Updated: March 26, 2012
A few days back, Cinnamon 1.4 was released. For of those you not in the know, Cinnamon is a Gnome Shell fork, created in an attempt to provide a modern but traditional and highly functional user interface for Linux users. It was conceived by the Mint development team, who found Gnome 3 simply too restricting, even with Mint extensions. There's also MATE, but Cinnamon aims to blend the best of all worlds, by being fully compatible with the Ubuntu base, as well as relevant, stylish and useful.
In my initial review, I pointed out several areas for improvement, mostly revolving around cosmetic problems. With Cinnamon 1.4 out of the oven, they seem to have been fixed. Now, since I suffer from the classic case of egomania, my over-inflated sense of unwarranted self-importance might claim that some of the fixes are a direct result of my own review, but it's probably more than that. Whatever the reason, the Cinnamon team is on the right track. There's a solid baseline, and on top of it, a slow, gradual process of improvement. So let's have another tour.
You can read more about Cinnamon 1.4 in the official release statement. Now, let me show you what I did and found. Overall, Cinnamon is what a proper desktop should be. It is designed for large-screen, non-touch devices. It has the traditional look that allows functionality and beauty to coexist. The interface is fast, elegant and stable. There's a deep sense of professional and technical integrity that you can rely upon, and more importantly, build upon. Cinnamon has the critical core of sanity that is so desperately required to make Linux alive and kicking again. But enough babbling.
The default Cinnamon theme has undergone small visual tweaks. The menu and the bottom panel are styled in gray. The problems I reported with system tray applet spacing are no more. Tooltips have also been redesigned. It's looking fabulous.
Most importantly, all of the effort I've invested in pimping Cinnamon into submission the second time around is no longer necessary. All of the things that made me fret and wrestle with my OCD have been resolved. That's really considerate.
One of the big changes in version 1.4 is your ability to tweak the bottom panel and the system area. You can lock/unlock the panel for editing and then drag & drop icons as you see fit, as well as make other changes. You can also add new applets.
More importantly, the Troubleshoot submenu lets you restore everything to default and restart Cinnamon for new changes to take effect. This is quite handy. You don't need to go about the system menu hunting for settings. Really neat.
Cinnamon 1.4 retains the system integration that I've reported earlier. Now, truth to be told, this is not a Cinnamon feature per se, as we've see this in most Gnome desktops way before Cinnamon was even an idea, but the presentation layer is quite lovely.
You're also given a handful of Compiz-like effects - Expo and Scale, which let you easily tile your desktop workspaces and switch between them. The emphasis is on being elegant, simple and non-intrusive.
If you ask me, I'm sold. This looks fantastic. I don't see any big showstoppers that would spoil the desktop experience. Cinnamon feels ready for mass production. Now, looks are critical, but stability is even more important. I guess the primary focus should be on making sure nothing goes wrong in the spring release.
I believe Cinnamon is currently the most sensible, most user-friendly desktop environment slash user interface available in the Linux market. It just feels more logical, more natural than all other alternatives, with KDE being the close second, however suffering from its own share of ups and downs. Cinnamon could really make a revolution, by not doing exactly the one thing that revolutions are all about - change. Combine that with modern technology and stability, and you have the perfect solution. I'm very much pleased. And I sure will keep you updated on the progress and new features. For now, 9/10. See you around.