Interesting Features Of GNOME 3.4
Written by Michael Larabel in GNOME on 26 March 2012 at 06:20 PM EDT. 21 Comments
GNOME 3.4, the latest major update to the GNOME3 desktop, is set to be officially released on Wednesday. Here's a look at some of the most interesting features of this biannual GNOME update.

The release notes coming out on Wednesday when GNOME 3.4 is to be officially announced will exhaustively cover the changes to GNOME 3.4 since the 3.2 release last September. However, in looking over the change-logs for the GNOME 3.4 packages being checked-in and with testing of GNOME 3.3 development releases, here's some of the most interesting GNOME 3.4 features that go on my list.

- GTK+ 3.4 is great. GNOME's tool-kit update for GNOME 3.4 has a number of exciting changes: there's support for smooth scrolling (support was recently added to the X.Org Server), support for kinetic scrolling with touch devices, updated support against the Wayland 0.85 API and supports more Wayland functionality (window type hints, clipboard, selections, resize grips, grabs, etc), and improved theming. GTK's HTML5 Broadway back-end also has added support for V7+ web-sockets. The Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows versions of GTK+ 3.4 are also a lot better than the previous 3.0 and 3.2 releases.

- GNOME Boxes has been introduced as a new GNOME application for managing virtual machines. This virtualization desktop application is similar to the popular and long-standing virt-manager, but is designed to be simpler and easier to use. There's also fully-automated install support for Windows XP, Windows 7, and Fedora Linux, among other features.

- A new Epiphany. GNOME's Epiphany web-browser has seen a number of visual and internal changes during the GNOME 3.4 cycle. However, most users will still prefer Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or another one of the web-browsing alternatives.

- GNOME Shell. The GNOME Shell continues to advance with the 3.4 release bring improved search and other enhancements. The Mutter window manager is also better off with v3.4, including lots of bug-fixes to both.

- Evolution mail client enhancements. (Although I still personally find it horrific compared to Mozilla Thunderbird in most aspects.)

- Empathy messenger improvements.

- Clutter advancements. The Clutter tool-kit now has support for multiple back-ends for different platforms that can be altered at run-time, a GDK back-end for Clutter has been added, a new scene graph API has been introduced, a new implicit annomation API, and GLSL performance improvements.

Stay tuned for more information on Wednesday (28 March) when GNOME 3.4.0 will be officially released. One of the first major distributions to be shipping with the GNOME 3.4 desktop by default will be Fedora 17, which is due for its official release in early May.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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