When comparing Gnome 3 vs Cinnamon, the Slant community recommends Cinnamon for most people. In the question“What are the best Linux desktop environments?” Cinnamon is ranked 2nd while Gnome 3 is ranked 4th. The most important reason people chose Cinnamon is:
Intended for large-screen, non-touch devices that extend traditional concepts with functionality and good looking aesthetic.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Clean UI
Every aspect of GNOME 3 has been crafted to fit together as a harmonious whole, so that it offers a consistent and integrated experience.
Pro Simple and easy to use
GNOME 3 has been designed to make it simple and easy to use. Press a button to view your open windows, launch applications or check if you have new messages.
Pro Does not get in the way
GNOME 3 lets you do the things you want without getting in the way. It won't bother you or badger you with demands, and it has been designed to help you comfortably deal with notifications.
Pro Powerful search
A powerful search feature lets you access all your work from one place.
Pro Highly customisable
Gnome Extensions offers an easy way to extend the built-in functionality.
Pro Great for high dpi displays
Adjustable scaling factor makes it great for high-resolution laptops and far away TVs.
Pro Keyboard friendly
It's (mostly) usable without touching a mouse, so you can keep your hands on the keyboard.
Shortcuts can be defined in the gnome setting.
There are even more shortcuts available when using the gesetting or dconf tool, e.g. switch to desktop 5 to 9.
Pro Easy theming
Changing the look (and feel) of Gnome Shell is easy, shell theme, icon, windows and graphical elements (gtk) individually for each user.
Mostly it's installing some packages or unpacking some archive to a themes folder and using selecting the new theme in e.g. gnome-tweak-tool.
There are a lot of really good themes on DeviantArt.
Pro Adheres to standards
Allowing for interoperability and shared technology for X Window System desktops.
Pro Very productive
With a clean layout and well-thought keyboard shortcuts, Gnome 3 is simply the best for people looking to be productive with their computer.
Pro Online account management
GNOME 3 integrates with your online accounts, so that all your data can be accessed from the same place.
Pro Great task manager
The GNOME Task Manager is great, showing all open processes with every needed detail. For each process you can see the amount of memory and processing power that it's using, along with the process priority.
Pro Wayland support
Gnome is the first desktop environment that uses Wayland as default instead of X server. X server is only optional currently.
Pro It just works
You don't ever "need" tweaks. Unless your device is too outdated, it just works out of the box. Touchscreen, 4k TV, anything just works.
Pro Gnome-Tweak-Tool is great
Gnome may seem bland out of the box but, the Gnome-Tweak-Tool is awesome.
The Gnome-Tweak-Tool allows for easy desktop tweaks and other control functionality, and that these features can be activated with just a click.
Pro Touchscreen friendly
It works well with any touchscreen-enabled system, including newer laptops, even to the point of including a well-designed on-screen keyboard.
Pro Integrates with most Google Services
You can use your calendar, drive, contacts and most of Google services with Online Account option. You can show your Google Calendar events on the Gnome's default calendar app, Nautilus (Default file manager of GNOME) almost fully integrated with Google Drive and even you can read your PDF's with Evince (the default built-in PDF reader in GNOME).
Pro All the major players in the Linux ecosystem have finally collated on Gnome
Red Hat default = Gnome
Fedora default = Gnome
Debian default = Gnome
Ubuntu default = Gnome
Opensuse default = Gnome
This doesn't mean the others go away, it just means there is a colossal community and industry backing behind Gnome.
The point whether or not it being technically the best option is now off table and irrelevant. It is now the de facto standard. Like it or not.
Pro High resultion screens, multi monitor, content creation
If you depend on high resultion screens, multi monitor, or content creation programs you want Gnome.
Pro Highly stable
Gnome isn't obviously devoid of flaws, but it's pretty stable - especially in comparison with the KDE Plasma Desktop, which can literally fall apart after installing upgrades (and show a considerable number of error messages) or for whatever reasons - after turning on the computer you can end up without (Plasma) desktop altogether, which I believe IS quite unproductive. It is also noteworthy that many other major desktop environments are based on Gnome, and among these are: Cinnamon, Pantheon and (now dead) Unity.
