GNOME 3.12, The reasons you should upgrade your desktop

The GNOME Project has released GNOME 3.12 since March 26th, 2014 and it includes some important changes such as proper HiDPI support, improved Wayland support, various enhancements for the core GNOME applications.

Major features for this release include:

  • A significant update to the experience for finding and installing applications.
  • Major facelifts for the Videos and gedit applications.
  • Greater high-resolution display support.
  • Big updates for the Software and Web applications.
  • Improved start up times as well as more efficient resource usage.
  • A new application folders feature, which lets you organize your apps.

The new release also comes with a number of new GNOME applications, including the Sound Recorder and Logs applications. Logs provides users with a simple user interface to examine system and application logs in one location.

Other changes:

  • improved initial Setup Assistant
  • better Wayland support
  • Allow specifying monitor for OSD
  • new Bluetooth settings
  • GNOME Online accounts has better Facebook and Google support and also, it now supports Pocket (a web service that lets you save videos, articles and pretty much anything from the browser for later use)
  • Google Cloud print support
  • updated Adwaita GTK theme: new style for tabs and buttons, etc.

At the moment, if you want to try GNOME 3.12, your best bet is probably a rolling release distro like Arch, or – for the less experienced – an Arch derivative like Manjaro.
One of the most talked about changes in the new GNOME 3.12 is the new Software app. If you are not familiar with it, then you must know that this is Software Manager. While it was functional then, it was still missing some key features such as screenshots, a rating system and repository management.
It might take a while before this new version is packaged into your favorite distribution’s next release, but here’s a preview of what changes you can expect.

The Whole Folder Thing, Sorted

With GNOME 3.12, you can now create custom folders to make finding things easier.
With GNOME 3.12, you can now create custom folders to make finding things easier. Users can now organize their applications and not rely on predetermined categories. This can be very useful for people who want to streamline their access to the apps and to improve the productivity.
This isn’t especially new; GNOME 3 has had a few app folders in the past (‘Sundry’ and ‘Utilities’), but this marks the first time that users can create their own without resorting to hacks.

Renovated Applications

Some popular GNOME applications were revamped for this release. Gnome Videos, formerly known as Totem, received a complete makeover.
New re-design of the video player which will among other things: Explore both local and network videos, ability to add channels own videos in a simple way, Integration with Pocket service which allows you to watch the videos that are saved for later viewing, concealment of floating controls when they are not used and more. GNOME’s video player has been rejigged in both look, feel and purpose, with an all-new playback view for both windowed and fullscreen modes and floating HUD controls that only appear when you need them.

GNOME 3.12 Totem Player
GNOME 3.12 Totem Player

Gedit was redesigned for GNOME 3.12, bringing it in line with the other GNOME core applications: Gedit now uses header bars (client side decorations), the tabs were redesigned, GtkPopovers are used for various UI elements, Solarized light & dark styles are now available by default and more.
But with the end result being a bigger, more spacious viewpoint to work in, and more intuitive ways of accessing common options, I doubt few will mind.
GNOME 3.12 Terminal
GNOME 3.12 Terminal

Another tool of the developer, GNOME Terminal has been updated. Lines are now automatically wrapped and there’s the choice of a ‘dark theme’ as default for new windows. Solarized style is available by default and it’s now possible to search for terminals from the Activities Overview.

The other layout changes

The dialogues are shown in the view of activities. Visual theme and icons are small changes, were redesigned to give a more consistent look and beautiful.

GNOME 3.12 UI Changes
GNOME 3.12 UI Changes

The design team has refined everything from tabs – which now make the most of the screen space available, support backgrounds, and have a new shape – to softer separators, button backgrounds and floating toolbars. Developers also claim there performance improvements, including faster boot and less memory consumption.

High Resolution Display (HiDPI) support

Even if this is not something new, High Resolution Display support is now very important, as more and more people have started using Linux distros with GNOME on HiDPI displays like the one of the MacBook Pro, for example.

New applications

With Software now out of preview, there are some new preview apps to play with: Polari, Sound Recorder, and Records.

  • Polari is a new client of IR.
  • Sound Recorder is a tool for recording computer sound.
  • Records is a new application to inspect the records of your computer software, is designed to allow users and developers to easily locate the source of problems.

Improved Online Account Integration

Cloud integration has also improved with GNOME 3.12. Hook up Facebook through the Online Accounts pane and all of your drunken selfies, holiday snaps and blurry cat photos will be available to peruse through the Photos app on the desktop.

GNOME 3.12 Photo
GNOME 3.12 Photo

If you haven’t done so already, it’s a good idea to add all of your online accounts to GNOME in the GNOME System Settings – it’s just one step you need to take to configure all of your online apps including email, instant messaging, and photos.

Getting Closer to Official Wayland Support

While not default, developers and curious users can test GNOME Shell under Wayland by running a terminal command.

$ gnome-session --session=gnome-wayland

This is only a tech preview, so don’t consider it to be a stable feature just yet.

Changes in other GNOME apps:

  • Epiphany: the GNOME browser, features a new address bar design, a new style for incognito windows, better downloading behavior, redesigned cookies and password dialogs as well as Chrome-like one process per tab.
  • Games: 10 games now have modernized window layouts;
  • Terminal: automatically wrap lines, setting to use dark visual theme, Solarized style is available by default and it’s now possible to search for terminals from the Activities Overview (it will search for commands and display open terminals that match the query);
  • Notes: new option to open notes in a new window, as well as a trash bin to prevent you from accidentally deleting notes;
  • Boxes: networking improvements and and option to import existing boxes from the host system;
  • Music: support for creating playlists;
  • Maps: search will autocomplete previous searches, and there is a better minimum zoom level.

Using GNOME 3.12 on Arch Linux

As you can see the only way to get GNOME 3.12 for now is Arch Linux. Arch is one of the most popular choices for Gnome-Users, and they (Arch) traditionally include the latest GNOME releases inside the first 2 weeks.
The only issue with Arch is that they don’t ship GNOME-Software App, due to libalpm incompatibility with the latest PackageKit. ALPM (Arch Linux Package Management) is the backend of Pacman (the upgrade tool of Arch).

How to Upgarde to The Latest GNOME 3.12 in Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

Ubuntu GNOME officially ships GNOME 3.10, and that means no 3.12 there. With your own risk you can use the highly unstable GNOME3 Staging PPA, that includes GNOME 3.12. Not all modules have been updated to 3.12, but Ubuntu GNOME hasn’t been released yet.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3-staging

Once all the necessary updates are installed, run the following command in the Terminal to upgrade to GNOME 3.12

$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

GNOME 3.12 comes with new GNOME applications – Polari IRC chat, Maps and Web browser. To install all these new apps, type the following command in the Terminal:

$ sudo apt-get install epiphany-browser gnome-maps polari -y


With a total of 34236 changes and approximately 1140 employees, the GNOME development team has announced the release of the final version of this popular open graphic environment, used a lot of Linux distributions. If you want to know all the details, You must refer you to the official release announcement, worth remembering that the next major update of GNOME (GNOME 3.14) arrive during the month of September.

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