In our continuing series of Sneak Peeks at openSUSE 11.1, we’re introducing the newest version of the GNOME desktop into openSUSE. openSUSE 11.1 will contain the latest version of the GNOME desktop, GNOME 2.24. Not only does this new version bring with it great new features, but as always the GNOME developers in the openSUSE Project have added our own unique polish to make a truly unique, polished desktop experience.
New in GNOME 2.24
As always, a new version of GNOME means new features and enhancements that make using your computer easier. Many times, they’re small features that once you start using them, you can’t live without. One example is the new tabbed browsing in Nautilus, the file browser.
openSUSE 11.1’s GNOME Desktop includes some of the latest and greatest in communication and organization tools in Evolution, Pidgin, and Ekiga. The newest version of Evolution contains new functionality to make anyone who sends out many similar emails a day, or those who are fans of Google’s online communication tools very happy.
Evolution can now save mail as templates. Need to have a simple, standard message to send out to contacts who all ask the same question? Or do you want a standard message to send to new clients? Either way, you’ll find a use for this handy feature.
Living in the Gmail universe, but don’t want to lose the safety and speed of having a desktop client? Now with Evolution, your Evolution Address Book can be synchronized with Google Contacts, meaning you now have the full range of Google support: Gmail through IMAP mail support, Google Calendar which synchronizes with your Evolution Calendar, and now contacts synchronization support.
Frequent instant messengers will be happy to see that the new version of Pidgin, our multi-network instant messaging and chat client, is included.
Pidgin can connect to all of your different instant messaging clients and social networks, including AIM, MSN/Windows Live, Yahoo! IM, and MySpace Chat. Pidgin also serves as an IRC chat client, through which community support for openSUSE can be received.
What to talk with your friends or family by voice or face-to-face? Meet Ekiga, the openSUSE Internet telephony client.
With Ekiga, a compatible microphone or webcam, and an SIP account (all of which can be set up upon first running Ekiga), talking to your friends, family, or colleagues is easy and free if they’re also using a SIP client. With an appropriate SIP call out plan, you can make affordable voice calls over the normal phone system, right from your computer!
Entertainment and Multimedia
When the work is done, it’s time to play! openSUSE 11.1’s GNOME contains some of the best multimedia playing and building applications available, from Banshee, our state-of-the-art music player; to Brasero, an innovative DVD and CD burning application which enables you to make videos from your computer burn on a DVD to share with friends and family; to F-Spot, an amazing yet amazingly simple photo organizer.
openSUSE’s Banshee Media Player is incredibly powerful, yet dead-simple to use. Bring over music from another operating system, a CD collection, or an MP3 player, and Banshee will catalog and apply cover art to them all. Organize and enjoy your movies with the video playback features. Stay up to date and entertained with your favorite audio and video podcasts, or listen to one of many streaming radio stations available. You can even discover new music with Last.fm, a music social network that’s built right in to Banshee.
Several new features are available in Banshee in openSUSE 11.1. Banshee now supports compilation albums. So whether it’s the greatest hits of the ’90s or the soundtrack to your favorite movie, Banshee now recognizes and correctly organizes compilation albums.
The developers of Banshee have taken special attention to the look and feel of Banshee. One of the areas this is most noticeable is the new Now Playing window. Although this pane is meant for showing videos, new in Banshee is that when playing audio, this window displays the album cover and song/show information, making it perfect for parties so your friends can see what’s playing.
Banshee also now supports Internet Radio. The application comes pre-installed with dozens of stations already, ranging from all spectrums of music to talk. Want to add more? As long as the Internet radio stream you wish to add has a compatible stream, it’s as simple as a click of the mouse in Banshee.
Managing photos on openSUSE is easy and fun with F-Spot, the photo manager. With F-Spot, you can browse your photo collection by date or tags, and making basic photo corrections is a snap. You can even export your photos to Internet photo websites, such as Flickr, Picasa, or SmugMug. F-Spot is also extend-able, with extensions written to make F-Spot even more powerful or more useful, such as an extension to export photos to Facebook. These are easily installed with just a few clicks of the mouse.
F-Spot in openSUSE 11.1 features a redesigned user interface, giving easy access and better descriptions to the photo editing tools, as well as easier access to photo metadata information in the sidebar.
Every now and then, you may have had duplicate photos show up in your library. What’s more annoying than that? Having to delete each one, one by one. Now, not only does F-Spot prevent duplicate photos by detecting duplicates upon importing new photos, but with a click of a mouse, F-Spot will analyze your entire photo library for duplicates and eliminate them.
You’ve got music, video, and photos on your computer. But what if you want to take them off your computer once in a while? With Brasero, the CD/DVD burning utility, it’s as easy as can be, and is included in openSUSE!
With Brasero you can save movies on DVDs to watch on your TV, save songs and other audio shows on CDs to play in the car, or burn ISO images onto discs.
Finally, when it’s just time to have fun, there’s Cheese. Cheese is a webcam studio app that, with a compatible webcam, allows you to take pictures or videos of yourself and your friends.
With Cheese, you can apply special effects to the pictures or video, and make a funny video to upload to YouTube or other video sharing website. You can even apply multiple effects, to create a unique image!
openSUSE 11.1 features several new improvements for the GNOME desktop’s administration and configuration, including further YaST integration with GNOME, setting up 3G cellular data connections, and more.
YaST Integration Improvements
Even with the improving integration of YaST into GNOME, YaST has still remained with the same button and UI structure of it’s KDE counterpart, which doesn’t exactly match GNOME. With openSUSE 11.1, YaST has been given a visual refresh. Now, at the top of every YaST screen is a short description of what the YaST module does, with a link to getting further help. The buttons have also been relabeled so they match the GNOME standard, meaning YaST now truly looks at home on the GNOME desktop!
Cellular Broadband Connectivity
Since openSUSE 11.0, openSUSE has been able to easily connect to cellular broadband networks (with the correct card installed in the computer). This continues for openSUSE 11.1, with NetworkManager handling the connectivity. So connecting to cell networks is nearly as simple as connecting to a WiFi hotspot.
Another feature that has been in openSUSE for a while is the great multi-monitor support. With a simple applet and automatic configuration of extra monitors, using more than one monitor in openSUSE 11.1 is as simple as can be.
openSUSE 11.1 includes a revamped login screen for GNOME. Simply click on your name, and enter your pasword. No more having to remember and type both usernames and passwords, it’s a simple process. Plus, access accessibility and multi-monitor settings right from the login screen, making the experience more open to everyone. In addition, the background in the login screen is time sensitive: if it’s midnight where you are, your screen is a pleasant dark color. If it’s high noon, you’re in for a bright login!
Counting Down the Days
With only days to go until openSUSE 11.1 is released and you can try these features for yourself, so get ready! Plus, there are more Sneak Peeks coming in the next few days, so stay tuned to openSUSE News for all things openSUSE!