The next release of the GNOME Linux desktop environment promises a range of user-friendly features, including a new version of its VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) client and smoother window stacking.
The GNOME 2.14 release, due March 15, may also score points with IT administrators at work. It will have a lock-down editor called Pessulus that allows them to disable access to functions that users wouldn't need in a corporate environment, such as the command line.
Another feature, Sabayon, allows administrators to create group profiles for users and assign default settings to them, which can be easily edited and updated.
Davyd Madeley, one of the software's developers, described the planned features in the GNOME blog.
Linux has made strong gains on servers but its adoption on desktops has been slow, due primarily to concerns over ease-of-use and interoperability.
GNOME's Ekiga VOIP application, now in its second beta, supports SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), an application-layer protocol for interacting with circuit-switched telephone networks, Madeley wrote. Users can register for a SIP account on Ekiga.net.
The GNOME Window manager, Metacity, has been modified to make it easier to stack and manipulate windows. They no longer break up as they are redrawn because of improvements in how they are handled in memory, Madeley wrote.
The new GNOME release will also have the Deskbar, a panel that gives quick access to search engines and applications.