With openSUSE 11.2 right around the corner, let’s take a look at what’s new and interesting in the GNOME desktop for this release. Highlights include a preview of GNOME 3.0, new applets and application updates, and the incredibly attractive Sonar theme new for 11.2.
For users coming from 11.1, openSUSE 11.2 actually features two GNOME releases worth of updates. Because of the lengthy release cycle, openSUSE skipped the 2.26 release and jumped to GNOME 2.28, which was made available in September.
Nautilus now has a plugin to allow quick and easy file sharing. Just right-click on the folder you’d like to share and select “Sharing Options.” This makes use of Samba, so you need to enable directory sharing under the Samba Server module in YaST.
The Webcam application for GNOME, Cheese, includes some enhancements for 2.28, including a redesigned interface that’s better suited for netbooks.
Not only does openSUSE feature the goodness from upstream GNOME, but also some home-grown improvements as well. For instance, the Sonar theme that is the default in 11.2. It’s a slightly darker, but still green, theme that’s pleasant to look at and show off to users new to Linux!
Vincent Untz, a member of the openSUSE Booster team and member of the GNOME Foundation Board, says that part of the main focus for 11.2 was “to be a better upstream citizen” with GNOME. So, for the most part, openSUSE does not diverge greatly from upstream GNOME — but there are some differences.
For example, GNOME 2.28 ships Empathy as the default instant messaging client. Untz says that it’s likely openSUSE will switch to Empathy in 11.3, but due to issues with some protocols and proxies, it was decided to keep Pidgin as the default client for one more release. Empathy is, of course, available via the repositories, so users who want to start with Empathy now can do so.
Want to get a preview of GNOME 3.0? The final GNOME 3.0 release isn’t due until September 2010, but openSUSE 11.2 has an early build of GNOME Shell in the repositories and users can see what all the fuss is about (or will be about), early on.
And, of course, you’ll find Firefox as the default Web browser for openSUSE instead of Epiphany. openSUSE users will find the most recent stable version of Firefox (3.5) on their GNOME desktop, though Epiphany and its new Webkit backend are available in the openSUSE 11.2 repositories.
All in all, there’s a lot to look forward to in GNOME in openSUSE 11.2. Be ready to grab it on November 12th!