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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

By Jeremy LaCroix on September 29, 2008 (3:00:00 PM)

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Last week marked the release of GNOME 2.24. Those who already use GNOME will appreciate the new additions, but there's nothing compelling enough in the new version to convince fans of other desktop environments to make a switch.

Although the upcoming releases of several Linux distributions will be including GNOME 2.24 as the default desktop, you can download and compile it yourself or by using Garnome now if you want to check it out sooner. The release notes make mention of a live CD being available, yet it's nowhere to be found on the GNOME BitTorrent page or by Googling.

I installed a daily CD image of Ubuntu 8.10, which already includes the stable release of GNOME 2.24 by default, on my main machine, with a modest 2.6GHz AMD Athlon X2 5200+ processor, an Nvidia GeForce 8600GT video card, and 2GB of DDR2 RAM. After installing the system from the live CD, I switched the look and feel of my environment to better match how GNOME is shipped. I switched to the Clearlooks theme, and installed GNOME apps that Ubuntu doesn't include by default, such as the Epiphany Web browser and the Empathy instant messager.

This time around, GNOME has taken an interesting step in beautifying their desktop. The project held a contest during the 2.23 development cycle in which the community was encouraged to submit custom desktop wallpaper for possible inclusion in 2.24. For some reason, Ubuntu didn't bother to include the winning wallpapers as part of its latest CD image, but I found and downloaded them myself, and found most of them are fantastic. The art contest itself just goes to show how much better things get when you include the community in your project.

New and updated

GNOME 2.24 has no shortage of new features. One of the new additions is the Empathy instant messager client (based on the Telepathy framework), which can connect to the most common networks, such as AIM, MSN, ICQ, and others. There are great features in Empathy, such as XMPP/SIP audio and video conferencing, yet I don't see much in it so far that makes me want to switch from Pidgin.

File browsing has also received some developer love in this update. Nautilus has gained a tabbed browsing mechanism, as well as a new "compact" view mode. You can now open a new tab by pressing Ctrl-T or by right-clicking a folder and selecting "open in new tab," which will be familiar to anyone who uses Firefox. The compact view mode, activated by pressing Ctrl-3, shows icons with the text on the right side instead of underneath. In addition, Nautilus now detects when you are copying a file with a name that contains characters incompatible with the target file system (such as FAT), and changes the incompatible characters to an underscore automatically without you having to rename the files yourself prior to transferring.

The GNOME deskbar now includes new features such as a calculator, Google search, and Twitter plugins. To enable a plugin for the deskbar, all you have to do is right-click the deskbar icon and select Preferences to bring up a list of plugins.

Other features in GNOME 2.24 include support for the XRandR 1.2 Xorg specification (which makes it easier to add secondary monitors), sound theme support, and digital television capabilities being added to the Movie Player. For mobile users, GNOME 2.24 marks the introduciton of the GNOME mobile development platform, which provides the backbone for projects such as Ubuntu Mobile.

In addition to the features that were mentioned in the release notes, I also noticed that eject icons were added to removable media in the places list in Nautilus (though I'm not entirely certain if that is a GNOME feature or an Ubuntu tweak).

When it comes to performance, the latest GNOME release runs on par with previous versions. I didn't notice a performance increase or decrease when compared to GNOME 2.22. Of course, some of GNOME's performance is dependent on the theme that you use, with some engines being faster than others. Clearlooks ran the fastest on my machine.

While the community wallpapers are a great addition, the default Clearlooks theme didn't receive much updating this time around. Fortunately, the upcoming GNOME 2.26 release is scheduled to include a new dark widget theme, which I'm looking forward to checking out.

GNOME 2.24 is a stable release; during my tests, I didn't run into any problems. While the features in this release are good, they're not amazing. The new features are useful and further the overall quality of the desktop, but none of them truly stands out as a game changer. Those who already use GNOME will surely enjoy all that 2.24 has to offer, but anyone who doesn't use GNOME won't be missing anything major.

Jeremy LaCroix is an IT technician who writes in his free time.

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on New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 80.6.6.10] on September 29, 2008 07:02 PM
you'd think incremental was a swear word, its good that its not like WOW where is everthing - after all a *good* desktop shouldnt get in the way...

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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 92.104.255.169] on September 29, 2008 07:43 PM
Didn't know about the Gnome Wallpaper contest... the contest page says it's over but their no indexation of what are the winner wallpaper. Could't find it easly by google either (or it's maybe me who isn't looking hard enough).

Could you please indicate where I can find them ? Thanks !

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Re: New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 89.28.8.123] on September 29, 2008 11:03 PM
The background images are in the GNOME SVN http://svn.gnome.org/viewvc/gnome-backgrounds/trunk/ .
Checkout using this command "svn co http://svn.gnome.org/svn/gnome-backgrounds/trunk/ gnome-backgrounds"

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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 92.104.255.169] on September 29, 2008 07:59 PM
I am pretty sure restore from trash is also a new feature from 2.24.
At last I would say !!

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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 208.57.139.45] on September 29, 2008 09:05 PM
It's fairly exciting that XRandR is capable of adding secondary monitors.

I expect, unfortunately, that it relies on the ability of the underlying driver to support multiple monitors.

Alas, if we restrict ourselves to FOSS drivers, this excludes, well, ALL of the off-the-shelf dual-head video cards available from retail outlets (like NewEgg).

So, are the Gnome folks teasing us, or have they tacitly thrown in the towel with regard to that whole open-source-only philosophy that made them split from KDE? The middle ground will be that this is feature bloat which everyone must studiously refrain from using.

