What didn't make it.
Some modules, notably rhythmbox, evolution and totem did not make it into this release. evolution was not going to be ready, Ximian does not ship pre-release software, and rhythmbox was not ready in the desired state. Nevertheless, it should make for a more exciting 2.8 release of GNOME, considering the new look evolution will be part of the proper release. The new look evolution is already looking much better than before.
It is a testament to GNOME's insistence on shipping quality that they do not ship pre-release software. The people responsible for the modules actually withdrew themselves because they were not going to be at the required place in time. This is a good attitude, which helps minimise potential trouble regarding what modules do or don't make the cut. Delaying the release for modules which needed more time was not going to be an option anyway, because of the strict adherence to the timetable. GNOME releases are time based, for those who may not have known, rather than feature based.
I must admit being a little disappointed because I was really looking forward to the new evolution especially. But I am prepared to wait the few months or so to ensure I get a quality product.
There are a few other changes which are too numerous and too small to cover in great detail. Here is a probably incomplete list of the changes.
Acme is removed, and its functions are moved to the keyboard shortcuts preferences. No more icon in the notification area just for multimedia keys a new module, gnome-netstatus, makes its way in. It provides handy notification about the status of your network, as its name implies. it may be seen in some of the screenshots.
Dasher makes its way into this release, but unfortunately, my source for GNOME 2.6 did not have dasher, therefore I was unable to give it a shakedown.
The help system is much faster now. It practically leaps to the screen. before, you had to do yelp-pregenerate to get any meaningful speed from the GNOME help browser, but now it fast enough. Also, it provides very nicely formatted help pages which are intuitive to go through and follow.
Gpdf has also grown up in this release, and now support bookmarks in pdfs, and now prints them too. This is a really good pdf viewer.
The keyboard capplet in the control centre gets a slight improvement. It is now able to set international keyboards, and you are able to choose your keyboard from a large list.
The background chooser is much improved. In this release, it is able to have a number of wallpapers ready for easy choosing, rather than having to go through the file system every time you wanted to change a wallpaper. It is brought into line with the theme chooser dialogs too to add to the consistency.
The future of the Linux Desktop looks pretty bright, and even now it is very able to replace many proprietary environments. GNOME sets a new standard for itself and other open source projects in this release. They have gone against the grain in some ways, by switching wholesome to spatial browsing as default in their interface, and have done well first time. Everything is faster n this release, and the level of polish is upped even more here.
The HIG is really a core part of GNOME and its influence resonates in all core components. Much care is taken to make everything work consistently and predictably, although some decisions that have been made, e.g, the open file dialog, are questionable.
This release is not out yet, but eyes are already looking to the future. Rough plans are available here.
Discussion is taking place to actually reduce widgetry above the GTK level, and hopefully, this will help blur the line further between a GNOME app, and a GTK one. A lot of project do depend on GTK. XFCE and Rox come to mind. People are already committing to see through a number of issues currently in GNOME and adding new features, with ftp browsing being one of the issues where someone has already pledged to fix for the next release. Roll on GNOME 2.8.
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