Speed and Simplicity with the Cinnamon Desktop Environment

Published:6 April 2022 - 8 min. read

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Nicholas Xuan Nguyen

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Are you looking to keep your desktop organized and productive? Look no further, Cinnamon (desktop environment) is a must-try! Cinnamon is a powerful desktop environment that lets you efficiently manage your files and applications.

Additionally, Cinnamon’s admin tools make it the perfect platform for managing large networks or systems. And in this tutorial, you’ll learn how to set up Cinnamon for speed and simplicity.

Give Cinnamon desktop environment a try today and aim for top-tier productivity!

Prerequisites

This tutorial will be a hands-on demonstration. If you’d like to follow along, be sure you have the following.

  • A Linux server – This tutorial uses Ubuntu 20.04.
  • A client machine to connect to your server – This tutorial uses Windows 10.

Installing Cinnamon (Desktop Environment) via APT

Cinnamon doesn’t come installed with your Ubuntu machine by default. So, kick off this tutorial by installing Cinnamons. And installing Cinnamon is similar to installing other packages via the APT package manager or universe repository.

For a start, you can install Cinnamon using the APT package manager as it handles any dependencies required by Cinnamon. Using the APT package manager is a fast way to get your Cinnamon desktop environment running.

The version of Cinnamon available in the Ubuntu repositories may be a few months behind the latest release. If you prefer to get the latest features and bug fixes, jump to the “Installing via the Universe Repository” section to install Cinnamon from the universe repository.

To install Cinnamon via APT package manager:

1. Open the terminal in your server, and run the apt update command to update your package index. This command ensures your system has the latest security patches and software updates.

sudo apt update -y
Updating your Package Index
Updating your Package Index

2. Next, run the apt install command the install the cinnamon-desktop-environment package. This command installs necessary dependencies and provides you with a graphical environment.

sudo apt install cinnamon-desktop-environment -y

Installing cinnamon in Ubuntu 18.04 is a bit different. If you’re on Ubuntu 18.04, run the following command instead: sudo add-apt-repository ppa:embrosyn/cinnamon && sudo apt update && sudo apt install cinnamon

3. Finally, run the cinnamon --version command to verify that the installation was successful.

cinnamon --version

If you’ve successfully installed Cinnamon, you’ll see the installed version, as shown below. But yours might be different.

Checking Cinnamon Version
Checking Cinnamon Version

Installing Cinnamon via the Universe Repository

Using the APT package manager is a quick way to install Cinnamon. But if you prefer to get the latest version of Cinnamon, use the Universe repository instead. The Universe repository contains a wide variety of software that is not part of the default Ubuntu installation.

To install the latest version of Cinnamon Desktop from the Universe repository, you first need to enable it on your system.

1. Run the following add-apt-repository command to enable the Universe repository.

sudo add-apt-repository universe
Enabling the Universe Repository
Enabling the Universe Repository

2. Next, run the apt update command to update the package index so that you can install the latest version of Cinnamon.

sudo apt update -y

3. Run the following grep command to list all of the repositories your system is configured to use.

grep ^deb /etc/apt/sources.list

Below, you can see the universe repository in the list.

Checking Enabled Repositories
Checking Enabled Repositories

4. Now, run the below command to install cinnamon-desktop-environment on your machine from the Universe repository.

sudo apt install cinnamon-desktop-environment
Installing the cinnamon-desktop-environment
Installing the cinnamon-desktop-environment

5. Once the installation completes, run the command below to verify that the installation was successful.

cinnamon --version

You’ll see the latest Cinnamon version installed, like in the image below, but yours might be different.

Checking Cinnamon Version

Configuring the Cinnamon Desktop Environment

At this point, you’ve successfully installed Cinnamon, but you still need to configure it before you can start using or connecting to your Cinnamon desktop environment. You’ll need a remote desktop protocol (RDP) server that will allow you to connect to your Ubuntu server from another machine.

1. Run the below command to install the xrdp package. xrdp is an open-source implementation of the Microsoft RDP that allows you to control a remote system graphically.

sudo apt install xrdp -y
Installing the xrdp Package
Installing the xrdp Package

2. Next, run the below adduser command to add the xrdp user to the ssl-cert group. This command allows the default xrdp user to access the Certificate Authority (CA) certificates. CA certificates authenticate the connection when you connect to an RDP server from an RDP client.

sudo adduser xrdp ssl-cert
Adding the xrdp user to the ssl-cert group
Adding the xrdp user to the ssl-cert group

3. Run the following command to restart the xrdp service so that the changes will take effect.

sudo systemctl restart xrdp

4. Finally, run the below command to verify that the xrdp service is running.

sudo systemctl status xrdp

You will see an output similar to the following, where the xrdp service’s status shows active (running).

