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Sneak Peek openSUSE 13.1: What we have for GNOME Users

October 29th, 2013 by
GNOME Shell GNOME 13.1

Clean GNOME Shell

Welcome to our third Sneak Peek of what is coming in openSUSE 13.1! You’ve already learned about the new Cloud features and YaST having been ported to Ruby and  it’s time to talk about… our desktops! We kick this off with GNOME 3.10.

Sticking with our philosophy for shipping the latest and the greatest, openSUSE 13.1 will offer GNOME 3.10 at installation. A great deal has changed since 3.6, and many new features have been added. The GNOME experience is now more coherent and complete with the addition of new apps and the polishing of Gnome-Shell. GNOME has become a solid desktop environment, beautiful to work in and suitable for every kind of daily operation.


Changes in the shell may not be immediately apparent but they can be noticed after a short amount of use. The changes committed to gnome-shell are subtle and various but they are consistent, adhesive, and more user-friendly. Following GNOME’s philosophy of simplicity and elegance, the shell boasts several redesigned features such as a pressure-sensitive system tray, a unified system menu, and a paging app picker. That’s not all! GNOME has taken into consideration the concerns over privacy and as such , several components have been redesigned with privacy in mind.

GNOME Shell system menu

GNOME Shell system menu

Unified System Menu

One of the things you might notice after logging in to a GNOME session, is that the separate volume, network, and status menus are gone, and instead, a single unified menu is present. The user name is no longer displayed by default for privacy reasons. You will also notice that you can no longer change your online status from the system menu. Fret not, this feature has been moved to the notification area instead. Components of the system menu will appear when they’re relevant and needed. For instance, the network icon will appear if there is a problem with your connectivity. The new system menu deals with WiFi, airplane mode, Bluetooth, and screen brightness in a more consistent manner.

Header Bar

GNOME 3.10 makes use of GTK+ 3.10 which in turn offers a new feature called the Header Bar (Client-Side Decoration, CSD). The Header Bar allows application developers to merge the title bar and the toolbars into a single component, offering the user more screen space with less clutter. Presently, you no longer need to resort to the Overview or use ALT+F4 in order to close a window. The Header Bar features a close button by default and provides a more consistent look regardless of whether the window is maximized or not.


System tray and notifications

Responsive System Tray

The System tray which efficiently handles the desktop’s dbus notifications has received a few refinements that would make the entire desktop seem less obtrusive and more available when needed. Previously, the system tray was triggered by docking the pointer for a few seconds at the bottom of the screen. However, this feature has been dropped in favor of pressure sensitivity. In 3.10, you’ll notice that once you apply pressure with your mouse to the bottom of the screen, the system tray would be immediately summoned. A cog icon has been added to the leftmost edge of the tray that allows the user to dismiss all notifications simultaneously. But that’s not all that icon does. The icon will change from a cog into a chat icon to indicate that the user is online once the latter launches Empathy or Polari.

Smarter Activities Overview

The Activities Overview has received two new updates. The first being a more size-aware placement of the spread windows, and the second being an improved search functionality. Several search providers have been added to the shell to bring data from the core GNOME apps into the shell. For instance, it is possible to find your notes, files, contacts, documents, etc., directly from within the shell’s search window. A new search settings module in the GNOME setting dialog allows the user to control precisely what is searched, allowing the user to adjust just how much is visible in their search results.

GNOME Shell Application launcher

GNOME Shell Application launcher

Easier Application Launching

The application launching view has been slightly modified to add a “Frequent” tab. The Frequent tab provides quick access to your most commonly used applications which could save you the time to look for them. The “All” tab shows all your currently installed and enabled applications. The application categories have been dropped in order to make space for more application icons on smaller screens. New also is how the application icons are presented. Instead of a scrollable list, they’re in a paginated view, allowing the user to scan through all the installed apps quicker and easier. Also, a new form of groups has been introduced using application “folders”. Several applications can be grouped within a folder in the “All” tab. Currently, users have to resort to the dconf-editor in order to add or remove application folders.

