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Gnome 2.8 – what\'s new and cool

By   |  November 29, 2004

Karl Fischer takes a walk through the latest version of Gnome, version 2.8, to illustrate a few of the best new features of this very popular desktop environment.

File management (Nautilus)
In the properties menu there is a new \”Open With\” tab where you can add and remove common applications you want to use with your files or file types.

The Open With Dialogue

Using Nautilus to Preview Movies and other Files

Even though the \”Network Browser\” is still a work in progress it integrates very nicely with the desktop.

Gnome also supports DNS-Based Service Discovery, this is known as Rendezvous by the Apple crowd, and discovers all the shares available on the network.

Browsing a network with Nautilus

By simply right clicking on a share and selecting \”connect\”, the share will automatically be mounted on your desktop.

Importing songs from a mounted Windows share opened in Rhythmbox

Here\’s my most used shares at work. They are labelled according to what they are. The Dropline Packages share is a FTP Server in the US somewhere.

Network shares on the desktop

Network Tools

Network Tools

It\’s very easy to look up something with the tools. What ports are open, can you ping the server ?
Hmm FTP is open on Tectonic ….

Which brings me to

Connecting to Servers
Connecting to servers is just as easy from your file manager (Nautilus) window. Click on \”File->Connect to Server\”.

Connecting to Tectonic (mind you my user name was wrong 😉 )

Adding an applet to the menu
Simply right-click on the panel and click \”Add to Panel\”. Each applet includes a description of what it does.

Adding an applet

Vino desktop sharing
Vino is remote desktop application built on VNC technology. You can share you desktop with other users.

Vino configuration screen

The wireless applet has been integrated into the network monitor in this version of Gnome.

Wireless properties with signal strength
By clicking \”configure\” it will bring up the following:

Network configuration

The network configuration applications are a component of the Gnome System Tools which are now stable and work very well. It supports Debian, Suse, RedHat, Mandrake, Gentoo and even Slackware (which I\’m using) as well as FreeBSD.

Tools in the suite include a Time Admin, Boot Admin, User Admin, Network Admin and a Services Admin.

Evolution 2.0
Evolution 2.0 is really a step up. Thank goodness a decent email client has been included. With the latest version of Gnome.

Evolution is not only an email client but also a very handy groupware client. It supports both Microsoft Exchange Server and Novell Groupwise.

Evolution with dialog

Evolution nicely integrates into the Desktop Calendar

Calendar integration even works when you are not in Evolution. My appointments and tasks are all in there. Even I use it

A few tasks and appointments

Removable Storage
A new a feature has been included under \”desktop preferences\”. This is extremely cool, because it works.

Removable storage options

I have a Nikon Digital Camera and a flash disk. I simply hook them up and viola they are mounted. If enabled, as soon as you hook up your digital camera , Gthumb will automatically import your photos.

Auto mounted removable storage devices

Another cool feature is HAL — the hardware abstraction layer. This is a HAL shot of my notebook

HAL device manager

What is HAL?
\”The goal of Project Utopia is to enable \”plug and play\” of a variety of external hardware devices on computers running Linux. \”Plug and play\” means that when a piece of hardware is attached to a computer, the computer identifies the hardware and responds appropriately without requiring user intervention. Responding appropriately may mean showing an icon on the desktop which allows the user to access the device (for devices such as external hard drives), or starting an application to support the device (for devices such as cameras), or simply starting to use the device (for devices such as keyboards).\” — Robert Love, Project Utopia

This is what makes the perfect partnership. HAL + GNOME = Auto-mounting of CDs, USB flash disks, digital cameras and other devices. Maybe in the future even toasters, fridges and lawn mowers 😉

GConf Editor

The GConf Editor

A lot of people have said to me that GConf is rubbish. But it\’s really like that registry program in Windows.
Gconf gives you the ability to add or remove stuff that you usually don\’t want a normal user to see. But unlike the Registry you have some idea of what you\’re doing

Having said all of this, perhaps one of the greatest limitations of Gnome 2.8 is the fact that it relies a lot on Kernel 2.6. This mainly because of HAL.

Otherwise the best reviewer of Gnome is you.
Use it. Don\’t use it.


One Response to “Gnome 2.8 – what\'s new and cool”

  1. Benico
    December 4th, 2004 @ 12:00 am

    How \”portable\” is evolution ? I\’ve tried to transfer it between 2 PC\’s and couldn\’t get it right. I use a removable harddisk @ work with rsync and cron to do backups every hour. At night I take this home and continue to work there – which must be portable to work the following morning again. Kmail & Kalendar works great – evolution ?????

    I\’ve found that moving email from one machine to another using evolution is relatively simple. But I have found that moving settings between two versions is not as reliable. – Ed

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