Feeds

GNOME 3.12: Pixel perfect ... but homeless

Best thing out of GNOME camp for YEARS, but who'll take it in?

Boost IT visibility and business value

Apps alive

Perhaps the biggest change is in Totem, GNOME’s default video player. In fact, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was an entirely new video player. The app has been renamed Videos (or GNOME Videos if you want to be more specific), though the project itself retains the Totem moniker. The interface has been completely redesigned to fit with the look of GNOME 3 apps.

Totem/Videos isn't the only app with new features in this release. The whole GNOME apps suite, which consists of Maps, Weather, Photos, Videos and others, have been updated and improved. The Software app remains a bit confusing - it seems to only list GUI apps, which means you're left to whatever tools your distro provides for anything non-GUI - but at least it now ties into the GNOME Shell search so you can find apps regardless of whether or not they're currently installed.

GNOME keeps expanding its suite of apps too. There's even a graphical client for the Git version control system now. Or at least there should be. The Fedora rawhide releases I used for testing did not actually include Gitg (as the app is known), but it was listed – along with several others – in the Fedora repos.

The Maps application showcases GNOME 3.12's new geolocation privacy controls. You can completely turn off location services in this release, but should you choose to leave them on, there's a nice new indicator applet that will let you know whenever an application (like Maps, Weather and Photos) accesses your location data.

GNOME's long term-plans call for even more fine-grained location privacy controls – like the ability to decide which applications can access your location – but for now there is at least an off switch.

In the end geolocation privacy controls are probably more of a concern for mobile users and thus far GNOME-based mobile devices aren't exactly flying off the shelves.

GNOME 3.12 continues the trend of integrating web-based service into desktop apps. The revamped Videos app now supports Pocket, a read-it-later service that can also save videos (which are then synced to the GNOME Videos app). GNOME's Photos app has added Facebook support, which allows you to interact with your Facebook photos directly inside Photos. Or it should anyway, I was never able to log in to Facebook as the site complained that the pop-up window –that is the online accounts window in GNOME – was "too small to display this page". I suspect this is a recent change on Facebook's end.

Totem, GNOME’s default video player, has been overhauled (click to enlarge)

Another nice change in this release is the revamped GNOME account setup process, though whether or not you see it will depend on how your distro of choice works. In Fedora, for example, most of the account setup process is handled in the Anaconda installer, thus bypassing the GNOME version.

All of which brings us back to the problem: GNOME 3.12 is nice but a desktop in search of a distro.

Of course all Linux desktops are ostensibly that way, that's part of what makes Linux Linux: all the choices. That works for Xfce, LXDE and others, but increasingly environments like GNOME Shell and Unity want to be more than just desktops in the traditional sense and to do that well it seems to mean tightly integrating with a single distro, the way Unity effectively is Ubuntu.

Perhaps now GNOME Shell has become a more mature, stable and genuinely useful desktop, some distro will come along and provide the kind of integration that GNOME deserves. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cloudy CoreOS Linux distro declares itself production-ready
Lightweight, container-happy Linux gets first Stable release
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.