The Gnome project announced the release of version 3.12 yesterday which is a major release. Unfortunately, unlike KDE, the release is not yet available for Ubuntu, Arch Linux or openSUSE. Only way to get it is by using Fedora which, in my opinion, has really become extremely stable – except for the extremely confusing partition manager. If you want to install Gnome 3.12 on your Fedora box, you can safely use a repository created by Red Hat developer Richard Hughes. Check out instructions here.
My history with Gnome & Ubuntu
I have been a Gnome user since 2005 when I ditched Windows and started using GNU/Linux. However, things changed when Ubuntu (the OS that I was using then) chose to drop Gnome and create their own Unity. There was no safe way to use Gnome without breaking things, so I dropped Gnome and tried Unity for two releases and realized it’s not the GNU/Linux that I got fond of. The control had moved out of my hands, it was a very rigid system which could not be customized to an individual’s needs. So I started looking for an alternative and settled with openSUSE with KDE. I was really impressed with openSUSE as it was extremely easy to install KDE and Gnome side-by-side without breaking things. So, while I primarily became a KDE user (thanks to Ubunutu) I do keep GNOME just for the sake of testing it from time to time and keep an eye on development.
I have been following Gnome development from the early days and must say that post 3.8, it’s really heading in the right direction – something simple (a little inspired by Apple’s Mac OX, as usual), elegant, and just works out of the box. Gnome has become visually appealing since 3.10 and the latest version takes that experience one notch over.
If you are also a Mac OSX user, you will see influences of Mac’s design on Gnome – and that has been true from early days (remember the top panel?). One of the notable features of Gnome 3.12 is ‘Application Folders’. As the name states, you can keep your preferred apps together in folders for quick access. By default, there are two folders ‘Utility’ and ‘Sundry’ but you can now create more such folders so you can club all media applications in one folder, development folder in another and so on.
However, it’s a bit tricky to create a new folder. Unlike Mac’s Launchpad where you can drag apps on top of each other to create a folder (the way it also happens on stock Android), in GNOME you have to do it from Software application. There is no way of doing it in ‘Activity’ mode. I wish developers will make it as easy as it is on Android/Mac so users can easily create folders and put apps as they prefer.