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How To Backup The Cinnamon Desktop Settings On Linux

If you’re looking to backup the Cinnamon desktop settings for future use,  a backup solution like Deja-Dup won’t work. Instead, to create a complete backup of the way your Cinnamon setup looks, you’ll need to interact with various configuration files, dump them out and set them aside as a backup.

Backup The Cinnamon Desktop

To start the backup, you’ll need to open up a terminal window and use the dconf tool. Inside the terminal, use dconf to dump all of your Cinnamon settings into a file.

Note: Do not do this as root or sudo, as the file may not be accessible by an average user. You might also export the wrong settings.

dconf dump /org/cinnamon/ > cinnamon_desktop_backup

Running dconf dump will print all of the configurations for the Cinnamon desktop environment into a file in your /home/username/ directory labeled cinnamon_desktop_backup. Want to see what the settings contain? View the file with the cat command.

cat cinnamon_desktop_backup | more

Alternatively, feel free to open up the configuration file inside the default Cinnamon text editor. Do this by pressing Ctrl + F2 on the keyboard, and type gedit cinnamon_desktop_backup. Keep in mind that any changes you make to the file will affect how your backup restores later. If you mess up the backup, you may need to re-run the dconf dump command to get a fresh file.

Restore The Cinnamon Desktop

Having a configuration file backup for Cinnamon is useful, especially if you re-install your operating system. To restore the backup, open up a terminal (non-root). Restoring backups works a lot like creating them in Cinnamon, and involves the dconf command.

dconf load /org/cinnamon/ < cinnamon_desktop_backup

Please understand that the Cinnamon desktop will crash after restoring a backup. For whatever reason, the desktop can’t handle the sudden changes. To fix this problem, you’ll need to log out of your PC, and then back in. If logging in and out doesn’t help, you may need to reboot altogether.

After logging back into the desktop, everything should look like it did when you ran the backup.

Reset Cinnamon Desktop To Default

If your Cinnamon backup doesn’t work or is corrupted, you may want to reset the Cinnamon desktop and start fresh. To do this, you’ll need to make use of the dconf reset command. To reset Cinnamon, open up a terminal and run the following command.

dconf reset /org/cinnamon

This command should be enough to clear all of the configuration settings for Cinnamon, in most cases.

Dconf reset alone doesn’t work 100% of the time, so you may need to use -f. Using “force” tells the Dconf tool to apply the changes to the system, no matter what. Only use this command if you have to, because if your whole setup is corrupted, forcing a reset might not fix everything.

dconf reset -f /org/cinnamon/

Backup Cinnamon Applet Settings

Throughout this article, we’ve outlined ways users can use the Dconf tool to easily export and import configurations. However, that’s not the only way to backup the Cinnamon desktop. It turns out that the desktop lets users backup settings for applets on the panel. To create a backup, first, right-click on a panel applet to open up the right-click menu. In this menu, look for “configure.”

Note: some desktop applets may require the user to first click “preferences” in the right-click menu, before revealing “configure.”

Each applet has a configure window and each configuration window is different. In this area, the user can freely change applet settings. To create a complete backup of your panel’s applet settings, look for a clickable menu in the top-right hand corner of the window. Once you click it, find “export to a file” and select it.

Selecting the “export to a file” option will let the user export that particular applet’s settings and configurations. Be sure to name it something memorable, and back up the configuration file somewhere safe (like Dropbox, Google Drive or a home server).

Restore Cinnamon Applet Settings

Need to restore an applet’s settings? To do it, add the applet to your panel and don’t configure it. Right-click on the applet in the panel, look for “configure” and click it. From here, look at the menu at the top-right. This time, instead of selecting “export to a file,” choose the “import from a file” option. Use the file browser, and find the JSON configuration file from earlier, and open it.

When you load up the configuration file in the file browser, Cinnamon should instantly apply your configuration settings to the panel applet. Repeat this process for each applet you’ve backed up.

Note: if you downloaded an applet from the Cinnamon applet store, you’d need to do this again before restoring backups for it.

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