When System76 announced plans to create its own desktop environment I’ll admit I did wonder if they could pull it off.

It’s not that I doubt the company’s software development prowess or engineering nous (the stellar success of Pop!_OS with its homegrown embellishments prove they’re capable). It’s more that desktop environments are beastly, sprawling, labyrinthine affairs.

But judging by the progress they’re making thus far, it seems there’s little for me to worry about!

COSMIC as of May 2023 (image: System76)

In a spring update on their blog, System76 share a set of screenshots that show the Rust-based roots of their wannabe workspace are already blooming nicely.

We were assured by the company that the core desktop layout in Pop!_OS — panel at the top, dock at the bottom — wouldn’t be changing. So I’m not surprised to see a full-width COSMIC panel stripped across the top to house COSMIC applets, and wide dock at the bottom accommodating app shortcuts.

However, customisation isn’t something I thought would be catered for from the off.

So I am surprised to see COSMIC Panel is already capable of alternative arrangements, with panels and docks able to sit in different locations, float, stack, and use different lengths, etc.

One panel, many appearances.

Other work taking place includes support for 10-bit color, working towards HDR support (alongside the rest of the Linux desktop space), and furnishing the new COSMIC Settings app with additional panels.

In the same vein as the desktop, System76 is making its config hub modular from the start so that developers are able to add and remove settings pages easily. This presents a galaxy of opportunities that I’m keen to see play out.

In all, exciting stuff!

cosmic pop os rust system76