Now that Ubuntu 12.04 “Precise Pangolin” Alpha 2 will be rolling out on Thursday and Feature Freeze is soon after (on February 16), I want to give an update on the versions of GNOME components that will be in 12.04. Because 12.04 is a Long Term Support release, designed for people and businesses that prefer a stable Ubuntu to the newest code, we’ve been a bit more cautious this cycle. For those who like things a bit less cautious, there’s the GNOME3 PPA.
The Totem movie player will stay at 3.0 because 3.2 switched to using clutter which means that (as currently configured & tested on Ubuntu) videos won’t play for people who don’t have working 3D drivers (as is the case with a Dell Mini I own unless I use a hacked X stack and drivers). At this point, we don’t have a newer version of GDM than 3.0 ready (it requires a lot of patching to work well on Debian/Ubuntu), but you’re using LightDM now anyway, right?
We’ll be keeping Evolution at version 3.2 since it will be better tested and stable than 3.4 which was scheduled to get some significant infrastructure work done this cycle (specifically switching to gsettings and webkit). On the other hand, I don’t think Evolution 3.3 has been considered either to see how stable it is and whether the planned new features will make it this cycle or not. Aisleriot Solitaire will probably remain at 3.2 because it uses guile-2.0 and we don’t want to support two different guile versions in main.
Disk Utility (renamed in 3.4 to “Disks“) will stay at 3.2 because 3.4 is a complete rewrite and drops libgdu in favor of udisks2. udisks2 has not been tested by as many people and libgdu is currently used by unity, update-notifier, gvfs (which is pretty important). Similarly, gnome-keyring has had some refactoring which hasn’t really been tested in Precise so that will stay at 3.2.
System Settings (gnome-control-center, gnome-settings-daemon, and gsettings-desktop-schemas) is also unlikely to be upgraded to 3.4. This requires an update to unity-greeter as it expects certain things to be present in g-s-d which were reshuffled in the new version (and is why the new version isn’t in the GNOME3 PPA because we haven’t tried to patch the greeter yet). And Unity will need to be checked to make sure keyboard shortcut settings are recognized correctly but the Compiz developers have plenty of work to do already this month. So, using 3.4 is possible but it’s probably too much work to get done in 2 weeks. The unfortunate side effect is that GNOME Shell 3.4 needs the new settings stack so that its keyboard shortcuts can be changed without people having to dig into gsettings or dconf-editor. GNOME Shell 184.108.40.206 is a good release though.
Basically everything I haven’t mentioned will be getting 3.4 (well the kernel will also be 3.2 but that doesn’t count!) which is a pretty long list. And there’s quite few cool features: among them are Nautilus undo support (should land in Precise next week), significant work to the GNOME Games, and GNOME’s new menu system (Unity support isn’t in Precise yet). And even without shipping 3.4, bugfixes and even some features are being backported to Precise packages.
I’ve also done some initial packaging for Boxes (GNOME’s new virtualization and remote desktop app). But the default remote desktop app for 12.04 is still scheduled to be Remmina.
And of course, we’re always looking for more packagers and developers to join the Ubuntu Desktop Team to allow us to do more. There’s quite a few spots where we could use some help (testing Evolution 3.3, packaging the split gnome-utils, fixing bugs, etc.) so join us in
#ubuntu-desktop if you’re interested. Your contributions can directly influence an operating system used by millions around the world!