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Gnome 3.6 first impressions | Simply Beautiful!

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This time Gnome isn’t about the Shell. While Shell received significant changes, the rest modules of Gnome pull the attraction. Amazing things from the Gnome Team in this release. Congratulations boys ‘n’ girls of Gnome Team!

This is not going to be a review but just a quick look and my first impressions. We are going to review it in detail App by App, in the next days because the changes are endless :)

GDM and Lock Screen

The Curtain animation affects both Login and Lock Screens. It is pretty, but not ready yet. Pin Unlocker and many more things are missing from here. Giovanni Campagna, who works on it, gave us a short talk (we print tomorrow) about all the new features that we’ll see in here on next release of Gnome.

Curtain opens with mouse or Esc (and maybe with any key, I am not sure). The black spot like a dirt on the right of username, I don’t know if it is some bug, or art :)

Apps Overview

Search on the top-center, categories are still here, Overview Tab are removed and we get a new 9-dot App Launcher instead.  I think they are going to include some Zeitgeist functionality on here, but this doesn’t work at the moment.

I agree that is weird that you find the launcher so far from the “Activities” hot spot, and the bad thing is that you cannot move it as the normal apps (drug ‘n’ drop). That works perfect on Tablets, but not on Laptops.

But don’t get disappointed. There will be some hack (or extension) to move it on top, so it is not a big deal. Oh by the way, Gnome Shell theme has small but dozen improvements!


Both visual and under the hood changes. Amazing work on here. Notifications also work in Screen Lock, and we can enable / disable them from GCC. I will review this on detail with all changes, but Gnome team has made a nice job on this.

On chat is Salih a friend of mine who runs Uttapia Project, a collection of small apps for Ubuntu.

The improved GTK2 Look

This is how Gimp looks with the new improved Adwaita GTK2 theme. Firefox and Libre Office are two more popular Apps that are still on GTK2 and so they benefit from this. But it isn’t only about GTK2.

GTK3 ‘s default theme has also gain major improvements. But some community themes are better anyway in my opinion. In any case Adwaita 3.6 is by far the best default that Gnome ever had (imo).


The popular IM has extremely improved at least visually and has a better integration with Gnome Shell (and Gnome). I can’t really have a clear opinion about it as I haven’t used it a lot. However I have to confess, that every time I get disappointed from it and I switch back to Pidgin.


Maybe the most controversial module of Gnome 3.6. Nautilus missed lot of functionality (Compact and Tree Views, Extra Pane) and gain some other (improved search, clean solid interface).  Is Files 3.6 overall better than Files 3.4? I let this to you to judge. But I can say that is prettier. Much prettier. And for me that counts a lot. More than functionality.

More Beautiful Everywhere

This is the default black Adwaita. You can set it in all Apps. Unfortunately at the moment there isn’t an equivalent dark theme for GTK2. Gnome 3.6 is more beautiful in every single aspect. Everywhere. Because I am following most of the modules in Git, I can remember hundreds of small visual changes. For example Symbolic Icons is a big improvement.

Gnome Shell has many changes in effects, and Mutter also, like the new animation transition on closing the modal windows which is hard to explain, and I’ ll get a screencasting to show you.

Hundreds of changes in Gnome Apps

This is the new select background. There are many changes like that in lot of modules. Documents, Contacts, Clocks etc etc. That makes me say that in Gnome 3.6 Apps have gain more attention than Gnome Shell.

Some people taint to believe that Gnome is Gnome Shell, they even call Gnome, Gnome Shell. That’s wrong, Gnome Shell is just a small part of Gnome. Maybe one of the most important, but counting in lines of code, is pretty small.

Under the Hood

Except all these visible changes Gnome got and a lot of improvements in core. Many of the Gnome goals are implemented on this release cycle and thousand of bugs are closed. And of course thousands of new bugs will open but this is another story :)

Gnome 3.6 also feels faster. I cannot tell if it really is (coz I run it in SSD) but it certainly feels like that. Maybe the have change some animation delays or something. Another huge important thing that they begun in this release, is the documentation. They improve that section every day. That’s simply great!

