Gnome 42 Alpha is released! This is what's new.


The Gnome development team has released the first alpha snapshot of the upcoming 42 release of the popular Linux desktop environment, giving us an early look and an initial idea of what we can expect from the stable release of GNOME 42 due this March.

An alpha snapshot of the GNOME desktop environment means a copy of GNOME that contains the latest updates, improvements, and changes made by the development team to the GNOME desktop interface and has been merged into the master branch. It's a development version of Gnome that is still considered a work in progress, which means that the features and changes present in this alpha snapshot will also be present in the stable version of Gnome 42, which will be released about two months later, but some of them may be a little different from they are now. 

The big event in the next release will of course be porting more GNOME system elements and core applications to GTK4 and gaining libadwaita library support to give a more consistent modern look to the desktop environment.

The first app where you'll probably notice some nice visual changes after logging in is the settings app. Most parts of the app have been ported to GTK4, and an additional appearance page has been added to the settings to enable the user to choose between light and dark mode, and with this, the GNOME desktop now fully supports dark mode naturally.


This means that when you select the dark theme, all other system apps that have a setting to respect the user's style preferences will follow this mode without having to set each app separately from its preferences panel to look dark.


At the moment, not all GNOME core applications have this setting that allows them to respect user’s preferences settings (light or dark), but work is underway to provide support for this setting for more applications, and perhaps in the stable version of GNOME 42 all apps will work as they should.

The Settings app has a large number of pages, which makes it one of the most complex GNOME interface elements to port to GTK4, however, the development team managed to get the hard work done. Well done GNOME development team, and thanks for their great work in making the GNOME desktop even better than before.

After that, to the Nautilus file manager, where it was also ported to GTK4 and looks much shinier. It has a new right-click menu, a nicer preferences panel, better dark style support, and most of all, new folder icons.

It's been a long time since the last time GNOME developers updated folder icons, making them look outdated, so it's very good that those old brown folder icons are finally getting rid of.

And now for the GNOME web browser, Epiphany, it's also got its share of attention, as it now supports system dark preference, has a new network error icon, an updated PDF.js reader. The delete web app button is now red, the browser allows opening URIs via desktop actions, and it has seen many Cleanups in preparation for porting it to GTK 4.

Gnome Software Center has also seen some improvements since the previous version, where Various UI parts have been updated, it's Allow searching for extensions, shows a better System Update progress, and doesn’t anymore recommend a reboot if firmware updates fail. The app has been ported to GTK4, new GNOME Circle apps (apps that have a similar look to core Gnome apps and better integrate with the desktop theme) have been added to the featured carousel on the app home screen, and an issue that shows a “transaction in progress” error When using the rpm-ostree plugin has been fixed as well.

In Gnome Boxes, the Gnome virtualization app, the list of downloadable operating systems has been updated, the issue causing no sound in virtual machines has been fixed, the app now has a new preferences dialog, and an issue that prevents users from configuring 3D acceleration has also been fixed.

Gnome Disk Utility supports dark theme preference, the visual appearance of the devtab toolbar has been improved, and some parts of the GUI have been rewritten to avoid deprecated things and prepare for GTK 4.

 In gnome 42. Alpha, maps gain Implement support for the new "prefer dark style" setting, URIs support to initiate a search and a more fine-tuned initial zoom levels for more place types.

The alpha version of GNOME 42 also comes with two new GTK4 apps: a simple and user-friendly terminal emulator named Console, and a new text editor app. 

These two apps have a consistent appearance with the rest of the GNOME desktop components and include only some of the key features of both the GNOME terminal emulator and Gedit text editor respectively, but they offer the minimal required features that an average user will need. It's not known if Console and the new text editor will replace gnome-terminal and gedit in the final stable Gnome 42 release.

This version includes a lot of changes, new features, and bug fixes that you can view from here, including:

This version includes a lot of other changes, new features, and bug fixes that you can view from here, including:

  • Gnome calculator, gnome characters, gnome-clocks, and Disk Usage Analyzer (baobab) have been ported to GTK4.
  • Gnome system monitor and gnome-weather supports the user's dark style preference.
  • Improved on-screen keyboard on the X11 session
  • autosave records are deleted after creating a new document in simple-scan.
  • Improve behavior when focused back/forward button is pressed on the orca screen reader
  • Translations updates


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