Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Out with KDE, in with Cinnamon

I've been using KDE for the past couple of months. I've really enjoyed the experience; it certainly has a lot going for it. It's the oldest (widely used) Linux desktop environment, and it shows. KDE boasts an impressive featureset, polished animations, a consistent look and feel, well considered default settings, excellent customisability, and plenty more to boot.

Everything "just works"; Dolphin remembers which tabs you had open in your previous session. Panels can be customised per-screen. Window behaviour per application. Just what can't KDE do?

Yet; I've had enough, and thrown in the towel. There were just one too many bugs.

The biggest problem was the notifications widget refusing to behave itself at all. Then there was the multiple-row panel debacle (I think the icon scaling algorithm needs some TLC). There's a frustrating WM bug which you can catch when dragging a window entry from a panel, which leaves the cursor in a seemingly unrecoverable state. The list goes on.

There's also an eminently frustrating video overlay problem I'm battling with, which may or may not be KDE related, and an apparent Xorg heap leak - again, most likely unrelated, but to be sure I need to rule it out.

So, my KDE experiment comes to a close. I will be back; I've discovered I rather like the KDE world, but for the time being I'm off searching for my next DE. Struggling with options, I find myself trying out Cinnamon, the desktop from Mint (which happens to be available in the Fedora repos).

First impressions? It's sleek; relatively minimalist. Similar to Gnome 2 in style (as was its intention), yet still flaunting some of that Gnome Shell glitz and glamour.

It looks quite nice. Win-key opens the main menu and sets focus to the search bar, which is a nice touch. The Gnome 2 window list brings with it a sense of nostalgia, and reminds one of home; or a loyal dog lazing beside an open fire; a grandmother peacefully knitting a tapestry in her rocking chair; but I digress.

Notifications are well handled, menus carry a reasonable (albeit limited) selection of popular options, the main menu is acceptable. Quite nice in fact (it's growing on me).

As one might expect for a relative newcomer, settings and configuration options are a little light on the ground. The basics are covered, but one must remember that this is no KDE; it's been built with a similar vision to Gnome and Unity: to provide simplicity above all else.

Yet you can see that the devs have tried to go that extra mile without compromising on their underlying vision. It's things like the "Effects" settings menu, enabling configuration of the visual window effects; much more configurable than most, but still eminently usable, hiding all the complexities we may remember from the likes of CCSM.

It still feels like a work in progress to some extent. Why don't I get a menu when I right click on the desktop? Why are the settings quite so barren? Where are the additional themes by default? Where is the option to move the panel to a different monitor? Yet it's pleasant; simple; bashful; Gnome 2-esque.

All in all, a friendly and usable DE from the team at Mint. I'll keep it for the time being, until the next bandwagon rides by.