tiling (remember Aero Snap of Win 7?). Tiling allows you to assign windows to half or quarter of your screen and work on mutiple applications seamlessly by placing them in grid like fashion.
Snapping is nice-to-have feature for larger montiors (24 ") like mine. It allows you to assign a particular area of your screen real estate to one application and the remaining space is available for other applications, which even when maximized will not disturb the snapped / docked application. For instance, I have Pidgin messenger running open at one end to keep an eye on my folks online and rest of large space set aside for all other applications.
If you're curious or dont believe me yet, just give brand new Cinnamon 2.2 a whirl.