With the next major release of the GNOME desktop scheduled for release next month, each passing day sees more of the code frozen. This is the first iteration since version 2.14 was released in April, which saw extensive improvements in performance. Here is our first look at some of the features in Gnome 2.16.

Icon Theme

The Default theme for GNOME has been given a nice touch up with the unmaintained themes and engines having been removed.


Evolution sports an improved interface that now makes extensive use of Cairo. Cairo enables eye candy like drop shadows on the selected appointment within the calendar view.

Useability improvements include having the time that an appointment begins at the top of each appointment, and when resizing your appointment the end time appears at the bottom.


Metacity has had a number of compositor improvements – features such as the ability to enable and disable the compositor at runtime and all the new effects can only be seen by users that have the compositor compiled into Metacity. Users can now move between an application’s windows by using alt+f6.

Top line is the standard alt+tab keypress, the lower shows the new alt+f6 tabbing


GNOME has the ability to move applications between workspaces by dragging the applications icon from the taskbar into the desired workspace.

Moving firefox by dragging from the taskbar


Tomboy is a note taking application built with GTK# and Mono that has recently been accepted as part of GNOME. It sits within the panel as an applet, and you can view your most recently viewed notes at a glance. Creation of new notes is as easy as highlighting some text in an existing note, clicking the link button, and new note will be made with the selected text as its title. The process emulates the functionality of a wiki very closely and aids ease of use and reduces the learning curve.

Tomboy can already show online status of instant messaging buddies and link to emails, and further desktop integration is planned to include Evolution task and to-do lists.

Bug Buddy

Stability issues tend to be commonplace when testing betas. This popped up when we launched rhythmbox. This interface is so simple that it helps make bug reporting straightforward – encouraging testers to provide feedback.

Bug Buddy will automatically submit your bug to GNOME’s bugzilla and if you are not registered, it will also sign you up automatically. A warning of this would be nice, as the current wording doesn’t inform you that your email address will appear next to the bug in bugzilla.


Search has been given a little improvement in Yelp, GNOME’s help browser. Previously searching for “command line” would search for command OR line, but as the example shows, the search now returns more intuitive results.

Deskbar Applet

Deskbar closely resembles Apple’s Spotlight. The textbox has been moved into a box that is revealed by clicking the magnifying glass and now has a hotkey to make it appear. One future feature of Spotlight is its increased focus on application launching, something that Deskbar users have enjoyed since the start.


Totem receives some minor upgrades. When opening media, Totem now shows the properties of the media instead of the playlist, which is hidden underneath Properties. Other changes include using the underlying Hardware Abstraction Layer for the detection of CD and DVDs, with the totem plugin also being improved.

Pot Pourri

  • Gnome Screensaver now has full screen preview.
  • File roller has an emblem on password protected files.
  • Gnome terminal uses real transparency, if supported.
  • Nautilus has SELinux context on file properties.