Web & app menu in Shell

Web & app menu in Shell

Better Menus

More of GNOME’s core applications have received AppMenu (Application Menu) support. What is the AppMenu? It’s a drop down menu that is triggered by clicking on the application’s icon in the top bar. Previously, the AppMenu featured a single option which was the “quit” command. Presently, the AppMenu hosts all the less used options related to the core applications. In example, the preferences and the “about” options are hosted in the AppMenu. Paired with the new cog menu present in certain applications, GNOME boasts more cohesive and less obtrusive menus, giving the user a more elegant design while not sacrificing screen space to achieve it.

Classic Applications GNOME 13.1

Classic desktop in GNOME 3.10

Reinvented Classic Mode

Fallback mode has been dropped in favor of using LLVM on machines without graphics acceleration. But the fans of GNOME 2 have not been abandoned. A new classic mode consisting of several extensions has been added to GNOME. The difference between the new Classic and old Fallback modes is, the former uses GNOME 3 as a basis with all it’s graphics abilities by modifying the user interface via several extensions, giving GNOME 3 the look and feel of GNOME 2. Classic Mode, although not installed by default, is available to be grabbed from the official repositories.

Improved Online Accounts

Online accounts have been present in GNOME for a while but they have recently received several improvements. Several new online sources have been added including Flickr support for gnome-photos, and ownCloud support. The latter brings ownCloud integration with various GNOME components including files and calendar. Of the existing online sources, several have been improved. Most notably, 2-step verification is now supported. Chat rooms have been integrated with the Online Accounts as well.

Enhanced System Settings

Various changes have been applied to the GNOME system settings. In accordance with the emphasis on privacy, privacy settings have been added to allow the user to delete usage history and to hide recently used files. It’s also possible to turn off shell search providers and hide notifications generated by certain apps. Sharing settings have been added for easier control over sharing data, and the Date & Time as well as the Display settings have received visual improvements. It is also now possible to select a custom background for the Lock Screen.

Stopwatch in Clocks

Stopwatch in Clocks

New Core Apps

Several core apps have been added to GNOME expanding its functionality. These apps are: Clocks, Notes, Weather, and Photos.


Clocks is a simple app that handles basic time-related tasks. It features an alarm, a stopwatch, and a timer, along with the ability to show the time in different cities around the world. Users can simply add or remove cities that they wish to keep track of the time in. Very handy if you have family, friends or co-workers in different parts of the world.




Also known as Bijiben (Notebook), Notes is a simple note-taking app designed to be minimalistic and efficient. It’s possible to export and import notes to Bijiben from gnotes and tomboy as it is also possible to email your notes to your contacts. Notes makes it easy to group your notes in collections in order to make things ordered and tidy.

It has basic note-linking abilities, where you can link notes together using a chosen word or phrase. Notes also has the advantage that any text in a note is searchable from the Shell.






Weather, as the name implies, is an application designed to show weather forecasts for cities chosen by the user. It predicts the weather over three days and displays temperatures in Celsius or Fahrenheit, depending on the user’s choice. Meteorological data used by weather is provided by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. In it’s default view it shows the atmospheric conditions in the cities you have chosen, by clicking on one you’re presented with a more detailed view of that city’s current weather, including the forecast.

To install Weather type “sudo zypper in gnome-weather” in your favorite terminal




Photos is an application that is designed to collect and manage the user’s photos. It can import and export images from Flickr, can create albums, and can delete images. Photos, although fully functional, has many more features planned for it including Facebook integration.

To install Photos type “sudo zypper in gnome-photos” in your favorite terminal

Technical Previews

Several other apps have been introduced in 3.10. However, these apps have not met their design goals yet and as such they are released as previews. These applications include Polari, Software, Maps, Break-timer, and Music.




Software centers are a necessity in modern computing and Software is GNOME’s answer to that trend. Software is a simple and elegant packagekit frontend that lists installed software, helps the user discover new software easily, installs software, and updates installed packages. By default, Software does not show duplicates, sorts applications by category, and displays a brief description and an image for every listed application. It’s main purpose is to make managing and discovering software easier for the average user. Software is not fully functional and has some pending issues, hence why it’s not a fully released application.

To install Software, type “sudo zypper in gnome-software gnome-software-appdata” in your favorite terminal. Note that the latter package will cause a few changes in the behavior of packagekit.