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Re: New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 207.192.72.46] on September 29, 2008 10:57 PM
You are wrong.

While you are stuck in your binary-driver-only-land, Xrandr is working perfectly for me with my ATI card with dual DVI using the FOSS radeon driver. Decent 3d acceleration, even, and works well on a variety of games. And this is on OpenBSD 4.4-current, no less which, of course, only supports FOSS drivers! FOSS drivers are the way to go, my friend. I can't remember the last time I used a binary video driver. Life is sweet.

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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Benjamin Huot on September 29, 2008 10:03 PM
Why do the reviewers review Linux on machines with dedicated video cards a GBs of RAM? How about testing it on a computer with a lot less RAM and integrated video card. I know this is not a lot for a new computer, but Linux is often popular to get more out of older computers. Most people do not have dedicated video cards nor do they buy a new computer every year. I paid $800 for my 3 year old computer and it only has 512 MB of RAM and a Celeron and an integrated video card and am not planning on upgrading soon as I don't use it as regularly as my Mac. I thought Linux could run fine on 512 MB of RAM.

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Re: New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.53.211.222] on September 29, 2008 11:32 PM
It can run fine with 512MB RAM. The reviewer is just stating the hardware on which he tested GNOME 2.24. This disclosure is a subtle warning that a different hardware configuration might run it differently. In other words, the reviewer cannot speak for your hardware configuration because he does not have your hardware configuration.

Reviewers only use what they already have and often lack older systems on which they can test.

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Live cd

Posted by: bkor on September 29, 2008 10:45 PM
http://blogs.gnome.org/kenvandine/2008/09/27/gnome-live/ .. it was available as of Sep 27, while this entry mentioning 'no live cd' is Sep 29. It sometimes takes a few days for them to be available, but they were still available before this article was published.

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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 206.248.171.113] on September 30, 2008 04:15 AM
to the author: try the mist theme/engine that comes with gnome by default. It is lightyears ahead of clearlooks in terms of speed, and you can notice that especially when using web browsers such as firefox (lagging when scrolling in gmail or slashdot), or when changing workspaces.

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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.241.231.100] on September 30, 2008 11:28 AM
Anyone notice gnome-session no longer saves running application in the session? This is an annoying regression from 2.22.

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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.92.95.80] on September 30, 2008 03:00 PM
If you want a fast theme use Bluecurve still the fastest theme on gnome IMHO

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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 64.213.218.195] on September 30, 2008 11:23 PM
In before this becomes a fest of KDE fans going " We had this so long ago..."

You can smel it coming.

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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 121.96.202.37] on October 01, 2008 04:08 AM
dark widget theme is coming. that's pretty cool!

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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 121.96.202.37] on October 01, 2008 04:10 AM
where's the side pane in nautilus? has it been removed?

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compact list view... long time coming

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 76.212.196.113] on October 01, 2008 04:57 AM
I've been using gnome a while to tide me over from kde 3.5 until kde 4.x is up to snuff.
One thing I just can't fathom is how compact list view is somehow a new feature. It's the single most annoying hole in gnome 2.22

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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 208.104.211.247] on October 01, 2008 01:38 PM
Useless thread and obviously a Gnome hater. Go lobby somewhere else. This release has two features that most people have been dying for. XRandR, and Tabbed file browsing. You can't deny it, it's a clear way to view multiple windows inside of one, and it makes copying and pasting 10 times easier on the GUI front. Yes I'll admit the commandline is slightly faster but people like GUI's and anything to make the GUI better is a vast improvement. While XRandR could have been done manually before without too much difficulty, it now can be done effortlessy, adding two features making Linux as a whole and all who use Gnome 2.24 that much more of a competitor to windows and macosx and desirable.

So no. This is not just an incremental upgrade. It's probably one of the best features Gnome has added in a long time.

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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 68.6.94.193] on October 02, 2008 03:56 AM
We had this so long ago...

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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 41.207.196.134] on October 02, 2008 04:42 PM
Why was this even Digg'd? All here is already mentioned in the GNOME 2.24 release notes. And second, the Eject icon was one of the first things that came out of GNOME 2.23. The author didn't even know if that was from GNOME or Ubuntu? You call this a review? It mentions nothing that the release notes didn't mention. And it doesn't even provide a direct link to it!

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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 41.204.224.41] on October 02, 2008 07:05 PM
Does anyone know whether 'bluetooth device browsing' in nautilus is now read-write? There was a regression as part of the port to GVFS for 2.22...

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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.240.209.6] on October 03, 2008 11:26 AM
Won't be ok till they change those awful fonts.

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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental screwup

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 68.221.24.6] on October 03, 2008 01:25 PM
For the individual asking about gnome-session failing to work.
It works wonderfully for all gnome applications that were recoded for the new session management protocol. The application that appears to actually support it is gnome-splash.
However, things like gnome-terminal were too unimportant to be updated to the new protocol, it's still using the old protocol.
Odds are it'll save its session just fine with KDE's session manager.
And since gnome applications that bear the 2.24 label can't be bothered to talk the new session management protocol, you can bet non-gnome apps are completely lost.

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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 77.56.105.97] on October 04, 2008 08:26 PM
Missing from the article are a few words about ekiga 3.0, which is new in GNOME 2.24, and which is quite a big step ahead from version 2.0.12 found in GNOME 2.22!

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New GNOME 2.24 is an incremental improvement

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.248.89.66] on October 06, 2008 03:24 PM
Tabs on Nautilus finally!!!

PCFileMan still rocks even so.

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