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Cinnamon Desktop: Breaks with GNOME, finds beefed-up Nemo

It's all a bit more Windowsy than its ancestors

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The Xbox factor

The most noticeable new feature, though, is the window tiling and snapping. The new edge-snapping feature was inspired by the "Snap" functionality of Xbox One. Similar to tiling windows, snapped windows stick to the edge or corner of your screen. Unlike tiled windows snapped windows are not covered by maximized windows. So, for example, you can maximize a terminal window and then snap your media player to one edge of the screen.

The result is a setup that gives you access to all your running terminal sessions and media player without needing to shuffle windows or switch workspaces. It's not as nice as a dual monitor solution, but if you've got a laptop, edge snapping is about as close as you can get to dual monitors.

Other improvements in window tiling include a visible landing zone when you drag windows - what Mint calls the Head Up Display (HUD) - and the ability to resize tiled windows. In other words, tiled windows no longer need to occupy half of the screen, they will by default, but you can resize them to get your workspace looking exactly how you'd like.

Cinnamon 2.0 tiling

Reclaim your lost half screen with tiled windows in Cinnamon 2.0 (click to enlarge)

Cinnamon 2.0's new GNOME-free backend also sports a new Users and Groups utility for administrators to easily control permissions, users and groups. There's a new User applet for the Cinnamon panel as well, which gives quick access to common session and account related tasks like logging out, switching users, quickly accessing settings and more. One great option in the applet is the ability to easily disable notifications, perfect for those times when you need to get some uninterrupted work done.

The other most noticeable new features are found in Nemo, Cinnamon's default file browser. The best news about Nemo is performance has been improved. Previous releases could be a little sluggish and the UI wasn't always the most polished, but that too has been fixed in this release.

Nemo has also added a few missing features, including a fix for one of the most annoying things in previous releases - there was no easy way to associate file types with applications. Now it's simple to say, for instance, always open text files in GEdit (or Sublime or whichever app you prefer).

Other improvements in Cinnamon 2.0 include smaller things like system-tray support for file operations. Before, if you closed the dialogue box showing a file copy operation in progress it just disappeared, but now it minimizes to the system tray. There's also support for the Nemo extension, nemo-preview, which is a nice fork/port of GNOME's Sushi file previewer.

Cinnamon 2.0 will no doubt be a big selling point for Linux Mint 16 when it does arrive. What's far more interesting, though, is the notion that Cinnamon is now a much more cross-distro option. For the first time Cinnamon feels more like a real alternative desktop rather than something designed for Linux Mint that half works everywhere else. ®

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