Checking the xrdp Status
Checking the xrdp Status

Switching to the Cinnamon Desktop Environment

You might have many desktop environments installed on your Ubuntu server. And in most cases, Gnome or XFCE desktop will be the default ones. So before using the Cinnamon desktop environment, you must switch it first.

Run the below update-alternatives command to list all available desktop environments.

sudo update-alternatives --config x-session-manager

Below, you can see more than one desktop environment available on your server (kde plasma, lxde, and so on). You can see that the asterisk (*) symbol indicates the Gnome (gnome-session) is the currently selected desktop environment.

Enter 1 to switch to the Cinnamon Desktop Environment at the prompt, and press Enter.

Switching to the Cinnamon Desktop Environment
Switching to the Cinnamon Desktop Environment

Now, rerun the update-alternatives command below to verify that the Cinnamon desktop environment is now the selected desktop environment.

sudo update-alternatives --config x-session-manager
Viewing the Selected Desktop Environment
Viewing the Selected Desktop Environment

Configuring the Firewall to Allow RDP Connection

Since you’ll remotely connect to your Ubuntu server from another machine, you’ll need to open ports to allow RDP connection. By default, the firewall is enabled in Ubuntu, blocking all incoming traffic to your server except for the explicitly allowed traffic.

To connect to your server via RDP, you must allow port 3389 on your firewall. Port 3389 is the default port for Microsoft’s RDP.

If you’re not using RDP, you can close port 3389 on your firewall to improve security.

Run the below ufw command to allow port 3389 in your firewall.

sudo ufw allow 3389
Allowing Port 3389<>
Allowing Port 3389<>

Now, run the following command to check your firewall status and verify that port 3389 is now allowed on the firewall.

sudo ufw status

As shown below, the 3389 rule in the output allows connection from anywhere. So at this point, you can already connect to your desktop environment from another machine by using the RDP protocol.

Checking Firewall Rules
Checking Firewall Rules

Connecting to Your Desktop Environment

You’ve installed and configured your Cinnamon desktop environment and the xrdp package. Now it’s time to connect to your Ubuntu server from another machine.

In this tutorial, you’ll connect to your Ubuntu server from a Windows 10 machine via RDP. But the steps will differ depending on the operating system of your local machine.

1. Click Start, search for rdp, and click on Remote Desktop Connection, as shown below, to launch the app.

Opening RDP on Windows 10
Opening RDP on Windows 10

2. Next, provide your Ubuntu server’s IP address (hostname) in the Computer field, and click Connect to continue connecting to your Ubuntu server.

Providing the Ubuntu Server’s IP Address
Providing the Ubuntu Server’s IP Address

3. Click Yes when you see the warning message, as shown below.

Accepting Remote Connection
Accepting Remote Connection

4. Now, provide your root username and password for the Ubuntu server, and click OK to continue logging in to your Ubuntu server.

Providing Server’s root Username and Password
Providing Server’s root Username and Password

After a few seconds, you will see the desktop environment of your Ubuntu server in the Remote Desktop Connection software. You can now start interacting with your server as if you are physically in front of it with your mouse and keyboard.<>

5. Navigate to System Settings —> System Info. You can find your system information, such as the Ubuntu version, the Cinnamon Version, Kernel, and Memory, as shown below.

Viewing System Info
Viewing System Info

6. Next, open the terminal on Cinnamon and run the below cinnamon-settings command to open the settings panel.

 cinnamon-settings panel

Below, you can see the settings panel, where you can customize your desktop environment, desktop effects, and desktop layout.

Opening the Settings Panel
Opening the Settings Panel

7. Finally, run the below command to open the Applets (desklets) panel. Desklets are icons in your panels you can to launch applications.

You can use the Applets panel to add or remove desklets from your desktop.

cinnamon-settings applets
Opening the Applets (desklets) Panel
Opening the Applets (desklets) Panel

Removing Cinnamon

You’ve seen how the Cinnamon desktop environment is an excellent alternative to Gnome. But if for some reason, you stopped using Cinnamon, you can remove it with a few commands.<>

Note that you must switch to another desktop environment like the Gnome Desktop Environment before you can remove the Cinnamon Desktop Environment.

Run each command below to remove the Cinnamon desktop environment and reboot your machine.

# Removes the Cinnamon packages and all their dependencies.
sudo apt remove -y cinnamon cinnamon- *
# Removes all auto-installed dependencies that are no longer required.
sudo apt autoremove -y
# Reboots your server.
sudo reboot

Conclusion

In this tutorial, you’ve learned how to install and configure the Cinnamon desktop environment on your Ubuntu server. You’ve also learned to allow RDP connections on your browser by adding a firewall rule.

At this point, you now have a fully working Cinnamon desktop environment you can access from another machine using the RDP protocol.

Now, why not try to customize your Cinnamon desktop even more? Perhaps choose a new theme for your desktop environment?

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