Hidden Enhancements

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2003-03-10 Print this article Print

Hidden Enhancements

Many improvements in GNOME 2.2 lurk behind the scenes. The previous version, GNOME 2.0, was a major overhaul, and Version 2.2 delivers bug fixes and performance enhancements over the 2.0 version.

In addition, GNOME 2.2 provides a number of usability niceties, such as a "show desktop" task bar button and support in GNOMEs Nautilus file manager for the display of file metadata, such as the resolution of a JPEG image or the duration of an MP3 file.

Also new in GNOME is support for startup notification—where your icon changes to indicate that youve launched an application. GNOME enables this notification only in applications that explicitly support it. This differs from KDE, which provides notification for any launched application.

GNOME 2.2s support of fontconfig and Xft2 provides improved font rendering and significantly simplifies font installation. We needed only to add fonts to a folder called ".fonts" in our home directory to make them available within GNOME. Weve worked with these font facilities in Red Hat Linux 8.0, and were pleased to see them folded into GNOME.

GNOME 2.2 owes these font improvements, along with improved multimonitor support, in part to the graphical tool kit on which its based, Version 2.2.1 of GTK+ (the GIMP Toolkit, so named because it was developed for use in GIMP, the GNU Image Manipulation Program).

One advancement that GTK+ has yet to accrue, however, is an improved file selection dialog. This is one of the most-heavily reused widgets in the tool kit and one thats currently lagging quite a distance behind KDEs Qt-based file dialog, both in functionality and appearance.

In this version of GNOME, Metacity replaces Sawfish as GNOMEs default window manager, a change that Red Hat made on its own in the version of GNOME that it shipped with Red Hat Linux 8.0. The main difference between Metacity and Sawfish is that Metacity is much less obviously user-configurable, with the idea that a window manager should be transparent to the user.

However, GNOME users can still select a different window manager, if they wish.

Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at jason_brooks@ziffdavis.com.

As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at jbrooks@eweek.com.

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