Gnome Comes Back to Ubuntu, a GNOMEbuntu Flavor Planned for the Next Release

Gnome is not in as bad a shape as we thought earlier. Recently, there have been talks of Ubuntu considering a Gnome only edition, like we have Kubuntu or Xubuntu. There is no evidence for this news, but it seems apparent from this Ubuntu forum thread. From what started as a simple question, the thread attracted lots of interested people, developers came together and pretty soon, they were found discussing names for this distro. A true community indeed! there is no fix on the name yet, and the name GNOMEbuntu was dropped recently, as the Gnome Foundation does not permit this naming scheme. The last choice is between GNObuntu and Gnubuntu.

gnome_logoPCWorld discusses the software package for this new distro, saying,

Along with Compiz, the new GNOME Ubuntu will reportedly use the Rhythmbox music player as well as the Epiphany browser, Evolution for e-mail and workgroup functions, the Abiword word processor, and the Gnumeric spreadsheet package. Neither Firefox nor LibreOffice will be preinstalled, according to the report.

While on one hand, Canonical is touting Unity, this community effort brings back Gnome, an environment that most Ubuntu users are familiar with. Nonetheless, the customization offered by Gnome is miles ahead of Unity, and this is something Unity will not be able to match for some days. The development team for ubuntu Gnome edition is already in place, and there are seven members already working on this. The next challenge for GNOMEbuntu was to join the official distro party at Canonical and it has made it! If everything goes well from here, we will definitely see a Gnome version of ubuntu 12.10, due to release in October.

Linux Mint Team Releases the First Stable Version of Cinnamon

Linux Mint has been trying to move away from Gnome 3 and did not even consider Unity as an option, when it comes to the desktop environment. About a month ago, we came to know that Clement Lefebvre at Linux Mint is trying to create a custom desktop environment for Linux Mint, called Cinnamon. The latest word is that the first version of Cinnamon has been released officially.

Linux Mint has made earlier attempts at a decent desktop environment by improving on Gnome 3. They created Mint Gnome Shell Extension (MGSE), and it was shipped with Linux Mint 12. However, Clement was not satisfied with MGSE, and wrote on the Linux Mint forum saying:

I am not going to argue whether Gnome Shell is a good or a bad desktop. It’s just not what we’re looking for. The user experience the Gnome team is trying to create isn’t the one we’re interested in providing to our users. There are core features and components we absolutely need, and because they are not there in Gnome Shell, we had to add them using extensions with MGSE.

Thus came Cinnamon version 1.2, the first stable release on Cinnamon. With this release of Cinnamon, the API and the desktop are fully stable. However, it is not the only product that the Mint team has in plan. They want to build a complete desktop-environment ecosystem with themes, applets, extensions, user ratings and comments.

Now that Cinnamon is out, it is definite that this will be the default desktop environment on Linux Mint 13. Linux Mint has overtaken Ubuntu as the most popular Linux distro, and the war is clearly between these two Debian flavors. With further development, we will see a tough competition between the HUD enabled Unity and the feature rich Cinnamon.

Linux Mint Aims to Take Gnome Beyond MGSE, Planning a New Desktop Environment Called Calls Cinnamon

Nowadays, it is a well known fact that everyone in the Linux world is parting ways with Gnome 3. Even Canonical has preferred Unity to Gnome 3 for the last two Ubuntu releases, believing its users will master the steep learning curve of Unity. Linus Torvalds himself has given up on Gnome 3 and clearly, Gnome 3 is not the desktop environment of the future. To clear this desktop environment confusion and save the world, Clement ClemLefebvre from the Linux Mint project has decided to create a usable Gnome Shell called Cinnamon.

Linux Mint 11 shipped with Gnome 2. However, this time, Linux Mint 12 featured Mint Gnome Shell Extensions (MGSE), which was the first step away from Gnome for Mint. Although MGSE used an underlying layer of Gnome 3, it was skinned heavily with extensions. MGSE was received well as it makes the desktop much more usable.

Clem writes on the Linux Mint forum saying,

I am not going to argue whether Gnome Shell is a good or a bad desktop. It’s just not what we’re looking for. The user experience the Gnome team is trying to create isn’t the one we’re interested in providing to our users. There are core features and components we absolutely need, and because they are not there in Gnome Shell, we had to add them using extensions with MGSE.

Cinnamon is still in alpha stage, but it carries the features that we saw in MGSE. It is based on the Gnome shell 3.2.1 and with Cinnamon, Linux Mint will bring something that competes with modern desktop environments like Unity, without compromising on usability. If everything goes well, Cinnamon will make its first appearance on Linux Mint 13.

GNOME Continues Growing Up; 3.2 Released and Ready

If you’re a casual Linux user, you’re likely to be sporting either KDE or Gnome when it comes to the desktop environment. Gnome has become the popular DE to wrap into a distribution, especially since Ubuntu has decided to forge ahead with Unity (based on Gnome Shell) in future releases.

