The GNOME Project has released GNOME 3.6 today, the new version bringing many enhancements and new features, including a redesigned Message Tray, smarter notifications, improved Activity Overview layout, new design for Files (Nautilus) and a new lock screen. Let’s take a look at what’s new!
GNOME 3.6 video
Below you can watch a video with the latest GNOME 3.6 in action, running under Ubuntu 12.10:
For Nautilus (Files) 3.6 and a few other GNOME 3.6 bits which aren’t in the official Ubuntu 12.10 repositories, I’ve used the GNOME 3 PPA. In the video, I’m using Web 3.5.4 instead of 3.6 because the latest version isn’t even available in the GNOME 3 PPA.
Now, let’s take a look at the most important changes in GNOME 3.6.
Core / GNOME Shell changes
With the latest GNOME 3.6, the Message Tray and the notifications have received some major changes:
The Message Tray items are bigger, the hot corner has been replaced with the whole bottom screen edge; also, the Message Tray can now be accessed via a keyboard shortcut (Super + M)
The notifications are smarter, more noticeable and easier to dismiss thanks to a close button
Another change – not major, but it will definitely please some users, is that the GNOME Shell User Menu now displays a Power Off item by default:
In the latest GNOME Shell 3.6, the Activities Overview has received some important changes. Firstly, now when you click “Activities” on the top left, the windows are displayed by default and to access the applications, you must click a grid button displayed at the bottom of Dash:
Another major new feature in the latest GNOME 3.6 is a new Lock Screen (requires GDM so it might not show up for you if you’re using Ubuntu 12.10 with LightDM instead of GDM) which displays the time and date along with notifications and the user has the ability to control media playback:
And now a bit about the GNOME applications. Files (Nautilus) is the application which has received probably the biggest attention in GNOME 3.6. Files comes with a new user interface which is now consistent with the other GNOME applications, but there are some removed features too, like the dual pane.
Among the changes in Files 3.6 are:
a new way of searching for files has replaced both the old search tool and the “search as you type” feature
new toolbar and pathbar, GNOME Shell appmenu, a new “cog” menu, symbolic icons for the sidebar, a new “Recent” section in the sidebar
list view changes: new date format display, better column order, new icon size: 32
Clocks: a new application introduced as a “preview”, because, according to the GNOME developers, it’s not ready for prime time just yet. But it’s already functional and it can be used to display the time around the world, set up an alarm, stopwatch and a timer:
Introduced as a preview in GNOME 3.4, Boxes (an application to connect to remote machines and manage virtual machines) is now officially a GNOME application. Changes in the latest Boxes include a reworked selection mode, allow customizing a box memory and disk size before it’s created and more.
Epiphany (Web) has introduced “The Overview” with version 3.6. This is the beginning of a new design which should improve the user experience, about which we’ve talked about a while back:
For now, “The Overview” doesn’t have the functionality that was announced a while back, and it only presents a grid with the most visited pages. The new version also comes with an improved full screen mode and other changes.
Of course, there were many other improvements, including various changes for Disk Usage Analyzer, Disks, Font Viewer, support for Microsoft Exchange, Windows Live and Facebook for Online Accounts, updated modal dialogs which now expand from the middle instead of dropping from the top, Empathy now uses Zeitgeist, and many accessibility and internationalization enhancements.
There’s also a new feature which I’m sure those who like to customize their desktop will love: with GNOME 3.6, the GNOME Shell extensions installed via extensions.gnome.org are updated automatically.
The next stable GNOME release, 3.8, is expected on March 27, 2013.
Getting GNOME 3.6
There are no official GNOME 3.6 ISO files available for download yet, but if you want to try it already, you can use the latest development builds of Ubuntu 12.10, Fedora 18 and so on in a virtual machine or boot the images from an USB stick.
When available, the GNOME 3.6 live images will be downloadable from HERE.