Cinnamon is a user interface. It is a fork of GNOME Shell, initially developed by (and for) Linux Mint. It provides a usable user environment based on the desktop metaphor, like GNOME 2. Cinnamon uses Muffin, a fork of the GNOME 3 window manager Mutter, as its window manager from Cinnamon 1.2 onwards.
The Linux Mint development team was initially unsure about the future of the distribution after the release of GNOME 3. Its new interface, GNOME Shell, did not fit the design goals the team had in mind for Linux Mint, but there were initially no available alternatives. Linux Mint 11 "Katya" was released in May 2011 with the final release of GNOME 2, but it was clear that a better solution was needed, as GNOME Panel was no longer being developed.
Therefore, the team set out to improve GNOME Shell so that it would fit Linux Mint's goals, and the result was the "Mint GNOME Shell Extensions" (MGSE). In the meantime, the MATE desktop environment was forked from GNOME 2. The Mint team decided to incorporate MATE into Linux Mint 12 "Lisa" alongside MGSE, to give users a choice whether to use the traditional GNOME 2 desktop or the GNOME 3-based MGSE.
However, MGSE fell short of expectations. Since GNOME Shell was going in a different direction than the Mint developers had in mind, it was clear that MGSE was not viable in the long run. In response to this problem, GNOME Shell was forked to create the Cinnamon project, allowing the Linux Mint developers better control over the development process and to implement their own vision of the GNOME interface for use in future releases of Linux Mint. The project was publicly announced on 2 January 2012 on the Linux Mint blog.
Cinnamon 1.6 was introduced on 18 September 2012 with new default file browser Nemo replacing Nautilus, although Nautilus is still optional.
Cinnamon 1.8 was released on 5 May 2013. Gnome-Control-Center has been forked. It is now called Cinnamon-Control-Center and it combines Gnome-Control-Center and Cinnamon-Settings. Gnome-Screensaver has been also forked and is now called Cinnamon-Screensaver. Now there is possibility to install and update applets, extensions, desklets and themes through control-center instead of placing example themes to .themes folder. It also feature modified Nemo interface. Desklets that come with release are like Widgets.
Cinnamon provides many features, including
- Desktop effects, including animations and transition effects
- A movable panel equipped with a main menu, launchers, a window list and the system tray
- Various extensions
- Applets that appear on the panel
- Overview with functions similar to that in GNOME Shell; and
- Settings editor for easy customization.
(Text and image from the wikipedia article)