My biggest complain in 3.6

Web 3.6. No Webkit2, no Clutter Effects, no new Design. They postponed again for the next release.  This is the second time on the row that they postpone it. And is the Web-Browser, the most important module in Gnome. Anyway :(

Gnome 4.0

Igalia’s people proposed a Gnome OS and Gnome 4 for 2014. Well I see that happens sooner, maybe in a year from now (in two releases). Actually I don’t really care if Gnome Foundation will release an independent Gnome Distribution but.. but I see huge improvements to arrive fast, GTK4, Wayland etc etc..

I am sure that the next year will be the year of Linux Desktop and Gnome will be again the leader ;)

Final Conclusion

Simply Beautiful :)

*Note: I tested Gnome 3.5.9 in Mageia 3 (aka Cauldron) ..amazing distro. Probably the best distro out there..

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  • pt3

    is it true Files (Nautilus) doesn’t remember your settings per folder, and you have to manually set it each time you view a folder

    • alex285

      If you mean “Arrange by”, yes it remembers it per folder.

      • pt3

        what about zoom level and view (icon ,list, compact)

        • alex285

          Compact has removed, list view is now global (from the top bar as it seems on the figure above). I just checked, it doesn’t keep the zoom setting. I hadn’t notice that. I don’t know if is a bug or it is normal behavior.

          • pt3

            so it doesn’t remember which folders use icons and which use details. A Russian Ubuntu website was claiming that these changes were going to be in 12.10. I was hoping it was a mis-translation

          • alex285

            I think that Quantal won’t use Nautilus 3.6 anyway. They going to drop it. At least, is what they said about a week ago.

          • pt3
          • alex285

            That’s cool, I have a Quantal in VBox, I ll try it ! Thanks for sharing!

          • pt3

            there are some serious window rendering bugs on vbox as they have dropped unity2d

          • alex285

            Its cause of XServer 1.13 I guess. I think Ubuntu has 1.13. VBox doesn’t support it yet.

          • alex285

            I just updated Ubuntu 12.10. They have Nautilus 3.4 but they have name it to Nautilus 3.90.real.3.4!

          • pt3

            yes there is a story on omgUbuntu that the latest package they are using 3.4

          • Chuck_N

            Windows term for bugs like that is “features”.

          • Sriram Ramkrishna

            you should try it again, I would still file a bug.

  • ST Alfas

    Is the things about Nautilus 3.6 are true?

    • Rodrigo Teixeira


  • Alby

    Gnome need new default icons :/

    • Aventinus

      True that!

    • AneDijitak

      Yeah.. GNOME 3.6 is beautiful.. until you see the default icon!

      • beautiful

        actually GNOME 3.6 is beautiful.. until you install it

  • Guest

    I’m a little bit confused about the good performance isn’t accessibility on by default in this release or it is nevertheless so fast?

    • ScionicSpectre

      From what I recall, the developers worked pretty hard to improve the performance of the accessibility features as to have a negligible impact on the experience. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t have flipped it on by default.

  • nick

    simply fugly bullshit and gnome won’t be “leader” again for sure and without ubuntu

  • Dave

    You keep talking about Megeia. I’ve never used it before but I think I’ll give it a try based on your writings. Thanks again!

  • pH7

    What’s the point to have a pretty but non-functional-any-more nautilus? Take a look on the Athena fork of Nautilus (on SolusOS) to see prettiness and functionality

    • impressed

      it’s simply beautiful and it has the most beautiful, clean and professional font, the awesome “gothbar” yet you can create folders!! menu bars are ugly, dated, and useless. application menu is much better and more beautiful and now the desktop gnormal again!
      ain’t it amazing!?

      simply beautiful!

      • impressed

        *and now the desktop it’s gnormal again!

      • M

        Beautiful not is equals to UX or Good Desing.

        Flash Web,Beautiful but ….

        • fagdora

          this is what gnomes think

    • Samuel Kobelkowsky

      Somehow the design ideas nowadays is to improve looks at the expense of functionality.

      Meanwhile, Nautilus is near uselesss. When Gnome 3 first appeared, full of bugs and design flops, one would expect improvements on 3.2, 3.4 and then 3.6 be again usable. But that has simply not happened…

  • AneDijitak

    “… Files 3.6… Much prettier. And for me that counts a lot. More than functionality.”

    • simplybeautiful

      yes of course, the prettier the better!

      • Mr. Pink

        Yep, 100% pretty 0% functional is the perfect ratio.

        • jon

          actually this shit is not even pretty

  • Arron Washington

    Looking at the progress of Gnome Shell increasingly makes me think that Unity is/was a mistake. I mean the velocity they currently have is incredible.

