Users and Groups
by clem 14

Cinnamon was missing a few things that are now quite common in other DEs, namely.. the ability to switch session and to log in as a different user. Of course, it was possible in Mint via Menu->New Login, or by clicking “Switch user” from the lock screen, but things could be improved simply by introducing a new user applet. So that’s what we did, and it’s coming in Cinnamon 2.0:


While we were focused on user management we reviewed the GNOME “User Accounts” configuration modules and identified a few issues with it, namely:

  • The module wasn’t clear about its audience… it was used by users to change their own profile and by the sysadmin to administer users…
  • It didn’t do a good job for the sysadmin since it didn’t allow him/her to manage groups and group memberships
  • It didn’t do a good job for the user since it showed him/her a lot of sysadmin related info which was irrelevant to him/her

So the decision was taken to stop using the GNOME module and to write two new modules from scratch for Cinnamon.

The “Account Details” module is run by the user to quickly modify his/her own account:

Screenshot from 2013-07-26 10:05:29

The “Users and Groups” module is run by the sysadmin to administer users and groups:

Screenshot from 2013-07-26 10:11:10

Screenshot from 2013-07-26 10:11:23

Screenshot from 2013-07-26 10:11:39

We also took the opportunity to add a few avatar pictures in there :)

Of course the modules support using your own pictures as user pics and in the case of the “Account Details” module you can even take a picture of yourself using your computer’s webcam.

14 thoughts on “Users and Groups

  1. kozi34 Jul 26,2013 11:22

    Cool and functional applet. Maybe a short description for each group (or optional) on the list. Is a lot free space and the description can be very useful.

    PS. Nice work Clem!

  2. 0xnak Jul 26,2013 14:05

    Looks great!

  3. Guillermo P Jul 27,2013 03:48

    Just as you’re tidying that up in Cinnamon 2.0, you know what else is important and terribly overlooked, especially for “newcomer” level?

    The Administration/Preferences/System Tools submenus! Too many items are redundant, repeated or oddly placed in those submenus, and honestly it is a bloody nightmare knowing where to ‘land’ for a setting or tool.

    Any chance that you could give it a look and shake things a little for the better? No?? And if i say “Pleeease”? <3

  4. Kirk M Jul 28,2013 19:54

    Hi Clem,

    I’ve been testing this out on Linux Mint 15/Cinnamon with the Cinnamon nightly builds PPA added (clean fully updated install and then added PPA–pretty much rock stable since then). Everything seems fine for the most part and a Cinnamon version of “Users and Groups” and the new applet was just what the doctor ordered. Found a few niggles that you might want to know about though?

    The first one is rather long, sorry about that but I need to be clear as it’s a bit weird.

    I noticed that although the new “Users and Groups” was added to the Cinnamon menu I also noticed it didn’t show the proper icon. Selecting the proper icon (config-users.png) via “Edit menus” worked as it should but doing so also added an extra “config-users.png” entry in the Cinnamon menu itself along with the same menu icon as the one I chose for “Users and Groups”. Clicking on this entry brings up the image viewer showing the “config-users.png” icon.

    This extra entry does not show in “Edit menus” though and it’s “permanent” meaning I can delete the “Users and Groups” entry entirely, restart Cinnamon and the “config-users.png” entry stays there in the menu. If I recreate the “Users and Groups” entry and choose the proper icon for it again, the menu entry is created and shows up in the Cinnamon menu properly but it also creates yet another “config-users.png” entry–so now there’s two extra entries. As an experiment, I chose a different icon for “Users and Groups” and now I have a 3rd extra entry in Cinnamon menu (config-users.svg). I’ve found no way to delete these entries from the menu. Like I said, they don’t show up in “Edit menu”.

    Okay, number two. Not so long.

    I added the new “User Applet” to my panel and everything works except for “Log out…” and “Power off…”. Nothing at all happens when I click on either one. Lock screen, Switch user, Account details all do what they should.

