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GNOME: prospects

last updated: 20. January 2007

Telepathy IM Framework

Telepathy will be an framework for working with instant messaging it will provide access to all the different protocols(AIM, Jabber, MSN etc.) as well as to VoIP.
The main advantage over seperate IM clients like Gaim will be the synergy effect; IM Protocols wont have to be implemented over and over again and thus even small messengers like Gossip, which support only one protocol now will become multi protocol.

Cohoba a simple IM Applet using Telepathy

New Theme

Coming with GNOME 2.16 the icon theme is going to be updated according to the tango icon guidelines.
No wonder since Jakub Steiner is a lead contributor to both the GNOME and Tango icon themes.
The most obvious change will be more SVGized icons which keep sharp while even at 400% scaling and the generally cleaned up theme.
For instance there wont be seperate icons containing the file extension, but only one icon per filetype so that pdf and ps files will look the same now.

The GNOME deafault GTK clearlooks will get an update to clearlooks-cairo which looks more like Ubuntulooks(a clearlooks spin off by ubuntu) and is therefore a bit shinier than the original clearlooks.

All in all the default GNOME 2.16 will look something like this:

Tango styled icons

Data organisation

From GNOME 2.14 on nautilus(the file browser) contains an integrated search which allows saving the search term as folders, which are automatically updated as you add new files.
But sadly it is unusably slow out of the box since it uses the find utility as default which has to crawl over the entire filesystem every time you perform the search(or access the saved search folder).
An alternative is to use an indexer which "caches" the crawling results in a database.
Due to this caching the indexers can spend more time on crawling to not only read the filename but also some metadata like EXIF tags on photos which allows searching by shutter-time or used camera.
A possible application to provide this indexing task is Tracker, which is going to be proposed for GNOME 2.18.
It is very likely that it will chosen over the still buggy and premature Beagle indexer.

IXUS50 Virtual Folder

But the full power of indexed searching wont be reavealed until nautilus will allow tagging files. Tags are arbitrary metadata which can be added to files and therefore allow much more personalized results.
For instance, you could search for your "funniest" word documents then.

But not only nautilus would benefit by an indexer - Epiphany and Rhythmbox could take advantage of the tags and the fast database too and actually already showed some intrest to integrate Tracker.

Accelerated Desktop

The next step of the Linux desktop will be OpenGL acceleration. This means using the 3D unit of the graphics card for rendering the desktop.
Currently only the very limited 2D unit is being used while the CPU has to do the work, which could be done by the 3D unit.

Changing this will not only improve rendering speed but also allow completly new effects like transforming the window geometry in real time or live thumbnail preview of the window.
The basic technique behind all this is rendering the window into a texture, which han be used several times without much overhead.
It can be also processed in the graphic-cards PixelShader allowing to do nearly everything with it like rescaling transformation and all of the color operations.

here you see several rescaled windows placed on the desktop to give an better overview and the 4 virtual desktops simulated by a cube

thank apple for expose giving physical feel to virtual desktops

The two projects mentioned above are XGL and AIGLX.

Though some might see a Novell versus Redhat conflight here, both solutions are not that different; the both use a similar technique and AIGLX actually uses some code of XGL.
Besides AIGLX is not more affiliated to Redhat than to Novell - in fact it is a community project.
The difference is that XGL replaces the current X-Server while AIGLX extends it.

But it will take GNOME at least until 2.16 before its application will actually take advantage out of the new technology.