Assuming everyone has already heard of Canonical’s Unity Desktop environment, which for the latest version of Ubuntu (11.04), is pushing Gnome off to the side. But fear not! Gnome is still alive and kicking!
Since last October was saw the release of Gnome 2.32.1, a stable and relatively nice desktop environment for the casual user. As of April, we saw the first release of 3.0, and at first sight all I could say was “Wow.”
The changes were easy to spot from Gnome 2. No more Gnome Panel, but now Gnome-Shell. This shell brings the basics of switching between windows, bringing up applications and such. With the tap of your Windows-key (Or Command-key for Mac users), and it zooms out of your current application a bit, displaying a great deal of things. Applications could be searched in a second, rather easily too. Definitely a nice change from going through the old applications menu. Just by clicking “Applications”, you will be able to see everything in a list.
The greatest feature, to me anyway, was how you could interact with chat clients. With pidgin, X-Chat, even your emails, there was a neat notification. No more blaring “Look at me!” type of messages. A faded out black box, with just a small bit of text would appear, and you could choose to click it and see the rest, or ignore it. Days of broken concentration are gone!
Now one issue did come up in my testing. I was running Xubuntu, only for the reason that my teacher needed something simple there. Yes, I’m switching it soon. But that’s a whole other topic!
I opened up the terminal, and tried those age old commands. Sudo apt-get install gnome-shell. Nope. sudo apt-get install gnome3. Nope. I added the 3rd party repository, but that failed too. Gnome 3 ships with Fedora 15, and OpenSUSE, but the rest is up to you compiling some good old source code. Hopefully we all jump on the bandwagon with it.
My neighbour hit a little snag with his laptop – one of those pesky Windows viruses. The kind with the messy names just trashes Windows. After a few failed boots, i popped in that handy Fedora 15 (Alpha) Disk, and fired into Gnome 3. Even from the LiveCD we had smooth graphical effects, easily managing to get around. His windows partition was toast, in case you wondered.
Now for his little 1.8GHz single core Intel processor, and only 1GB of RAM, I was happily surprised that we managed to pull out all the graphical effects. We did pull into Fallback Mode quickly, which was still good.
Fallback mode was like Gnome 2, but fancier still. That good old applications menu was there. It felt good still, with just a little less of a push on the processor, proving Gnome will still run on those older PC’s. The same applies to Virtualbox right now, I do hope for an update soon on that side. I’m unsure if its the amount of Video RAM needed, or just the drivers. Hopefully I can investigate more on that and get back to you, as i know many just want a quick test run.
So if you’re an old Gnome 2 user whose just waiting for that beautiful upgrade – Now is the time.
Thanks to Wikipedia and Gnome for the pictures too. Unfortunately my Fedora machine isn’t here right now, so I was unable to get some pictures myself.