Cinnamon Desktop Environment is a free, open-source desktop environment based on X Window System created from GNOME 3 by the Linux Community that was frustrated and disappointed with GNOME 3. Cinnamon offers a smart, clean look that is less bloated than alternative desktop environments and focuses on speed and flexibility.
Cinnamon is the default desktop environment choice for Linux Mint, as many veteran Linux distro hoppers would know and are actively maintained by them. A bonus feature of installing the Cinnamon desktop environment on Debian 11 Bullseye is that it uses the GDM display manager, making it easy to switch between GNOME and Cinnamon environments.
In the following tutorial, you will learn how to install this alternative desktop environment on your Debian 11 Bullseye Desktop as an option choice to switch from GNOME.
- Recommended OS: Debian 11 Bullseye.
- User account: A user account with sudo or root access.
Update Operating System
Update your Debian operating system to make sure all existing packages are up to date:
sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y
The tutorial will be using the sudo command and assuming you have sudo status.
To verify sudo status on your account:
Example output showing sudo status:
[joshua@debian~]$ sudo whoami root
To set up an existing or new sudo account, visit our tutorial on Adding a User to Sudoers on Debian.
To use the root account, use the following command with the root password to log in.
The tutorial will utilize the terminal for the installation found in Activities > Show Applications > Terminal.
Important Notice Before Installation
Before installing the Cinnamon desktop, create backups or plans if you do not like it and want to roll back. Removing any Desktop Environment is messy and will lead to system instabilities and random applications still installed. Overall, it is a painstaking process to revert to the original state before the packages were installed, especially for the new and average user.
Unless you have minimal system resources, having multiple desktop environments won’t hinder your system. Often people have several and switch in between.
Install Cinnamon on Debian
Begin the installation of Cinnamon by using the following in your terminal.
sudo apt install task-cinnamon-desktop
Type Y, then press the ENTER KEY to proceed with the installation.
Once complete, reboot your system, which can be done by typing the following directly into your terminal.
First Look & Verifying Cinnamon Desktop
Once you have restarted your desktop, you will arrive at your login screen.
DO NOT LOG IN STRAIGHT AWAY.
First, you need to verify the desktop environment. This is done by clicking the configuration in the top right-hand corner.
Next, select “Cinnamon or Cinnamon (Software Rendering)” instead of the default “GNOME.” It is recommended to choose Cinnamon. The Cinnamon (Software Rendering) is a backup if you have issues with your graphics card being accessed by the default desktop.
Example (Click Image Expand):
Once logged in, you will notice quite a few UI changes besides the apparent color and background changes. The taskbar is now similar to a more windows type of taskbar, along with more integrations in the bottom left-hand and right-hand corner of services where the time display is.
Example (Click Image Expand):
To confirm the installation, a handy package to install is Neofetch which is featured in Debian’s repositories.
To install this package, use the following command in your terminal.
sudo apt install neofetch -y
Once installed, run the following command in your terminal.
Example output (Click Image Expand):
And that is it, and you have successfully installed the Cinnamon desktop environment.
How to Update Cinnamon Desktop Packages
Run the standard apt update && upgrade commands for future updates for the Cinnamon desktop environment and any default APT packages.
sudo apt update
When updates are available, run the standard upgrade command as you would with any other apt package.
sudo apt upgrade
Comments and Conclusion
In the tutorial, you have learned how to install the Cinnamon desktop environment on your Debian 11 Bullseye.
Ideally, you can install this package and switch around depending on your mood if you have a decent system. If you prefer desktop jumping, it’s worth checking out if the looks appeal to you. If unsure, I suggest installing a VM first, then on your main machine.
For further information on using the Cinnamon desktop environment, visit the official documentation.