back to article Sanity now: Gnome 3.12 looking sensible - at least in beta

The GNOME team has released the first beta of GNOME 3.12, the next major release for the popular desktop and UI environment. Unlike the past few releases, there's a ton of new stuff in GNOME 3.12. The highlights include a slew of new apps, a major makeover for the long-standing video player, better privacy controls, support …


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  1. gerryg

    May I just mention KDE...

    ...Qt5, Frameworks 5 etc...

    thought not

  2. spegru

    Amazing what a bit of competition can do

    So Gnome has improved, presumably due to competition from


    Cinnamon (especially)




    Aand all running on the same Linux kernel.

    If only other OSs offered such choices

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amazing what a bit of competition can do

      Competition .... What do you mean..... Everybody knows that xfce is the only decent fully fledged desktop in that list that does not bloat...... Cinnamon and unity don't even run on Linux do they? RMS condemned them so I heard..... I tried KDE a year ago.... It is still loading, will let you know when I can open a browser.

      Xfce rocks ...... But reading the artical I will probably give gnome a spin again which I have not done science the beginning of the 3 era..... If only there was someway to banish systemd


      1. keithpeter

        Re: Amazing what a bit of competition can do

        "Everybody knows that xfce is the only decent fully fledged desktop in that list that does not bloat......"

        Can't for the life of my see why anyone needs anything more than jwm myself. Does windows doesn't it?

      2. Fibbles

        Re: Amazing what a bit of competition can do

        I don't mind Gnome 3 but IMO it takes too much customization to get back to what I describe as a 'classic' style desktop (application menu, taskbar, notification area, etc). KDE is nice but requires more system resources than I really want my desktop environment using. I've never used MATE. Cinnamon was OK but I felt some of its features weren't stable or fleshed out enough for my main desktop. The less said about Unity the better.

        I'm an XFCE user. It provides a classic desktop whilst using a low amount of system resources and offers just enough eyecandy that I don't feel like I'm running Windows 95. Despite what the troll up top says though, it's not perfect. It still uses a software compositor by default. For a low end system from several years go with poor graphics hardware this is a godsend because all compositing is done on the CPU. For anything built in the last 5 years, even low end systems, it's a pain in the arse. Even computers with integrated graphics these days have enough oomph to handle window transparency and vsync. All a software compositor means for these systems is tearing in videos which in 2014 is ridiculous. Luckily you can replace the default compositor with an OpenGL one which will make use of your graphics hardware. I like XFCE, I think it has the potential to be the best Linux desktops out there. As I said though, right now it's not perfect.

    2. Miek

      Re: Amazing what a bit of competition can do

      "Cinnamon (especially)" +1 Personally I tried XFCE first, but, it was slightly* immature for my needs at the time and so I settled on cinnamon.

      * Almost perfect ... almost :/

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amazing what a bit of competition can do

      "If only other OSs offered such choices"

      The big difference is that "other OSs" actually get used for real work. No one uses Linux other than outliers. If Linux (and Gnome, KDE etc) were any good, they would get adopted.

      But as they are basically unusable and buggy, they don't.

      I cite the fact the Linux desktop has (effectively) zero penetration as proof of how useless these are.

      You will, of course, cite Munich. They are an outlier who wasted millions and took a decade to migrate to a totally unproven system fixing a problem that doesn't exist. It will taken them more millions and a good few years to migrate back to a proper system once the zealots move on.

      1. Spoonsinger

        Re: "The big difference is that "other OSs" actually get", bla bla bla.....

        Troll post of the month. (so far).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Amazing what a bit of competition can do

        "..... totally unproven system fixing a problem that doesn't exist....."

        Are you suggesting Microsoft doesn't exist ?

      3. Chemist

        Re: Amazing what a bit of competition can do

        "You will, of course, cite Munich"

        You treat people here as though they were stupid with the memory span of a gnat. You post this drivel week after week.

      4. Nigel 11

        Re: Amazing what a bit of competition can do

        Define "real work".

        What do you think is used to make a movie? To design a new drug (or car, or airliner)? To build a million-user web-site?

        Chances are high that the creative stuff, without which none of the other w**kers in the organisation would have jobs, is done partly using Linux and partly using Macs, with Windows in third place and there only because (a) some customers(*) and (b) the abovementioned real w**kers insist on it.

        (*) customers are always right even when they are wrong. Unless you work for Microsoft.

      5. oldcoder

        Re: Amazing what a bit of competition can do

        I think the US DoD counts for real work.

        As does Spain, Brazil,... And a fair number of cities in the US.

        The list of "outliers" is quite long.

