Fedora 15 includes GNOME 3. It brings the first major overhaul of the GNOME user experience in 10 years. As with the GNOME 2.0 platform, the GNOME 3.0 release is the starting point for a long trajectory of advances in the state of the free desktop.
The new GNOME Shell is a new way for users to interact with their systems and be productive. The shell features a completely redesigned interface and tools for elegance and ease of use:
- A top bar that provides immediate access to settings, calendar, and major hardware
- An Activities hot corner that provides easy access to all applications and searching, as well as a dock for favorite apps
- Notification improvements, such as messaging support without having to switch context to another application
- Access throughout the shell for keyboard-centric as well as point-and-click users
- A control panel that integrates system and personal settings in one location
- Many other improvements; complete information is available at http://live.gnome.org/GnomeShell
There is an excellent upstream wiki page that describes the major changes and explains different workflows. For details, refer to http://live.gnome.org/GnomeShell/CheatSheet.
The new GNOME 3 user experience requires a video card capable of 3D acceleration. Fedora 15 supports the widest possible range of these cards through free software drivers, including the nouveau driver for NVidia graphics cards, the radeon driver for ATI graphics cards, and the intel driver for Intel graphics cards. In situations where properly supported 3D acceleration is not detected, GNOME 3 offers a fallback mode that models the GNOME Shell behavior.
GTK+ 3.0 is also part of Fedora 15, which features numerous enhancements for application developers. Changes in the toolkit include:
- Modernized handling of input devices
- Improved and simplified drawing through Cairo rather than wrappers around old X11 methods
- A new theming API with a familiar CSS syntax
- Early stages of easier application support, such as window tracking and ensuring uniqueness
- and many more improvements.
User visible changes
Users will notice the following changes in the environment:
- The desktop workspace no longer displays the contents of the user's ~/Desktop directory. That directory and its content are still accessible through the Files application.
- The Shell includes a built in screencast recording function. To activate recording, hit Ctrl+Alt+Shift+R and a recording icon appears at the lower right hand corner of the screen. To finish recording, hit Ctrl+Alt+Shift+R again. By default screencasts are recorded in a file named shell-YYYYMMDD-N.webm, where YYYYMMDD represents today's date and N is incremented for each additional screencast.
- Not all applets from GNOME 2.x can be run in the GNOME Shell. Some applets support a -w switch that allows them to run in a dedicated window if needed. Because GNOME 3.0 is new, it is expected many of these tools will find new and better ways to integrate in the new environment.
- The default behavior when a laptop lid closes is for the system to suspend. This default can be changed for battery or AC with one of the following commands:
gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power lid-close-ac-action "blank" gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power lid-close-battery-action "blank"
Fedora 15 features the updated KDE 4.6 Software Compilation. The Software Compilation contains three parts:
- Plasma Workspace: What you see when you log in to KDE.
- Applications: Applications maintained by the KDE project.
- Platform: Software that helps the plasma workspace and applications. The platform is not directly visible to desktop users.
- It is now possible to tie individual windows to specific Activities, allowing you to group and hide the windows that you aren't using until you need them. When Activities are closed, the applications go away with them, and are restored when the activity opens up again. The activity manager interface can be accessed from the Plasma Toolbox in the corner of your desktop (the "cashew") or with the Meta-Q shortcut.
- You can also clone existing Activities and create Activities based on templates which are downloadable through the Activity Manager interface
- The Power Management System Settings interface has been rewritten to be easier to use for end users, while still giving power users the configurations that they want. It has also been rewritten to use 1/10th the amount of code it previously used, helping to improve performance.
- KWin: performance improvements, better detection of graphics hardware, and other minor usability tweaks, adds scripting interface
- taskbar: can now "pin" applications to the taskbar, like in Mac OS X
- plasma netbook: optimized for better performances with touch-screens
- Dolphin's improved search function now uses the Semantic Desktop search interface, which provides a powerful interface to search for files based on tags, dates accessed and other semantic properties.
- Dolphin offers a search bar and "filter" sidebar. Now you can search your files with Nepomuk more easily.
- Kate is available in the kdesdk package. There are many new plugins for Fedora 15:
- GDB (GNU Debugger)
- Add scripts to the menu
- SQL database connection
- Recover unsaved data if Kate crashes
- Gwenview, KSnapshot, and other graphics applications can export photos directly to social networking websites like Facebook and Flickr.
- Marble desktop globe features online and offline routing
- Cantor supports Octave and R backends, as well as Maxima
- The platform relies less on other software, so it uses less memory. This is useful for low-power computers like netbooks and smartphones.
- Users can backup the Nepomuk library. Nepomuk is the file indexing and search utility.
- UPower, UDev, and UDisks are used instead of HAL. This change does not affect users now, but there will be more features in future releases.
- You can use the new Oxygen-GTK theme for GTK+ applications. KDE-designed and GNOME-designed applications will look the same when you log into KDE.
Sugar has been updated to the latest version 0.92 in Fedora 15. This version provides major usability improvements for the first login screen and the control panel, as well as new features such as support for 3G networks.
Fedora 15 sees the introduction of Xfce 4.8. This new release remains true to Xfce's goal of providing a fast, lightweight yet user-friendly desktop environment, while adding a range of new features and incremental improvements:
- Remote share browsing: Thunar, Xfce's file manager, now has support for GVFS, allowing easy remote access to files and folders on Windows shares and FTP, Webdav and SSH servers;
- New Xfce Panel with improved positioning and size handling, alpha transparency, a new item editor and drag'n'drop launcher creation;
- New Panel plugins such as window buttons, which merges the features of the icon box and the tasklist into a single configurable plugin, and directory menu, allowing quick browsing of a folder's tree structure;
- Easy application menu editing with any Freedesktop-compliant menu editor, such as Alacarte;
- Improved multihead display configuration including a quick setup dialog;
- Improved keyboard layout selection - wave goodbye to cryptic langauge/variant codes, and select the keyboard layout for your language in your language!
- And, in the venerable tradition of Xfce releases, a new clock mode - fuzzy clock mode!