  • Martin Torres

    Any news from Evolution? Can read html emails correctly? has full webkit support?

    • alex285

      Yes Evo uses WebkitGTK. I’ll try to make a review on 3.5.90, but it is hard, coz I never used Evo in the past.

      • Martin Torres

        ok :) thanks

  • gnome
  • Devon Meunier

    Web-browser may ostensibly be the most important module, yet it’s also the least in that everyone is almost guaranteed to be using something else. (Firefox, Chrome et al)

  • TrollBeast

    “Much prettier. And for me that counts a lot. More than functionality.” Then GNOME is definitely the right choice of DE for you! With limited functionality by default, terrible animations and a team of developers that never listen to what their audience wants; Why stick with your silly “productive” and “Usable” Desktop when you could have GNOME!

    • alex285

      I am not trying to offend you or anything. But what do you do in your computer that it can’t be done with Gnome at the same speed? I spend many hours in PC, and I don’t have problems with Gnome. And of course I use extensions.
      Many devs (in Gnome and outside) use Gnome with 10-15 windows open. And they find it productive. There are complains, but which desktop is perfect?

      • TrollBeast

        You’re a moderator on a blog about GNOME -.- nothing I could say would ever make you think otherwise about it.

        • alex285

          A nice unfair comment :)

        • Sriram Ramkrishna

          Why don’t you try and find out?

    • Philip Witte

      Lol, I use Gnome specifically because it’s dynamic activity management and third party extensions make it the _most_ productive DE of any I’ve tried to date, including Win7/Win8, and MacOSX.

      On top of that, I love it’s look. I usually install a custom Shell theme and different Icons, but the Adwaita is great just as it is, and after the changes my system is beautiful.

  • ScionicSpectre

    Nice to the see the new modal dialog look- I always felt that, while the ‘sheets’ looked cool, they didn’t really resemble the rest of the interface.

    I was considering making a dark GTK 2 theme for Adwaita, but there’s no real mechanism to dynamically enable it so far as I know. This is about the same reason there’s no unfocused theming for GTK 2 applications. However, it’s better to focus efforts on porting applications to GTK 3 than backporting toolkit features.

  • 2eurocents

    You really need a proofreader, Mr. Author. Poor spelling and grammar – not pretty.

    • alex285

      ..or Google needs a better grammar checker :) Anyway I’ll be more cautious on that, sorry!

    • Sriram Ramkrishna

      Perhaps you’re looking to volunteer as an editor? :-)

  • Philip Witte

    Lookin Good!

    On a side note, I would love seeing a GnomeOS so long as it’s based on a rolling release distro like (and preferably) Arch Linux. It would be great to have an OS with a great software center AND rolling release software, and if Gnome can be the first to do that they’re really make waves I think.

  • nechus

    simply shittyful

  • henriavelabarbe

    Windowmaker rules ;-)

  • Adonis K. (Varemenos)

    Someone has to let the UX designers at the gnome headquarters know that the close/maximize/minimize buttons of adwaita are disturbingly ugly. Cheers at the well documented comment though

    • gnormal

      the only ugly in gnome
      the rest is beautiful

      • gnormal

        the only ugly thing in gnome
        the rest is simply beautiful

      • Adonis K. (Varemenos)

        beautiful but without functionality

        • gnormal

          alex diavatis (the author of this great article) said that it’s pretty and this is much more important than functionality and agree with him. who cares about functionality if you have the most beautiful desktop environment ever made?

          • alex285

            You -and many others- misinterpreted this. I simply consider that a clean, solid interface is more beautiful and more functional from a heavy one loaded with options.
            I could expand on that and start referring what other UI teams do; Android, Chrome OS, Windows, Tizen, Mac.. But then again you’ll say don’t compare them with Gnome. And if I jump to KDE paradigm ..anyway..

          • arch_is_awesome

            KDE is pretty! (And functional, very functional)

  • simon

    Beautiful??? To me the themeing is Amature at best… looks damn ugly AND lacks functionality out of the box.

  • lemmy

    haha Yeah, it is pretty damn Ugly… I don’t understand how anybody can think otherwise… now KDE on the other hand… now THAT is a professional Job when it comes to being “beautiful” and the themeing is consistent

  • gnome
  • JaviPas

    I wonder if you could explain how did you compile the source code. What distribution are you using? I tried to compile a previous version under Ubuntu and I finally surrendered because there were certain dependencies or missing libraries that I wasn’t able to install properly. Are you using JHBuild? Any tips?

