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The Linux Desktop Advances

  • October 4, 2011
  • By Sean Kerner

Many different things make the Linux Planet go around, and one of them is the desktop. This past week, two key Linux desktop technologies advanced -- the new GNOME 3.2 release and the 1.0 release of PulseAudio.

1. GNOME 3.2

GNOME 3 was a revolutionary release for the open source desktop interface, introducing the new GNOME Shell.

The new GNOME 3.2 release, in contrast, is all about making GNOME 3 work better. A look though the release notes for the 3.2 release, reveals a long list of incremental improvements. Items like making it easier to resize a window and a new login screen are part of the mix.

On the developer side, GNOME 3.2 is based on the new GTK+ 3.2 toolkit, which provides improved CSS support and performance gains over previous releases.

2. PulseAudio 1.0

After years of development and use by nearly every major Linux distribution, the PulseAudio sound system is finally at its 1.0 release.

PulseAudio 1.0 provides a new format for metadata files and new equalization modules. While 1.0 is usually a major milestone for a software project, the PulseAudio developers have a different view.

The first thing you need to know is that 1.0 is just a number. We do not attach specific significance to the 1.0 moniker," the PulseAudio 1.0 release notes state. "It's really just a way to clean up version numbers - it's an eternal debate as to what constitutes '1.0 quality' and in the end we could easily go on forever with the previous numbering scheme. But with such a long time in development and the general state of PulseAudio adoption in the major distros and integration into the major Desktop Environments, we felt that this was as good a time as any to try and clean up the version numbers and call it 1.0!

3. LibreOffice Turns 1

While we're on the subject of the Linux desktop, having a great interface and audio are important, but so too is the need for a killer office suite.

A year ago, The Document Foundation forked OpenOffice.org to create LibreOffice. The move was driven by a number of different factors, some political and some technical. From a technical perspective, the goal was to accelerate an open source office suite in terms of both the development cycle and application performance.

Over the course of the past year, it's a promise LibreOffice has delivered on, with multiple releases, each adding incremental performance and feature improvements.

4. Ubuntu App Develop Program Debuts

LibreOffice is a great application, but more are available for the Linux desktop. In an effort to help grow its own application ecosystem, Canonical launched the Ubuntu App Developer site last week.

The general idea is to help application developers to build and deploy applications while building a community of users.

The App Developer site is also an effort to encourage developers to use the Ubuntu developer stack and publish application to the Ubuntu Software Center.

"At the heart of the Ubuntu Developer stack is a range of technologies that meet the most diverse range of application needs," the Ubuntu Developer site states. "Each is powerful, robust, well supported and shipped with every Ubuntu system, providing a reliable development platform for the most demanding application."

5. Continuous CentOS

The CentOS Linux distribution can be used as a desktop Linux operating system, but it is more widely deployed as a server operating system. CentOS, of course, is a clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), providing those that don't want to pay for a RHEL subscription with a free (as in beer) alternative.

While CentOS replicates RHEL, the cloned distro was months behind RHEL for the 6.0 release. That delay left CentOS 6.0 users with the potential risk of running without all the latest security patches.

In an effort to close the gap and keep users secure, CentOS has now come out with a continuous release repository for CentOS 6.x.

"This repository contains rpms to be included in the next CentOS-6.x release (6.1)," CentOS developer Karanbir Singh wrote in a mailing list posting. "Because these include security and bugfix updates, we strongly recommend everyone using CentOS-6 install and update their system using this repository."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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