The GNOME project has packaged and prepared their latest version, 3.2 — which is based on a 6 month release cycle. Good or bad, every 6 months there will be a version freeze and a new release of code will be shipped. Today is that day. GNOME 3.2 brings along a plethora of bug-fixes, feature additions and overall user experience enhancements.

The release highlights include;

  • It is now easier to resize a window as the area for this has been increased.
  • System Settings now includes links to related settings found in other locations. For instance, the Keyboard section now has a link to the keyboard layout.
  • Titlebars, buttons, and other controls are less tall, making it easier to use GNOME on small screens.
  • Notifications in the lower-right corner now include a counter. This makes it easier to see how many emails are waiting for you without having to open your email program, or to determine how many messages you have missed in a particular chat.
  • The highlight effect that indicates that an application is already running has been made more obvious.
  • In the user menu, notifications can be configured independently from the chat status.
  • The workspace switcher in the overview remains expanded by keeping its full width displayed when you are using more than one workspace.
  • Instead of assuming Evolution, the application for the calendar drop-down can now be customized.
  • The battery power status is now shown using a bar.
  • Focus-follows-mouse handling has improved, though more work is needed.

New applications are also bundled in the packages. The Accounts application includes support for the cloud and can sync your Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Chat and Documents.

Speaking of Documents, there is also a completely new application that provides quick and easy access to all locally and remote documents. Finding, editing and saving remote documents will be a cinch with Google Docs support built right in.

As usual, the GNOME team is looking at the future of computing, they’ve enhanced and reduced user interactions to complete tasks, they’ve integrated social features and have even added a brand new on-screen keyboard in the event that this whole Post-PC drivel comes to fruition.

As usual, the Release Notes are in the GNOME Library and provide a comprehensive look at the subtle changes that have been incorporated. Look for your favourite distribution to polish, package and push GNOME 3.2 once the repository maintainers vet the source and make their branding modifications.

New website launched for GNOME 3 Desktop

A new website dedicated for the much awaited GNOME 3 desktop was launched today by the GNOME project.


The website, GNOME 3 , with the same name as the Desktop Environment of that version, currently just lists the features that the users will experience once GNOME 3 is officially released. GNOME 3 Overview 1

  • Some enticing features mentioned on the site are :
  • A beautiful , sleek new design for an improved look and feel.
  • Built-in Messaging system to make instant messaging quick and effortless
  • Re-designed System Settings which grants more control to the user
  • An improved file manager
  • Dark Application Themes for when you want to focus on pictures and videos
  • Ability to use Flickr images as Desktop backgrounds

GNOME 3 Overview 2Eventually, the developers plan to make all the GNOME 3 releases , which are scheduled from April 2011, through this website. Till then, they have a Try It page where you should be able to download a Live USB image soon. For the geeks, the Try It page contains a link to instructions for manually building the Gnome 3 Shell.

The FAQ section answers some basic questions that current users of GNOME 2 may have about GNOME 3’s plans , roadmaps, compatibility with older applications, links to get involved, etc.

The mockups, screenshots and the claims by the GNOME developers ,do look promising. We’ll be watching this space to see whether GNOME 3 delivers on it’s promises.

Next Ubuntu Release to have Qt Applications

Ubuntu‘s founder and CEO of Canonical Ltd., Mark Shuttleworth, declares the probability of including Qt applications in the release after the next (Ubuntu 11.10), of the popular Ubuntu distribution, which is based on the Gtk toolkit.

“As part of our planning for Natty+1, we’ll need to find some space on the CD for Qt libraries, and we will evaluate applications developed with Qt for inclusion on the CD and default install of Ubuntu.”

Ubuntu  logo
Gtk and Qt have traditionally been “rival” toolkits for the GNOME and KDE desktops respectively. Choosing either of the sides in any self-respecting Linux forum, is considered a sure-shot way to start a flame war. However, Mark Shuttleworth, as always, decides to wade through uncharted waters in proclaiming the co-existence of Gtk as well as Qt applications in a production, mainstream and popular OS like Ubuntu, notwithstanding the fact that there exists seperate distributions for each Desktop environment, viz. GNOME and KDE (Kubuntu)

In his blog, Mark explains his controversial decision by pointing out that Canonical is dedicated to providing best-in-class software to it’s users and to this effect, a “capable toolkit” like Qt could certainly be looked upon as a “divergence from the canonical way to maintain a vibrant ecosystem”.

Qt logo
Apart from aspects like sociological backlashes, Mark and his team of developers will also have to face some pretty daunting technical issues. For example, Qt-based applications will have to talk to GNOME’s dconf configuration system to have a seamless integration with the GNOME Desktop. Although projects like the GTK-QT Engine are already out there, their credibility of being more than “hacks” is yet to be verified for their inclusion in a mass-deployed project like Ubuntu.

