The highly anticipated (and controversial) GNOME 3 desktop environment released its final version today, adding better hardware integration, window management and application management to Linux.
There’s been a lot of talk about GNOME 3 lately and the changes it is making to the Linux desktop. The final version is out today (though it may not yet be installable on your stable Linux system), and it’s surprisingly similar to Ubuntu’s Unity, which we recently took a deeper look at. It has a taskbar on the side, a HUD that pops up for sifting through all your applications (complete with a search bar), and multiple workspaces. It’s also added a few handy window features, but nothing we haven’t seen before in Windows 7’s Aero Snap. Basically, it takes some of the best parts about OS X, the best parts about Windows 7, and some of Unity’s annoyances and mashes them together into a desktop environment truly geared toward ease of use and—dare we say—newbies.
Our first impressions? There are definitely some things we like about it—for example, it does a better job of detecting what functions your hardware supports and adjusts its menus accordingly. For example, computers that don’t support Suspend in Linux won’t see that option in the menu, and users with desktops won’t see a touchpad section in their preferences. For the most part, though, the UI is a little too Unity- or even iOS-like for our tastes. I personally like it better than Unity, but it’ll still take quite a bit of getting used to if I ever want to make it my full time desktop environment.
GNOME 3 has released its official version, but it doesn’t look like you can run right to your existing Linux installation and install it right now. Its availability is dependent on your distribution, and it looks like most of them are still catching up (Ubuntu won’t have it available until 11.04 ships, and even Arch still has it listed under the “unstable” repository). If you’re just itching to try it out for yourself, the best way is to head to GNOME’s home page and download one of their live CDs—based off either openSUSE or Fedora. This is the official version, however—it’s just that most distributions haven’t quite caught up yet, so I wouldn’t recommend trying to update it over your main Linux installation.
Check out the videos above to see some of the new features in action, and hit the link below to see even more videos from the GNOME team (and to try it out for yourself). If you give it a whirl, let us know what you think in the comments.