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Cinnamon, the desktop environment used by default in Linux Mint, has reached version 1.8, getting its own Control Center, screensaver and more.

Cinnamon is a GNOME Shell fork which tries to offer the layout and customizability of GNOME 2: by default there's a panel at the bottom (but optionally, you can also get one on top like in GNOME 2) that supports autohide, it supports applets, a classic system tray and more.

Let's take a look at what's new in the latest Cinnamon 1.8!

Cinnamon 1.8 video

Below you can watch a video which presents the most important changes in Cinnamon 1.8:

(direct video link; for more videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel)

Sorry for the fonts in the video, it's an YouTube bug because the fonts look ok in my original video. The fonts don't look like that when using Cinnamon.

What's new in Cinnamon 1.8

Cinnamon 1.8 no longer uses gnome-session for fallback which has advantages such as the ability to restart Cinnamon after a crash or the use of a wrapper which allows Cinnamon to restart itself after potential crashes. This should also fix the issue with Cinnamon not working on some hardware which was actually capable of running it.

Cinnamon 1.8 comes with its own Control Center, so there's no longer the need to use GNOME Control Center. This is especially useful if you have installed multiple desktop environments: features that are GNOME Shell or Unity specific don't show up in Cinnamon Control Center, so you should now have a more clean, less confusing settings app. 

In Cinnamon Settings you can find all the GNOME settings that also apply to Cinnamon as well as Cinnamon-specific settings such as applets, desklets, theme settings, windows behavior, hot corners setup, panel settings and more:

Cinnamon Control Center

By default, Cinnamon Control Center displays only some of the system settings and for more advanced settings you must click the "Switch to Advanced Mode" button in the lower left corner.

The Cinnamon Screensaver about which we were telling you a while back, is available by default with Cinnamon 1.8. The screensaver is very simplistic, displaying the date and time on a shaded background and optionally, it can also display an away message:

Cinnamon Screensaver

Cinnamon screensaver settings

The new Cinnamon release also introduces "Desklets" (desktop widgets), but since this is a new feature, there are only a few available for now:

Cinnamon Desklets

Cinnamon desklets settings

The desklets can be set to snap to a desklets grid so they align nicely, with configurable grid width and users can also select if the desklets should use a border, border and header or no decoration at all.

Another interesting new feature in Cinnamon 1.8 is that you can install or update "spices" (which include applets, desklets, themes or extensions) directly from the desktop, via Cinnamon Control Center, so Cinnamon users no longer need to manually download and install them from http://cinnamon.linuxmint.com:

Cinnamon 1.8 applets install

In my test, installing themes didn't work for some reason, maybe because the available themes aren't compatible with the latest Cinnamon 1.8 yet, but I was able to successfully install applets and desklets.

And finally, Nemo, the default Cinnamon file manager, has received many improvements since the previous stable release that's available in Linux Mint 14 (1.1.2), such as:
  • buttons in the statusbar to easily hide the sidebar and switch between places and treeview (sidebar);
  • option to hide the menu;
  • collapsable sidebar categories;
  • breadcrumbs;
  • Sidebar Disk Indicators: indicators are displayed under each drive, displaying the free/used space;
  • various fixes and more.

Cinnamon 1.8 Nemo
Nemo 1.8

See how to install Nemo file manager in Ubuntu.

Other changes:
  • Cinnamon now automatically falls back to Software Rendering (previously known as Cinnamon 2D) when the full Cinnamon is not supported - a critical notification is displayed on startup when running Software Rendering - this usually happens because of a problem with the drivers or if the graphics card doesn't support any acceleration;
  • improved hot-corner configuration;
  • new coverflow and timeline alt-tab;
  • updated default applets, many fixes, etc.

Cinnamon hot-corner configuration

Cinnamon coverflow alt-tab
Coverflow ATL-TAB style

Cinnamon timeline alt-tab
Timeline ALT-TAB style

Bumpmaps, a feature that was supposed to be added in Cinnamon 1.8 didn't make it unfortunately as it's not yet fully ready.

Install Cinnamon 1.8 in Ubuntu

Cinnamon 1.8 will be available by default in Linux Mint 15 (Cinnamon Edition - RC should be out mid-may) and it should also be available in the "Romeo" repository for Linux Mint 13 and 14 soon.

Ubuntu Precise, Quantal, Raring and Saucy users can install the latest Cinnamon via PPA:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gwendal-lebihan-dev/cinnamon-stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install cinnamon
Once installed, log out and select Cinnamon from the login screen.

For other Linux distributions, see the Cinnamon downloads page.