I’ve tried Cinnamon

Another intermission while I’m still not having anything new to say about my current line of work. Since the new GNOME 3 was released today, I was discussing it with Luca, and he suggested me to try Cinnamon which is Linux Mint’s user interface, based upon GNOME 3’s technologies and libraries, but providing an experience much more in line with GNOME 2. Exactly what I wanted.

Indeed, after trying it out a moment, it seems to me like it’s exactly what I want: it propones again some of the features that I used from Compiz (including the Expo support for workgroups, even if they are still in-line rather than squared around), and it provides an experience in line with the one I get from Xfce4 right now…

So why did I go back to Xfce, if all seems to be what I want? Well, beside the fact that Cinnamon shows to still be in its infancy, I’m having some serious doubts about Gtk3’s viability, but I’ll wait for the new release before judging I guess. What’s going on here is simple to put in works, but probably not simple to explain: part of the behaviour of Super and Alt_L keys is switched.

What I mean is that if, with the default configuration, I hit the Super key (i.e., the one with the Windows logo on it on this keyboard), then I get Cinnamon’s Menu, exactly what I want. On the other hand, if I press Alt-Tab to get the application switcher, I get nothing: the switcher comes up with Super-Tab. The same applies to other parts of the bindings: Alt-F2 brings me to the second workspace, rather than to the “execute command” dialog, which appears if I press Super-F2.

I would have said the problem lied in Cinnamon, if the documentation didn’t report everything to be correct as I expect it to be, and having had some serious issues with Super not working correctly on my home desktop where I tried GNOME 3 before (It wouldn’t let me use Super-C/Super-V to copy and paste from GNOME Terminal).

There actually is an option in the xkb configuration that allows you to switch the two keys, making it possible to have a quite reasonable experience — if it wasn’t that then you would have Super and Meta switched within Emacs, which otherwise respect the same correct configuration as I’m expecting out of the box, d’oh.

Add to this that Clutter’s cogl library seems to be unstable on nvidia-based hardware, and you can probably see why I’m still not convinced to move to that desktop environment, which is a shame, since I actually think it has a much better experience right now than Xfce4. If it worked correctly, sigh!

I’ll wait on it.. and if somebody has a clue about the issue I’m describing with the keys (I don’t want to debug it further myself for now, that’s why I haven’t reported it upstream yet), please let me know!