GNOME 3.2: big steps forward

I was busy with other things when 3.2 was released, hence my only writing about it now. Having just started using the new release full time, I have to say that I’m really impressed with how it turned out. The rate of progress since the 3.0 has been extremely high.

3.2 was an important release, in my opinion. There’s a ton of minor fixes and incremental improvements in there, as well as some bigger changes, such as the new login dialogs. Together, these changes make 3.2 feel like a really big improvement. It’s smoother, more robust, more attractive, and better integrated. 3.2 has set a very nice pace of improvement to the GNOME 3 core user experience.

Login Dialog

One area that has seen big improvements in 3.2 is GNOME 3’s messaging integration. From this release, messaging facilities are provided by GNOME 3 itself, rather than a specific application. This means that you don’t need to launch a chat application in order to receive instant messages, for example. This is really advantageous, considering how messaging is increasingly central to the user experience.

3.2 also introduces the first results of several exciting new initiatives that will become increasingly important in the future. The release marks the first step in the development of new GNOME 3 applications. 3.0 was largely about the core GNOME 3 user experience, including GNOME Shell and the new control center, but GNOME needs new applications too. The two new applications that are included in 3.2 – Documents and Contacts – are the first step in that process. These new applications will be further developed in the future, and there are already designs for other new GNOME 3 applications, such as Music and Photos.

GNOME Documents

Finally, 3.2 brings a new focus on online integration to GNOME 3. This is a really major development. 3.2 includes a new facility called GNOME Online Accounts, which allows a user’s online accounts to be accessed by different GNOME applications. GNOME Online Accounts will play a major part in all the new GNOME 3 applications, as you can see with Documents and Contacts, both of which will access data stored in the cloud (they handle local data equally well, I might add). Web applications are another important innovation in 3.2 that will make using the web an even more seamless part of GNOME 3.

GNOME Online Accounts

In all, then, 3.2 is a major release that takes the GNOME 3 user experience forward important ways. I think 3.2 shows how well the GNOME project is doing in pursuing its ambition to create a competitive, cutting edge user experience. The new features found in the release are also the result of many collaborations across our community, which is always good to see.

I’m already looking forward to 3.4.

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33 Responses to GNOME 3.2: big steps forward

  1. amol says:

    Thanks for such a nice introduction to 3.2, I have not tried yet. Waiting for Fedora 16 for that….

  2. Enrico says:

    Excellent work, thanks to Gnome team !

  3. Mark says:

    GNOME 3.2 is really great, I love it! The new features are great but what I noticed the most were the improvements in Adwaita, mutter and the shell over 3.0.

    “These new applications will be further developed in the future, and there are already designs for other new GNOME 3 applications, such as Music and Photos.”

    Are these public yet? I’d love to check it out.

  4. wow..the last screenshot made me dream…
    so i can access all my data (contacts calendar gmail) in gnome integrated apps?
    so the calendar read my google calendars? and contact are my gmail contacts? and all the other things?! so my gnome 3.2 box will be an extensions of my android phone and android tablets?!

    this is a dream i have made several times…πŸ™‚

  5. Tyler says:

    All right, now I’m getting an itch to try GNOME 3.x. I was happy with “classic” GNOME, but this mention of applications that can integrate information from online accounts is very appealing.

  6. mirek2 says:

    Wow, great update. I remember I tried the Shell when it first came out, and what discouraged me was the huge titlebar and toolbar (and the fact that it wouldn’t run on Ubuntu). I see that’s fixed now, and with Ubuntu 11.10 hot off the press, it looks like I’ll be using the Shell from now on.πŸ™‚

    One thing that still bothers me, though, is the hidden “Power off…” button. Since I always just close the lid of a laptop to suspend, a “Suspend” button is meaningless for me. But since there’s no hardware button for a regular “Power off” (and I need to power off regularly), a shown-by-default “Power off” button would be so much more useful for me. I know that a lot of other people feel the same way. (When one of my friends first used the Shell, he hated it, because he couldn’t shut down his computer.)

    It seems to me that the “Power off” problem has been ignored by the team behind the Shell — is there any way this issue could be brought back up and perhaps reasonably resolved? (Really, if you want a good usability story, you shouldn’t hide a vital system feature behind a shortcut key.)

    • d56 says:

      You can hold down alt in 3.0 to show the power off option, though I agree that was a terrible usability decision by them.

    • mirek2 says:

      P.S. I can’t seem to install the “Power off” extension in Gnome 3.2 — is there a newer version of this extension available somewhere?
      Thanks in advance.πŸ™‚

    • Allan says:

      The power off design has been discussed a lot this last cycle – it hasn’t been ignored. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some changes here next cycle. We’ll have to wait and see…

      • mirek2 says:

        Great — looking forward to it (if it happens). Tell me if there’s a place where I can trace the discussion and have some input.

        Two very unrelated questions:
        – Is UI goodness coming to GNOME Office too, or is that out of the GNOME team’s hands?
        – Is tabless Epiphany coming, or was that just a concept?
        Thanks.

