Facelift: The Linux desktop Gnome 43 reworked the file manager, ported the new terminal to GTK4 and administered quick settings in pill form.
Six months after the last release, the Gnome Project released a revised version of the Linux desktop, which serves as the standard interface for Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Debian and Fedora. The release of Gnome 43 is therefore also a preview of what Fedora Linux 37 and Ubuntu 22.10 will bring to the desktop in October 2022.
Gnome 43 delivers a redesigned system menu with quick settings in the top right corner. In addition to elliptical buttons, it has been given a new layout with useful shortcuts: WiFi networks, audio outputs and energy profiles have been moved to drop-down submenus in the pill-shaped buttons. Bluetooth, airplane mode and a dark color mode, activated or deactivated with one click.
Among the Gnome programs, the still young, simplified terminal replacement “Console” and the Gnome file manager have been updated to the GTK4 toolkit, with the file manager now being the flagship for the new toolkit and the libadwaita library. The division of the window adapts to its size, the sidebar hides automatically if the window is too small and the revised list mode allows a comfortable selection of objects with the mouse.
In the Gnome settings, a new item “Device Security” shows information about the firmware of the PC and detected internal devices. Firmware updates that manufacturers provide via the Linux Vendor Firmware Service (LVFS) should also allow users to update them using the established “fwudp” tool.
Gnome applications: additions instead of concertos
Unusual for Gnome: functionality and menu items have not fallen victim to any clean-up actions in the file manager and there are even additions. The current folder in the terminal can be opened via the address bar and the context menus of external data carriers offer the option of formatting the drive. The Gnome calendar application has already been ported to GTK4 and also has new functions in its luggage. In the style of the file manager, there is a sidebar for date selection and a display of the current appointments. The Gnome Character Map no longer passes emojis as Unicode characters, but as ligatures to improve compatibility with other applications and web-based services.
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Gnome 43 (5 images)
Pill Shaped Switch:
In the redesigned status menu, Gnome 43 drops a few buttons that only serve as shortcuts to more commonly used settings that were previously hidden deeper in menus.
Gnome’s own web browser, formerly known as “Epiphany”, can now handle Firefox Sync for synchronizing bookmarks and history, as well as some browser extensions. Not all cross-browser extensions, such as those supported by Firefox and Google Chrome or Chromium, work yet. The installation of add-ons in the XPI file format is therefore switched off by default for the time being. A Dconf change for Gnome Web via the command creates a remedy
gsettings set org.gnome.Epiphany.web:/org/gnome/epiphany/web/ enable-webextensions true.
Then the item “Extensions” will appear in the browser menu. There, a click on “Add” can include a downloaded XPI file as an add-on for testing purposes. Only when the API for web extensions has reached parity with Firefox will the Gnome developers show the menu item by default. Currently, however, the Gnome web browser is already useful for creating web-based apps in the style of native programs as a starter. Gnome Web then displays such web applications without a separate address bar.
Distributions: Gnome 43 to try
If you want to take a look at Gnome 43 now, the Gnome project will provide you with a minimal, installable system as an ISO file that is suitable for virtual machines. The screenshots posted here also come from this system. In the test using KVM virtualization, the official Gnome system required a VGA or Virtio graphics driver because full-fledged hardware support is missing.
Alternatively, you can try Gnome 43 with the beta version of Fedora Workstation 37, which is available as a live system and makes very few modifications to the desktop. Ubuntu 22.10, which is due to be released on October 20, 2022, is already available in a preview version and will contain parts of Gnome 43. Ubuntu again relies on a mix of components and its own Gnome extensions, which complement the desktop with the Ubuntu-typical dock. It is already foreseeable that Ubuntu will not adopt the new “Device Security” overview.