Pro Graphic apps 'feel smoother' on gnome than on KDE plasma
Graphics apps 'feel smoother' on gnome than on KDE plasma. Example: Gimp and inkscape, probably because they are developed in gtk+.
Pro Designed for traditional desktops
Intended for large-screen, non-touch devices that extend traditional concepts with functionality and good looking aesthetic.
Pro Fast, elegant and stable interface
Cinnamon uses a traditional desktop userflow that most computer users are familiar with.
Pro The keyboard shortcut design is very friendly to users with Windows background
Your win+E, win+D etc are still working after migrating to Cinnamon from Windows
Pro Lots of downloadable free themes
Plenty of themes, ready and free to be downloaded and applied with just a couple of clicks in a few seconds, with the file sizes mostly around 0.5 - 1MB.
Pro Very easy to customize
It's very easy to customize using the built in theme and applet tools. It automatically installs themes and desktop/panel applets for you, so you mostly won't have to go search online for them.
Pro Nice themes and extensions
Very easy to make this desktop your own both in terms of looks and functionality.
Pro Very well supported
Has a great community and is very well supported through Linux Mint website.
Pro Stable DE
Pro Actively developed with useful new features in each release
E.g vertical panels are now there.
Pro You can easily get it to look like Windows
You can get it to closely look and behave like Windows with considerable ease. This is a good thing for those switching from Windows, because it gives them a familiar environment, cutting down on the learning curve a bit. Among the popular DE's this is the one that gets you closest with great ease.
Pro Traditional desktop with the recent features
Cinnamon is a modern desktop that has the latest features, but at the same time it sticks to its way as a classic desktop and ignores trends/hypes like client side decorations or popovermenus.
Pro Vertical panel already available
Pro Can run apps meant for any other desktop environment
Cinnamon can run any app meant for any other DE, meaning the user can have apps for XFCE and KDE simultaneously and they will run as smoothly as if they're being run in the corresponding DE.
Pro Cinnamon provides control of icon placement on multiple monitors
Cinnamon provides control of the placement of desktop icons on multiple monitor setups. This feature has been buggy, but in my testing of Linux Mint 19, this feature appeared to be stable. Thus, Cinnamon joins KDE and Windows in enabling this capability. For example, in a setup with 2 or 3 monitors, you can put the desktop icons on the right-hand monitor. With other DEs, the icons always move to the left-hand monitor.
Pro Works well with cairo dock on bottom and cinnamenu on top
Pro You can easily get it to look like a Mac
Pro Lot of configuration options
Both Gnome and Cinnamon got the same looking configuration panel. There are 40 sub-panels in Linux Mint Cinnamon's, whenever there a far less with Ubuntu Gnome 3's.
Windows, notification, smart corners, windows overlay, connexion windows... you can have those in gnome, but that require compiz and other stuff.
Con Continuous customization and extension issues
They need to sort out their continuous customization and extension issues, which are why many people still prefer KDE or other Desktop environments.
Con Extension system is weakly integrated into the environment
Backward compatibility is not guaranteed and extensions seems like second class citizens in the GNOME environment.
GNOME 3 desktop environment is kinda slow on some Linux distributions
Con Longtime support is hard since every few years GNOME changes its own standards
Everytime something is complete GNOME breaks itself:
Icon naming changes almost every 3 years : once gtk icons were named stock_edit then gtk-edit then edit-edit and currently edit-edit-symbolic
- App icons change also every few years currently they get renamed to an android like scheme eg: org.gnome.Photos.svg instead of gnome-photos.svg however this breaks all common standards esp. since filenames on linux are case sensitive.
GNOMEShell extension also break on almost every release.
Currently Gtk3 has been stabilized however they are already working on GTK4 and 5 so in the worst case your desktop will need to run and support 4 GTK-toolkits at the same time.
