New features and improvements in GNOME 3.32

After a six-month regular development cycle, GNOME 3.32 will be released today. If you want to know what new features and improvements are included in this release, read on.

User interface update in GNOME 3.32

For version 3.32, GNOME has a refreshed, modern user interface with icons and GTK themes with more vibrant colors.

Updated GNOME application icons

New GNOME Icon style Flatter and very geometric, you can easily reuse and adapt elements in other icons. In keeping with third-party icons, these icons no longer have built-in shadows.

Updated folder icons:GNOME 3.32 folder icon

As for the GNOME GTK theme (Adwaita), in addition to the color change in the icon theme, the title bar and buttons are brighter and more elegant, while the buttons use shadows instead of solid borders, with more rounded corners and Flatter background. The switch is also a bit more rounded and has lost its “ ON ” and “ OFF ” labels to “ align the theme with other platforms and make the switch look more compact and modern ”.

Updated GTK theme GNOME 3.32
Updated GNOME GTK theme

The screenshot compares the design of the old title bar with the new title bar (from GTK Blog):GNOME 3.32 title bar design update

That’s not all. The application menu (shown on the top bar with the application name as the icon of the current application) has been removed from the core Gnome application, and its contents have been moved to the main menu within the application window.
Under the heading “Farewell, application menu!“, GNOME UX designer Allan Day suggested multiple reasons for making this change, including people not participating in the app menu, not realizing they are interactive, or not remembering where they are.

Fractional scaling

GNOME’s small-scale scaling work started a few years ago, but the feature was delayed for some time due to other priorities. GNOME 3.32 brings score scaling improvements and bug fixes, although this feature is still considered experimental. But starting with this GNOME version, the shell will draw all its elements with good visual quality at any fractional scale value, and is independent for each monitor.
The default GNOME scaling allows only integer scaling of the user interface (eg 100%, 200%), which is not applicable to every HiDPI monitor; this is the place for fractional scaling, it allows scaling using fractions, so users can set Scale percentage, such as 125%, 150%, or 175%.GNOME 3.32 score scaling

To use the experimental fraction scaling feature, you need to use Wayland and add the scale-monitor-framebuffer to the gsettings key org.gnome.mutter.experimental-features:

gsettings set org.gnome.mutter experimental-features "['scale-monitor-framebuffer']"

After that, you will see the fractional scale value in the Settings Display panel.

Performance, settings and applications

Mutter and GNOME Shell should be faster in this release, thanks to several performance improvements to the underlying data structure, these properties make animations, icon grids, and top panels faster and more flexible. In addition, some blocking operations were removed from the main loop, which should fix random pauses that some people see. GNOME developer Georges Stavracas provides some technical information on GNOME Shell and Mutter performance improvements in his book. Blog. Searches in many GNOME applications have also become faster due to improvements in tracker SQL. GNOME 3.32 application permissions

GNOME settings and core GNOME applications have also received many improvements in this release. For settings, the most significant change is the addition of a new Applications panel. The panel includes some existing settings for notifications, sounds, and searches, as well as application permissions. These permissions can be built-in, cannot be changed, or can be controlled by the user, allowing users to revoke them as needed.

GNOME 3.32 sound settings
Redesigned GNOME sound settings

Other setting changes include:

  • The sound settings panel has been redesigned to provide us with a vertical layout for more intuitive placement options
  • Nightlights now support warmer / colder color temperature settings
  • Google Drive performance has been improved, especially for large files
GNOME terminal title bar
GNOME Terminal now uses title bar when running in GNOME or GNOME Classic

GNOME core applications:

  • GNOME software:
    • The Flatpak app now lists its permissions on the app details page
    • Faster application browsing
  • On-screen keyboard now supports emoji
  • GNOME website:
    • Enhanced reader mode with custom preferences and improved styles
    • New automation mode allows applications to be controlled by WebDriver
    • More gestures when browsing for touchpad users, such as swiping left or right to go back or forward in browser history
  • If both guest and host support, GNOME Boxes can now enable 3D acceleration for virtual machines
  • GNOME Terminal now uses title bar when running in GNOME or GNOME Classic
  • GNOME files: new path bar design improves button discoverability
  • DConf editor: editable path bar, improved bookmark popups, and features that run on very small screens
GNOME desktop icon
Desktop icon extension

Also, although not part of the core GNOME, the new homescreen icon Extensions have been released to restore traditional desktop icons for users who need this feature. The extension has multi-monitor support, which provides everything you need, from thumbnails and symbolic links, to keyboard shortcuts for selection, renaming, and more. Moreover, this extension also supports Wayland, as opposed to X11-only Files (Nautilus).
The GNOME 3.32 changes proposed in this article are only the most prominent changes in this release, but there are many smaller improvements and fixes.
The GNOME 3.32 desktop should be available in rolling Linux distributions such as Arch Linux as soon as possible after its release. It will be available in the next versions of Ubuntu and Fedora (Ubuntu 19.04 / Fedora 30) and other Linux distributions that come with the GNOME desktop.

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