Dull distros made great by Cinnamon and MATE

Updated: October 27, 2012

Now, here's a clickbaitful topic. But it's the truth really. Some Linux distributions are designed with all the gusto of an armadillo suffering from liver cancer dancing on a highway full of speeding cars. Not exactly the most fortuitous effort.

Luckily, it is quite possible to enliven dead-looking distributions, shipping with rigor mortis by default, into practical and useful systems, with only some small proverbial pimping, the word I so love to use, including first and foremost the installation of one or two alternative desktop environments, called Cinnamon and MATE, followed by some extra makeup and polish. You may argue that bling bling beauty makes not, but then you can argue that having a nice face lends nothing to human aesthetics either. I win. You read.


Fedora 17

You know what I think of Fedora - the FOSS suicide squad elite. My recent experience shows a steady growth in stability over the past years combined with zero growth in enthusiasm. If Fedora were a woman, she'd be 0 degrees Kelvin. If Fedora were an entertainer, it would be a circus clown performing in Rwanda.

I played with Fedora when it had the Xfce desktop. Meh. Beefy disappointment. I gave it another whirl with KDE, twice in fact, and the things were beginning to look somewhat more reasonable, still, it was mostly Beefy average rather than anything else. But, but, but, but. Then I tried Fedora with Cinnamon. Beefy Miracle indeed.

Fedora 17 looks great with Cinnamon. Even I actually like it. For real. A serious, useful transformation from a dullard into a modern, sleek operating system. If not for the very short lifecycle, you might to use this as your first choice.

Fedora + Cinnamon

openSUSE 12.2

Here's another one. Me and it got on the left foot, if that's the one you count as unlucky, or if you happen to be sleeping on the right side of the bed, in which case, you need some decent maneuvering to place the left one on the ground first.

Either way, openSUSE Mantis underwhelmed me. In fact, I was forced to endure some of the Gnome 3 nonsense for a while, before I could install both Cinnamon and MATE. With the former, the experience turned out to be somewhat better than the stock image, but with MATE, it really improved. In fact, MATE gives this distro a second chance. Quite nice, overall.

openSUSE with MATE

Ubuntu Pangolin

To be frank, it's not dullness we're resolving here, but something close to that. You can argue that Ubuntu with Cinnamon is nothing other than Linux Mint, but that is not quite true. Ubuntu is a very decent, very robust operating system. Quite recommended, in fact, for all parties concerned. However, its default desktop environment, called Unity, still remains rather controversial in the Linux circles. Its overall productivity is somewhat questionable. If you ask me, yes, there's more room for improvement, but it can be utilized and enjoyed on a fairly decent level. Then, if you want to squeeze the most from Pangolin, you can install the Cinnamon desktop.

This transformation allows you to exploit the best of all worlds. Unity and Cinnamon are not exclusive, you can run both, just not at the same time. You still have Ubuntu, if that's what you want or need. And you get the optimal productivity layout. Splendid. 

Ubuntu + Cinnamon

Other distros?

Well, my short list ends here. But perhaps you can help me out. Are you aware of any other distributions that you feel you would not be using unless adorned with Cinnamon or MATE or both? Are you aware of boring distributions turned exciting all of a sudden? Or beautiful and efficient? Or any other combination?

Feel free to share your experience, and they shall be added.


This is a fairly short article, by Dedoimedo standards, but it has a point. One that tells you that there's a transformation going on in the Linux world, and it's a positive one. When we look at the future, the prospect of Linux expansion will definitely be spearheaded by the likes of these two new desktop environment, Cinnamon first. MATE will help keep the lower end segments in the game, but it will not make a revolution, any more than Gnome 2 did not make one.

But one thing is sure, Fedora, openSUSE, perhaps some other distros, while rather bland and lethargic on their default own, they suddenly become infused with fire and energy and color when you bless them with Cinnamon and MATE. That's an awesome capability, and it's seamless. So you should definitely try and see what gives, how your desktops come to life. Finally, if you have anything to share, don't be a stranger, send me an email and tell your story.