GNOME 42 Desktop Environment Is Out with New Screenshot UI, GTK4 Apps, and Dark Mode

GNOME 42

The GNOME Project announced today the release and general availability of GNOME 42 as the latest and greatest version of the popular desktop environment for modern GNU/Linux distributions.

After six months of development, GNOME 42 is here and it’s packed with some cool new features and enhancements for fans of the GNOME desktop environment. The biggest change in this major release is the porting of almost all default GNOME apps to the latest GTK4 toolkit and the libadwaita 1.0 library for a more modern look and faster performance.

Earlier this year, I took an in-depth look at some of the new GTK4 apps that will be included in GNOME 42, and I was really impressed by the modern new look of these GTK4 apps. Of course, the new visual UI changes also apply to the Settings app, as well as to all the system dialogs and UI elements for a consistent feeling.

Among the GNOME core apps that have been ported to GTK4, there’s GNOME Software, GNOME Settings, GNOME Calculator, GNOME Clocks, GNOME Calendar, GNOME Characters, GNOME Contacts, Disk Usage Analyzer, Fonts, To Do, and GNOME Tour. But non-core apps like Sound Recorder, Contrast, or Secrets were ported to GTK4 too.

Unfortunately, the Files (Nautilus) app’s GTK4 port was postponed for a future release due to some major issues. However, Files did receive some big changes like a new path navigation bar, reorganization of the menu items, and an updated file rename popover. Also, GNOME’s default icon theme includes a new, vibrant folder color.

The GTK4 porting of the GNOME Settings app brings redesigned Applications, Displays, and Remote Desktop settings with RDP as the default remote desktop protocol for a more feature-full and performant experience.

The GNOME Web (Epiphany) web browser was also not ported to GTK4, but it received hardware-accelerated rendering for all websites by default, improved scrolling performance, and several other enhancements.

Two other big changes stand out in the GNOME 42 release, namely the brand-new screenshot and screencast UI built into the GNOME Shell interface (accessible with the PrintScr key) rather than using a standalone app (e.g. GNOME Screenshot), as well as system-wide Dark Mode support for all apps via the new Appearance panel in GNOME Settings that replaces the Background panel, with support for light and dark versions of backgrounds.

GNOME 42 also introduces a new app developed by GNOME Builder creator Christian Hergert, namely Text Editor, which replaces the good old Gedit text editor as the default text editor app. Text Editor is fully ported to GTK4 and comes with various features and a slick, modern design.

There’s also a new Console app that aims to provide Linux newcomers with a simple terminal emulator for simple CLI (command-line interface) tasks. Console is not a replacement for GNOME Terminal, but a core app for GNOME’s Phosh mobile interface for Linux phones and tablets.

Under the hood, GNOME 42 brings better support for Flatpak apps, better Wayland support, major performance improvements to file indexing, input handling has been significantly enhanced, improved perceived responsiveness for games and graphics-demanding apps, along with direct scanout support for most full-screen OpenGL or Vulkan apps (media players, games, etc.) to reduce energy consumption.

Check out the release notes for more details. The GNOME 42 desktop environment will arrive shortly in the software repositories of some of the most popular rolling-release GNU/Linux distributions, such as openSUSE Tumbleweed, Clear Linux, and Arch Linux.

Other upcoming distros like Fedora Linux 36 or Ubuntu 22.04 LTS will pick up the GNOME 42 update most probably after the first point release, GNOME 42.1, hits the streets in mid-April 2022. Meanwhile, check out the official promo video below with all the highlights of this major new release!

Last updated 6 months ago