GNOME 2.12 Release Notes

1. What's New For Users

1.1. Desktop

1.1.1. Look and Feel

GNOME 2.12 introduces a new standard theme, also known as "ClearLooks", making your desktop more attractive while remaining simple and uncluttered.

Figure 1Attractive, friendly, simple: the new default theme.

1.1.2. The File Manager

The file manager, also known as Nautilus, has several user interface improvements in GNOME 2.12. Most noticeably, the list view can now show files in directories, allowing you to navigate down to a sub-folder and open a new folder window only when necessary. Also for your convenience, the Bookmarks menu now shows the same locations as the File Chooser dialog.

In GNOME 2.12, dragging text from an application to a folder window will save you time by creating a new text document. You'll also notice that GNOME now shows a preview of the text being dragged, instead of just an icon.

Figure 2Clean-cut and powerful: the Nautilus file manager

There are also major improvements to the browse mode, making it similar to GNOME's existing File Chooser dialog:

  • Places and Bookmarks may be displayed in a sidepane.
  • The location is now shown with the GNOME's path bar instead of a text entry. The text path is still available via the Control-L keyboard shortcut.

GNOME's simple CD-burning feature can now copy Audio CDs as well as data CDs. Just right-click on the CD after inserting it.

1.1.3. Clipboard

GNOME now remembers data that you copy, even when you close the window from which it was copied. This long-standing problem has finally been solved without the performance problems usually associated with clipboard daemons, by allowing applications to explicitly request the use of this feature.

1.1.4. The Panel

The panel, which you normally see at the top and bottom of the screen, allows you to start applications and control various aspects of your environment. In GNOME 2.12 vertical panels with menus are possible, thanks to the rotated menus.

You might also notice that applications may now flash their names in the Window List, to indicate that they are ready. For instance, an instant messenger application could flash its icon when a friend sends a message.

Figure 3The GNOME Panel

1.2. Applications

1.2.1. Video Player

GNOME's "Totem" video player, uses GNOME's GStreamer multimedia framework. In GNOME 2.12, the video player now has a playlist sidebar instead of a separate window, and supports DVD menus and subtitles.

Figure 4The video player

1.2.2. CD Ripping

GNOME's CD ripper easily extracts audio from CDs for later playback on your PC or portable music player. And now, you can play tracks before extracting them. This latest version can also extract files to networked servers or removable devices, using GNOME's VFS system.

Figure 5The audio extractor

1.2.3. Web Browser

GNOME's "Epiphany" web browser is based on Mozilla yet integrates fully with the GNOME desktop environment. Improvements in 2.12 include

  • A Find Bar, as seen in Firefox, and previously available as an Epiphany extension. This allows you to find text on the page, without hiding the page behind a dialog window.
  • Clearer error messages, shown directly in the browser.
  • Use of the standard GNOME printing system.
  • Bookmarks can be easily shared over the network.

Figure 6The web browser

1.2.4. Evolution

GNOME's integrated Email and Groupware client, Evolution, supports traditional mail setups as well as Novell Groupwise and Microsoft Exchange. With Evolution you can read, write, and manage your emails, contacts, and calendar events.

In GNOME 2.12 evolution now has an easier-to-use menu layout and an improved attachments bar, and allows inline PGP encryption and PGP signatures. In addition, the calendar now allows delegation of your meeting attendance.

Groupwise proxy and IMAP accounts are now supported, and some compatibility problems were solved for people also using Mozilla Thunderbird with IMAP.

Figure 7The email client

1.3. Control Center

1.3.1. About Me

GNOME now has a new About Me control panel in which you can enter your personal details, such as your telephone numbers, address, email address, and instant-messenger IDs, instead of repeating the information in several applications. You can also change your password here.

Figure 8About Me

1.3.2. Mouse Preferences

The Mouse Preferences control panel now allows you to change your cursor theme.

Figure 9Mouse Preferences

1.4. Utilities

The GNOME utilities have some improvements, such as:

1.4.1. Document Viewer

GNOME 2.12 has a new document viewer, also known as "Evince;" to replace the previously separate PDF and .ps document viewers. This new viewer is simpler and more convenient, with a useful search feature and the ability to show several pages at once.

Figure 10Document Viewer

1.4.2. Image Viewer

The GNOME image viewer can now show pictures with color correction, using ICC profiles.

Figure 11Image Viewer

1.4.3. Help Viewer

GNOME's Help Viewer, Yelp, now uses the same engine as Epiphany, the web browser. The look, feel, speed and stability of Yelp have been vastly improved.

Yelp also has improved support for locale specific formatting, allowing documentation to be rendered using language specific formatting rules, an excellent complement to the new documentation translation system, that allows translators to translate help documents as easily as applications.

Figure 12Help Viewer

1.4.4. Search

The GNOME search tool now shows image thumbnails instead of just generic icons.

