Going from releasing GNOME 2.27.x unstable releases of GNOME Shell to GNOME 2.29.x unstable releases of GNOME Shell naturally involves crossing 2.28 in the middle, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to make a set of tarballs that are little more stable than the typical Friday snapshots. A good place for people to try things out. I’ve just uploaded mutter-2.28.0 and gnome-shell-2.28.0 tarballs to ftp.gnome.org.
If you want to building things yourself, you still should use the JHBuild setup described on our wiki page. It’s the easiest way to do it. The tarballs are really designed for people creating distribution packages.
Looking back, I haven’t blogged about GNOME Shell changes since February. That’s a very long time so I’m not going to make any attempt to describe here what all has changed since then. (693 commits just to the gnome-shell Git module.)
To find all the nooks and crannys of the GNOME Shell user interface you can use the neat cheat sheet that Marina created. It’s a good way to learn about the secret commands supported by the Alt-F2 dialog without going to the source code, as well as to get an overview of the more user-oriented parts of the shell.
Considering only at the changes in the last few weeks, the biggest change recently has been to the Alt-Tab dialog; Jon McCann and Jeremy Perry (one of the designers here at Red Hat) came up with some ideas about how the Alt-Tab could better integrate with the way we group windows by application in the Activities Overview, and Dan Winship did a lot of work to make those ideas into something we could try out. Steve Frécinaux also jumped in more recently to help out with this. Jon’s going to describe the design ideas involved in more detail soon, so save your ideas for improvement for his post, but here’s a quick screenshot to whet your appetite:
The other big recent change isn’t so screenshot-able, but Colin and I took some interesting parts of the NBTK library from Moblin and imported it into GNOME Shell as ST (the Shell Toolkit). (We’re still cooperating closely with Moblin on the work; the rename is just to keep things non-confusing.) We get several nice things from this: scrolling, better layout capabilities, but the big change is the ability to use CSS for styling. NBTK already had a good start on this, and I then merged in some work I did last year for hippo-canvas to get extra capabilities like CSS styling of borders and fonts. This is really intended to make development easier – so we don’t have to have all sorts of hardcoded fonts, colors, and pixel sizes in the code, but also should provide a good entry point for artists to work on alternate appearances for the shell.
Oh, and I quickly used ST to hack up a drop-down calendar when you click on the clock. So you can finally find out what day of the month it is in GNOME Shell without having to run ‘cal’ in a terminal.
We hope people will try it out, and see how it works for them in practice; packages will be in Fedora rawhide shortly and the JHBuild I mentioned above really is easy to get going on any recent Linux distribution if you aren’t running something quite so up-to-date. If you are in the Boston area, come to the GNOME Summit this weekend. All the developers working at Red Hat on the shell will be there, and hopefully a few other shell developers as well. You can see the shell in action, talk to us, and just in case you are having trouble getting it compiling, we’ll help you with that too.