Read an updated version of this article at Your choice: Cinnamon or MATE.

MATE and Cinnamon are two recent additions to the list of desktop environments and window managers available for Linux and BSD distributions. You see, in the free software/open source community, there is nothing like too many options. The more, it appears, the better.

The aim of this article is not to present a point-by-point comparison of the two desktop environments, but to present a general overview, so a new user has a top-level idea of what they are.

MATE is a fork of GNOME 2, started as a result of widespread dissatisfaction with GNOME 3. Cinnamon also arose out of widespread dissatisfaction with the default GNOME 3 interface, but unlike MATE, it is atop the GNOME 3 code-base. In effect, it is the same GNOME technology, but with an interface that is just like that of GNOME 2, or the type of desktop environment that we are used to. Another way to put that, is that MATE is old technology, while Cinnamon is new technology.

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While I do not particularly like the default GNOME 3 interface, it is a major improvement over GNOME 2 and, therefore, over MATE. Both are works in progress and have a similar desktop layout. They are what most people expected GNOME 3 to be. Rather than presenting users with a new and, to some, an unsuitable-for-desktop computing interface, MATE and Cinnamon offer a familiar environment to many. Whether that environment is better than the new one depends on the individual and what he/she is comfortable with.

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If you have not used with MATE or Cinnamon, the best way to decide if they are worth using, is to evaluate them yourself. That means downloading Live images and running them on your computer – without installing them, of course. The distribution that makes it easy to do that is Linux Mint.

The most recent release of that distribution made Live environments of a MATE and a Cinnamon edition available for download. You can get both here.

Meanwhile, the following screen shots provide an idea of what the desktops looks like.

The Cinnamon desktop showing the menu.
Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon Menu

MATE’s desktop with the menu showing the Favorites column.
Linux Mint 13 MATE Menu

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25 Responses

  1. PLEASE READ !

    My backtrack 5 doesn’t see my windows 7. It says, this computer doesn’t have any operating system installed on it. No one answered this question by now. Help !

      1. yes, it is a new install attempt. one pc with win7 32 bit sees it, the other(a newer one) with win7 64 bit or win8 64 bit (tried with both) doesn’t .why?

        1. It probably has to do with the fact that the 64-bit systems are installed on a GPT partitioning scheme, which BackTrack’s installer does not support. I think that problem has been solved in Kali Linux, which is why I’m recommending everyone to sop using BackTrack.

          It is no longer being maintained. Kali Linux is the present and the future of the distribution.

          Regarding the issue with GPT, see Why is Windows 8 on SSD invisible to Ubuntu 12.10′s installer? and Zap GPT data structures from a disk, while preserving existing MBR partitions.

          1. Thanks for your advice !

            I’m trying kali right now. Just have to create a live usb and I’m on my way !

          2. I have windows 8 now. I’ve read about one guy who had the same problem as I had : after installing backtrack you get no operating system. Will it work for kali?

          3. It has worked before, but even at that, you’ll never know if it will work for your system unless you give it a shot.

            Note that Windows 8 itself presents a set of issues that have nothing to do with Debian or any other distribution. I’m talk about the so-called Secure Boot or Restricted Boot.

            See articles about Kali that I’ve written at here.

          4. I’ve tried. Kali doesn’t see windows… whole drive appears to be empty…I’m giving up…I can’t find any solution

  2. hey
    the screen shot you provided isn’t for backtrack 5 r3

    it doesn’t contain the option side by side
    only erase or Specify partitions manually (advanced)
    what can i do to install the side by side without losing my files

  3. Finally . .

    Thankz 4 the information man. i need this. can’t find the solution to install it without Virtual machine ..

  4. hallo
    ich bin scon über rascht das man nie eine anwort bekommt, das man auch mal was machen kann, ich habe mir backtrack gekauft, habe auch das buch 2x, aber es geht nun mal nicht habe auch schon zu wffi free, geschrieben , aber nichs, kann mir einer helfen , das ich auch mit backtrack 5R3-5R2, was machen kann , kann mir vieleicht einer eine anleitung zukommen lassen , das man auch alles hat , bei denn was da im netz ist, ist nichts halbes und nichs ganzes, bitte um anwort

  5. sir i have installed bcktrack 5 R3 .. they require the login field when i typed “ROOT” as login then password field is required and at the password field nothing is typed please help me soon..

  6. Wow….finally xDD

    Haha. Thanks for the mega help.
    Think this will answer alot of ppl’s problems such as mine initially xD

    I have yet to try it, let you know of the results

    Thanks again =)

    1. Sorry ah, to add on.

      Is it workable with UEFI systems?

      For me, the only way for BT to even detect my Win7 partitions is by installing everything in UEFI mode.

        1. T.T suspected so…

          UEFI, screwing up linux everytime.
          Although it is not suppose to be an issue, maybe BackTrack again sigh

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