GNOME 3.6 beta arrives with redesigned message tray
Source: Matthias Clasen
After a delay of almost a week, the GNOME project has announced the release of GNOME 3.5.90 – this constitutes the first beta for GNOME 3.6, scheduled to arrive at the end of September. Version 3.5.90 is expected to bring the last changes for this development cycle as it heralds the start of the stabilisation phase of the release when the developers will mainly concentrate on fixing bugs.
Changes to GNOME Shell in the beta include a new way to access the application view from the Shell. A new "nine dots" icon at the bottom of the dash will now open the applications list, doing away with the older button at the top of the Shell screen. The Shell's message tray has also been reworked. The size of the bar has been increased and it is now easier to control with keyboard commands.
The behaviour of the message tray has been changed so that it will no longer raise itself for incoming notifications; users will now have to invoke it manually every time, either by moving their mouse to the bottom edge of the screen or by pressing the key combination Super key and M key. GNOME developer Matthias Clasen has posted an overview of all the user interface changes on his blog. For details of all changes in the beta version, users can read the NEWS files for GNOME's core applications as well as other default applications.
Meanwhile, the developers are discussing which features to incorporate in GNOME 3.8 – one proposal suggests either dropping GNOME 3's Fallback Mode or at least significantly improving it. Fallback Mode is based on GNOME 2 components and as such offers only a fraction of the features of the current generation of GNOME desktop. According to a wiki page on the topic, GNOME 3 itself runs on a lot more systems nowadays thanks to the Llvmpipe technology that enables systems without 3D acceleration to offload that work to the CPU instead. Llvmpipe is available in most modern Linux distributions.
A problem with this proposal is that Llvmpipe does not work on certain processor architectures or with the BSD kernel. Some developers argue, however, that Fallback Mode is currently not being tested enough and thus presents a liability to the project. These developers say that it would be more prudent to drop the feature completely if it does not receive more attention.