GNOME 45 “Riga” raises the bar with its core app updates, ensuring a more enjoyable and efficient Linux experience. Here’s what’s new!
GNOME is the desktop environment that users most often find in Linux distributions. That’s why the open-source community eagerly awaits every new version. The best part is that its developers never keep us waiting, sticking strictly to a six-month release cycle.
And here we are again at that time of year when the new GNOME 45 release is out to the delight of all GNOME aficionados. So, without further ado, let’s walk through what’s new.
GNOME 45: Best New Features
New Activities Button
Perhaps the first thing that will strike you after launching GNOME 45 is the absence of the well-known “Activities” inscription in the top left corner, now replaced by a stylized icon.
Its functionality is similar to the old button but with some improvements included. First, it dynamically displays the number of your available virtual desktops. Furthermore, scrolling with the mouse wheel on it instantly navigates between them. Something that used to take several mouse clicks.
In other words, the change is both cosmetic and functional. Users will appreciate this, especially those of you who work with more virtual desktops.
File Manager Just Got Better
In recent updates to the GNOME desktop, the GNOME Files app, the default file manager, has received a significant speed boost, enhancing the overall user experience for Linux users. Specifically, it is about improvements in file search and faster thumbnail generation.
Furthermore, the app (along with several more, such as Settings, Calendar, and Contacts) now has a full-height sidebar, with the hamburger menu moved to the left, improving its appearance and giving it a more modern feel.
System Setting Changes
GNOME’s System Settings is the cornerstone of the desktop environment, serving as the central hub for configuring and customizing various aspects of the user’s computing experience. So predictably, as in previous versions, it has seen the most improvements.
Immediately striking is the reorganized “System Details” dialog that now pops up, giving in a well-structured form basic information about the operating system and the underlying hardware.
Another standout feature in GNOME 45 is the revamped “Privacy” tab. In previous iterations, this tab had already allowed users to manage various aspects of their privacy, such as Screen Lock, Location Services, and more.
However, GNOME 45 takes this further by introducing a dedicated “Devices” section. Within it, users can access a range of settings that allow them to dictate how applications and services interact with their camera and microphone.
On top of that, a “Clock & Calendar” section has been added to the “Date & Time” tab of the System Settings app, allowing you to make changes regarding the format in which the date is displayed in the top panel.
GNOME 45 Brings Core Apps Updates
One of the most notable aspects of the GNOME 45 release is the significant updates to some of its core applications, which form the backbone of the desktop.
The default image viewer application, Eye of GNOME, has been replaced by the new one, Loupe Image Viewer, as Eye of GNOME will continue to be supported.
At the same time, Snapshot enters the scene as GNOME’s new camera app, replacing the previously used Cheese. As in the case of Eye of GNOME, Cheese will continue to receive support.
Notable is the removal of the GNOME Photos application from the desktop environment due to a lack of volunteers interested in maintaining it. It will be archived, and if there are volunteers to continue its development, it may eventually find a place among the core applications again.
The main GNOME terminal application, Console, has finally received much-needed customization options for font selection.
At the same time, it is disappointing that another core app, the screenshot tool, still doesn’t have a basic option like delay added.
Other Essential GNOME 45 Changes
In addition to the significant updates to its core applications, GNOME 45 brings many others that enhance the overall desktop environment.
For example, Quick Settings now includes a button for controlling keyboard backlights. And while we’re still on the topic, “Super + S” is a new handy keyboard shortcut for immediate access to GNOME’s Quick Settings.
Moreover, the Calculator app can now convert more currencies, including the Jamaican Dollar, the Taiwanese Dollar, and the Nigerian Naira. Maps now has zoom buttons on the canvas and a direction indicator in the header bar, and Web (aka Epiphany) offers the ability for animated tab overviews.
Especially useful is the added functionality allowing the GNOME Software app to remove app data when uninstalling Flatpaks. This feature ensures a clean and efficient system, allowing users to reclaim valuable disk space effortlessly.
You can refer to the official announcement for detailed information about all changes in GNOME 45.
Getting GNOME 45
Unfortunately, although GNOME 45 is now available, most users still can’t try it. However, there is some good news. The desktop environment is available in the recently released Fedora 39 Beta, now available for download.
The other option is to wait for Fedora 39’s stable release, expected at the end of October. At the same time, the upcoming Ubuntu 23.10 “Mantic Minotaur,” which will appear on October 12, will also include the GNOME 45 desktop environment.
Of course, you can also take GNOME 45 for a spin by downloading the GNOME OS and installing it through the Flathub Boxes app. Remember that this ISO image is not a complete Linux distribution but only contains the GNOME desktop skeleton with a minimal installation UI.
Regular users should wait for this new GNOME release to arrive in the software repositories of their Linux distributions. As usual, rolling-release ones like Arch (probably not before the release of GNOME 45.1), openSUSE Tumbleweed, Void Linux, etc., will get it first.