Gnome 42 Released: This is What's New!

After six months of hard work, after an alpha, beta and release candidate versions, the developers of the GNOME desktop interface have finally announced the stable release of GNOME 42.  

GNOME 42 brings a set of new features and changes to the user interface, whether in the desktop cover or in its core applications, the first of which is support for system-wide dark mode, where the development team added a new Appearance panel in the Settings app that allows controlling the system theme.  

Apps that support respecting user preferences follow the theme set by the user (must be implemented by the app developer), these apps will appear dark in dark mode, and light if the user chooses the light theme from the Appearance panel. 

The Appearance panel also includes a wallpapers section that allows users to customize their desktop. The default GNOME wallpapers have been updated, they now consist of two wallpapers, one for the light mode and one for the dark mode, and the background for each mode is automatically applied when it is selected (the mode) under the Style section. 

In GNOME 42, the development team focused on porting the core desktop environment applications to GTK4 and libAdwaita to give them a modern, consistent look, new interface elements, and improved performance. In This release, the core GNOME applications ported to GTK4 and libAdwaita include the Weather app, Disk Usage Analyzer (baobab), GNOME To-Do, Tour, Gnome Calendar, Clocks, Gnome Software Center, Characters, Gnome Contacts, and the Calculator app. 

In addition, the developers also spent a lot of time porting one of the biggest and most complex GNOME components to GTK 4 and libAdwaita, the Settings app. The settings application consists of several panels, each of which includes many different settings, so porting this application took a lot of hard work and time, but in the end, the developers succeeded in this task and the settings app became, finally, a GTK 4 application. 

As a result of this port to GTK 4 and libAdwaita, many components, panels, and sections have been redesigned in the Settings app including Applications, Appearance, Display, Region & Language, Users, and Wacom Tablet. 

On the other hand, and since six months is such a short time, not all tasks were completed as planned, so the Nautilus file manager was not shipped as a GTK4 app in Gnome 42, although work on porting it to it had already begun in this development cycle, and a copy of Nautilus was shipped during the alpha phase showing an initial GTK4 port, but developers backed off these changes in the beta phase because porting the file manager to GTK 4 and libAdwaita needed more work and time. 

However, the file manager got an update for the folder icons, and they now appear in a nice light blue color instead of the old boring beige. Moreover, Nautilus gains with Gnome 42 a new right-click menu, a nicer preferences panel, better dark style support, bugs fixes, and performance improvements. 

GNOME 42 comes with two new default apps for GTK4, the console, and the text editor. Both Text Editor and Console have a new, modern tab UI. Both also support the dark UI style and have their own style controls to allow you to change between dark and light individually for each app. 

The console is a simple, modern terminal app that has some nice UI touches, such as overlaid scroll bars and overlaid size indicator, and a header bar that changes color to indicate when running as root. The Console app replaces the GNOME terminal as the default terminal application (although some distros may not ship Console as the default terminal app), and it provides the minimum required features that the average user would need. 

Text Editor is a GTK4 app that replaces gedit, and it is a simple text editor that has a slick UI and automatically saves your work, to prevent you from losing it. 

Speaking of default apps, Gnome Screenshot is no longer part of the default apps for the GNOME desktop, its functionality is now integrated directly into the shell, and the Gnome feature is built-in. As part of this change, the design of the Screenshot feature has been updated and given a modern, simple, and improved design, and is now also able to record the screen in addition to taking screenshots of course. 

Next, the GNOME Remote Desktop feature was upgraded to support the RDP protocol to provide users with a more secure and feature-rich remote desktop experience. 

Remote desktop connections using RDP can be enabled from the Sharing panel in the Settings app, and GNOME's new RDP integration replaces previous support for VNC, although users can still set up and use VNC manually if they want to. 

GNOME 42 also brings performance improvements to many core GNOME applications. Videos now use modern OpenGL tools with fast hardware decoding, resulting in smoother video playback, File indexing in Tracker has been greatly improved resulting in faster startup times, and less memory usage and the GNOME web browser now enables hardware-accelerated rendering on all websites, resulting in more seamless scrolling. 

The Input handling has been significantly enhanced as well, resulting in lower input latency and improved responsiveness when the system is under load (this will be particularly beneficial for games and graphics applications), and Improvements have been made in how fullscreen apps are rendered resulting in reduced energy consumption for video playback and increased frame rates for games. 

Lastly, the OSD (on-screen display) elements received a complete redesign, and the Gnome symbolic icons have been updated, to give The GNOME user interface a more elegant and polished look. The GNOME's virtual machine application, Boxes, has a redesigned preference view and has better support for modern UEFI operating systems, and media playback in the Videos app can now be controlled through the integrated media controls in the notifications list. 

GNOME 42 will be available in most Linux distributions repositories in the coming days and weeks, but if you are excited to try it and can't wait any longer, you can either build it from the source, or download an ISO image of GNOME OS and install it either on your computer directly or from Through GNOME Boxes (flatpack version). 

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