    • Totally agree. Pressing the power button and closing the lid on my notebook both cause it to suspend, so suspend in the menu is useless. An option to power off immediately is *absolutely* needed, or GNOME should make the hardware power buttons default to power off.

      After searching around I learned about holding the Alt key too, but how is the average user supposed to know that? Right now I’m not going to install Fedora 16 on my mom’s PC because I can foresee the trouble when she can’t turn off the PC. GNOME 3.2 rocks, but I can’t comprehend how the designers missed this power off issue after 3.0 and even after 3.2

  7. bochecha says:

    I’ve been running Gnome 3.2 ever since I upgraded to Fedora 16 beta, and I love it. Kudos to the devs, and congrats Alan on the new job, which will hopefully give you even more time to rock with awesome designs.πŸ™‚

    One thing that bothers me though is the insanely huge font in GDM. The one in the top panel is fine, but the font used for the users’ names is twice or thrice bigger.

    It really jumps at my face every time I turn my computer on, making me feel uncomfortable (so I log in as soon as possible and everything feels good again :P)

    Is that font really that big by design?

  8. dinyar says:

    I’ve started using Fedora 16 aswell and am really enjoying Gnome 3.2 as well – I do have a few gripes about it though:
    1. I have a dual-head setup with my laptop as the second screen positioned to the right of my larger (main) screen.
    1.a. When starting the laptop screen is automatically chosen as primary screen and determined to be on the left hand side. I haven’t found a way to change this. (Ideally I’d like a solution that allows me to change this behaviour per monitor or something like that, as it does make sense to make the laptop the primary monitor for presentations, etc.)
    1.b. After having made the big screen primary (with xrandr –output HDMI2 –primary) notifications still show up on the laptop screen which makes them much less useful.
    1.c. Also having to go to the far right side with my mouse to access the notifications bar is annoying. I’m quite sure that the notifications bar was always on the primary monitor in Gnome 3.
    2. For some reason I am always set to be “away” after some time, regardless if I’m using the computer or not. This is most probably a bug, though.

    Has anyone else seen this behaviour/is annoyed by it? (I’m not sure if the above things are actually default behaviour or resulted from the upgrade from Fedora 15.)

    As I said: I’m really enjoying it so far, but those few things would be really nice to get rid of..

    • dinyar says:

      oh, I forgot another thing I might just not have understood correctly:

      In the new GDM no user is marked by default (even though my user is the only one showing up), so I need to mark it with the mouse instead of just pressing Return to enter my password.

      Am I missing some clever mechanism to make this work easier?

    • dinyar says:

      argh, I can’t seem to stop (sorry):

      The issue with the notification bar is doubly weird because when I klick on a “minimised” notification (like a missed chat message) then it is displayed on the primary screen instead of the one that the notification appeared which is imho the correct behaviour.

  9. Kim says:

    Is there anyway to autohide the top bar? Is there any way to customize what goes on it ? And the most important question of all, how do I remove the rounded edges of the top bar????

  10. grawok says:

    impressive update. Gnome 3 is definitively going the right way and i’ll stick to it. Thanks for this instructive review.

  11. senthil says:

    Hi guys, i found the way to show “power off” instead of “suspend” in gnome 3.2…
    goto “/usr/share/gnome-shell/js/ui/”
    open userMenu.js in gedit(or ur fav. editor ) as administrator. (To do that open terminal type “sudo gedit /usr/share/gnome-shell/js/ui/userMenu.js” without quotes and type in ur password)

    now goto line number 534 (this._haveSuspend = this._upClient.get_can_suspend();)
    just comment this line. (type “//” before that line without quotes)

    save it. logout and login again… boo aaaahh u got it…..

  12. Fantastic! Too bad that the general usability of Gnome 3.2 is far behind Gnome 2.3…I would prefer Gnome 2.3 usability with those bells and whistles. This would be perfect. Otherwise I am saying “no” for this.

  13. I’m seeing with skepticism all of this.

    I’m a KDE user and a convertible PC owner, and, as such, I crave for the tablet-friendly GNOME interface, but I won’t abandon my KDE data or programs. Are there mechanisms to integrate KDE and GNOME at the data level? (Akonadi + Nepomuk integration with GNOME)? Are they planned? Or is the migration between KMail – Evolution a one way process or an unsupported process (just like a Thunderbird – Windows Live Mail migration)?

    • Jack says:

      This is a two-way street. It’s not squarely on the shoulders of the GNOME team to provide this integration, but there is a long history of KDE developers putting in extra effort to be compatible with GNOME themes and applications/environments. The Nepomuk and Zeitgeist guys have been collaborating at the lower level, so I definitely thing they have some of this planned, but these aren’t show-stopper bugs that will get fixed in the immediate future.

      I would assume that you can export your KMail database and import it into Evolution, or otherwise, as these applications have been around for a very long time.

      https://live.gnome.org/Evolution/FAQ There is information here along those lines.

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