Wednesday, June 24, 2015

not quite good enough

The Cinnamon desktop leaves me feeling a bit disappointed. I have it installed in Debian Jessie, and I also have an installation of Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE 2) with Cinnamon.

Cinnamon's set-up includes a more "traditional" panel than GNOME Shell's, but still I can't do everything with it that I'd like to do. It isn't as configurable as Xfce's panel. I can't adjust the width so that the panel doesn't stretch 100% across the screen. Icons on the panel for running apps show icons plus text when I'd prefer icons-only.

I don't see how to show icons for apps running on all workspaces rather than only the active workspace. Because of that, when I've got apps running on multiple workspaces, it's actually easier for me to get around the desktop by bringing up the Expo view (using the upper-left hot corner) than by using the workspace switcher and the icons on the panel.

Expo would be about the same as using GNOME Shell's Activities overview, except the Expo view doesn't give me access to other applications like the Activities overview does.

With Cinnamon, some of the advantages of having a "traditional" panel are therefore lost. Cinnamon's is a better panel than GNOME Shell's, but since it still doesn't give me enough of what I'd want in a panel, I feel like I might as well be running GNOME Shell (which I'm quite comfortable using) instead. At any rate, GNOME Shell's Activities overview eliminates the need for some panel items like an application menu, application launchers, workspace switcher, and panel icons showing running apps -- for me, at least.

What I see in Cinnamon is a panel that isn't as good as several others you'd find in Linux, and an overview (Expo) that isn't as good as GNOME Shell's Activities overview.

I must say that one of the nicest things about Cinnamon is the Nemo file manager, which I like much better than GNOME's Files (aka Nautilus). However, I use SpaceFM almost all the time, anyway, so the default file manager is kinda irrelevant to me. Also, Cinnamon's main menu is pretty nice, although I wish I could access it with a right-click on the desktop.

I've been playing around with LXDE in Lubuntu 14.04. For me, LXDE has the edge over Cinnamon. I can do what I want with the LXDE panel; mine is sized to 85% width, the icons for running apps are icons-only, and the panel shows all icons from all workspaces. I can set-up Openbox's desktop right-click menu -- can't do anything like that with Cinnamon OR with GNOME Shell. The mouse's scroll-wheel, with the cursor on the open desktop, takes me to another workspace; that's another thing that doesn't happen in Cinnamon. And LXDE lets me have different backgrounds on different workspaces. There are no hot spots and no overview so navigating the desktop must be done in the more traditional manner, with panel icons and workspace switching, but that's fine with me as long as everything can be set up to my liking.

Mint fans won't like me saying this, but I feel that my workflow is actually better when I'm using either GNOME Shell or LXDE than when I'm using Cinnamon. However, with each DE/WM I've used, I've always become much more comfortable with it over time, and already I feel the same thing happening with Cinnamon. Anyway, to each her/his own; many people with have far more complaints about GNOME Shell than I have with Cinnamon. Often, the "best" environment is the one you're most used to, and the one that you don't like as much is the one that you're not (yet) quite good enough at using.

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