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GNOME 3: The Future of the Linux Desktop Revealed

Renovation and Evolution

  • December 8, 2009
  • By Sean Michael Kerner
Sean Michael Kerner

TORONTO -- For many Linux desktop users, GNOME is their home. But it's a home that's in the process of a major renovation.

In a session at the FUDcon Fedora Linux user and developer conference this week, contributors showed off some preliminary work for GNOME 3, the next major evolution of the GNOME platform.

With GNOME 3, developers will be introducing a number of new concepts and technologies to the Linux desktop, including more advanced 3D as well as more tightly integrated messaging system.

"We have a real opportunity with GNOME 3," Red Hat staffer and GNOME contributor Jon McCann told the FUDcon audience. "We said up front that we're going to do a new GNOME, clean the slate, re-evaluate what it is we're trying to do, what a desktop is, what a personal computer is and what it should be offering."

The current GNOME desktop is the http://blog.internetnews.com/skerner/2009/09/gnome-228-previews-new-linux-s.html2.28 release, which debuted at the end of September.

McCann said that GNOME developers today have far more technology to tap into that simply wasn't available when design began on the GNOME 2.x platform 10 years ago. He added that in his view, GNOME 2.x isn't really suited for the large class of users that he'd like to bring into the GNOME user community.

"In GNOME 3, most of the user interface level stuff is JavaScript that is built on top of clutter toolkit," McCann said. "This is really awesome and something people have wanted for a long time to be able to have a rapid prototyping methodology, and to also use the standard GNOME libraries like Gtk."

http://www.internetnews.com/mobility/article.php/3781131Clutter is an open source framework for application development, with the underlying complexity abstracted so that an intricate UI can be built with a minimum of code. Clutter is also being integrated by Intel as part of its Moblin Linux operating system.

Red Hat staffer Colin Walters said that a number of items don't work well in the current GNOME 2.x user interface. According to Walters, search and the ability to find applications easily are not optimized in GNOME 2.x. Additionally, he said the mechanism to find recent documents is also less than ideal.

Walters added that GNOME 3 should be an evolutionary experience for users.

"We're trying not to change the whole world and we're not at this point requiring many changes for applications," he said. "So the scope is really just the core desktop shell."

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