Nautilus 3.18.4 in Ubuntu 16.04 Alpha 2

Hold the front pages: Ubuntu 16.04 LTS won’t ship with the latest Nautilus 3.18 as originally intended.

I know: hardly ‘Shiny new Ubuntu tablet‘ levels of news, right?

But the choice of file manager in Ubuntu is important. It’s an app many of us interact with multiple times a day.

So what’s the issue?

Each update to GNOME, somewhat controversially, sees a bunch of old features and options reduced, retired or removed from its core apps. GNOME’s designers and usability folks strive to create a streamlined, simple and modern desktop OS — and you can’t push forward when you’re wading through a decade’s worth of cruft.

It’s a noble goal. It’s hard to argue with the intent.

But at the same time it can be a mite frustrating for users to find a feature present in one version, but stripped out entirely in the next.

Nautilus in GNOME 3.18, and to some degree GNOME 3.16, has been as well received as Madonna arriving late to her own concert — i.e., not very well.

Nautilus has introduced a broad set of changes to its appearance and usability over the past year, including a new file copy dialog, a new ‘other locations’ section, but also new bugs, like crazy default zoom level settings and inconsistent new window spawning,

Suffice to say it’s a mix that hasn’t gone down too well with upstream users. GNOME devs hope to quell concerns with Nautilus 3.20, coming in a few months.

The decision to ship an older version in 16.04 means, sadly, that anyone the feature changes introduced as part of the GNOME 3.18 update will, for now, have to wait a little longer.

Ubuntu’s Sebastien Bacher explains the decision further on Launchpad:

“The new version is going to need more work  which is not going to be done this cycle (some issues/regressions are being handled upstream in 3.20 but we can do that update with our GTK version, also the new copy dialog is a bit much of a change and upstream confirms it’s creating problems that they try to address with more UI changes.”

Equally as critical as the, er, user criticism, it’s not proving easy to hack back in proper menu bar support.

With Ubuntu 16.04 an LTS release the decision (wisely) is to revert back to the older, more reliable Nautilus 3.14.3 for now.

The change is waiting in the Xenial Proposed queue. It should roll out to all Ubuntu 16.04 builds in the coming days.

nautilus with menu bar on show
Nautilus 3.14.3 in Ubuntu 16.04 Alpha 2
Dev News nautilus Xenial Xerus