Cinnamon is an open source project that provides users with a full featured desktop environment for GNU/Linux operating systems. It is a fork of the GNOME Shell user interface distributed with the GNOME project. It has been designed from the ground up to provide users with a traditional, yet advanced and modern graphical session for their Linux-based operating systems. It's usually deployed on the Linux Mint distribution.
Designed for Linux Mint
Actually, the Cinnamon project has been developed by the same team of hard working people behind the Linux Mint project, out of frustration with the GNOME desktop environment. However, the desktop environment is not attached to the Linux Mint distribution, as it can be easily installed on other open source GNU/Linux operating system, straight from their default software repositories or using third-party ones provided by the community.
The desktop layout is similar to GNOME 2
The best part of Cinnamon is that the desktop layout is similar to GNOME 2. It is easy to use, powerful, flexible and features a plethora of themes, applets, desklets and extensions for greater customization.
Usually, a clean install of Cinnamon includes the following applications: Nemo file manager (fork of Nautilus), Muffin window manager (fork of Mutter), Cinnamon Settings Daemon (for of GNOME Settings Daemon), Cinnamon Session (for of GNOME Session), and Cinnamon Control Center (fork of GNOME Control Center).
By default, it uses a single panel located on the bottom edge of the screen, from where users can access the main menu, interact with the functions of the system tray area and running programs, launch applications, as well as to switch between virtual workspaces. The panel can be moved on the upper side of the screen. In addition, users can change its look and feel with applets and themes, forcing it to act as they see fit.
In conclusion, Cinnamon combines the power of the GNOME desktop environment with its own, in-house built features and applications, providing users with an accessible and actively developed graphical interface for their Linux distributions.