What KDE can learn from Cinnamon
Battle royale, except we have no gentry, just the two seemingly and arguably dominant desktop environments for Linux. In my humble and narrow perception, there has been a dramatic shift in the Linux desktop usage in the past several years. Come the season of Gnome 3, a split happened in the community, breaking the decade old Gnome-KDE dominance. A whole generation of desktop environments was born, forked and knifed. Unity took its own path, Gnome 2 returned as MATE, and Gnome 3 was eclipsed by Cinnamon. Only KDE remained as it was, and now it was facing a new rival.
Let’s introduce the players
Most of you need no lengthy words, as you are well familiar with both environments. Still, some verbiage is in order to create a boundary to our discussion. Let’s begin with KDE. We have an old veteran here, having undergone four major revisions and 10 minor ones. Long, long time ago, I can still remember how … No, wait, that’s a beginning of a different tune. As a software project, KDE was mostly born to address the simple question of aesthetics, which did not seem to have been a major focus of software development till then. One design to rule them all, and KDE took on shape, growing to become a cross-distro leader. Indeed, pretty much any Linux flavor out there has an edition or two running KDE, just for good measure.
On the other hand, in the beginning, Cinnamon was mostly a Linux Mint endeavor, created specifically for the said distro, after the developers realized they would not be able to tame Gnome 3 to their liking, even through a liberal use of extensions. What the team did was a rather cunning coup d’etat.