First Look at the Cinnamon 5.6 Desktop Environment

The Linux Mint team quietly released the Cinnamon 5.6 desktop environment, a major update that will be included by default in the upcoming Linux Mint 21.1 “Vera” operating system this Christmas.

Cinnamon 5.6 has been in development for the past few months and comes as an upgrade to Cinnamon 5.4 released in June 2022. Most probably, existing Linux Mint users will receive the update shortly, but Cinnamon 5.6 is included by default in Linux Mint 21.1.

Until Linux Mint 21.1 hits the streets later in December, I took the liberty of installing Cinnamon 5.6 on my Arch Linux machine to take a look at the new features and improvements. One of the biggest changes in this release was highlighted by the Linux Mint leader himself Clement Lefebvre in the project’s latest newsletter.

Yes, I’m talking about Corner bar, a new applet located on the right edge of the taskbar to make it easier for users to see the desktop when they have many windows opened. As you can imagine, the Corner bar applet replaces the traditional Show Desktop icon next to the application launcher, which, in turn, was replaced by a separator.

As with many Cinnamon applets, Corner bar can be configured. Therefore, you will be able to change the behavior of the click action from the default of showing the desktop to showing the desklets, the Expo View (workspace selector), or the Scale View (window selector).

There’s also a middle click action that, by default, shows the desklets. This can also be configured to show the desktop, Expo View, or Scale view. If you don’t want to configure the Corner bar applet, you can just right-click on it to get instant access to all these actions.

In addition, the Corner bar supports a feature called “peek-to-desktop”, which can be enabled on mouse hover. As the name suggests, this feature lets you take a sneak peek at your desktop when you drag files over the Corner bar applet.

Of course, this bumps your productivity when you have many windows open and you want to drag files on your desktop. The peek-to-desktop feature is disabled by default for the mouse hover action, so you’ll have to enable it from settings, and the best part is that you can configure hover delay and window opacity.

“This is a feature that was implemented in Windows. Although the corner bar is less noticeable/discoverable than the show-desktop applet it’s easier to use once you know it’s there. It occupies the corner of the screen so you can get there fast without aiming and with a quick movement of the mouse,” explained Clement Lefebvre.

Other new features include a new setting to set the duration of a notification, support for key bindings to the Inhibit Applet, the ability to lock desklets in place, adds keyboard shortcuts to let you move windows to monitor above (Super+Shift+Up) or below (Super+Shift+Down) in multi-monitor setups, and adds a new type-to-search feature for shortcut names in Keyboard settings.

Cinnamon 5.6 also improves keyboard navigation in the Scale View and Expo View, improves the presentation of terminal arguments, improves the descriptions of several keybindings, and separates Light, Dark, and Darker themes, and renames “Preferences” to “Applet preferences” in applets where it might confuse users.

Of course, there are many under-the-hood changes to make Cinnamon faster and more stable. All in all, it looks like Cinnamon 5.6 leaves up to its name of being a lightweight, yet modern desktop environment for GNU/Linux distributions. If you’re using Arch Linux, you can install Cinnamon 5.6 right now!

Last updated 4 mins ago

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