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Improvements have been made to how the new version interacts with the web site, which has been offering extensions for the GNOME Shell since December, as does for Firefox and Thunderbird. Uninstalling extensions should now be as reliable as installation using WebKit-based browsers such as Chrome and Epiphany/Web.

The "Alpha" stamp on the logo, however, indicates that the extensions site is still incomplete. When GNOME 3.4 was released, the web site only offered ten extensions for it, since they were the only ones marked as compatible. Now, the site has about 140 extensions for GNOME 3.2, some of which The H Open detailed earlier this year in "Tuning for GNOME 3".

Indeed, the site still does not include any of the extensions (such as gnome-shell-extension-weather) that provide current weather information in the GNOME Shell's top bar, which was integrated in GNOME 2; developers are currently working on such a function for a future GNOME version. The developers did not realize a function for automatic updating of extensions, as is mentioned in the site's FAQ.


  • GNOME's Empathy instant messenger can now handle video chats and cooperates more closely with GNOME Contacts.
  • Nautilus offers an undo function for copying and moving files.
  • Seahorse, the GNOME tool for managing encryption keys and passwords, also received a facelift and is now clearer and more modern.
  • If a user steps away from the computer for some time, upon return the bottom status bar presents the notifications that were displayed in the meantime so that the user won't easily miss anything.
  • GNOME 3.4 includes a range of improvements for setting up and using graphics tablets from Wacom; two blog posts from GNOME developer Bastien Nocera provide details on this (1, 2).
  • Evolution now supports Kolab Groupware servers with the package "evolution-kolab".
  • The scrollbars that appear on the right side of GNOME applications when needed are now thinner and no longer have buttons for scrolling up and down.
  • GNOME can now handle "smooth scrolling".
  • With the release of GNOME 3.4, the still new GNOME Boxes virtualisation and remote access tool has also been updated. While the tool is intended for GNOME 3.6 and is still in the testing and development stage, it may already be included in some Linux distributions soon.
  • The colours of the standard desktop background change a bit depending on the time of day, becoming less harsh at night.

At the heart of the new GNOME are programs such as GTK+ 3.4, Glib 2.32 and Clutter 1.10, which have all been released in the last few days with many improvements. The release notes for GNOME 3.4 include details on those programs and describe a number of the changes mentioned here as well as others.


Revolutionary concepts like those for document management with applications such as Zeitgeist and GNOME Activity Journal, which have been under discussion for more than two years now, are nowhere to be found in GNOME 3.4. The real difference in the latest GNOME is the improvements to details – users of GNOME 3.2 who were hoping for big changes will be just as disappointed as those who can't stand the third generation of GNOME and hoped that the GNOME developers would use this second overhaul to drop some of the major changes introduced by GNOME 3.

As it turns out, the GNOME development team is continuing on its path, using its latest release to smooth out the desktop. GNOME 3 users will likely approve of this, and these small changes combined with the Shell extensions may even convince one or two of those who weren't fans of GNOME 3.0 and 3.2 to give GNOME 3 another chance. In the long term, however, the GNOME Project will most likely need to put in a bit more effort to win back the users it has lost to Cinnamon, KDE and Unity.

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