Gnome 2.26: What to expect
Gnome fans are today looking forward to the release of Gnome 2.26, the latest release of the popular desktop environment. New Gnome releases are always worthy of attention, particularly as they become the face of popular distributions such as Ubuntu and Fedora in the following months, but as a long-time user of Gnome there does seem to be less to be excited about than ever before.
Sure, there are changes to the Gnome Media Player and some new icons and a little bit more polish, but it’s not the stuff that will have users falling over themselves to download a copy.
The positive take on that is that Gnome is mature, stable and reliable, which is an important benefit. KDE4 users, in particular, will no doubt attest to the real benefits of stability in a desktop environment. Initial releases of the KDE4 series were fraught with problems that meant many distributions and users simply stayed away and stuck with the older, and more stable, 3.5 releases. Having gone through the birthing pains, however, KDE4 is starting to look very enticing again.
But, while stability and maturity is good, as the Gnome 2.2x series progresses there seems less and less to get excited about. And, having run a Windows 7 beta release for a while now, Gnome is going to have to get users excited again because it is facing a new, slicker desktop opponent that will have users talking.
As far as changes in Gnome 2.26 go there are a few that add small benefits to desktop users. Among these are improvements in Gnome Media Player – which can now browse and play UPnP & DLNA protocols – and a plugin for the file manager which users can use to share files over WebDAV, HTTP, and Bluetooth. Both nice-to-haves.
One of the more noticeable changes to Gnome 2.26 is the inclusion of Brasero as the default CD/DVD burning tool, which replaces Gnome CD-Burner. Brasero is already included as the default Ubuntu CD burner. Although there have been users who have wondered why Brasero was included as the Ubuntu default the application is very capable and can be used to create audio, data and video projects and burn software images.
The other new change in Gnome 2.26 is with Evolution, the default Gnome email application. Evolution can now import Microsoft Outlook Personal Folders and support for Microsoft Exchange’s MAPI protocol which improves on the previous SOAP-based approach. Again, for corporate users this is an important step forward.
On the interface front there are a number of changes that will give Gnome 2.26 a little more polish. These include a dark widget theme, a flat widget theme, a compact widget theme for small screens and some nicer Gnome Panel icons.
All told, Gnome 2.26 is a solid release even if it’s not the most exciting release ever. Perhaps the Gnome 2.2x series is now nearing its logical peak and developers will need to shaking things up with a 3.0 release? Let’s hope so.