The new Music

The new Music


Unlike Software which might not be ready for daily use, Music is a stable application that does one thing and does it well; play music. It employs the tracker backend to find your music collection and then displays it under one of three views: Albums, Artists, and Songs. Music also supports search and has shell notifications.

However, despite being a stable and functional app, Music is missing a few core features such as creating playlists and employing online sources but these can be expected to come in future versions.



Maps in action

Maps in action


Maps is an OpenStreetMap frontend for GNOME. It has a very minimalistic interface and supports map and satellite views, getting directions, and zooming. It uses GNOME’s geoclue backend to point the location of the user; however, it’s currently incapable of accurately pinpointing that location. Planned features to look forward to including cycling and public transport views, as well as more accurate location pinpointing abilities.

Other Changes Include:

  • Rhythmbox ported to Python 3
  • Initial Hi-DPI Support
  • Tree View for Nautilus
  • Fine scrolling support
  • Updates to the Cantarell font
  • Rhythmbox


  • Smart Card Support
  • Magnifier Focus
  • Caret Tracking
  • Better transitions and animations
  • Greatly improved animation rendering
  • Integrated input methods
  • New default background
  • Web switched to the WebKit2 rendering engine
  • DuckDuckGo is now the default search engine with Web
  • Contacts can link contacts better than before
  • Light brown folder icons instead of grey ones
  • More settings ported to dconf from gsettings
  • various improvements to the tracker backend
  • And many more!
Tweak Tool

Tweak Tool

Tweaking GNOME

With 3.10, tweaking GNOME just got a whole lot easier. The GNOME Tweak Tool has received a major UI redesign which makes it simpler to use. In addition to providing simple methods for installing and managing extensions, shell and gtk themes, fonts, desktop icons, and the desktop background among other things, the Tweak Tool can now manage startup applications! For those who aren’t aware, extensions can radically change GNOME’s default look and functions. They can be found at extensions.gnome.org. Simply toggle an extension “on” to install it. Extensions can transform the dash to a dock, disable the activities overview, add a bottom panel, add a media or weather indicator, automate certain shell functions, and do much more! GNOME is what you make of it so stop reading, grab 13.1 and start being creative! The desktop is yours to command!


The GNOME desktop offers a plethora of applications, a rich environment, and an unobtrusive desktop that keeps out of your way yet is available when needed. It’s easy to use right from the start and it has a unique look and feel. It’s one of the best desktops to get more done and be distracted less!

This article was contributed to by Antoine Saroufim and Robert Boudreau with help from the entire GNOME team.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

34 Responses to “Sneak Peek openSUSE 13.1: What we have for GNOME Users”

  1. Anonymous

    Looks good. I like the new features, at least as listed, and can’t wait to try them out.

  2. Dollar

    will the gnome invest applet finally be resurrected in gnome 3?

  3. Sam

    I have used the gnome desktop for many years.
    But the gnome developers have destroyed a really good system.
    Gnome of today will never come back to my desktop

  4. Dollar

    It is because couple idiots in charged feel that something is needed to be completely rewritten. Maybe for job security, maybe it is “cool”. Beside the fancier graphics, nothing is good. For instance, weather used to show up with the clock in gnome 2, it’s a quite logical place I think to put the weather info. It is now a new feature in gnome 3 after more than a year of release? simple thing like I used to be able to add many locations under the clocks (I have friends in different part of the country) and see them when I click the drop down. No more. Everything is backward in gnome3. it embraces the short cut with keyboard? what’s the point of GUI? Can’t even dock your favorite apps on the top toolbar. You have to hit a key and type the app name to search? Gnome 3 is an experiment and it should never replace gnome2. should’ve just forked and call it Gnome Freak.

