Linux Mint with MATE and Cinnamon

Linux Mint ships with several options for desktop environments, but the two most advertised are MATE and Cinnamon – with Cinnamon being its primary candidate.

When you install Mint, you typically have to decide which desktop you want, because each has its own installation package. What you may not know, however, is that you can actually install one version of Mint and still have both options for your desktop environment. The best part is that you don’t even have to get your hands dirty with the command line interface to do it.

Here are the steps:

  1. After you have installed Mint, login and open the Software Manager. It is usually to the left in the Menu for both MATE and Cinnamon.
  2. If you have MATE version installed, search for Cinnamon. If you have Cinnamon, search for MATE.
  3. If you’re looking to add the Cinnamon desktop onto a MATE installation, you need to look for cinnamon and mint-meta-cinnamon packages in the top results, and install those two. For installing MATE within a Cinnamon installation, it’s the opposite: mate and mint-meta-mate. These two packages will install the desktop environments and the key packages that they need. A lot of the other results you see in your search will actually be included with the installation of those two.
  4. After the installation has completed, log out of your session and click the icon at the top-right of the sign in box on the login screen and you can now select between the two different desktop environments for your session.