        Munich was careful. How long do you think it will take for some organization that large to Migrate to Windows 8.x from XP? hmmm?

        "a problem that doesn't exist"??? overpriced software.. underperforming software, virus repair, constant outages for the same... Constant money pit...

        Besides, they saved a boatload of money.

        And will continue saving every year.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amazing what a bit of competition can do

      Unix kernels, jesus...

    5. dz-015

      Re: Amazing what a bit of competition can do

      "So Gnome has improved, presumably due to competition from ..."

      Shame they don't all join forces. If they did, they might be able to use their combined talents to finally come up with something less grim than yet another hideous reinterpretation of Windows 95.

  3. Nigel 11

    "Start" menu

    Am I reading it right? Having taken away a menu that you accessed with a left-click, they've now given back a menu except you have to access it with a right-click?

  4. Oh Homer
    Thumb Down

    New day, same...

    . Still a touch-oriented UI on a non-touch desktop

    . Still missing 99% of the functionality of Gnome 2

    . Still hard-wired to systemd (why does a DE have a dependency on a specific init system?)

    . Still bloated beyond belief

    . Still driven by sneering twits like Lennart "do you hate handicapped people" Poettering

    Back to Cinnamon, then.

    1. AdamWill

      Re: New day, same...

      "Still a touch-oriented UI on a non-touch desktop"

      No, it really isn't. If it was touch oriented, you wouldn't see this:;query_format=advanced;status_whiteboard=touch;bug_status=UNCONFIRMED;bug_status=NEW;bug_status=ASSIGNED;bug_status=REOPENED;bug_status=NEEDINFO

      "Still missing 99% of the functionality of Gnome 2"

      Yawn. Troll.

      "Still hard-wired to systemd (why does a DE have a dependency on a specific init system?)"

      It doesn't. It has a dependency on a decent session manager. ConsoleKit wasn't one. logind is. If someone had written a good one that wasn't part of an init system, GNOME would happily use that. If you write something else that implements the logind API, GNOME will work fine with it.

      "Still bloated beyond belief"

      Wait, I thought the cool thing to say about GNOME was it didn't have enough features? How can it not have enough features yet be bloated beyond belief? I'm confused.

      "Still driven by sneering twits like Lennart "do you hate handicapped people" Poettering"

      You appear to be confused. Lennart is not a GNOME developer.

      1. Oh Homer

        Re: "a decent session manager"

        Funny, but my window manager seems to get along just fine without either ConsoleKit or logind. So did Gnome 2 for that matter. So why choose a dependency that basically transforms Gnome into a single-platform project, via Linux-dependent components, when there are far more acceptable alternatives?

        I think you're the one who's confused, son. I didn't claim Poettering developed Gnome, I wrote that he was one of those driving it. Poettering is a Gnome Foundation member who regularly holds (and often hijacks) talks on the subject, and given the degree to which Gnome is now dependent upon his garbage, and the extent of his invasive influence on Gnome and GNU/Linux in general, frankly you might as well rename it Poetterix® and be done with it.

        And yes, it is a mystery how Gnome 3 can be so bloated and yet offer so little functionality. Maybe you can explain that discrepancy. Also the fact that it's riddled with bugs doesn't mean that Gnome Shell isn't touch oriented. That is one of its primary design goals, after all.

        If you're going to QA this stuff it might help if you actually knew something about it first.

    2. Craigness

      Re: New day, same...

      "Touch-oriented" with right-click menus.

  5. Slap

    Linux is a fractured mess

    Ok, I use Linux every day, but the whole ecosystem is a fractured mess. It will never gain traction outside of the server room due to the fact that everybody important involved with desktop Linux will eventually throw their toys out their pram and fork it.

    This is bad for any business as quite frankly there are no believable roadmaps for any of the desktop environment providers. Gnome screwed up with v3, ubuntu screwed up with Ubiquity etc. Nobody knows what's coming next and whether it's going to screw up their current perfectly running system.

    Basically anybody running desktop Linux is a beta tester, actually an alpha tester if the truth be known.

    Don't get me wrong, I enjoy using Linux and I do experiment with the various flavours and desktop environments, but it is experimentation. If a client wants to put in a Linux server then no problem, but if they want to do a Linux desktop rollout then I'm "hang on, you really don't know what your asking for". Sure it can be done, but it's not going to be that smooth.

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Linux is a fractured mess

      In what way is the sudden arrival of Gnome 3 on an experienced Gnome 2 user's desktop, different to the sudden arrival of Windows 8.0 on an experienced Windows XP user's desktop?

