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GNOME 2.18 adds personal security, 3D chess, more
Mar. 19, 2007

With all the bugfixes how history, the GNOME project team last week released v2.18 of its popular desktop environment. For the first time, GNOME ships with a bundle of online games, chess with a 3D look, and Sudoku crossword puzzles.

"This is another progressive release in our road to perfection," the team said in the release notes. "It integrates another load of improvements done in the visual design, the performance of the desktop components, and the growing collection of integrated applications. The web browser and the themeable window manager are two good examples to check."

Personal security is now fully integrated into the desktop, the team said, allowing digitally signed communications, encryption of emails and local files, and user-friendly management of personal keys. Internationalization records progress in all directions, with support for vertical text layout and a full Arabic localization meeting the project's quality standards, the team added.

The official 2.18 release also incorporates essential tools for developers, according to the team.

Key new features of v2.18, as listed by the GNOME team, include:
  • A note-taking applet, Tomboy, helps users keep better track of their most important notes by pinning them, making sure they will always easier to find
  • Users can't lose track of their work and can pick up where they left off by finding their recently opened files with the new Deskbar applet
  • Users can find out where all their disk space is going by using the new ring chart view in GNOME's Disk Usage Analyzer
  • Battery power can be saved with GNOME Power Manager
  • GNOME Document Viewer now supports opening multiple instances of a document at the same time -- whether a user is running tow monitors or not
  • Evince's new presentation mode helps users hand out better printed slide notes
  • Digitally sign or authenticate documents using Seahorse, the new front-end to GNU Privacy Guard
  • Use Seahorse to manage the security of the desktop and OpenPGP and SSH keys
GNOME 2.18 also enables users to encode their audio in more formats, including OGG, MP3 or AAC; they can turn up the volume on music and movies with the new and improved volume control that now supports advanced sound cards including the Audigy 2, according to the team.

GNOME 2.18 comes with two new games: glChess, where users can play against a friend or against the computer in a 3D-like setting; and GNOME Sudoku, the Japanese crossword puzzle.

Finally, GNOME 2.18 has added support for vertical text layouts in Chinese and Japanese, and new text-to-speech drivers -- including Loquendo, Cepstral Swift, and eSpeak.

The GNOME desktop is distributed as part of a large number of free and commercial operating systems including Debian, Fedora, Mandriva, OpenSolaris, OpenSUSE, Red Hat, SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop), and Ubuntu. GNOME is also loaded inside XO (the One Laptop Per Child device) and an increasing collection of mobile devices, the team said.

Users can test GNOME 2.18 by trying a live demo, or via the testing versions released by some distributions.

You can download your free copy of the 511 MB CD iso image from the RPath site here. If you use BitTorrent, go here.

Screen shots are available for viewing on the release notes page, here.

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