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Cinnamon is a GNOME Shell fork created by Clement Lefebvre, the Linux Mint founder, which tries to offer a layout similar to GNOME 2: a bottom panel with launchers, GNOME2-like systray and notifications and more.

Cinnamon 1.1.3 has been released today, bringing some new features as well as many improvements and bug fixes:
  • panel autohide
  • the Overview Hot Corner or icon can be disabled
  • menu improvements, including: right click the icons in the menu to "Add to panel", "Add to desktop", "Add/Remove to/from favorites" or configuring the "Menu" text
  • Panel Launchers now have tooltips
  • themes in ~/.themes are now detected
  • thumbnails from theme.json files in Gnome Shell themes are now used
  • windows in overview now feature icons for easier recognition
For a complete list of changes, see the release announcement.

To enable/disable bottom panel autohide, change the menu text and so on, you'll need to use dconf-editor. Install it using the following command:
sudo apt-get install dconf-tools

Then launch dconf-editor and navigate to org > cinnamon. Here you'll find all the available options.

Install Cinnamon

Installing Cinnamon won't break GNOME Shell so the two can be installed and used side-by-side.

For Ubuntu 11.10, you can download Cinnamon deb files via its GitHub page - install both "cinnamon" as well as "cinnamon-session".

For Linux Mint 12, use the following command:
sudo apt-get install cinnamon-session

Once installed, log out and select "Cinnamon" in the login screen.

For other Linux distributions such as Arch Linux, Fedora, OpenSuse, etc., see the Cinnamon download page.