      It'll tell you the difference. There's a way out of Gnome 3 if you don't like it. Indeed, there are several different ways out, including choosing not to upgrade at all (apart from security patches) for the next five years at least.

      The reason that the Gnome programmers were vilified when they shipped "3" wasn't that half of us thought it was crap. It was that they'd decided to write it as an upgrade (like Microsoft call Windows 8 + TIFKAM an upgrade). Meaning they had denied us the right to install Gnome 2 alongside Gnome 3 on the same system, just like Microsoft. Luckily they only control Gnome, not Linux.

      Why is it that there are so many folks who still think like Soviet State Planners in the 1980s, that there there is One True Way, and that it will inevitably succeed? Oh yes, it's the brainwashing. The CCCP was very good at brainwashing. So is Microsoft. They should note, it didn't do the CCCP much good. The trouble is that you're more likely to believe your own propaganda, than the rest of us.

      Linux folks know that "world domination" (Linus) was a joke. But on the other hand "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." (Ghandi). We've reached stage 3.... we've won inside the DVD players and the cars ... we've won the tablets in a Googly sort of way ....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Linux is a fractured mess - to be fair

        The USSR wasn't nearly as good at brainwashing as capitalism, which is another reason it collapsed. The software world does tend to Stalinism, but that's more a consequence of a simple fact; projects expand and get out of control and some poor soul at the centre is probably trying to keep it all on track. If managing programmers is like herding cats, managing a big software project is like trying to manage a number of cat herders. And it's difficult not to believe your own propaganda when that's the only real set of guiding principles you have.

        Anyway, back off topic to the USSR. The two State newspapers were Pravda (truth) and Izvestiya (News). Hence the Soviet proverb that "There is no news in Truth and no truth in News". I make this point because people still have a very McCarthyite view of the whole Soviet era, but reality seems to have been very different.

        Brainwashing could not succeed against everyday reality. It was the Germans who fanatically fought to the last in WW2 because they continued to believe in Hitler; it was the Russians who either had to be made to fight by the NKVD, or fought for their homes and families. (In fact, despite the propaganda, the Germans were far more fanatical than the Japanese.)

        Big software companies are presumably far more like Nazi Germany, with their separate power structures (divisions) which in practice overlap and also fight one another, their dysfunctional executives (some of whom are probably as psychopathic as any of the Nazis), and their search for external enemies.

        1. Anomalous Cowturd



    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Linux is a fractured mess

      In fairness inroads are being made. For example in IBM there are >75,000 active desktop clients (active being reporting home in the last 90 days) and they're not all technical.

      You're right regarding roadmaps, within reason. Whilst it was a *massive* upheaval in GNOME 3 you have to remember that no "enterprisey" desktop distribution has released with it yet. When Red Hat finally moves to it in RHEL 7 (yes it does look extremely different to Fedora but is based on the same code) you'll see that it will necessary for it to stablise - put simply RHEL customers won't stand for it, money always dictates. It helps that GNOME is mostly developed by Red Hat.

      I have to say that moving to any Linux desktop requires a leap of faith and persevearance. I used to experiment with it by dual booting, but whilst the temptation exists to just jump back to Windows you'll never leave that comfort zone. By forcing myself to *only* have RHEL (having been experimenting with Fedora) I worked out that where I found it lacking could often be worked around. Is it intuitive? Often not. But the time I lose in productivity due to minor issues is cancelled out by increases in productivity due to some basic Unix things (like symlinks - yes I know Windows now has junction points etc but they're not as flexible).

      The whole "year of the Linux Desktop" fallacy needs to be dropped. Technical users are a beachead and will advance the ecosystem so that their fractionally less technical peers can effectively use Linux in an enjoyable fashion. But it will be incremental with increasingly less technical users being brought on by their fractionally more technical friends and colleagues rather than a flood of users "seeing the light". As an oddity the resurgance of the OS/X will help as consumers get more familiar with things like filesystem layouts and other shared Unix heritage.

      That got a little more long winded than I planned :$

    3. Jes.e

      Re: Linux is a fractured mess

      "Gnome screwed up with v3, ubuntu screwed up with Ubiquity etc. Nobody knows what's coming next and whether it's going to screw up their current perfectly running system."

      Microsoft screwed up with Windows 8..

      .. oh lookie; Apple is the only one with a true desktop left. Better go buy some stock..

      What you are calling a fractured mess, others might label "diversity".

      Which is good for trying out new ideas don't you think?

      At least with open source you are free to change things in whatever way you wish- not be at the mercy of some invisible hand of the market.

