First Look at the GNOME 3.36 Desktop in Ubuntu 20.04 LTS



With only a week before the GNOME 3.36 desktop environment is officially announced, I decided to take it for a spin on the upcoming Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa) operating system and check out the new features and enhancements.

Most of the GNOME 3.36 beta packages have landed in the Ubuntu 20.04 LTS repositories, so I would like to give you all a first look of what’s changed since Ubuntu 19.10 (Eoan Ermine), which uses the GNOME 3.34 desktop environment.

The Ubuntu desktop is virtually unchanged since Canonical decided to drop Unity in favor of the GNOME desktop with the Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) release. Various tweaks were made to the system theme and icons throughout the years, but the layout has remained the same to this day.

With the upcoming GNOME 3.36 release, which would be officially unveiled next week on March 11th, a whole bunch of changes are coming your way, and you will be able to enjoy them all on your Ubuntu PC with the Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa) release on April 23rd, 2020.

Probably the first thing you’ll notice after upgrading to Ubuntu 20.04 LTS will be the fact that everything looks more polished. Various minor improvements were made to the GNOME Shell UI, especially to the calendar popover and the search.

The calendar popover now makes it easier to enable the “Do Not Disturb” mode and will display an icon next to the clock when it’s active. Notifications popups won’t be shown when Do Not Disturb is enabled with the exception of low battery warnings, which is a good thing, of course.

Furthermore, the Power Off / Log Out options have been reorganized and there’s now a visible Suspend option to make easier to put your computer to sleep. The Log Out option is also more accessible as you don’t have to click twice to log out.

Talking about log out, there’s now also a much modern lock/login screen, which I wrote about last month. Not only it looks nicer, but it has some added functionality to it in the way that you can now simply click with the mouse pointer, press a key on the keyboard or scroll with the mouse wheel to access the login screen (see it in action below).

In case you didn’t notice from the above screenshots, there’s also now a password peeking feature that lets you view the password you’ve typed in the login screen or authentication dialogs across the system.

Other changes are visible in the GNOME Control Center. First, the Details and Devices pages are now gone and you can now manage Thunderbolt devices from the Privacy page. Moreover, the About page has been updated to show more system information and the Users page got more polished.

In the GNOME Shell app grid mode it’s now easier to create app folders just by dragging and dropping app launchers on top of another. App folders are now displayed on the centre of the screen and have a new option to allow you to change the name.

Last but not least, there’s now a dedicated Extensions app for managing your GNOME Shell extensions. For now, the app will let you enable or disable extensions, change extension preferences, as well as to update and remove extensions.

Of course, there are many other UI tweaks and lots of under-the-hood changes that will make your GNOME desktop experience more enjoyable, weather you’ll be using Ubuntu 20.04 LTS or any other GNU/Linux distribution that will ship with GNOME 3.36 later this year, such as Fedora 32.

Last updated 9 months ago

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