Con Some settings are not where the user would expect it
E.g. it is not possible to change the keyboard auto-repeat delay or rate from the usual All Setting > Keyboard like, for example, in Unity.
Many settings are considered "tweaks" and require installing a separate utility to adjust.
Further still, some settings are buried in a dconf database.
Con Tightly coupled to its window manager
If you're looking to run an alternative window manager, like XMonad, you're pretty much out of luck.
Con Full screen start menu
This may be fine if your screen is really small, but on modern fullhd desktop it looks ugly and distracting. In addition to very ineffective display of items on screen - much more could be placed on one screen if there were less empty space around and between icons
Con Extensions can break whole Gnome desktop
Gnome extensions have a lot of freedom to customize the desktop, and it means that extensions can break your desktop leaving you unable to use your computer. Also extensions can significantly slow down whole desktop.
Con Poor 'drag and drop into application' capability
Difficult to drag and drop a file into an open application.
Con Native Gnome dock isn't scalable
The native Gnome dock isn't scalable, which means if you want to change its size you have to download a customized theme for the shell and hope it has the appearance you want. Honestly again just like the icon issue it wastes way too much of the screen on high resolution monitors.
Con Some GUI controls are much larger than on other desktops
This is wasting screen space on non-HiDPI monitors.
Con Icon scalability and sorting
The icons in the "apps view" area don't have any additional sizes, the current ones are much too large to be effective for the screen space they use. Also, there is no native way to sort them in Gnome, only a very limited extension. Which means you're pretty much always better off using the search bar if you can.
Con Default alt-tab behaviour is cute but extremely annoying for fast keyboard users
Con Depends on systemd
Some people don't like systemd but it is part of most modern distros anyway.
Con Rather insane method of wallpaper slideshows
Most DEs and WMs allow the user to simply point to a directory, and use pictures from there. Gnome 3 requires the rather asinine idea of building an XML file to accomplish the same thing.
Con Has several dead userspace features that are supplemented by community supported exstentions.
Has several dead projects that are supplemented by community supported exstentions. Unfortunately the gnome updates often break these exstentions. Example: GSConnect.
Con Non-intuitive use paradigm
It doesn't feature an always-on dock and fixed amount of usable desktops, doesn't support tray icons for background programs. The main interaction with running programs bases on clicking and dragging (to a desktop) preview thumbnails.
Con Inconsistent desktop
As of GNOME3, some applications have ClientSideDecorations while other use normal Titlebars, this also affects usablity since both Decorations do different things if you left, right, or double click it. Same goes for Menubars. Some Apps follow the GlobalMenu in the GNOMEShell while others don't.
Con Shell-Style ≠ Widget-Style
The GNOME-shell is unable to use the current GTK style for its interface thus making it hard to get a consistent user interface.
Con Cumbersome main menu
Main menu takes a lot of space and is cumbersome to navigate
Con Sometimes freezes
It can sometimes freeze which is really annoying.
Con Needs more choices for useful panel applets
Cinnamon still lacks some useful choices for panel applets. For excellent management of panels and a rich choice of useful panel applets, I rely on Xfce.
Con Conservative design and UX choices
Tries to be too much like traditional Windows (XP, Vista, 7).
Con Uses GTK
Nowadays, GTK is designed with GNOME, and only GNOME, in mind. Non-GNOME applications which attempt to utilize it suffer as a result.
Despite Cinnamon being on its stable third version it still crashes occasionally, ranging from plugins all the way to drivers.
Con Few themes
Rather than using actual GTK theming, Cinnamon appears to vye for its own strange infrastructure that isn't compatible across any other desktop.
Con Sound Settings not automatic
On Windows, for example, you can unplug a speaker and it will switch back to the laptop-speaker. In Cinnamon, you have to do it manually.
Con Conservative management without more creativity
It is almost the same management like in 20-years old GNOME 2 environment. Although some elements are new.