    4. Fibbles

      Re: Linux is a fractured mess

      The likely outcome when you try to tell Debian Stable users that they're beta testers. ------>

      Cheers for the laugh though.

    5. Oh Homer

      Re: Linux is a fractured mess

      Dear Slapper, real Linux users and developers squabbling with each other over the direction of one particular project is not a layman outsider's cue to inject FUD about "fracturing" or "fragmentation".

      This "fragmentation" is actually Free Software's biggest asset. It's precisely what enables we real Linux users and developers to avoid those things we don't like, either by using those "fragmented" alternatives or creating them ourselves.

      Moreover, not only does this "fragmentation" facilitate choices we wouldn't otherwise have, thus providing us with a greater potential to satisfy each of our respective unique preferences, but it's also an essential facet of academic progress, because many different groups pursuing many alternative solutions yields far more of the right answers, which cummulatively benefits us all in the long run, even if some of the interim results are utter crap.

      Compare that to the monolithic world of proprietary "products", created only for commercial reasons, where it's actually in the best interests of the vendor to ensure you have as little choice as possible (lock-in), and where the vendor reviles progress or anything else (such as fixing bugs) that doesn't immediately derive profit.

      If you want to think like a consumer sheep, perhaps it would be better if you didn't wander out of your pen.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Location controls

    I don't want location controls with a simple on/off, no matter how fine grained by application: I want to be able to set a location to be accessed by each application (such as somewhere outside Cheltenham or Langley, or indeed wherever I choose).

    I think this would be a killer feature. Especially on phones.

    1. Mark Wilson

      Re: Location controls

      Rather like stock Android then! Just turn on Dev Tools and it is there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Location controls

        I now have to go off and check that. It looks like my ignorance is even more bottomless than I thought.

    2. Philip Lewis

      Re: Location controls

      Fake GPS on jailbroken iPhones does this (sort of). Unfortunately you cannot buy it, you have to sign up for all sorts of crap and games and shit to get it to work.

      The idea is great though.

      I guess it will never make it to the AppStore though

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Add a screenshot of the new Totem please.

  8. Alistair Silver badge

    Gnew Gnome

    I've never been a gnome fan, over 18 plus years of linux desktop use. Personally I've always preferred KDE, even in the ugly 4.0 days. I will of course give this a poke when it gets into my distro, but I doubt I'll end up using it. I imagine my youngest will be happier with that than with unity. *(he's 8, and doesn't care about the OS, uses them all).

    I'm now exIBM so can comment -> the technical roll out of linux desktops for the GD group I worked with apparently was mostly painless. I (being the linux nut of the area) spent a bit of time explaining subtle logical differences to quite a number of bodies, but overall other than Visio and Project, there were few that were stuck using the embedded windows VM for much more than those two applications. Heck, even the three Windows Admins I worked with preferred the linux version of the desktop on their laptops (and I quote) if only because Notes runs so much more stably on it. The difficult bit for them was learning to manage remote disk mapping for their RDP sessions.

    I'm currently being asked questions by a neighbor who works for IT in my town. Its rather looking like they are considering a Munich style move, but with some of those "lessons learned" tuned into their process. Apparently it could save my (not particularly large) municipality in the area of $1.2M to $2.6M per year.

    I've seen all the "OMG you cant replace MS with linux, its shit" posts around here. I'll agree, I wouldn't hand a fedora LiveCD to most of the non technical folks I know and say "Install this it will fix your problem", but most of the commentary from the windows advocates ***does not apply*** in a managed and controlled business IT environment. In the same way that MS took over the computing world by taking over the business desktop, I believe that slowly, but surely, linux desktops will become more common. They will be carefully managed in the same way that MS windows desktops are carefully managed in the enterprise. Eventually, even if the erosion is *purely* due to financial aspects, I see linux desktops becoming more and more common.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gnew Gnome

      At the risk of being downvoted to the Pit and beyond, I think your last paragraph could possibly stand as a mission statement for the Google Chromebook project.

      What could be more "carefully managed" than a Linux desktop with a single rendering system and a single UI?

      Google is starting with education; thus learning from Apple who did it first.

      1. Jes.e

        Re: Gnew Gnome

        Here's an upvote.

        Google is already on it. They provide a management framework for Chromebook devices which gives a business complete control of everything down to extensions on the device.

        According to the list at titled "End User Security Guidance" the Chromebook actually seems to be the most secure device the list..

        Now certain offline aspects may be a problem but if not needed then?

