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GNOME 2.16 prepares for eye candy age

GNOME 2.16 is out! And the latest release of the ever popular, multi-platform free desktop environment, continues to enhance GNOME with useful features, makes it easier to use, and removes rough edges.

Providing a user-friendly environment that "just works" for everyday users, without excess complexity or obscure features, GNOME 2.16 also takes the first steps into the advancing age of eye candy: windows that wobble, vanish, fade, shrink, or explode -- such effects are possible due to ongoing advancements of graphics hardware.

Some of these changes are still under development, and are not enabled by default: you need to use a special configuration to use them. Nevertheless, they provide a peek into the age to come.

Come along on a short journey into GNOME's future!

Advanced 3D effects

Metacity, GNOME's default window manager, makes its first steps into the world of 3D accelerated desktop computing. Many extensions to its compositor engine let your windows wobble, shrink, explode, fade in and out, bounce on window focus, and show other interesting, unusual or funny effects such as having different transparency for different window types like menus, dialogs, and main windows.

Not yet enabled by default, new compositing affects are only available when Metacity is compiled with the special "--enable-compositor" option. The new compositing features also depend on support for the "GLX_texture_from_pixmap" extension, which is only available to owners of Intel i830 to i945, and ATI Radeon 7000 to 9250 chips at the present time.

"It's important to note," says Vincent Untz, member of the GNOME release team, "that it's an ongoing work, and that more will come in 2.18" (Alternative: "that the work has just started, and we expect more improvements for the next release, to be expected in half a year. Meanwhile, we'd like our users to extensively test ... " )

Once Metacity is compiled with the correct option, the effects can be turned on and off without a restart or new login, and applications can take advantage of this. For example, the GNOME terminal can now offer real transparency.

Cleaner icon theme, Cairo, and Wanda

GNOME 2.16 doesn't just provide eye candy for curious testers; there are also many improvements that are immediately visible: an improved icon theme that follows the Tango style guidelines, a new view on events in the calender module of GNOME's email application, Evolution, and a long overdue face lift for Wanda -- GNOME's cute fortune-telling fish.

GNOME 2.16's new icon theme follows the artwork guidelines proposed by the Tango project, thus supporting a more consistent graphical user interface experience for free and open source software. By now also following the Freedesktop icon naming specification, the GNOME icon theme now also works for applications written for other popular desktops, such as KDE or XFce.

  • // Image with new icons about here

Additionally, the icon theme was also cleared up: many application icons are now shipped with their applications, making it easier to use them from other desktops environments than GNOME. Many icons are also scalable now, meaning you can now change their size on your desktop and they still look good! GNOME's default meta-theme has also gone through a clean-up.

More eye candy is also available in Evolution's Calender module: it now uses Cairo to display a much more appealing view on events: They now have a top header that displays the start time, and the end time if you re-size the event icon. Selected events are now shown using a drop shadow. Cairo is a 2-dimensional graphics library designed to support a number of modern graphics techniques such as stroking, alpha blending and antialiasing.

GNOME's cute little fortune-telling fish, Wanda, received a face lift, too. Being an old companion since the beginning of GNOME, some people wonder if that's one of the most important changes of GNOME 2.16.


  • ref New default theme, AFAIK Clarius is just a new name for Clearlooks -- JoachimNoreiko

    • thanks --ClausSchwarm

    • Clarius isn't just a new name. The scrollbars aren't blue anymore. I'm not sure if there are other changes besides that. -- RyanPaul

    • Clarius might be removed before 2.16.0 because people disagreed about the need to rename it. We could mention it's full of cairo love, though :-) -- VincentUntz

  • vuntz says: "it's important to note that it's an ongoing work, and that more will come in 2.18". To increase the weight of this front promo, perhaps we can have a final paragraph highlighting what is expected for 2.18 (even if we have a page devited to the 2.18 roadmap). I would even make a mention in this last paragraph to the exciting context of animated graphics, transparencies, non-rigid windows and 3D desktops that are being developed out of the GNOME 2.16 but closed to it and inside X/GNOME/freedesktop anyway. In this context, the 2.16 novelties would be the stable visible changes of a bigger although iceberg to be stabilized and unveiled for the mainstream in following releases -- QuimGil

    • We have space for a press release like paragraph, see above for a quick and dirty example. --ClausSchwarm

TwoPointFifteen/ReleaseNotes/TwoSixteenFrontPromo (last edited 2008-02-03 14:44:25 by localhost)