Is the Gtk-Qt marriage possible ? And if this does turn out to be a successful venture, will Ubuntu see other toolkits and libraries like Enlightenment, being included in future releases ? With so many changes to Ubuntu, can Canonical manage to uphold Ubuntu’s status as one of the most popular Linux Operating Systems ?

Do let us know what you think ?

Compiz To Live On With Unity

When GNOME 3 was announced, a redesign of the desktop was proposed. It was decided that the traditional panel based desktop will be replaced by a new user interface called the GNOME Shell.

GNOME Shell is a whole new take on the concept of the desktop and Compiz, one of the most amazing Windows managers (at least in terms of eye candy), had no place in GNOME Shell. KDE SC too already have their own windows manager, KWin, to provide most of the bling that Compiz provided. It seemed that Compiz was doomed to become “a project without a cause”.

Well, Mark Shuttleworth made an announcement which ensures that Compiz will live on. In the Ubuntu Developer Summit – Natty, while announcing that Ubuntu 11.04 Desktop will come with the Unity interface, he also announced that Unity in Ubuntu 11.04 will use Compiz.

Currently, Unity is available in Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10. It is based on Mutter, the same technology which GNOME Shell uses. Unity in UNE 10.10 is heavily criticized for a lot of things –  from being too confusing to being slow. According to Canonical, Unity’s slowness is because of Mutter and Mutter is not capable of providing a good enough performance. So, for the next release they will replace mutter with Compiz.

It is good to know that Compiz finally has a proper backing. Although, I have never been a fan of Compiz, it is one of those things which attracts a lot of people to Linux.


GNOME 3.0 Will Feature A New User Guide

The Gnome Team is very enthusiastic about the new Gnome 3.0 help. This help is being created by the Gnome Documentation team and they are using Mallard to rewrite the complete help for Gnome. Included in this reform are some Gnome applications as well.


The use of Mallard will render a better quality help system for Gnome 3.0.

Mallard is a markup language that makes it easier for you to provide better user help for your software. Mallard documents are  topic-oriented: They provide information in small chunks that match your users’ needs without forcing them to read lengthy manuals.

The earlier help files were created using a Docbook XML but Mallad here is a new XML language and will need some quick learning for the documentation writers.

The goal of this rewrite is to get users to the topic they are looking for instantly. The applications included in this rewrite list are  Banshee,  Brasero,  Cheese,  F-Spot,  gLabels,  Rhythmbox and  Tomboy.

The Documentation team is also offering help on using Mallard if you want to contribute to the new Gnome Help.

A new user guide will simply help newbies in Getting Things Gnome!
(Via: Paul Cutler’s Blog)

GNOME Shell System Status Area Mockup

The next incarnation of GNOME Desktop Environment, GNOME 3, is creating a lot of buzz everywhere. Many are already counting on GNOME Shell, that will come with GNOME 3, to revloutionize their desktop experience.

Currently, GNOME Shell is at an active development stage and is not considered stable for normal use. The GNOME developers have come up with a amazing mockup for the System Status Area. The mockup is based on the color black, which is going to be the default color of GNOME Shell. The borders have been made grey and the icon design are simplified to make them easier to recognize.

So, here is the mockup:

[via rm -rf/]

How To Install OpenOffice 3.2 in Ubuntu 9.10

OpenOffice 3.2 has been out for about a month now. It has various improvements over the previous version like faster startup time, support for open standards like ODF and better compatibility with Microsoft Office 2007.

Although it has been out for more than a month, it is still not (and probably never be) available in the official repository for Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala. As makes the source available at the time of the release, it is possible to install it using the source right at the time of release in Ubuntu Karmic as well. However, installing from source cannot exactly be called user friendly and you will not get updates if you installed from the source. So, even if you had installed it from source earlier, it is recommended that you install it with this method.

The Scribblers team in Launchpad has however packaged and put up OpenOffice 3.2 in their PPA. So, to install OpenOffice 3.2 in Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala, follow these steps:

  • Open Terminal/Konsole.
  • Add the PPA using the command:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:openoffice-pkgs/ppa

  • Update the software list with the command:

sudo apt-get update

  • If you have installed OpenOffice 3.2 from source, remove it with the command:

sudo apt-get remove openoffice*

  • Now, install OpenOffice with the command:

sudo apt-get install

  • If you have GNOME, run the command:

sudo apt-get install

  • If you have KDE SC, run

sudo apt-get install openoffice-kab

Now that the installation is done. You can find OpenOffice under Applications -> Office in GNOME. In KDE SC, you will find it under KickOff -> Applications -> Office.

OpenOffice location in GNOME Menu
OpenOffice in KDE SC's KickOff Menu