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41 is in beta, features are frozen for a future release • The Register

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The next version of the GNOME desktop, version 41, is now in beta and its functionality and API are frozen.

GNOME 40 was released in March and, despite the huge jump in the version number, was not intended to be drastically different from the 3.x line in the same way as GNOME 2 and 3. “Technological changes and radical designs are too disruptive for maintainers, users and developers ” noted Emmanuele Bassi from the GNOME team.

He expressed the view that 4.0 would be seen as more different than 40, which was meant to simply express that this was roughly the 40th version of GNOME (actually the 41st according to Bassi).

Version 40 nevertheless introduced some changes in the launch of applications and navigation, as well as for basic applications. There is also an associated update from GTK (GNOME Toolkit) to version 4.x and the combination warranted some caution before moving on, as from Canonical developer Sébastien Bacher who stated in January that “there are quite a few moving parts in GNOME 40”, given both the new shell design and GTK4, concluding that Ubuntu would stick to GTK3 and GNOME 3.38 for version 21.04.

Ubuntu 21.10, expected in October, will include GNOME 40 but not 41 according to Bacher, who said last week “ideally we would have updated to 41, but the feature freeze is today and we really didn’t have the resources available for the update.”

The GNOME team now has published the beta of 41 which “also marks the start of the user interface, functionality and API freeze (collectively known as The Freeze),” according to the post from Abderrahim Kitouni, a member of the publishing team yesterday.

Kitouni warned that “this branch is based on freedesktop-sdk 21.08 branch and as such has quite a few ABIs [Application Binary Interface] breaks “, which means application changes will be necessary. GNOME 41 is built with GTK 4.4, which was recently terminated, and contains many fixes and improvements.

The list of what’s new in GNOME 41 is here although this list is hardly user-friendly. The changes include improved support for Wayland (the graphics protocol taking over from X very gradually), support for ICS in the GNOME timeline (which seems well overdue), the updated GNOME Control Center updated with new panels, a new design for GNOME Music, “many parts of the user interface reworked” in the GNOME software manager, fixes for the Nautilus file manager including “fix Compress… acting on a file that doesn’t was not the one selected “, and a long list of fixes for the GJS (GNOME JavaScript) engine and the Vala programming language.

Judging by the list of what’s new, this release is more about repairing and polishing than something drastically new, which means it’s a shame that Ubuntu 21.10 doesn’t include it by default as there will likely be little disadvantages, apart from compatibility.

The latest version 3.x of GNOME, I hope you enjoyed it! “

It should also be noted that coinciding with the beta version of GNOME 41 is the release of GNOME 3.38.9 which publishes team member Javier Jardón Remarks is the “latest version 3.x of GNOME, I hope you enjoyed it!”.

This is an important step, since GNOME 3.0 has been published in April 2011, more than 10 years ago. It may also seem premature given that most distributions have not yet migrated to GNOME 40.

The recommended route for those wishing to try the GNOME 41 beta is to download the beta image of GNOME OS, intended for testing and development, and running it in a hypervisor such as GNOME Boxes. ®


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