GNOME 2.12 improves hardware integration

The Linux desktop environment is closer to its goal of offering hardware support that 'just works'

The latest version of GNOME includes improvements to its hardware integration capabilities, improving the user friendliness of the Linux desktop environment.

GNOME 2.12, which was released on Wednesday, includes better integration between the programming layer that interacts with hardware devices and the layer that handles filesystem access, according to GNOME developer Davyd Madeley in an article on the GNOME Web site. This change means that applications can display more information about media devices to users.

More applications in GNOME 2.12 take advantage of the hardware abstraction layer (HAL), allowing them to offer seamless hardware support, said Madeley. "HAL-aware applications can display more information to the user, as well as benefit from 'it just works' plug and play style hardware support," he said.

A number of GNOME users praised the addition of more user-friendly hardware integration, in response to a recent Slashdot article about GNOME 2.12. "I am looking forward to this feature, especially — just another step towards making Linux more user-friendly," said one reader.

Another reader said this feature is one of the few missing pieces in GNOME, but is likely to need more work until it is complete. "GNOME is almost complete now, most of the interface work is done, and now all that's left are those little details that make all the difference," said the Slashdot reader. "The rough edges lie on things like better hardware discovery, and better integration with the underlying OS. But these will go away as the HAL matures, and more and more scripts are added to its library."

GNOME 2.12 also includes extra productivity features in its email client Evolution, improvements to its file manager Nautilus and a new clipboard feature that allows objects to persist in the clipboard longer than the lifetime of an application.

The next version of GNOME, GNOME 2.14, will be released in six months time and is expected to include a number of features such as a reduced memory footprint and various Evolution improvements, according to the GNOME roadmap.

GNOME 2.12 will be available in updates of popular Linux distributions, for example, it is likely to be included in SuSE Linux 10, which will be released next month. The desktop environment can also be tried out by running the GNOME 2.12 LiveCD.