Figure 13Search

1.4.5. Dictionary

The GNOME Dictionary now has a simplified user interface and presents the entries in an easier-to-read layout. You may now select the fonts used to show entries.

Figure 14Dictionary

1.5. Games

GNOME's games put extra fun in the desktop. The Mines game has some improvements in GNOME 2.12 - for instance, the first click is guaranteed to clear a useful number of squares so you don't have to blindly click and hope you don't hit a mine, and an explosion graphic is drawn when you set off a mine.

Figure 15Mines

2. What's New For Administrators

GNOME 2.12 has new features to make life easier for system administrators, including users who manage their own computers.

2.1. Improvements for Sabayon

As part of the work to support the Sabayon user profile manager, GNOME startup reads and touches fewer settings. Besides small performance gains, this means that GNOME 2.12 is easier to administer than ever, particularly in combination with Sabayon, which while not officially part of GNOME, makes setting up user profiles for GNOME very easy.

2.2. Menu Editor

GNOME's Applications menu now uses the freedesktop menu specification, so applications can be installed easily regardless of the desktop environment used. GNOME 2.12 has a simple tool for editing the menu and, because the infrastructure is standards compliant, other 3rd-party tools are becoming available.

Figure 16The Menu Editor

2.3. System Tools

The system tools allow you to configure your system clock and your network connection, as well as manage the users and groups on your system. At present, these system tools are most appropriate for single computers rather than large networks of computers.

GNOME 2.12 provides a new Services Administration tool, which allows you to choose which services will be started when the computer starts.

Figure 17The Services Administration tool

2.4. Log Viewer

The GNOME log viewer makes investigation easier by showing all logs in one tabbed window and allowing you to browse logs in a calendar. The new version navigator also helps when viewing archived logs.

Figure 18The Log Viewer

3. What's New For Developers

The GNOME 2.12 Development Platform provides a stable base for third-party software developers, and for the GNOME Desktop itself. GNOME 2.12 adds some user-visible and API improvements, while maintaining backwards compatibilty and API-stability. It also makes it easier to develop applications that run on Unix and Windows, and use important standards to interoperate with other desktops.

3.1. GTK+ Improvements

In GNOME 2.12, GTK+ 2.8 provides some interesting user-visible features, such as

  • GTK+ now uses the freedesktop Cairo drawing API, making custom widget drawing easier to implement and allowing new effects. In the near future, this should allow GNOME to use new graphics effects and take advantage of hardware acceleration, as well as improving our printing APIs.
  • Drag and drop handling has been improved and now previews blocks of text when you drag them.

In addition to these changes, which all GTK-based applications can use without recompilation, several new APIs have been added to make developement even easier. These include:

  • GtkFileChooser can now display a file-overwrite confirmation dialog when in save mode.
  • GtkWindow can have an urgency hint, instructing the window manager to, for instance, flash the window title.
  • GtkIconView now implements the GtkLayout interface, and can render items via GtkCellRendererCells.
  • GtkTextView now allows you to set a background color for parаgraphs, and you can now skip over invisible text when iterating.
  • GtkScrolledWindow has functions to get the scrollbars.
  • GtkMenu now supports vertical (rotated) menus, and it can ignore keyboard focus, for special applications such as the onscreen keyboard.
  • GtkEntryCompletion's popup menu may now be wider than the Entry, and the popup can be avoided when there is only a single match.
  • GtkAboutDialog's license text can now be wrapped.
  • GtkToolButton can now use named icons from icon themes, and these icons may also be used when dragging.
  • GtkSizeGroup can ignore hidden widgets.

See also the full list of the new API in GTK+ 2.8.

3.2. Cross-platform

The GTK+ library is already popular among developers who need to support multiple platforms, including Microsoft Windows as well as Linux and UNIX. For instance, artists may edit their images using GIMP and Inkscape on either Linux or Windows.

And now many more GNOME libraries, including ORBit2, libbonobo, libgnome, libbonoboui, libgnomeui and gnome-vfs, can build on Microsoft Windows, making it easier to build and distribute GNOME applications on that platform. While this support is not yet complete, it may be sufficient for some applications, and is expected to be complete in the next release of GTK+ and GNOME.

3.3. Standards Compliance

GNOME works closely with groups such as Standards support is a big plus for GNOME developers and users. Interoperability support improves the user experience by allowing GNOME, KDE, and other applications to work together more easily, and following open specifications helps ensure that user data is not trapped in proprietary formats.

GNOME developers are working hard with other members of the free software community through on the development of standards to allow interoperability. Those standards include: shared MIME database, icon themes, recent files, menus, desktop entries, thumbnail management, and the system tray specifications. In addition, GNOME supports CORBA, XML, Xdnd, EWMH, XEMBED, XSETTINGS, and XSMP.

4. Internationalization

Thanks to members of the worldwide GNOME Translation Project, under the leadership of Christian Rose and Danilo Šegan, GNOME 2.12 offers support for 43 languages (at least 80 percent of strings translated).

