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Ubuntu 15.04 to Include GNOME 3.14, Updates to Default Apps

GNOME Weather & Maps in 3.14

GNOME Weather & Maps in 3.14

It may sound like a small update but it should have a big impact on the lives of developers and users alike: Ubuntu 15.04 will ship with GTK 3.14. 

Released with the rest of the GNOME stack back in September, the latest and greatest version of the desktop and underlying technologies missed out on inclusion in Ubuntu 14.10.

No doubt keen to avoid the confusing soup of GNOME stacks present in the Utopic Unicorn, which features bits of 3.8, 3.10 and 3.12, the Vivid Vervet will offer GTK 3.14 and ‘most, if not all’ of GNOME 3.14’s updated apps. 

Good News for All

“So what?”, you say. “I don’t use GNOME, I use Unity.” Well…

This news won’t only benefit the Ubuntu GNOME team, who have been hamstrung in their effort to offer the best GNOME experience on Ubuntu out of the box, but also those of you who use Unity.

Many times have I written about fantastic GTK apps or updates — like the well-crafted Twitter client Corebird and the new super-social GNOME Photos app — only to need to punctuate my copy with lines similar to: “It’ll run on Unity, but looks rubbish.”

Confirming Ubuntu’s intentions for GTK this cycle over on the Ubuntu Developer Mailing List, Canonical Software Engineer Sebastien Bacher writes:

“We do plan to update GTK yes, we have an updated package in the desktop team ppa under testing, but we noticed quite a few regressions & theming issues with the update and we want to get the most important ones resolved before upload.

We also plan to update GNOME applications when possible (we mostly need to patch the UI to not use header bars on Unity, which we already did for a few).”

There’s a few outstanding issues stopping 3.14 from landing, but a fix isn’t too far off.

What to Expect

Great news for developers, but also great news for you.

Firstly, all of the improvements in the newer GNOME 3.14 release will be yours to play with (give or take a couple of clicks) and, secondly, many default Ubuntu applications will finally be upgraded to their latest versions. 

For example, Totem video player gained a fantastic new UI and feature set in its 3.12 release, but Ubuntu has shipped with the older ‘classic’ 3.10 release in 14.10.

Other possible candidates will jump from:

  • Totem 3.10 -> 3.14
  • Rhythmbox 3.0 -> 3.1
  • Baobab 3.8 -> 3.14
  • Evince 3.10 -> 3.12
  • Gedit 3.10 -> 3.14
  • GNOME Terminal 3.12 -> 3.14

Theming and Header Bars

‘GNOME apps under Unity will no longer look like guests arriving to a dinner party in fancy dress’

The plan is for default apps to be patched to work as normal under Unity and its Global Menu applet.

Non-default and third-party applications that use the GTK Header Bar will finally be themed in Ubuntu’s default Ambiance theme. Any quirks or conflicts resulting in the use of Header Bars, GNOME menus and Ubuntu’s own global app menu applet will be left for the respective software developers to solve, not Ubuntu.

Still, on the upside this should mean that the delights of GNOME’s stunning first-party and community app set running on Unity, from Music to Maps, California to Corebird, should no longer look like guests arriving to a dapper dinner party in hastily constructed fancy dress.