Linux Mint has been trying to move away from Gnome 3 and did not even consider Unity as an option, when it comes to the desktop environment. About a month ago, we came to know that Clement Lefebvre at Linux Mint is trying to create a custom desktop environment for Linux Mint, called Cinnamon. The latest word is that the first version of Cinnamon has been released officially.
Linux Mint has made earlier attempts at a decent desktop environment by improving on Gnome 3. They created Mint Gnome Shell Extension (MGSE), and it was shipped with Linux Mint 12. However, Clement was not satisfied with MGSE, and wrote on the Linux Mint forum saying:
I am not going to argue whether Gnome Shell is a good or a bad desktop. It’s just not what we’re looking for. The user experience the Gnome team is trying to create isn’t the one we’re interested in providing to our users. There are core features and components we absolutely need, and because they are not there in Gnome Shell, we had to add them using extensions with MGSE.
Thus came Cinnamon version 1.2, the first stable release on Cinnamon. With this release of Cinnamon, the API and the desktop are fully stable. However, it is not the only product that the Mint team has in plan. They want to build a complete desktop-environment ecosystem with themes, applets, extensions, user ratings and comments.
Now that Cinnamon is out, it is definite that this will be the default desktop environment on Linux Mint 13. Linux Mint has overtaken Ubuntu as the most popular Linux distro, and the war is clearly between these two Debian flavors. With further development, we will see a tough competition between the HUD enabled Unity and the feature rich Cinnamon.