    • mirage

      1) do ya know there is an extensión called to put the dock of overview in the normal desktop mide and it is hiden bit when you put the mouse over left si de of the screen and there you can put all tour fav apps ??

      do ya know there is an “gnome-clasic” mode that us very similar to gnome 2??

      seriusly guys, stop posting shit just because of Nyarlatotep

      2) try rewrite everything from a scrach, gnome 2 spelled almost 10 years to be the desktop ya all used to love. gnome 3 is just 2 and it has many improvements over the old fashioned G2. well, you can like mor G2, that is ok. but please. stop spiting líes because that thing about have to go to activities to launch and app is fake. ya can use the extensión I told about or just put an icon in the desktop. is not that hard

      • Dollar

        Really? I know everything you mentioned. fallback mode, now classic and extension. Extension wasn’t made available for a long time and you know it. not all extension works on every revision. I tried g3rc1 no apps on toolbar. It works on opensuse12.1. Yes I know the dock you’re referring. It takes up real estate that it need not to. Windows 3.1 had the same idea. Weather app? it didn’t work. stock ticker app? nope. it was on the site but then it went puff. don’t know why didn’t spend time to research. Improvement means that you take something that works and then improve upon. Not take away everything that works and replace with something that you think it works better.

  5. cmannett85


    I have completely the opposite opinion. I have always used KDE, though I never particularly liked it, primarily because all the other options (including Gnome 2) were just archaic. I didn’t want my OS to look like it’s 1997…

    Gnome 3 is breath of fresh air into an otherwise stale and homogeneous desktop OS market.

    • Dollar

      Well, you were a KDE user so chances are you never liked G2. The look is not my primary concern. If I can use one mouse click to achieve my task in G2, then to do the same task in G3 I should not need to put my mouse at a corner or hit a short cut key then search for it. or at best, wait for the dock to appear then click on the it. no. no. and no. I meant no offense if you enjoy G3. I’m stating my frustration only.

      • Geoff

        So Gnome 3 sucks because it doesn’t have a permanent windows list?
        Just install a docker.
        Anything else?

  6. Ron Blind

    Isn’t this version on Gnome working on Ubuntu ?
    Reason is that I don’t like Suse just for the simple reason that it uses GRUB wich is extremely hard to get rid of when trying to install different OS

  7. Antoine Saroufim

    Ubuntu ships GNOME 3.8 by default and they have patched GTK+ libraries. We’re shipping 3.10, which is a cycle ahead, and we’ve tried to keep GNOME as vanilla as possible. Also, please note that most Linux-based operating systems use GRUB including fedora, Ubuntu, Debian, Archlinux, and numerous others. You are entirely free to use GRUB alternatives such as BURG. You could also write a better boot loader yourself. We’d appreciate that :)

    • Hanz

      Hello, I am rather Ubuntu user, but I’ve tried Opensuse 13.1 RC2 GNOME just from curiosity. I think OpenSUSE is gaining momentum shipping GNOME 3.10 before Fedora:-) I like the installation process, hardware recognition, etc. in OpenSUSE (btw live media worked fine). It seemed very stable, not even being final release! Unfortunately, several times I’ve experienced unnaturally high CPU usage with no apllications running thanks to processes like gnome-shell, tracker-store or system monitor itself.. General subjective feeling was that gnome shell in OpenSUSE is more resource hungry than Unity/compiz in Ubuntu 13.10, although more responsive. Is this something I can expect will persist even in the final release? I am starting to like GNOME implemented in OpenSUSE:-D I have Intel i5 4200M processor with HD4600 graphics. Thanks!

      • Antoine Saroufim

        Tracker is known to be resource hungry across all distributions. Since GNOME is heavily patched on Ubuntu, it’s likely that they’ve patched tracker out too. Tracker is a process that runs in the background and scans parts of your home folder in order to supply apps like Documents and Music with information about the files within the Home folder. You can turn tracker off by forbidding it from scanning any folders from the search settings in GNOME’s Control center (System settings). As for gnome-shell consuming resources, please keep in mind that a LiveMedia session is not exactly like a session launched from an OS installed on hardware. There are major differences. There is a chance that a certain bug in gnome-shell is making GNOME use more resources than needed. After the release, we will be shipping GNOME 3.10.2 and GNOME 3.10.3. These could contain the bug fixes you need. Alternatively, you can report the bug upstream and have the upstream developers look at the problem. OpenSUSE ships a clean GNOME desktop with as little patches a possible, so most of the bugs are upstream issues.

        • Hanz

          Thanks a lot for your response. You are doing great job promoting OpenSUSE and its GNOME implementation.

