GNOME 46 “Kathmandu”: Best New Features

5 min


Learn about the brand-new features of the GNOME 46 desktop environment.

GNOME 46 has been released on March 20, 2024. This release mostly focuses on the performance, key updates across modules and core framework upgrades. Not too much fancy stuff, but the overall experience will be better when released.

Let’s give you a quick rundown of the new updates of GNOME 46.

GNOME 46
GNOME 46

GNOME 46: New features

GNOME 46 is powered by GTK 4.13 and libadwaita 1.4.2.

GNOME Shell and Mutter

Most of the changes in GNOME Shell in version 46 are under the hood updates, catering to bug fixes and performance improvements. However, a few stand out.

One of the key changes you might see is the notifications is the application name/header of the respective notifications.

Notification headers with app name
Notification headers with app name

The highly anticipated notification grouping per app is finished as of publishing this. However, it might get deferred to next GNOME 47.

Notification grouping per app possibly deferred to GNOME 47 (video credit: GNOME team)

The grid application search now shows maximum number of results to 6 and improved for single character searches which brings up many results.

GNOME shell 46 now allows you to configure a custom keyboard model with xkb-model dconf key for most customizations and control.

The built-in shell’s screenshot/screencast may use the hardware encoding while screen recording. This MR is current open and likely to arrive within beta test phase.

Files get faster

One of the key changes that Nautilus brings is the addressing of the long-standing performance issue when you change the view (say from list to grid). Each time you change the view, Nautilus tries to reload the entire directory.

This has been addressed via a series of changes. The view mode is not per-window, not per-folder basis and Files should โ€œfeel fastโ€ when you are dealing with large folders having thousands of files/directories.

Another performance improvement is seen when opening the properties for many files at once (multi selection). Earlier it used to be slower and the properties dialog used to calculate for a longer time.

Search in Files: revamped

This revamped search functionality in GNOME 46 Files empowers users with more control and flexibility when managing their files. It streamlines the search process, saving time and effort, and enhances the overall file management experience.

  • Two distinct search options:
    • Search current folder: This replaces the original search button and remains focused on finding files within the currently displayed directory.
    • Global search: A brand-new button added to the left pane, allowing you to instantly search your entire filesystem for the desired file(s).
Search Everywhere - 46
Search Everywhere – 46
Search current folder
Search current folder

Benefits:

  • Improved focus: Searching within a specific folder becomes faster and more convenient.
  • Enhanced exploration: Global search empowers effortless discovery of files regardless of their location.
  • Streamlined workflow: No more manually navigating through directories to find specific files.
  • Increased efficiency: Saves time and effort, especially for users with vast file systems.
  • Global search settings: You can customize which folders and locations are included in the global search through the dedicated settings panel accessible from both the search pane and the main GNOME settings.
  • Intuitive interface: The new search buttons are clearly labelled and positioned for easy identification and usage.
Global search settings
Search settings

Date and time in Files

To avoid information overload, the default time and date formats in Files are intended to be human-friendly and to avoid information overload. Usually, this works and is the default setting. However, there are cases when people need to be able to see a complete date and time for their files. This has been a complaint about many users over the years that Files doesn’t show the proper date when needed, instead shows “Today, Tomorrow, etc.”.

GNOME 46 introduces a user-defined preference that enables the display of a more comprehensive date and time format. You get two options – “Simple” and “Detailed”. This is accessible via Files > Preferences.

Changes in Date time display
Changes in Date time display

Better scrolling and additional updates to Files

Nautilus does not scroll correctly for forward or backward navigation, and does not remember the scrolled position after a reload or view type switch. In GNOME 46, Files saves and scrolls to the last visible item. So all items are visible for back/forward and reload. This also works without changing the view switch, selection is saved between back and forward.

Moreover, a few small updates to Files 46:

  • Files gives a warning when you try to copy >4GiB file to a FAT volume, informing user about a possible failure.
  • The star icon (for files, folders) receives an animation for un-star in reverse order.
  • The preference window in Files is now searchable.
  • The “On this computer” label in the left pane is renamed to “On this device” for usability.
Un-starring action gets a reverse animation
Un-starring action gets a reverse animation

Settings

The Settings app (gnome-control-center) in GNOME 46 has undergone major restructuring. Here are the details:

  • Overall, the entire navigation panel is reordered. So, things are moved here and there. See below images.
  • A new System page is introduced which combines the date & time, region, users, about pages separately. For this result, those individual pages are now removed. Here’s a side by side comparison.
  • The app page is revamped to show the list of apps in the default view, which includes the default app section.
  • You can now customize the secondary click option when supported by your Mouse. This is one of the settings is implemented from GNOME Tweaks tool.
  • The mouse test window is revamped with clicks and scrolls, and it looks stunning.
  • The remote login moves away from the sharing panel to the system panel.
New System page
New System page
New apps page
New apps page
Modern page for mouse test
Modern page for mouse test

Software

As part of GNOME 46, the Software app gets major UI updates by porting most of the pages to new libadwaita controls i.w. AdwToolbarView and AdwNavigationView.

The verified badge is now available in Software app for Flathub applications. Flathub recently introduced the verified badge for the Flatpak apps. This ensures that you are installing the official apps from the developers.

Verified badge is now available for Flathub apps in Software
Verified badge is now available for Flathub apps in Software

If you are an openSUSE user with GNOME, you should be glad to know that the Software now supports openSUSE upgrade path via opensuse-distro-upgrade plugin.

Wallpapers

Several new wallpapers arrived in GNOME 46. The flagship triangle-themed default wallpaper looks stunning with the rounded corners.

New default wallpaper
New default wallpaper

Download

Distro availability:

Fedora 40 will feature this version when releases on April 2024. Ubuntu 24.04 LTS may not feature this version (tentative).

Closing notes and your views

Overall, it is a moderate update for the desktop. The changes in Files and Settings are much needed, which are most visible. However, there are hundreds of under the hood bug fixes and improvements arrives in GNOME 46.

What are your thoughts about this release? Do let me know in the comment box.

46 change log

Release announcement


Arindam

Creator and author of debugpoint.com. Connect with me via Telegram, ๐• (Twitter), or send us an email.
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