Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What's new in GNOME 3.12

Following this recent trend of mine, where I like to write about my experience using GNOME and Fedora, I wanted to share a few cool things I have found after applying recent (almost final) GNOME 3.12 packages. I have applied these on top of Fedora 20, so if anyone is interested in learning how to do it, please drop a comment and I will share some basic instructions.

First thing I have noticed is how GNOME 3.12 again makes things snappier and more responsive than they were in 3.10. If talking about desktop effects, well, GNOME Shell is not big on them, which I am happy with, but what bothered me was that the few there were weren't looking good. Frame drops and severe lag were all over the place, to the point where the overall experience was hit. Good news, fast forward to the latest GNOME 3.11 compilations and things are smooth and fast, even when having many windows open on the same workspace. The overall speed, from loading the session initially to opening apps and running daily tasks has also been improved throughout. For instance, showing the Activities Overview now loads faster than ever, with little to now delay in displaying all icons.

A very cool and superbly implemented feature is that a software search is now part of the general search feature. This by itself is not news, Unity implemented something along the same lines sometime ago, but that's precisely why I am saying it is superbly done. When using this feature on Unity, right after I get the results, I am desperately trying to find a way to disable it. It's that bad. Performance is ridiculous. However, not sure how they have done it, in GNOME Shell the results appear as if they were part of a local search, pretty amazing.

There have also been changes in the default GTK theme, which now gets renewed tabs and buttons, as shown below.

The user and session menu is another perfectly implemented solution. Intuitive, aesthetically consistent, elegant and concise, only showing the right information within a couple clicks max. Genius.

The Shell menus and popups have become a tad more transparent in this release, which I like.

The new Maps application is nice, following the trend of no bells and whistles, it just works, albeit with limited functionality at this point.

The lockscreen returns mostly unchanged, with the obvious exception of the main wallpaper, which looks great. It changes through the day.

So there you have it, no radical changes, but the continuous improvement is now a trend in GNOME and I must admit I like it more on every release. Up until 3.8 I thought it was fun and had tons of good ideas, it showed potential, but lacked in certain areas. That usually meant that I ended up going back to KDE after a while. GNOME 3.10 was the first release I found 100% complete and with very few weak spots, and 3.12 seems to improve even further. I have been using it exclusively for weeks and I really don't see myself changing soon... Unless the promising work they are doing on KDE5 ends up living to the expectations it's raising!


  1. Nice! I liked Gnome 3 from the very beginning, the new paradigm is very confortable in my opinion, and now that is mature enough, it's fantastic! A thing that the gnome team has really to change ASAP is the default icon theme, is orrible!! The folders' icons are awful! And maybe it would be nice to make the buttons more uniform: They're rounded in the "Power off" dialog, or in the App Overview, and squared in other places like the login screen and the user menu. Personally I like the latter the most...

    1. Agreed, and I think they are indeed working on it. I am also curious to see what the KDE artists bring to the table in the next few months, sounds very interesting. Having said so, from a design stand point, GNOME feels completely integrated and consistent, perhaps with the exception of icons, yes, but that's such an easy thing to modify. KDE, on the other hand, feels broken, part of the desktop being half-plasma, the other part looking like Windows 98, and then a bunch of plain awful things. I hope they really streamline their concept.