  9. i1ya

    Gnome 2 was a face of desktop Linux for me primarily because it came with Ubuntu and seemed relatively user-friendly for former Windows user. I clicked icons in menus and was quite ok with it. Because of Gnome 2/3 change, I now know differences, good and bad points of Unity, KDE, XFCE, OpenBox and Enlightenment. Spent some time working in KDE, but tweaked it to the point where it resembled my XFCE setup so returned to XFCE+OpenBox config. BTW OpenBox rocks for those who are not afraid of XML config file (but still don't want to re-compile after every config change as one of radical twms suggests).

    So after 3 or 4 years Gnome 3 authors brought some sanity to it. I assume after 4 more years it will become a less distracting thing that can be used for productive work. But who will care if every 'power' Linux desktop user will find a better alternative and stick to it?

    For clarity: Gnome 2 wasn't ideal either. It was the ONLY desktop environment I know where clock applet was able to freeze. "Hey, guys, my digital clock stopped AGAIN!"

  10. csumpi

    why copy OSX

    Why does this look like every widget is a copy os OSX? It's not like OSX is that good looking.

    If I wanted OSX, I'b buy a mac. If I wanted Windows, I'd buy windows.

    This is major FAIL and the gnome designers should be ashamed of themselves.

  11. frank ly Silver badge

    It doesn't matter, dammit.

    I've been a Linux-at-home user for 9 months now and it was a stressful time for two weeks (serious swearing) then a bit stressful (mild swearing) for two weeks; then it was fine. I used MS-DOS then Windows for 25 years and I haven't touched Windows since last November; I don't have it anymore except on the old spinning rust disk in a bag in my desk drawer. (SSD all the way now). I've tried MATE and Cinnamon and XFCE and a couple of weird lightweight ones and I've settled on MATE. Whatever you choose will work for you, because that's the reason you choose it - duh.

    I don't startup my newish laptop, or desktop, or netbook, or 8 year old laptop (yes, it's great, with PATA SSD) so that I can admire MATE's system panel or the way it presents notifications. I startup my computer so I can run a browser, or an e-mail client or GIMP or splice audio files or play some music. I did spend some time setting up my pop-out panels and loading them with drawers and the drawers with apps and folder locations etc. - but then I started using my computer to do work. (Also, the great thing is that I can migrate/clone my MATE desktop environment over to another computer).

    As for the Windows fanbois talking about 'fragmentation'; it's 'choice' and it's free :) I install Thunderbird or the latest GIMP from the same source whatever DE is used. If for some strange reason, I want to try Cinnamon again (I didn't like it), I can load it up and start in Cinnamon (Linix startup gives you that choice at a button click) and it still runs the same installed programs.

  12. jake Silver badge

    I've been running KDE as my primary desktop for about a decade and a half now.

    I've played with Gnome, but it has always seemed to be entirely incoherent from release to release. KDE seems to be a lot more of a sane option for actually getting work done, year to year.

    Side note: I've been running Slackware for over two decades ... and yes, PV probably jumped into KDE 4.x entirely too early in early-mid 2009 (12.2 -> 13.0 transition) ... but Slack made sticking to KDE 3.x a fairly simple process.

    As always, YMMV. Follow your bliss. If it works for you, who am I (or anybody else!) to tell you that your opinion is wrong?

  13. AdamWill


    "which would seem to fly in the face of GNOME's belief that features confuse users"

    There is no such belief. It's just an invention of snarky tech journalists. More actions on right-click in the Dash have been planned all along; just the devs got around to doing it now.

  14. ecofeco Silver badge

    Oh god not another "arty" interface

    To this day, the Xwindows look and feel is still all most people can learn and use because it's the most common and anyone can ask anyone else "ay, what's this button for, then?"

    Until at LEAST another generation has passed, artsy fartsy main screen interfaces are not practical.

    Gnome 2 is still the best all around interface for Linux. It is something most Windows users can adapt too without to much pain.

    We, the technorati, forget that most people can barely walk and chew gum talk on phones, yet we expect them to master the most complicated machine ever invented as a matter of course.

    We are building ever more elaborate sand castles sculptures when we should be building basic and reliable houses.

    Don't get me wrong, I love a slick modern interface as much as the next geek, but in the real world, it just makes people confused and angry and refusal to adapt has a VERY real impact on productivity and bottom lines.

    Just as it's always had.

  15. Daniel Voyce

    XFce <3

    I stopped using Gnome after version 2 and moved to XFce and have never looked back, lightweight - allows me to have the layout I want (App shortcuts, Menu and Notifiations at the top, Taskbar and Clock at the bottom) - Gnome 3 can probably do the same but there are so many quirks and idiosyncrasies that it just became painful to set up correctly.

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