Gnome 3 is one of the most advanced and stable desktop environments available for Linux and some other operating systems. It’s great for productivity and has unmatched usability to all the desktop environments out there.
The latest release of Gnome – 3.18 “Gothenburg” – brings a host of changes (25,112 of them) and improvements that will definitely delight staunch users of Gnome 3.
There are also updates to its core suite of apps such as Nautilus, Calendar, Music, To-do, Maps and more.
I’m going to go over the major improvements made in this release as well as how to update to 3.18 or install it for the first time.
Google Drive Integration
One of the big changes in Gnome 3.18 is the addition of Google Drive integration via gfvs, so you can now access your Drive files with your favourite File manager.
All you need to do to set things up is to add your Google account in “Settings -> Online Accounts” and toggle permissions to use for files. Once done, Google Drive should show up under “networks” in the sidebar of your files app.
Your Google Drive files behave similarly to your local files. You can create folders and upload or download files by moving or copying them across.
Improvements in Nautilus
The default file manager in Gnome was also beefed up with a bunch of improvements to the layout and performance of the app.
There is now an “Other Locations” option in the sidebar which groups network and remote locations as well as other partitions on your hard drive.
In addition long-pressing on a touchscreen will provide accessibility to mouse right-click/context menus.
Other changes and improvements here include:
- Popover dialogs are used for file/folder creation and renaming.
- Full file location is supported in recent files list.
- File copy/move progress is shown in a new header bar button.
- Recursion search in cloud storage is automatically disabled.
Multi-touch Touchpad Gestures for Touchscreens
If you use Gnome 3 on a touchscreen device, you will be pleased to find out that Gnome 3.18 makes life more comfortable by bringing multi-touch gestures and popover menus which enables you to manipulate on-screen text in a much easier way.
New Gnome Applications
A few new applications were introduced in Gnome 3.18.
The new Characters application offers an easy way to select and use a wide variety of characters ranging from punctuation marks, math symbols, bullets, currency and even emoji.
The new To-do app is a simple task manager that helps you add tasks and group them by colour-coding. You can also add notes for each task as well as set a deadline for its completion.
Introduced as a preview in Gnome 3.18, Gnome Calendar has been fully integrated with the Gnome desktop and now has a consistent design along with the rest of Gnome’s suite of apps.
It is fully integrated with the Gnome online accounts and has a straightforward interface including monthly and year views, search, event viewing and editing, etc.
Improvement to Other Gnome Applications
Even old applications were not left behind in terms of bug fixes and improvements.
- Gnome Music now supports Last.Fm scrobbling.
- Gnome Maps brings support for copying Geo URIs, longitude/latitude coordinates and various bugfixes.
- Polari is fully integrated with the Gnome desktop and provides better error handling and indicators for new messages.
- Gedit has new plugins and minimap support.
- Gnome Builder has better auto-completion support for code and has a new plugin system (Python 3, C Vala).
- Gnome web browser is faster and no longer locks automatically when watching fullscreen videos.
- Improvement in the layout of the Logs application.
Automatic Screen Brightness
Gnome 3 is now able to use your computer’s light sensor (if it has one) to automatically control the level of screen brightness throughout the day. This helps to reduce battery usage and also ensures that your screen is easy to see at all times. If you don’t like this feature, there’s an option to turn it off in the Power settings.
- Gnome on Wayland brings support for HiDPI displays and the ability to copy/paste and drag/drop between Wayland and X11 apps.
- Minor changes to Bluetooth settings.
- The Linux Vendor Firmware service is fully integrated with Gnome 3.18.
- Various bug fixes.
How to Get Gnome 3.18
Fedora 23 (currently in beta) and the next OpenSUSE release will ship with Gnome 3.18. Unfortunately, Ubuntu Gnome 15.10 will ship with Gnome 3.16 and not 3.18. However, part of Gnome 3.18 is available in the Gnome 3 staging PPA, but it’s better to wait for the update to come in the official repositories.
If you’re on Arch Linux, Gnome 3.18 is available in testing at the time of writing. Just uncomment the testing repositories in “/etc/pacman.conf” and save. Then do a system-wide upgrade to get the latest and greatest Gnome 3 release.
You can also compile Gnome 3.18 from source and install each dependency manually.
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