Gnome and Unity vs Cinnamon and MATE

Gnome and Unity desktop interfaces go for a similar approach while Cinnamon and MATE do the something similar. There is a good contrast between Team 1 and Team 2. But little contrast between members of each team. Remember that, when ever I use the term Gnome, I mean Gnome 3.

Team 1

Gnome and Unity are similar in the fact that they both try to address laptop users. They are good interfaces when you want to reduce the trackpad usage. For some, using the trackpad slows them down. Both Gnome and Unity use the Super key to launch applications and for bringing up the dock and a lot of other things. You can do a lot of things without the trackpad. The buttons in these DEs are usually bigger than those in the DEs in Team 2. Their interfaces also seem to have lesser readymade options in all the places. Settings, Context Menus, etc.. If I have to pick one between these two, I would pick unity because it just seems to do something better than Gnome. Maybe it is just that, since Gnome seems to be the most popular desktop environment, I have higher expectations for it. Sure you can tweak a lot of things, but I do not have the patience for it. So how much would I rate these two environments.

Gnome – 6/10
Unity – 7/10

Team 2

Cinnamon and MATE do similar things. They are really good for dektops and laptops that are being used like a desktop, with auxillary keyboards and mouse and all that. MATE is a fork of Gnome 2, the older version of Gnome, which used to look a lot like how MATE looks right now (The first Linux OS that I started using was Fedora 13 which had Gnome 2). But I cannot seem to remember how it differed though. MATE is really good if you want to get things done, and you do not mind how your desktop looks. It is lightweight and slick. You can notice it when you switch from Gnome to MATE. Apps open faster and there is this snappy feeling to it that I cannot deny. Keep it simple is the name of the game here. I would recommend it on old systems for sure. In contrast, installing Gnome on old systems is not advisable at all I would say.

Cinnamon on the other hand has become my recent favourite. It is especially nice on desktop and lap-desktops (laptops that are used as desktops sometimes. Just pulled that out of thin air, haha. Maybe it is already a word). They seem to have done everything right on it. The size and aspect ratio of every button, every icon, the task bar, the menus, the file manager(nemo), the text editor(xed), the terminal etc. The design decisions have been perfect. I am all praise for it. I havent spotted a single bug so far after a week of good use. Probably KDE might be the only thing better than it, but I wouldn’t know, because I have no experience with KDE apart from looking at it on youtube videos. Never had the interest somehow. Maybe some day. So rating.

MATE – 8/10
Cinnamon – 9/10

Again these ratings are subjective. I have specific needs. Namely,
1. It needs to work well with a mouse-keyboard interface, but should be good enough on a keyboard-touchpad interface as well.
2. Needs to use all the screen space efficiently. You have limited space on a laptop or a desktop with a smaller screen.
3. It needs to be snappy.
4. The most used options should be available readily. Like in the context menus and the task bar.
5. Needs to come with a good bundle of finely crafted basic software that are properly tested on its desktop environment.
6. Visual treats are good, but not at the expense of a lot of processing power.
7. Must be all this, right out of the box.

A point to note. If you want to properly experience a desktop interface, you must look for that particular spin, and then use that to determine how good it is. If you install cinnamon on something that already has Gnome 3 on it for example, chances are that, you will not have a good time and you will not appreciate it as well. For example, If you want to experience MATE, look for Fedora MATE, it was good. If you want to experience Cinnamon, look for Linux Mint with Cinnamon. If you want to experience Gnome3, you have a lot of options. A lot of distros come with Gnome3 as the default (which actually surprises me).

Thanks for reading! 🙂


Change Desktop Wallpaper – cmd – Gnome

To change the wall paper of your desktop with a custom image, from the cmd, type in the following

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-uri file:///home/user/Pictures/Wallpapers/4462181-abstract-backgrounds.jpg

Yes. Replace the file path with your own file path.

For a detailed blog about changing wallpapers. Read this blog.

Desktop Environments – Linux – Order of Preference

Over these past five years I’ve been using five of the major desktop environments, regularly. My usual Linux distribution is fedora but I’ve had my fair share of experiences with Ubuntu and Mint as well.

This will be a short post. I just wanted to list out these DEs in the order of my preference and talk a few lines about why the order of preference is the way it is.

1. Mate
2. Gnome 3
3. Unity
4. Cinnamon
5. Gnome 2

I’ve been using MATE only for a short while now and I absolutely love it. I was in search of a really light weight environment that just gets the job done with less over head and mate does it for me. It’s built over Gnome 2 so it has the traditional Linux desktop feel but don’t be fooled by that. I initially thought it would miss Gnome 3. But I did not. I loved the fact that it was light on my processor but at the same time give me a really user friendly way to handle things. But if you’re looking for something flashy, you would not like mate. Infact you would probably like kde i guess, although i have never tried to experiment with it. My requirement was specific.

In a similar search for a light weight environment. I had previously ventured into Cinnamon. I did like it. But after using MATE, I feel that cinnamon does not have the refinement that mate has. Hence it does not have the edge over Gnome or Unity which i feel are well tested and refined. 

Yes. There are DEs like LXDE and XFCE which are supposed to be light weight but I did not feel like experimenting with them. Maybe sometime later.

Trying out MATE

So its true. MATE is lighter on the processor compared to Gnome 3. I can feel a significant reduction in heat on my laptop and I’ve stopped hearing my cpu fan pushing hard for slight processor heavy tasks on my desktop. It also feels much lighter – Faster response times.

Not finding much differences between cinnamon and mate though, but I guess when it comes to being light on the processor, mate might have the edge.

So when the time comes for me to build my own Arch Linux pc I would probably choose MATE over Gnome 3. Although it feels a little outdated(like Gnome 2, of course) I guess it’s good when you need to get the job done rather than look for eye candy.