If you’ve been itching to hear some progress about System76’s new desktop environment, you’re in luck!
Developer Eduardo Flores went hands on with early development versions of several COSMIC components and written about his findings (with copious amount of screenshots) on his blog.
“System76’s objective is to create something that is faster, more customizable, and free of the limitations of the GNOME desktop environment, and let’s face it, we’re all curious as to how this desktop will look like,” Eduardo writes.
And hey: he’s not wrong!
Do keep in mind that everything you see in his (and this) post is at formative stage. Nothing shown is final, nothing shown is stable, and nothing shown is immune to change. Expect the final version of the Rust-based COSMIC desktop to differ (possibly majorly) from anything you see here.
With that public service announcement out of the way, let’s dive in!
Building a COSMIC Experience
Building an entirely new desktop environment from scratch is a colossal task. It’s not going to happen overnight or in one development cycle). System76’s engineers have to use the tech that available, which might mean not mean ditching GTK entirely (as some have inferred) but using it to fill in, round out, or otherwise compliment the rest of what they make.
As I think the famous saying goes: GNOME wasn’t built in a day.
Plus, we’ve been told that the Rust-based COSMIC desktop environment will look a lot like the current GNOME Shell-based COSMIC desktop environment. The layout and UX is expected to stay broadly the same.
Indeed, Eduardo notes that the new COSMIC Dock is largely identical to the one in current versions of Pop!_OS, as are the new COSMIC App Library, and the new Rust-based COSMIC Launcher you can see below. While it’s not a 1:1 clone of its incumbent GNOME counterpart, it’s very clearly trying to be the same thing:
And that’s not a bad thing.
Pop!_OS users like the way Pop!_OS looks and functions. The version of Pop!_OS you can download today didn’t arrive fully formed but matured over the course of several years based on feedback and research. It’d be foolish to chuck out everything they’ve learned “just” for difference’s sake.
Not that is clone-city, mind. The new Rust-based Settings app (below left) has more than a passing nod to the GNOME Settings app (right) it hopes to replace:
But you’ll notice there are, already, some major differences, including a new type of navigation key, and a global search button accessible in all pages of the app.
You can learn more (and build what’s available to try yourself) by following the info in the following Github repos:
Or by reading Eduardo’s ‘Exploring System76’s New Rust Based Desktop Environment‘ blog post.