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GNOME 2.8 brings new tools to desktop Linux users

Sep 20, 20042 mins
ComputersEnterprise ApplicationsLinux

* A look at GNOME Version 2.8

As we wrap up our recent streak of newsletters focusing on Linux desktop GUIs, today we look at the latest from GNOME.

GNOME is a popular, and free, Linux/Unix desktop environment that is the counterpart to the KDE Linux desktop. Version 2.8 of GNOME was released recently. The latest version doesn’t include any radical changes, but many subtle improvements. Users will probably like the new file and network interface management and improved removable hardware support, as well as some new tweaks that benefit Linux laptop users.

GNOME 2.8 includes a new file management system that will make it easier for applications to register as the default application for that file type in the GNOME the desktop environment. The new system will also make it easier for GNOME users to open file types with different applications – such as using a text editor, Web browser or other application to open an HTML document. GNOME developers say this will also lead to smoother interoperability on systems that have dual KDE and GNOME environments.

On the networking side, DNS-based service discovery support has been added to GNOME 2.8. This will allow users to see any local, compatible network shares in the Network window of GNOME. This could include shared drives or media on servers and PCs across Linux, Unix, Apple and Windows environments.

Connecting to local removable drives is also being made easier, GNOME developers say. A new feature allows for automatic recognition of removable CD, DVD and USB memory stick drives into a Linux system. GNOME can also be configured to launch certain applications – such as a music jukebox – when drives are inserted.

Finally, for mobile Linux users, improvements to battery monitoring and wireless network availability monitoring are included in the latest GNOME. The battery improvements include more detailed reporting on remaining battery life in a Linux laptop. Also, that annoying low battery message now goes away automatically when plugging a GNOME 2.8 Linux laptop into an outlet.

Wireless users may also like the wireless LAN monitoring features added. GNOME 2.8 now shows WLAN information and signal strength in the Network properties dialogue box.

GNOME runs on most major Linux distributions, as well as Sun Solaris and other Unix variants.