Okay, what is the difference between Cinnamon and Cinnamon (Software Rendering) when choosing a desktop environment for Ubuntu?

Sub question:

What is the difference between Linux Mint with Cinnamon vs Ubuntu running with the Cinnamon Desktop Environment?

  • Sub answer: Cinnamon is the Default desktop environment for Linux Mint, whilst Cinnamon is just another desktop environment for Ubuntu, inwhich the default desktop environment is Unity.
    – Wilf
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 21:50
  • So that leads into my next question about my "sub question": Since Cinnamon is just a Desktop environment like I knew already, what is the difference between Ubuntu and Mint Linux if you exclude the desktop environments?
    – Daemous
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 22:22
  • As Mint is based on Ubuntu, there is probably no difference at all. But Cinnamon might work better with Mint, as it may have been optimized for it. Cinnamon itself is based on GNOME, and can sometimes 'collide' with it as it uses similar things, but this may not happen in Mint. I Don't Use Mint...
    – Wilf
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 22:27

2 Answers 2


That one use Hardware Acceleration awesomesauce, while the other use your CPU to draw effects (boo!).

Now explaining:

Cinnamon (Software Rendering) the only characteristic is that it uses software rendering to do more of the graphical work, like drawing window borders, moving windows, the bar, etc., and this cannot be changed if you don't have Hardware Acceleration capable GPU.

The Cinnamon has Hardware Acceleration capable techniques available. Is more eye-candy and powerful that the software render, since it uses a dedicated graphics card to make that all the effects looks fluid and fast. The advantage of this is that you can fallback to no-effects environment without problems.

  • @PeterMortensen not all GPU's allow hardware acceleration, be it because the card physically doesn't have the required capabilities, or the driver/firmware limitation on Linux, or the driver on mesa. The "awesomesauce" is explained in the last paragraph. BTW, people can't search for terms the don't know (ie hardware acceleration), but would search for the terms that the UI presents them with, as the question title does.
    – Braiam
    Commented Jun 4, 2020 at 13:59

The only real downside to using hardware acceleration is if you have a buggy driver, you can run into more glitches in the graphics (software rendering is more predictable).

For example, with Linux Mint 17, I see issues with Chromium not fully repainting the screen when re-sizing the windows (if I try to use hardware acceleration). I can't perceive any speed difference between the two, though I typically turn off all "eye candy effects" regardless.

If your driver is very buggy, I would imagine hardware acceleration could cause crashes, or your whole system could even run more slowly. Otherwise, I just try the acceleration first, and drop back to software rendering if I see any weirdness (crashes, lockups, repaint issues, etc). Hardware acceleration is great if the the drivers work.

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