|Developer(s)||The GNOME Project|
|Initial release||April 6, 2011|
41.4 / 15 February 2022
|Preview release||42.alpha (18 January 2022 )|
|Operating system||BSD, Linux, Unix|
|Available in||75 languages|
GNOME Shell is the graphical shell of the GNOME desktop environment starting with version 3, which was released on April 6, 2011. It provides basic functions like launching applications, switching between windows and is also a widget engine. GNOME Shell replaced GNOME Panel and some ancillary components of GNOME 2.
In contrast to the KDE Plasma Workspaces, a software framework intended to facilitate the creation of multiple graphical shells for different devices, the GNOME Shell is intended to be used on desktop computers with large screens operated via keyboard and mouse, as well as portable computers with smaller screens operated via their keyboard, touchpad or touchscreen. However, a fork of the GNOME Shell, known as Phosh was created in 2018 for specialization with touchscreen smartphones.
The first concepts for GNOME Shell were created during GNOME's User Experience Hackfest 2008 in Boston.
After criticism of the traditional GNOME desktop and accusations of stagnation and lacking vision, the resulting discussion led to the announcement of GNOME 3.0 in April 2009. Since then Red Hat has been the main driver of GNOME Shell's development.
Pre-release versions of GNOME Shell were first made available in August 2009 and became regular, non-default part of GNOME in version 2.28 in September 2009. It was finally shipped as GNOME's default user interface on April 6, 2011.
See also: Adwaita (design language)
As graphical shell (graphical front-end/graphical shell/UX/UI) of the GNOME desktop environment, its design is guided by the GNOME UX Design Team.
GNOME Shell Overview mode
The GNOME Shell comprises the following graphical and functional elements:
Changes to the user interface (UI) include, but are not limited to:
See also: GNOME 3 § Criticism
GNOME Shell has received mixed reviews: it has been criticized for a variety of reasons, mostly related to design decisions and reduced user control over the environment. For example, users in the free software community have raised concerns that the planned tight integration with Mutter will mean that users of GNOME Shell will not be able to switch to an alternative window manager without breaking their desktop. In particular, users might not be able to use Compiz with GNOME Shell while retaining access to the same types of features that older versions of GNOME allowed.
Reviews have generally become more positive over time, with upcoming releases addressing many of the annoyances reported by users.
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