GNOME 44 Alpha Released with New Stream Deck App, File Chooser Grid View

The GNOME Project released today for public testing of the alpha version of the upcoming GNOME 44 desktop environment series, a major update that will introduce many new features and improvements.

GNOME 44 promises a GTK4 port of the Epiphany (GNOME Web) web browser, a file chooser grid view and support for 64px icon size in grid view in the Nautilus file manager, a Bluetooth submenu in Quick Settings, the ability to disable Settings search results, as well as a redesigned Accessibility panel with new a navigation pattern in Settings.

Talking about Settings (a.k.a. GNOME Control Center), it received a lot of changes including support for sharing Wi-Fi passwords through a QR code, a mobile-friendly Date & Time panel, as well as the ability to see kernel and firmware versions in the About panel.

File chooser grid view in Nautilus – Image credits Matthias Classen

On top of that, the Thunderbolt panel will now only show when there is Thunderbolt hardware present, it’s now possible to change marks in touchpad/mouse speed scales using the keyboard or mouse scroll, there’s a new SMS/Call apps entry in Default apps, and the Display panel now offers improved error state of the Night Light feature.

Various minor improvements were implemented to the Device Security, Network, Wi-Fi, Users, Wacom, Region, Printer, and Language panels. Also improved is the test mouse/touchpad UI, though this change might not actually land in GNOME 44.

The GNOME Software app got some goodies too, such as progress reporting and changelogs for rpm-ostree downloads, the ability to view only Open Source apps, automatic removal of unused Flatpak runtimes, support for uninstalling apps via command line, as well as improved search reliability and error display.

Several new apps also landed in the GNOME 44 development cycle. These include Workbench for experimenting with GNOME technologies, Zap for playing sounds from a soundboard, Boatswain for controlling your Stream Deck devices, Emblem for generating project avatars, and Lorem for generating the well-known Lorem Ipsum placeholder text.

Boatswain app for controlling Stream Deck devices – Image credits Georges Stavracas

Of course, there are numerous other improvements in GNOME 44, including support for the GNOME Maps app to fetch thumbnails and Wikipedia article extracts, a new service that detects sandboxed applications running in the background without a user-visible window, a new Global Shortcuts portal that notifies apps when shortcuts are being activated even when they’re unfocused, and better search performance in Nautilus.

GNOME 44 alpha is the first unstable release leading to the GNOME 44 stable series, which is scheduled for release on March 22nd, 2023. You can give it a try by compiling the sources using the official BuildStream project snapshot that you can download from here or in a development version of a GNU/Linux distribution.

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