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GNOME 3.12 Debuts With Polish, Improvements Galore

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GNOME 3.12 has been released, and sees the modern open-source desktop environment build upon the firm foundations laid out in its previous versions. 

The first stable release since the release of 3.10 back in September 2013, the latest milestone comes without the groundbreaking Wayland support enabled by default as it originally wanted to include. Despite this, GNOME 3.12 still manages to pack in enough performance tweaks, interface adjustments and app upgrades to make it a notable upgrade.

It features 34,236 changes contributed by 1,140 developers and enthusiasts — impressive stats that are a testament to the community GNOME has behind them.

Changes & New Features

This release seems to be as much about polish as it is about shiny new things. Some serious UI refinement has gone on, with a number of apps having entire overhauls – Videos and Gedit being two notable examples.

The theme changes, along with the arrival of pop-over menus, add up to create a striking impression. This release, more so than any other before it, feels like a true modern desktop. The design is thought through and consistent among the default app; it looks good; and animations and feedback are timed to feel incredibly responsive.

The addition of app folder creation to the Activities Overview (the bit where you see your installed apps) finally fulfils one of my own personal bug bears (I like to be organised).

On the applications side, Facebook integration has arrived in the Photos application and both the Totem video player and Gedit text editor sport entirely revamped designs:

gedit

Music, the next-gen desktop audio player, gains playlist support; the option to view deleted notes arrives in Bijiben; while the initial setup wizard sports changes informed by user testing conducted by Intel.

In addition, three new ‘Preview’ apps (software considered stable enough for wider testing) are included:

Other key changes include the re-addition of a wired network indicator to the unified System Status Menu (introduced in the previous release) and informing users when an application has asked for access to their location.

Getting GNOME 3.12 on Ubuntu

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, due out in April, won’t ship with GNOME 3.12 but the previous stable release. It will be available as an optional (if unsupported) upgrade via a series of GNOME PPAs.  We’ll provide more information on how to use these, what the pitfalls are, etc. nearer the launch of Ubuntu 14.04.

If you can’t wait that long to go hands-on, you can grab a Fedora-based live image at the link below.

Download GNOME 3.12 Live .ISO