First Look at the GNOME 3.38 Desktop on Ubuntu 20.10

GNOME 3.38 Ubuntu 20.10


It’s that time of the year again, when I am happy to take the latest and greatest GNOME 3.38 desktop release for a test drive, and this time I am testing it on the upcoming Ubuntu 20.10 (Groovy Gorilla) operating system.

As you may have heard, GNOME 3.38 is out and it’s packed with goodies, which will please long-time fans of the desktop environment (that includes me, of course). But it’s not yet on any distro, so you’ll have to wait a few more weeks for it to land on some of the most popular Linux OSes out there to enjoy the new improvements.

One of the upcoming GNU/Linux distributions that will ship with GNOME 3.38 by default is Canonical’s Ubuntu 20.10 (Groovy Gorilla), which is expected to be released next month on October 22nd. If you can’t wait until then, you’ll be able to take it for a spin as soon as October 1st when the beta release hits the streets.

Most of the GNOME 3.38 packages have already landed in the Ubuntu 20.10 repositories by now, so I want to give you all a first look of what’s changed since Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa), which uses the GNOME 3.36 desktop environment.

So, let’s start with the things that you’ll (probably) interact more when using your brand-new Ubuntu 20.10 computer later this fall. And that’s the App Grid, Calendar applet, and Power Off menu. All of these have been improved in GNOME 3.38 to make your life easier.

First, the App Grid, which is accessible in Ubuntu via the ‘Show Applications’ button on the left right corner or the dotted button at the far end of the panel in case you moved its default location. The major changes here are the removal of the ‘Frequent’ and ‘All’ apps views, as well as the ability to reorder and organize the icons simply by using drag and drop. No more alphabetical ordering!

I think I will miss the ‘Frequent’ view, as it made it really fast to launch the apps I used most. But, GNOME now (finally) lets me make the App Grid my own and I can add those frequently used apps in the first row if I want and customize everything in one screen, like in this screenshot.

Here you can see how easy is to reorder the icons using drag and drop. Also, not mentioned anywhere, but the app folders now list icons in multiple views instead of a long list, which makes them easier to scroll with the mouse wheel. You’ll thank me later 😉

Next is the Calendar applet, which now displays events right under the calendar itself on the right side instead of the notifications list. This should help you see your upcoming events faster when opening the Calendar applet, without having to scroll through the notifications.

Lastly, the Power Off / Log Out menu has been changed, again. There’s now a visible ‘Restart’ option alongside Suspend, Power Off and Log Out, all of which have been reorganized. While the ‘Restart’ option is a welcome change, I still think there are a lot of clicks (four by my count) until you’ll be able to restart your computer.

Other changes are visible in the Settings app or GNOME Control Center. There, you will now be able to enable battery percentage in the Power section, which was already possible with the GNOME Tweaks app, as well as to share the Wi-Fi hotspot with your other devices using a QR code in the Wi-Fi section.

If you’re wondering, there is no Parental Controls enabled in Ubuntu 20.10, at least not yet. I was wondering myself where the Parental Controls are in GNOME 3.38, a feature officially announced by the GNOME Project. This requires the installation of a package called malcontent-gui to work, so I’ll give you a sneak peek.

Once the package is installed, if have an account for your kid on your computer but you don’t want him to install apps or access certain apps, you’ll have to go the Users section in Settings, click on the kid’s account, then click on Activities on the left upper corner and search for Parental Controls. Click the icon.

GNOME 3.38 Ubuntu 20.10

Last but not least, some of the core GNOME apps have been completely redesigned. One of them that’s included by default in Ubuntu is GNOME Screenshot, which now looks really dope and will definitely make your life easier when taking screenshots.

I know, GNOME 3.38 is not a massive release, but there are various smaller UI/UX tweaks here and there, as well as some under-the-hood changes that will probably make your GNOME desktop experience faster, better, and more enjoyable.

To highlight some of them, there’s much-improved screen recording and better multi-monitor support. With that in mind, I hope you’ll enjoy GNOME 3.38 on the upcoming Ubuntu 20.10 (Groovy Gorilla) operating system when it’s out later this month.

I’ve used the Hardy Heron wallpaper of Ubuntu 8.04 LTS since there’s no Groovy Gorilla default wallpaper yet.

Last updated 3 weeks ago

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