The Gnome Project was founded in 1997, as a GPL alternative to KDE, which at that time was not licensed under a Free Software Foundation approved license. The Gnome Foundation is the custodian of the Gnome Project, since the year 2000. The Gnome Foundation, itself, is part of the GNU Project. Gnome 3 is the latest release of the Gnome Project, and uses gdm as the window manager. Gnome 3 is also compatible with the LightDM window manager. Ubuntu and its derivatives commonly use LightDM instead of gdm.
Fedora 16 uses a fairly vanilla version of Gnome 3. Consequently, the it is used for the initial discussion. Linux Mint 12 used a considerable enhanced version. The differences are discussed at the end of this section. The following widget shows the standard Desktop for Gnome 3:
The Gnome 3 desktop is a very different experience. To launch an application, you need to click on the activities icon, which shrinks any open windows. The initial screen shows a Favorites panel, which includes running applications, and any open windows, as shown below:
This window allows you to select a Favorite, or running applications. There is a panel at the bottom that shows hidden running applications. From the main desktop, you can see these application by sliding the mouse to the lower left corner of the screen. To launch any other application, you need to click the Applications icon to display the following window:
Gone are the traditional maximize and minimize buttons. However, if you right-click on the title bar for the window, the pop-menu provides the minimize and maximize option. When you minimize a window, it disappears. To activate the window, you must go to the activities menu.
Gnome 3 does support virtual workspaces. When you right-click on the title bar, select the Move to Works Space Down option. The window moves to the next virtual workspace. To change work space, you need to click on Activities, and select the window from the virtual workspace panel on the right side of the screen. When there is only one active virtual workspace, this panel is semi-hidden. The following screenshot shows the virtual workspace panel:
The default installation of Gnome 3 does not include desklets (the Gnome 3 name for widgets / applets). To include desklets on your workspace, you need to install the Architecture for Desktop Applets and the Small applications for the GNOME panel packages (the next chapter discusses how to install additional packages). To configure gdesklets-daemon and to manage desklets, you need to slide the cursor down to the bottom right corner of the screen, and right-click on the gdesklets-daemon icon. The above packages insall just a few desklets. For additional desklets, you will need to go to Eyecandy for your GNOME Desktop. The following screenshot, illustrates the Calendar desklet:
Linux Mint enhances Gnome 3, by adding several features:
- Linux Mint uses LightDM, instead of GDM, for a window manager.
- The window title bar includes the minimize and maximize buttons. You still need to right-click on the menu to move the window to another virtual workspace.
- Icons for applications running in the background, such as Shutter, appear on the panel, and not in a hidden panel.
- Minimized windows still appear in the panel, as well as the activity window.
- Linux Mint includes an Advanced Settings menu for modifying the desktop workspace.
The default Linux Mint screen includes two Application Launcher widgets. The icon in the upper-left corner, launches the Gnome 3 Application Menu. The icon in the lower-left corner launches a more traditional application menu. The following screenshot shows the default desktop workspace.
The Advanced Settings window allows you to modify many settings for the desktop, as shown in the following screenshot:
By downloading the gdesklets package, you can install desklets on your window. This one packages is a combination of the two Fedora packages.