    Hope this helps. Let me know if there’s any further tests I can run.

  5. Kirk M Jul 29,2013 14:39

    Clem – I forgot to note on my first comment that I’m seeing these same issues I mentioned on two very different machines. The first being my desktop PC (Intel Core2 Quad w/8GB DDR2, Nvidia GT 430 w/1.0GB DDR3 using the 310 video driver) and the second being an older ThinkPad R61 (Intel Core2 Duo w/4GB DDR2 and all Intel chipsets for wireless, audio, Ethernet and video).

    Both machines are ideal for installing Linux distros so there are no oddball tweaks and such that need to be done. It’s pretty much install and forget it. I’ve set up one hard drive in the desktop PC with 3 test partitions for testing various distros and pre-releases while my other drive holds my main OS (Mint/Cinnamon).

  6. Rohtua(R) Jul 29,2013 20:38

    I think that it could be little more feature and information rich at least on sysadmin interface. Also i am in favor for gui included information about what the hell actually it is you are looking at dear user, not to mention that description of groups as already mentioned will add some “real tool” feeling to it. As a concept it may go but i hope it is far from final product.
    Yet i have to thank you guys for most usable linux distro in my opinion.

  7. samriggs Jul 29,2013 22:40

    Looks great and more useable then gnomes.
    The only thing I was wondering if power off was forceshutdown because the pop up is redundant with the log out switch user etc already in there.
    I use the forceshutdown app now to make my shut downs quicker.
    Other then that it looks great.

    • Kirk M Jul 30,2013 15:15

      @samriggs – Sam, you’ve read my comments? Are you seeing anything like this at all?

      • samriggs Jul 31,2013 11:03

        Howdy Kirk.
        No I did not download the nightly version, I am tempted to to try this, but I got my LMDE the way I want it for now, just waiting for it to perfected and come on down the pipelines to my system, or at least land into romeo so I can put it in that way.
        I use forceshutdown on the mdm’s I made and also use a small applet for the panel that uses it also, very handy and the only thing I use to shut down, although the way it is set up already (last version I guess it is) the log out had issues in lmde always did for some reason, haven’t tested the new one, but I had to reboot to test the mdm’s live instead, the ubuntu base worked good though for log out, just not lmde, I’ll have to give it a whirl again just to see and cure my curiosity now lol.

        • samriggs Jul 31,2013 11:07

          whoohoo log out works now :)
          its the shutdownapplet@shelly I am using thats works for the panel, can’t wait to test this new beast when it comes on down the pipe lines, very tempted to add nightly but I need this toy for working on also or I would.

        • Kirk M Aug 1,2013 00:13

          Hey, Sam. Never touch an LMDE install once you get it right. Ask me how I know this…


          Wish I was more of a programmer so I could find out what calls the Users applet is making for Log Out and Power Off. I’m a fair troubleshooter though so perhaps I’ll try and trace down the problem if I can find where Cinnamon applets store their data.

  8. Kirk M Jul 30,2013 15:14

    One last thought came to mind about the “Log Out” and “Power Off” selections in the new “Users Applet” not working for me on two different machines. I’m running “cinnamon-session” and “cinnamon-settings-daemon” not “gnome-session” and “gnome-settings-daemon”. Just wondering if that might have something to do with it.

    • Mani Jul 31,2013 21:32

      @Kirk M: I can confirm the issue on manjaro linux with a cinnamon build of yesteday (30.July) The shutdown and logout buttons do nothing…

      @Clem: A little suggestion, how about creating a little slider which sets the time in which the pc should shut down (like in the shutdown timer applet, can’t remember the exact name). It is a useful utility and with the settings api you could add the possibility to turn it off.

      • Kirk M Aug 1,2013 00:09

        Thanks Mani. Just by coincidence I have Manjaro installed on another partition on my hard drive however, it’s the MATE community edition so I couldn’t compare. Glad to see I’m not the only one who sees the problem.

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