Cinnamon Vs Unity
All my systems at home are running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS with the standard Unity interface. Linux Mint 13 was recently released along with the Cinnamon interface. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Cinnamon but I haven’t tried it since it was in Beta. So I thought I would put it on my laptop and take it for a test drive. This article will explain my findings and what I personally think of how Cinnamon compares to Unity. So let’s get started…
The laptop I have tested both environments on is my workhorse, a HP Pavillion dm1 11.6″ with 6GB RAM, 128GB SSD, AMD E-450 1.6GHz Dual Core CPU and Radeon HD 6320 for graphics. So although it’s not a powerhouse, it is reasonably powerful and should be a good gauge between the two environments.
Unity is very much my go to User Interface (UI), its quick, easy to use and perfect for both new and advanced users alike. New users can use the Unity Dash to search for anything they need quickly and easily and more advanced users have the ability to use keyboard shortcuts so that we don’t have to take our hands away from the keyboard when working.
I personally find the keyboard shortcuts in Unity extremely useful (hold down the super key to see them all). So much so that when I use my Windows 7 work laptop, I find myself trying to do things like pressing CTRL, ALT + L to lock the screen and Super (windows) key + numbers in order to launch applications. I also really miss the HUD when I’m in Windows.
Overall, Unity runs really well on my Laptop. At times it can slow down when I’m really multi-tasking and hitting the machine hard, but it’s never noticeably or frustratingly slow. With programs like Nautilus, Chromium, LibreOffice opening relatively quickly. If you want to read a full review of Ubuntu 12.04 and all the features included, take a look here.
So I’ve flipped over to Cinnamon. When I installed Cinnamon around a week ago, the default look wasn’t really how I liked it, so I flipped the panel up to the top of the screen and also installed the Cinnamon Ambience theme so it all looked right with Ubuntu. As before, it’s running on my HP Pavilion dm1 laptop.
The first thing I usually do when I boot my computer up is to open Chromium, I am a really heavy internet user and use a lot of Google products like Google Apps, Calendar and Plus on a regular basis. On clicking on the menu button, I notice a really long lag of between 3 and sometimes as much as 8 seconds! this doesn’t sound like a lot, but let’s say I go into this menu 100 times in a day (which is perfectly reasonable) – that can mean as much as 13 minutes wasted in one day whilst I wait for the Cinnamon menu to open.
Once the Cinnamon menu is open, the experience doesn’t get any better unfortunately. Typing in the search bar and the results it provides are also really laggy, this really frustrates me as it wastes a lot of my time.
Unfortunately, this slow and laggy experience continues around the rest of my machine when using Cinnamon, opening up things like Nautilus and Chromium do seem to be a lot slower than in Unity. This may just be a placebo due to the experience of the Menu, but it feels real nonetheless.
Interestingly, looking at system monitor on both Cinnamon and Unity – whilst running Chromium (3 tabs), Nautilus and the System Monitor itself, Cinnamon was using 930MB RAM and around 60-70% of my CPU (both cores). Compare this with Unity, running the exact same applications, I saw more RAM, at around in use but only around 30-40% of my CPU (both cores). So it looks like my under par CPU is what may be causing the problems in Cinnamon. But is Unity can do it, there’s no reason why Cinnamon can’t.
When taking the screenshot below, Shutter took way over 1 minute to load and for some reason, all the screenshots I took had the window displayed below right in the middle of the screen (this was on both Shutter and using the Print Screen key). Presumable this is because of the lag explained above.
From what I have read online, I was expecting really good things from Cinnamon, so much so that I had it in the back of my mind that may well replace Unity with Cinnamon, but this isn’t the case unfortunately. I must stress – don’t let this negative experience of Cinnamon put you off, it may well be something to do with my machine and this is only my experience with Cinnamon. If you want to know if Cinnamon is right for you, then I suggest you install it yourself and try it out. For instructions on how to install Cinnamon in Ubuntu, take a look here.
If you want to know more about Cinnamon and it’s features, take a look at my Linux Mint 13 review.
If I’m honest, I couldn’t wait to get back over to Unity. Cinnamon felt bloated, laggy and was very frustrating to use. So on my laptop at least, Unity is going nowhere. I may try Cinnamon on my desktop, which is much more powerful and then post an update. So look out for that.
I’m interested to know what some of our readers thoughts on Unity & Cinnamon and what your experiences are – why not let us know in the comments section below.