GNOME 3.38 Released

The GNOME team released version 3.38 of the desktop environment, internally code named “Orbis”. This is a regular incremental update we get to see every 6 months.

As usual there are various improvements and bug fixes as well as a few new features:

  • A new Welcome Tour has been added that should be helpful for new users. GNOME does need some getting used to as it does things a bit differently.
  • Some new and revised icons have been added.
  • The battery power level indicator can now be shown as a percentage.
  • A “Reboot” option has been added to the “Power-off / Log-out” options.
  • The application launchers can now be reorganized in the applications grid. This is a major new feature that will surely please many power users. This also applies to drawers where apps are combined.
  • There is a new finger print set-up dialogue finally enabling seamless log-ins by touch of a finger.
  • New Parental control settings have been added that can disable selected apps for selected users.
  • Scan-able QR codes have been added to easily share the computer’s WiFi with other devices.
  • Support for different refresh rates when several monitors are connected.

You can see all the changes in the usual brief but comprehensive and well produced GNOME YouTube video:


Several improvements have also been made to GNOME Web, the in-house web browser. You can now import passwords and bookmarks from Chromium which is a welcome addition. GNOME Web, however, remains problematic due to performance issues we’ve talked about in a quick review a few days ago.

Many other apps have seen improvements and visual enhancements, including: Maps, Boxes, Clock, Screenshot & Sound Recorder and Photos. For a complete list of changes, check out the release notes.

Updated Screenshot and Sound Recorder Tools

How to get GNOME 3.38? If you’re on a rolling release distro like openSUSE’s Tumbleweed you should get the update soon. Users on static release distros will have to wait for the next major release. Both Ubuntu 20.10 and Fedora 33 workstation will ship with this new version in October.

The next GNOME Desktop release expected in March 2021 will be version 40! Yes, they are adopting a new versioning scheme where new versions will now increase by full numbers while stable point releases would be for example: 40.1. Why, well apparently after 10 years of version 3 it’s time to go to 4 and as it happens version 3.39 would have been the 40th release if we count backwards to zero. Full numbers do make more sense and should be less confusing for users to keep track of.

Have you already had the chance to try out version 3.38? Let us know what your experience was like in the comments section below.



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