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Meet 'Consort,' a brand-new classic Linux desktop

The SolusOS project team has forked GNOME Classic and is bringing back numerous key GNOME 2 features.

There seems to be no end in sight to the enduring popularity of the classic GNOME 2 Linux desktop, and this week afforded yet more evidence.

Following hard on the heels of the launch last week of the classically minded Fuduntu 2013.1, the SolusOS Linux project on Wednesday launched a new fork of GNOME Classic.

"Well, it's official," wrote Ikey Doherty, the SolusOS project's founder and lead developer, in a blog post  on the topic. "We've forked GNOME Classic (fallback).

"The reasoning for the name is very simple," Doherty added. "The desktop always accompanies you."

Nautilus becomes Athena

Linux fans may recall that SolusOS was already focused on offering a classic GNOME experience, even before this latest move.

The distro's first release featured the GNOME 2.30 desktop, and it planned early on to go with GNOME Classic, which is a custom version of GNOME 3.4.

More recently, however, the project team decided to fork GNOME Classic altogether rather than just modifying it. In particular, SolusOS has forked gnome-panel to create consort-panel; Nautilus, creating Athena; gnome-session-fallback, to become consort-session; and Metacity, creating Consortium.

'Virtually identical'

The primary rationale for the fork, Doherty wrote, was "to protect the users of our desktop components.

"Pinning patched packages higher than underlying packages proves far too tricky," he explained. "The amount of patches in each component qualifies fork-status anyway, so it was time to admit it."

The result, he added, is the ability to offer an experience "virtually identical" to GNOME 2 while also improving on it without requiring hardware acceleration. Classic old GNOME 2 features being brought back include right click-interaction on the panel and GNOME 2 applet support.

Modern components

The project team is also writing a new wrapper API that will allow Python GNOME 2 applets to run natively on consort-panel, Doherty noted.

Meanwhile, by using modern components, Consort will maintain total compatibility with the current GNOME suite.

SolusOS 2 Alpha 7 will be the first to feature Consort--the software is currently in its sixth alpha version--but users of other distros with GTK3 will be able to install it as well, Doherty said.

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