Pop!_OS’s COSMIC Pre-Alpha Shows Impressive Progress

Exciting updates for Pop!_OS and the COSMIC desktop environment, including new features and performance boosts.

Month by month, System76’s COSMIC is increasingly capturing the attention of the open-source community. As a new desktop environment that is expected to change the game’s rules, designed for those who find GNOME lacking and KDE Plasma unsuitable, COSMIC is set to become the go-to choice for discerning users seeking an alternative.

While the final release of the desktop environment, scheduled for launch alongside Pop!_OS 24.04 at summer’s end, is still several months away, development is progressing rapidly. However, before we peek into the latest updates, let’s look at what the current Pop!_OS 22.04 release offers this month.

Enhancements to Pop!_OS 22.04 LTS

This April, Pop!_OS 22.04 LTS incorporates the Linux kernel 6.8.0, enhancing support for Intel Xe and Intel Arc graphics, AMD Zen 5 chipset, and boosting networking capabilities, bringing substantial performance improvements.

Pop!_OS 22.04

The upcoming kernel 6.8.2, alongside Mesa 24.0.3, is currently in testing. This update is set to enhance Vulkan and OpenGL API support, ensuring top-tier Linux gaming experiences.

COSMIC Updates in Pre-Alpha

And now we get to the most exciting part. The Rust-written COSMIC desktop pre-alpha rolls out several exciting features:

  • Theming: New theming options for GTK applications, whether GTK3 or GTK4 and even Flatpak apps allow users to customize their desktops extensively.
  • Icons: Custom icon themes can now be applied and work with both COSMIC and GTK applications.
  • Dynamic Mode Switching: Light and Dark modes can now switch automatically according to the time of day, improving visual comfort.
COSMIC Desktop Environment
COSMIC Desktop Environment, Image credits: System76

Moreover, as we informed you last month, a brand-new COSMIC App Store is on the horizon, offering an intuitive sidebar for navigation and simplified management of apps, from installation to updates. The store enhances user interaction, making finding and managing applications easier than ever.

COSMIC App Store
COSMIC App Store, Image credits: System76

The new Keyboard settings allow customization of input sources and special characters, accommodating various languages and typing preferences. Additionally, COSMIC introduces an easier way to move windows around—just hold the Super key and click anywhere on a window to move it, enhancing usability, especially for trackpad users.

But that’s not all. New on-screen displays for system alerts, including battery status and brightness adjustments, have been integrated, making these alerts more intuitive and less intrusive.

Preliminary performance tests comparing the COSMIC pre-alpha to Pop!_OS 22.04 LTS show promising results. In games like Cyberpunk 2077, the performance difference was negligible, demonstrating the efficiency and optimization of the new environment.

Of course, it’s important to remember that this is still a pre-alpha version. As development progresses, many aspects of COSMIC will be optimized for speed. We anticipate that the final version of the COSMIC desktop environment will outperform the currently used GNOME on Pop!_OS, delivering even more impressive results.

For detailed information about all the new features in COSMIC pre-alpha, visit the official announcement.

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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