    • alex285

      I refer on the bottom of the article that this is Mageia development release which has Gnome 3.5.90 on repos, and I give the link if you want to try it (however I had issues to install it). The most modules I compile it on Fedora 18 (on other posts) with auto-tools. It’s not easy :(

      • JaviPas

        Thx for your tips. I’ll try and see what happens ;)

        • alex285

          You can have it on Ubuntu 12.10 now, with Ricotz Testing PPA :)

          • JaviPas

            Great tip, thx alex285!

      • Sriram Ramkrishna

        It kind of sucks that we don’t have a way to generate live cds continually. That would be more inclusive.

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  • Banks Pappas

    totally going to sound naive in asking this, but perhaps the catalyst of my question is the root of why Linux has never caught on… can I run video editing programs and graphic design, say, like Adobe CS__ on Linux OS’s?

    • Banks Pappas

      or is GNOME even a LINUX thing, or is it just an open source desktop OS? Either way, my question still applies…

      • alex285

        Nop. You cannot run Adobe in Linux. Maybe with an emulator.

    • deep_dish

      No, but, Linux has some very powerful video editing apps of its own. Cinelerra, Avidemux, KDEnlive, Kino, LiVES to name some.
      To answer your question – yes, you can edit video on Linux and you can do it for free, but, you’ll need to know what you’re doing and may need to be willing to learn some new skills. If you want “double click, default install, use without thinking” software then stick to Win/OSX.

      • epic faildora shitty miracle

        actually he said software like Adobe CS , not like windows movie maker and mspaint

    • Sriram Ramkrishna

      Unfortunately, there is no professional grade video editing programs out there as of yet. You can run Adobe CS under wine and it should work fairly well. Alternatively, you can run a virtual machine like VirtualBox or KVM and run windows as a virtual machine and then run your apps that way. GNOME has one that will be released that will be functional (I haven’t tried it) called Boxes.

      I understand that a functional and professional grade video editing software called “Lightworks” is going to be released under Linux and that might work as well.

      Graphic design, you can use gimp, and one other tool that I can’t remember right now. But there are some out there.

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  • jsnj

    Today I was able to update shell to 3.5.9 in quantal. Have Wikipedia and Google been removed from the overview search? I googled for the answer to no avail so I’m wondering if anyone here knows. They aren’t present on my system in the overview and are also not in the search-providers folder. The only thing I have there is the gnome-contacts ini file. Is it just another feature removal and/or change from the developers? Anyone know?

    Also, re: the new nautilus. When opened as root, neither view settings(list) nor “show hidden files”(enabled) settings are remembered, unlike v3.4. That’s annoying.

    On the plus side, the nine dot app button to view apps in place of the tab text button is not really as inconvenient as I thought it would be. Not sure how the Journal extension will work though. Also, it’s easier to scroll down with the mouse at the bottom corner of the window scroll bar in maximized windows since the notification bar doesn’t popup as easily. I will no longer need the left/middle message tray or the no message tray text extensions.

  • deep_dish

    A grotesque UI for dumbed down users. I don’t how anyone can take it seriously, yet alone actually use it.

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  • Arwing

    Beautiful but useless and still suck.

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  • IulianGeorgescu

    I`m sorry, but after old gnome 2 every change in gnome 3 is a shit.
    Since day 1 till today gnome 3 is a pain in the ass to work with. And i don`t have to say that gnome 3 is the uglyest piece of UI.
    Unity had his rough road but it reached the light and is a nice and easy UI, no need to talk about XFCE or KDE witch no matter how many versions had behind they still look awesome, but not gnome.
    I agree with Linus, gnome desktop is dead and i`m happy to see that less and less people are using it.
    Who ever made this shit UI to see the light of our desktops is a god damn piece of shit.

  • Arsebiscuit

    Just awful. No wonder no one is using it (Ubuntu, Mint, Debian etc etc)

  • Matthias Van Gestel

    Unlike many others I do like gnome 3.6. I was a bit scared for the new nautilus, but the redesign is really stunning and functional too, though I kinda hate that the right click menu is so limited (but not something that I can’t overcome).
    Keep up the good work!