GNOME 3.2 Released

While the GNOME desktop environment has its fair share of detractors, there are some who appreciate its simplified approach, so the recent release of the latest version is an eagerly anticipated event.

Version 3.2 isn't likely to win back those who jumped ship when 3.0 was released; it isn't a resurrection of the 2.0 branch, but it does bring some new improvements that will be welcome.

GNOME 3.2 offers stable support for Wayland. Although it's still early days, reports indicate that it should be stable for most day-to-day usage. For those who prefer mature technology, 3.2 still will work under X11.

A major part of the release is an updated version of GTK+. GTK+ 3.20 brings a number of improvements that will be felt outside GNOME, as GTK+ is a cross-platform toolkit used in plenty of applications. This includes other desktop environments, such as Cinnamon and MATE.

Besides improved Wayland support, GTK+ improvements include drag-and-drop support, notifications, simplified CSS styling for UI elements and native file choosers on Windows.

WebkitGTK+ also has been improved, with a faster JavaScript compiler and enhanced support for WebGL.

GTK+ now supports .xcompose files, allowing users to customize keyboard shortcuts for unusual characters that don't fit on standard keyboards.

The GNOME environment is more than a shell; it also includes a suite of basic applications and utilities. These have been updated too. One highly welcome improvement is enhanced search in the Nautilus file manager.

GNOME Games is another area that has seen a big update, with the integration of the MAME emulator. MAME emulates old consoles and arcade machines, allowing you to play 100% authentic retro games across a number of platforms. And, plenty of compatible game ROMs have been made available by their creators.

Epiphany (aka Web) has improved support for WebAudio as well as the other improvements stemming from the WebkitGTK+ enhancements.

GNOME Maps is shaping up as an open-source competitor to Google maps (although it's not quite as flexible yet). Using data from the OpenMaps project, it adds some GUI sugar in the form of expanded place bubbles. It also has the added convenience of tighter integration into the GNOME environment as a native app.

GNOME 3.2 has a streamlined configuration panel for mouse and touchpad devices. The goal is to streamline the interface without removing the ability to configure these user input devices fully.

There are many more improvements, including font updates, shortcuts, privacy options and calendar settings. An early preview of the release notes (subject to change) is available at