After six months in development, version 2.6 of the GNOME open source desktop distribution has been released.
GNOME 2.6 was originally scheduled for release on 24 March, but postponed to 31 March following an intrusion attack on the release team’s hosting servers last week.
At the time of the security breach, GNOME release team head Jeff Waugh said the GNOME team considered it inappropriate to announce the GNOME 2.6 release “until the admin team had enough time to perform a thorough analysis and restore core services”.
Commenting on the results of the project team’s analysis on the security breach on Thursday, Waugh said the intrusion proved to be “fairly benign”.
Although there are several new features integrated into GNOME version 2.6, the latest release has been developed with a strong focus on improving the existing functionality and useability of the desktop program.
According to release notes from the GNOME project Web site, version 2.6 boasts several platform improvements, including support for the GTK 2.4 (GIMP Toolkit) graphical user interface toolkit (GNOME 2.4 had previously supported GTK version 2.2). GTK 2.4 was released in March and contains a range of new user tools and access options.
GNOME virtual file system (vlf) has also been given a facelift, and now includes support for sftp and Windows SMB protocols, refined authentication, and detection of mounted drives and network volumes.
On the useability front, GNOME 2.6 incorporates a raft of modifications to the Nautilus file manager, designed to give users a simplified but more “intuitive” desktop interface, the release team states.
For example, new functions in Nautilus include the ability to view folders through individual windows, customisable views, keyboard navigation, user-definable templates and a fresh plug-in system for developers.
In line with the GNOME project’s focus on improving accessibility, the team has also further improved its keyboard and screen features to assist users with disabilities. These include a navigation and character entry tool called ‘Dasher’, which, Waugh claims, is a “very serious utility to users with motion impairments or other difficulties using a standard keyboard”.
GNOME's Epiphany Web browser and GnomeMeeting applications have been refined. The desktop distribution’s character map and PDF viewer have been adapted to include new user features not available with previous versions of GNOME.
Waugh said there were however, a number of very large new features such as Evolution and Rhythmbox (a music player) which were not ready in time for the 2.6 release.
“These will almost certainly be in 2.8, with a whole stack of other interesting stuff our hackers have been working on,” he said.
More information on GNOME 2.6 is available at: http://www.GNOME.org/