Tuesday, 13 November 2012

openSUSE 12.3 Milestone 1 GNOME 3.6

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 The Green Team has released openSUSE 12.3 Milestone 1 and it does include GNOME 3.6 as expected. openSUSE 12.3 is code named Dartmouth. Since openSUSE favours green colour 12.3 is probably named after the colour "Dartmouth Green". Dartmouth is currently scheduled for release around March 2013.
Booting from Live USB
 I downloaded the Live ISO from the Development page and then used  SUSE Studio ImageWriter to prepare a bootable USB flash drive. I prefer using torrents for downloading ISO files as all the downloaded files can be hash checked once they are downloaded using the torrent client itself. This ensures that the ISO is intact and not corrupted. Finally i tweaked my  BIOS settings and made flash drive as the default boot device. I hit F10 to save the BIOS settings. I plug-in my flash drive and boot my system and i select the "Live CD" option in boot menu in order to boot from the Live ISO.
Live ISO Overiew
 The default desktop features a light green fluorescent wallpaper similar to the one in the previous release. Though both the desktops(3.4 & 3.6) look similar 3.6 is a different beast altogether. GNOME 3.6 incorporates many changes compared to 3.4 :-
  • It Incorporates application menus in the top panel for supported applications like File(Nautilus) , Documents.
  • It features a completely new system tray or Notifications area.
  • Applications menu appears as a icon on Dash instead of showing up as a tab in Activities window.
  • Look and feel changes like darkening of background when dialogue boxes are open have been implemented.
  • Nautilus is almost unrecognisable. Feels like a completely different file manager.
 This following image shows the redesigned  Activities window with a new look  system tray and Dash toolbar on the left. As usual it also contains the the application and workspace switchers.The application menu instead of appearing as a tab in Activities window shows up as an icon in the Dash. Activities window can be opened using left "windows" or "Super" key on the keyboard. It can also opened using the key combination Alt+F1.
 The Applications window also has been redesigned and below screenshot shows the shadowing effects that has been applied.
 GNOME System Monitor showing release number(12.3), the codename "Dartmouth", OS architecture (32 bit), kernel (3.6.3) and version of GNOME(3.6.1) that 12.3 will most likely adopt.
 The next screenshot shows Nautilus , Quadrapassel and GNOME dictionary showing the definition of GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment)
 Most of the applications provided by GNOME like Nautilus, gnome-documents, offer a menu embedded into the Top bar / Panel. This makes things a little confusing. The screenshot also shows Nautilus folder preview in action. Nautilus preview can be invoked by selecting the relevant folder, image or file in nautilus and pressing the space bar.
 The Send To menu in Nautilus is fully functional and opens a window which shows all directories on the system. "Recent Files" can be accessed through the menu on the left. The search functionality in Nautilus works now which is major improvement. There is a drop down menu hidden under the gears icon which allows us to bookmark folders and perform other functions like doing a "Select All". The additional pane (invoked through F3) is unfortunately removed in GNOME 3.6.
 Gnome Documents shows all the available documents on system like  pdfs, docs etc. and makes for a good reading tool. It can also connect and open the google docs that are stored online.
 Cool background dimming effects have been implemented in GNOME 3.6. When a dialogue box is opened rest of the desktop background gets dimmed.
Gnome Tweak Tool
 This is the default customisation tool for GNOME 3.X desktop. It can be opened by opening command launcher (press Alt+F2) followed by typing in command "gnome-tweak-tool" and pressing return or Enter key. A few new features have been introduced in this tool in GNOME 3.6
 You can turn on desktop icons using the slider marked "Have file manager handle the desktop".
 By using the slider under Files sub-menu you can enable location entry in Nautilus.
 To enable maximize and minimize button in all applications you can use the sub-menu under "Shell".
 Dark theme lovers can start rejoicing as adwaita supports dark themes now. Dark theme support can be turned ON using the relevant slider as shown below.
 Windows focus modes can now be switched between "Mouse", "Click" and "Sloppy" using the drop down menu as shown below.
Conclusion
 openSUSE 12.3 GNOME Live ISO is ultra stable and rock solid. Configuration tools like  YaST installer and gnome-control-panel are working well. Web browsing using Firefox is also smooth. GNOME 3.6 feels light and fast. Many popular software packages like LibreOffice, Calligra, GnuCash have already been moved to the openSUSE 12.3 repos. Hope the next release will be as stable as the current one 12.2.
Also checkout:- Dartmouth is out, Grab it now !

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