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Gnome 2.26: What to expect

By   |  March 18, 2009

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.

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8 Responses to “Gnome 2.26: What to expect”

  1. F Wolff
    March 18th, 2009 @ 11:58 am

    The Afrikaans translation team made lots of progress with the Afrikaans interface translations for GNOME 2.26. The following page gives a nice summary of the progress in 2.26 compared to previous releases:

    There was big progress on Evince, GNOME-applets, as well as Evolution, although Evolution still has some work left. A few smaller programs were also updated or translated for the first time.

    Anybody interested in helping out with Afrikaans or other South African languages should get involved in the mailing lists at for their language. The new translation infrastructure at GNOME makes it easy and a joy to contribute.

  2. Ronald
    March 18th, 2009 @ 2:38 pm

    One thing that leaves me cold about Gnome is the dogged refusal to regionalize the date format. The desktop sticks with the crazy American ‘mdy’ format. What is more amazing is that I don’t see any major postings about that. At least KDE follows the regional settings, which in my instance is ‘dmy’.

  3. Chris
    March 18th, 2009 @ 11:42 pm


    The ‘mdy’ format is only crazy if your from one of those ‘other’ crazy countries 😉

  4. bosco
    March 19th, 2009 @ 1:17 am

    “crazy American ‘mdy’ format”


  5. chukaman
    March 19th, 2009 @ 9:30 am

    i was an almost 100% loyal kde user until kde4. not sure what they thought they were doing with it, but it’s really put me off kde. what a relief that i get to use my mac the majority of the time. that said, i’m liking gnome more and more. i also quite liked lxde (or something like that), as it was nice and light but still fairly good looking.

  6. Dwayne Bailey
    March 19th, 2009 @ 12:18 pm


    Are you actually running in something like en_GB or en_ZA? If you are in en_US, well then 9/11 to you :)

    GNOME does embed some date formatting in translations but then it would be worth making an en_ZA localisation to correct these.

  7. F Wolff
    March 19th, 2009 @ 12:24 pm

    @Ronald: I don’t think they refuse to change the date format. You are probably running your software in a locale where the date format is specified to be that way. What locale are you using (you can see on a terminal with the ‘locale’ command)? If it isn’t en-US, it might just be that some piece of software has its own date formatting that is not defined for the locale you are running. I can help you get started by finding out why it is displayed that way, and how to configure things. If it is indeed an error, I can help you to report the issue to GNOME, or to fix it ourselves for yourself and other users.

    The volunteers associated with will help you with any other issues you might have related to localised features. Join the group improving the software for South Africans. We thank lots of volunteers for GNOME and other Free software. It is easy and fun to contribute in a way that you have knowledge of (even if just South African date formats :-)

  8. Ronald
    March 19th, 2009 @ 1:55 pm

    Thanks for the useful comments, Wolff. I customized all and any localization that was available. Does the time on the panel applet (or for that matter, tool tip) on your computer display the correct format? If so, I am certainly interested in taking you up on your offer. And yes, I will certainly consider joining the group.

    Wayne, I hope you read my response to Wolff–no 9/11…

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