The creators of the GNOME have released a significant upgrade to their desktop environment for Linux. This upgrade comes with several new applications and an accompanying mobile platform based on the GNOME desktop.
GNOME is the default for many popular Linux distros, and the latest version will be included in upcoming versions of Ubuntu, Fedora and many other Linux distributions. The basic idea behind GNOME (and competitor KDE) is to provide a unified interface for common apps — a file browser, multimedia tools and productivity apps.
The latest release brings GNOME to version 2.24 and includes some new apps like the Empathy, an instant messaging client which promises tighter integration with the GNOME desktop and a smoother IM experience on Linux.
Although it’s a relatively minor feature, longtime GNOME fans will be happy to note that the latest release adds the much-requested support for tabbed windows in the Nautilus file browser (we’d still like to see a “column view” option as well, but at least now you have tabs).
Other minor but welcome new features include a task manager/to do list applet for the GNOME panel, additional screen resolution tools for those with multiple monitors, and support for high-resolution YouTube videos in the GNOME Movie Player app.
Taking a tip from OS X’s Spotlight search tool, GNOME’s own Deskbar search app can now perform calculator operations, search Google, update Twitter and more. There’s also a new, easier way to install plugins directly from the online Deskbar repository.
The other major part of today’s announcement is the release of GNOME mobile, which provides a desktop environment and development framework for Linux mobile devices. While Apple and Google may be grabbing mobile headlines at the moment, Ubuntu Mobile and others are hard at work trying to bring Linux to a phone near you.
The GNOME mobile stack should make that process somewhat easier with its pre-built tools like the GTK+ toolset and frameworks for writing apps in C, C++ and Python.
At the moment, however, GNOME is probably best known as a desktop enviroment for Linux and the latest release is definitely worth the upgrade. If you’d like to install it now, check your distro’s repositories to see if an update is available. If not you can grab the live CD from the GNOME downloads page. Or, if you can stand to wait a few weeks, both Ubuntu and Fedora will be releasing GNOME 2.24-based updates in October.