The next stable version of Linux desktop environment GNOME, which was released in beta last week, includes an improvement to the Evolution mail client.
Evolution is one of the most prominent open source packages, particularly since Novell started packaging it with its SuSE Linux distribution. Novell took on this project when it acquired Ximian in August 2003.
GNOME developer Thomas Wood said developers have added plug-in capabilities to Evolution, so that extra functionality easily can be added. So far, the only plug-in to take advantage of this capability is a weather forecasting tool, but more tools are likely to be added later, said Wood.
"It's a starting point to show what is possible," said Wood. "Now there's a plug-in architecture people will start playing around to see what they can do."
GNOME 2.10 has a more user-friendly help system and includes extra multimedia tools such as a movie player called Totem and a CD ripping application called Sound Juicer. The final version of GNOME 2.10 is due on March 9.
Wood said there will only be one more stable release in the GNOME 2 series as developers have started thinking about what to put in the next major release, GNOME 3.
GNOME 3 is likely to be significantly different from previous versions as developers will no longer maintain backward-compatibility with all versions of the desktop in the GNOME 2 branch, said Wood. The first version of the GNOME 2 branch, GNOME 2.0, was released in June 2002.
"2.10 is still largely compatible with 2.0," said Wood. "If you keep the same API's there's not much scope to improve it [GNOME] further."