The GNOME Foundation today released the latest evolution of its widely used Linux desktop GNOME version 2.8.
The new release adds some significant new features and further expands the usability of the Linux desktop.
The Linux desktop currently has two principal open source projects, GNOME and KDE that are both vying to become
the dominant technology of choice. GNOME is the default desktop for a number of Linux distributions, including
Red Hat, and is the basis for Sun’s Java Desktop System (JDS). It is available as a user option on most
other major distributions, including Mandrake, SUSE, Debian and Gentoo.
Improvements and new features in GNOME 2.8 include an integrated VNC (virtual network computing)
remote desktop server, which allows for remote desktop sharing and control.
That control is granted via a new Remote Desktop Preferences control panel, which
allows the user to determine permissions and remote access rights to the desktop.
In addition, 2.8 includes the Evolution 2.0 groupware application, which
includes the Apache SpamAssassin application to help in the fight against spam.
However, according to Stephen O’Grady, Red Monk senior analyst,
Evolution may introduce some new risks.
“Evolution opens the possibility of the same issues Microsoft has faced with its
strategy,” O’Grady told internetnews.com.
“Namely that the more broadly functional a desktop is the greater the risk of vulnerabilities and exploits.”
Overall, though, O’Grady said the release is an excellent upgrade.
“I think it is a significant boost to the Linux desktop, in that it greatly
simplifies typical user tasks, such as time/date settings to the use of USB keys.”
The new GNOME release also includes a number of features that many would consider to be standard
items for a modern working desktop.
A revised File Manager now performs automatic file associations so a user
can simply click on a file, rather than having to open it from its associated application.
Finding network shares has also been simplified with a new DNS-based Service Discovery, allowing users
to view all available shares in a dialog window.
Also, USB memory sticks, which have suffered somewhat on Linux because
of a lack of support, will now be easier to use. And GNOME 2.8 makes use of the Hardware Abstraction Layer, from
standards group freedesktop.org, which is intended to automatically recognize and mount removable storage media
like USB memory sticks, as well as digital cameras, DVDs and CDs.
“This release demonstrates GNOME’s major steps toward ‘just works’
hardware support, system configuration and deep collaboration integration,” said Jeff Waugh, GNOME Release Team
Manager, in a statement. “These features will have immediate value for our users, and long-term value for
application developers who will be able to integrate important user data, such as contacts and calendaring into