Supported languages:

  • Albanian (5 million speakers)
  • Brazilian Portuguese (175 million)
  • Bulgarian (9 million)
  • Catalan (7 million)
  • Chinese Simplified (over 1 billion)
  • Chinese Traditional (40 million)
  • Czech (11 million)
  • Danish (5.3 million)
  • Dutch (over 21 million)
  • English (341 million)
  • Finnish (over 5 million)
  • French (over 75 million)
  • Galician (3 million)
  • German (100 million)
  • Greek (15 million)
  • Gujarati (46 million)
  • Hindi (370 million)
  • Hungarian (14.5 million)
  • Indonesian (230 million)
  • Italian (60 million)
  • Japanese (over 125 million)
  • Korean (75 million)
  • Lithuanian (4 million)
  • Macedonian (2 million)
  • Malay (over 17 million)
  • Nepali (16 million)
  • Norwegian Bookmal (5 million)
  • Polish (44 million)
  • Portuguese (43 million)
  • Punjabi (60 million)
  • Romanian (26 million)
  • Russian (170 million)
  • Serbian (10 million)
  • Slovak (5 million)
  • Spanish (over 350 million)
  • Swedish (9 million)
  • Tamil (61 million)
  • Thai (20 million)
  • Turkish (150 million)
  • Ukrainian (50 million)
  • Vietnamese (68 million)
  • Welsh (575,000)
  • Xhosa (7 million)

Note that Galician, Estonian, Indonesian, Macedonian, Nepali, Slovak, Vietnamese, Thai, and Xhosa are new supported languages in GNOME 2.12, thanks to the hard work of their translators. Also worthy of mention is that British English and Canadian English are also supported.

Many other languages are partially supported, with more than half of their strings translated.

5. Installing GNOME 2.12

For GNOME 2.12 we have a LiveCD, available from The LiveCD allows you to try a full GNOME desktop on Linux without installing anything on your hard drive. This is the best way to see for yourself what's new.

For actual use, we recommend that you install official packages, such as those for your Linux distribution. Vendors are likely to package GNOME 2.12 relatively quickly, and to release new versions soon that include GNOME 2.12.

If you are brave and patient, and would like to build GNOME from source code to test the very latest versions and to provide feedback and improvements, we recommend a build tool such as the GARNOME utility, for building from released tarballs, and jhbuild, for building from CVS.

6. Known Issues

All software, when it is released, contains bugs the developers know about but have chosen, for a variety of reasons, not to fix before releasing. Free software is no different in this regard from proprietary software, except that with free software, we tell users about these problems.

We also encourage our users to report bugs so that they can be fixed. The best way to report bugs found in GNOME is to use the Simple Bug Guide. This will take you through the necessary steps to file a quality bug report, and make sure that it is tagged appropriately. If you're too advanced for anything with the word 'simple' in it, there is also the traditional bug form. More details on bugs already reported can be found at our Bugzilla. Among the most prominent GNOME 2.12 bugs:

6.1. List of known issues

  • The 'open terminal' action has been removed from the Nautilus right-click menu, in order to improve manageability and default usability. If you miss it, we recommend installing the Nautilus open-terminal plugin, which not only restores 'open terminal' to the nautilus menu, but actually makes it better by opening the terminal in the directory in which you are browsing.

7. Looking to GNOME 2.14 and Beyond

GNOME operates on a time-based release schedule, an attempt to continuously provide the best of our developers' efforts to users as quickly as we can. The following features are on the radar of GNOME developers and may land in the next few releases.

  • Support of the Apple Bonjour standard for detection of services on the network, potentially via Avahi.
  • Support of the caldav open calendar services standard in Evolution.
  • Use of Network Manager to give all network-aware apps intelligent behavior in the face of network connection and disconnection.
  • Consolidation of gtk and gnome libraries to ease development and deployment of GNOME applications, via Project Ridley.
  • Increased usage of new rendering infrastructure to improve looks and usability, for example, by integrating it with Clearlooks, our new default theme.
  • For further information, see the GNOME roadmap on our wiki.

8. Getting Involved

The core of GNOME's success is its many volunteers, both users and developers.

As a user, your contribution can be as simple as filing good bug reports. You can file bugs in our Bugzilla using the simple bug assistant. If you want to contribute more, you can join our active bug-squad.

For developers, there is much exciting progress to be made in any of our active developer groups - Accessibility, Documentation, Usability, Translation, Web, Testing, Graphics, and Desktop & Platform Development. Here is a guide to help you get started.

Helping on GNOME can be an incredibly satisfying experience, allowing you to meet a wide range of motivated, skilled, and helpful people all working towards a unified goal. Join us today and see what a difference you can make.

A. Credits

These release notes were assembled by Murray Cumming, Davyd Madeley, and the GNOME community.