GNOME 44 desktop environment enhances the Files and Settings apps, adds Bluetooth quick settings menu, and reworks the login/lock screen.
Keeping the trend of releasing a new major version every six months, GNOME 44, named “Kuala Lumpur,” is now available, bringing another dose of user experience improvements. So, let’s see what’s new in it.
GNOME 44 Highlights
The login screen has undergone a minor cosmetic overhaul. The user avatar associated with the account is now visibly larger, improving the overall appearance. In addition, the font used to show the name is now bold.
The lock screen has also received visual improvements, with GNOME 44 now using a larger font than previous versions. Although these are minor changes, they contribute to this release’s sleeker appearance.
Thumbnail View in File Picker
Displaying thumbnails in the file chooser dialog is an option that has been among the most requested by GNOME users for many years. Until now, the only choice provided was list view, which forced users to rely solely on the file name as a guide when picking a file. So, any way you look at it, this is not the best approach for a pleasant user experience.
Fortunately, this is all in the past, as GNOME 44 introduced the new grid view, now available in GTK4 file choosers. So all you have to do is to click on the toggle icon at the top-right to switch from the list view to the new grid view.
Also, expandable folders in list view were a feature that GNOME lost when transitioning to GTK4. However, it is now available again, making it much easier to explore directories when they are deeply nested.
We clarify that this option is not enabled by default. Instead, you must go into the File application’s “Preferences” and enable the “Expandable Folders in List View” option to use it.
GNOME 44 Settings Panel Improvements
The Settings Panel has received a lot of attention in Gnome 44. For example, GNOME 43’s Device Security feature now displays the device’s security status as a description, such as “Checks Failed,” “Checks Passed,” or “Protected,” which makes the panel more understandable.
The accessibility settings have been revised, providing a more modern navigation experience. In addition, the different setting areas have been divided to make them easier to explore. Individual settings have also been improved to be clearer and more consistent.
Moreover, the mouse and touchpad settings have also been reworked, offering better feature explanations through animations. In addition, there is a new Mouse Acceleration setting and tick marks in the different sliders.
The volume level control in GNOME 44’s sound settings has been moved to a separate window, making accessing the more regularly used output and input controls easier. At the same time, it is now possible to disable the alert sound, and a new alert sound window allows you to browse the available sounds easy. Finally, the sound test window has been redesigned, providing a more modern interface.
Background Apps Monitoring
Background Apps is a new GNOME 44 feature, representing the ability to stop desktop applications running in the background (those running without an open window) via Quick Settings.
However, we have mixed feelings about this new “feature,” and we don’t think it is helping anything to win supporters for the GNOME cause. You can find details of why we think so in our dedicated article, “GNOME 44’s Background Apps: A Step Forward or a Step Too Far?” The good news is that only Flatpak apps are currently included in the background apps list.
However, we hope that the GNOME developers will revise their attitude towards applications running in the background, and this “awesome” feature will be removed in future releases of the desktop environment.
Bluetooth Quick Settings Menu
A menu has been added to the Bluetooth quick settings button. This displays which devices are connected and allows them to be connected and disconnected.
Other Essential GNOME 44 Changes
GNOME Circle, a collection of applications and libraries extending the GNOME ecosystem, adds ten new apps, including Zap, Boatswain, Emblem, Lorem, Workbench, Komikku, Chess Clock, Eyedropper, Elastic, and Clairvoyant.
Moreover, sharing a Wi-Fi password using a QR code in GNOME’s Wi-Fi settings is now possible. Additionally, each of the quick settings toggle buttons now has a description that displays extra information about the state of each setting. And last but not least, the kernel and firmware versions are now shown in the “About” section.
You can refer to the official announcement for detailed information about all changes in GNOME 44.
Get GNOME 44
Unfortunately, although GNOME 44 is now available, most users still can’t try it. However, there is some good news. The desktop environment is currently available in Fedora 38 Beta, now available for download.
The other option is to wait for Fedora 38’s stable release, expected at the end of April. The upcoming Ubuntu 23.04 “Lunar Lobster,” which will appear on April 20, 2023, will also include the GNOME 44 desktop environment.
Of course, you can also take GNOME 44 for a spin by downloading the GNOME OS and installing it through the GNOME Boxes app. Remember that this ISO image is not a complete Linux distribution. It only has the GNOME desktop skeleton with a minimal installation UI.
Regular users should wait for this new GNOME release to arrive in the stable software repositories of their Linux distributions. As usual, rolling-release distros like Arch Linux, openSUSE Tumbleweed, Void Linux, etc., will get it first.