  8. Andrew

    Hope the VNC Remote issues are resolved…..could not remote in as fast as it was in 11.4, ever since 12.1. So I hope this has been all fixed in 13.1. Even in 12.3 only x11VNC works in KDE as far as I know. Please correct me if I am wrong. But the most important aspect of Linux is to be able to take control of the main screen:0, from login to user login and of the users machine. It worked perfectly in 11.4, but I have not been able to get it to work in 12.2 or 12.3 especially with X2Go Desktop Sharing either.

    Any answers from anyone would be nice.

    • I’m afraid this has not (yet) changed and it might not change anytime soon. It is a bit of a fundamental issue with the approach of GNOME Shell. But perhaps the Classic mode might work better…

      • I’ve heard lots of interesting things with how Wayland are planning on implementing remote access (They’re already saying its ‘as good as VNC’)

        With GNOME 3.10 already having some semblance of Wayland support, we might have some progress sooner than expected :)

  9. Andrew

    The comment above on remoting was in relation to Gnome 3 since 12.2…have not been able to remote in at any speed which was as fast as 11.4, or it messes up all the time, and wont work with X2Go Desktop Sharing. Right now only KDE, LXDE and XFC Desktops will work with VNC correctly….but not Gnome 3.

  10. sylvain

    since version 3.6, gnome is getting better and better.
    the developers are integrating the user feedbacks and gnome is now very solid.
    On the things to improve, I would really appreciate an application launcher similar to dmenu (auto-completion, showing possibilities dynamically while typing).
    And a simple way to move windows around a multi-screen step using hotkeys, like it is possbile for the windows on workspaces.

    anyway keep the good work.

  11. I must say this will going to rock for gnome 3, I am waiting for its launch ….

  12. Alex

    Looks very nice.

  13. Omegaelf

    Just glad we are all moving into the future….the past is gone baby!

    • Marco

      The problem of the future is that it’s not always the same as saying that we are going to get better things. Back in the 80s I would dream a lot about the year 2000. The future … The wonders ….

  14. Marten

    Hi all at Suse,

    Though I use Mint Cinnamon, Gnome 3 still appeals to me. Gnome 3.10 seems to be shaping up and, though KDE has been my point of interest as suse is concerned, I’m thinking of switching on at least one machine. Whether we like it or not, the ‘Windows 95’ desktop paradigm is changing (blame Apple, Google and Microsoft).

    Just: could you make several theming options available by default? (A great option in Mint) Default gnome is just so ‘Android’ like, so dark.

    Getting ready for 13.1 (if only I can get my old broadcom 4311 to work on Suse…)

  15. Anonymous

    Looks great! Can’t wait to try it.

  16. Eddie G.

    I LOVE this newest version! I have been using Gnome for almost 3 yearse, and you guys (and gals!…LOL!) have NEVER failed to add something new and fresh to it! Keep up the good work…ignore the nay-sayers and let your work speak for you!..


  17. Henry

    Thanks for all your hard work on the new OpenSuse release. I’m a fan of Gnome3 and I’m really looking forward to trying OpenSuse’s newest.


  18. Robert

    It seems both Microsoft and Linux are imploding upon themselves. Windows 8, Gnome, the mess that is KDE… Why do developers continue to think they must “improve” what is already there to justify their existence?

  19. Ervin Dine

    Dear Suse developers. The new opensuse 13.1 gnome 3.10 is great but there is a horrible mistake with integrated input methods for foreign languages. I tried Japanese and Chinese and they absolutely don’t give a correct input. I have no problems in Suse 12.3 Gnome using ibus. Fedora 19 has done a better job with integrated input methods, it is correct but as good as ibus. I like gnome and suse especially it gives me more tools than fedora but the new gnome language input method is horrible and scim simply doesn’t work. Could you fix this, it is crucial for my work and I was really looking forward to the new suse and gnome and I prefer not switching to Fedora.

  20. Merrill Butterman

    Using Ubuntu then switching to opensuse is a breath of fresh air for me. I have two concerns. I would like to see networking a little more simplified so establishing them (even if to update) was easier. I had a great deal of issue with the updates and had to goto the CLI to complete it successfully. Other than these to issues. I am enjoying using this O/S and want to thank all those that have put the work and polish on this version