Gnome 44 removes last remnants of GTK3

Exactly half a year after Gnome 43, the Gnome Foundation presented a new version of the free desktop environment. It was noticeable in this development cycle that many significant innovations came rather late: The alpha and beta versions were already out the door when the compositor “mother” and the gnome shell received a whole series of patches: the gnome Shell removes vestiges of GTK3. Gnome will now load the corresponding libraries for programs with this toolkit.

A drop-down list of known Bluetooth devices has been added to the menu for quick access in the notification area. It grants windowless background programs a new menu for overview. The compositor “mother”, responsible for the output of the Gnome desktop via the graphics driver, throws the support for OpenGL 2.1 overboard. This applies to older graphics chips and CPUs with an integrated graphics unit that were released before 2010 and do not support OpenGL ES 2.0.

Screenshot file manager with image preview

Screenshot file manager with image preview

The Gnome file manager now also provides image previews.

(Image: Screenshot/David Wolski)

These processors would not be suitable for Gnome 44 anyway, and the Gnome developers can now save themselves tests on this old x86 hardware. The release notes for Gnome 44 “FortyFour” present the most important changes from the point of view of the Gome team in detail. The desktop environment will serve as the primary interface for the forthcoming Fedora Linux 38 and will be at least partially included in Ubuntu 23.04, which is due out on April 21st.

Hardly any version of Gnome gets by without improvements for operation under Wayland – a permanent construction site of the Linux desktop. Gnome 44 now provides support for a piecemeal scaling of graphical elements with Wayland, which now also allows increments between 100 and 200 percent. This was possible before, but only via detours: Gnome used the compositor to implement an experimental function for enlarging the desktop elements in intermediate steps.

Ubuntu 22.10 already offered the “fractional scaling” option for this. Only the sizes jump to the next whole factor and Gnome itself then calculated the dimensions down again, which could lead to blurring and display errors in programs. The current solution uses the cleanly implemented Wayland protocol “wp-surface-scale-v1”, which is already available in KDE Plasma 5.27 and works pixel-precisely without interpolation.

SCreenshot Gnome notification area

SCreenshot Gnome notification area

The fold-out Gnome information area offers quick access to the list of Bluetooth devices that have already been registered.

(Image: Screenshot/David Wolski)

The Gnome Shell expands the recently introduced menus for shortcuts in the fold-out information area with a list of Bluetooth devices that have already been registered. A new menu here also grants a little more control over running applications in the background that don’t have their own program window. It also serves as a replacement for the application indicators that Gnome hasn’t had for a while, or were only visible through an unofficial extension. There’s a revamped Accessibility section in Settings, where the growing number of options are no longer lined up in one long menu. He got his own category.

A change that also affects file selection dialogs affects the file manager from Gnome 44: An image preview for known graphic formats is now also available in the file browser. If you prefer a small-scale view, you can get an expandable tree view in the file manager settings with the “Expandable folders in list view” option, which should save many mouse clicks. In interaction with the clipboard of the Gnome Shell, the file manager has learned a new trick: image data in the clipboard can be written directly to a graphic file in PNG format by right-clicking in a writable folder via the “Paste” item.

Gnome Web, which wants to conquer a niche as a leaner, expandable web browser, has also made visible progress. The developers have separated the processes for rendering websites and displaying them in the window, promising particularly smooth scrolling.

The developer’s live system can currently be used to try out the new Gnome desktop, but it is not intended for productive use. The Fedora Linux 38 Beta already shows Gnome, which is available here in the pre-release version Gnome 44RC and from which the screenshots shown here originate.


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