In preparation for Linux Mint 18, a new project called “X-Apps” was started, which goal is to provide default and generic applications for traditional GTK desktop environments (Cinnamon, MATE, Xfce…).
Since the long-term plan for GNOME applications is to better integrate with GNOME Shell and to embrace new UI guidelines and techniques which are specific to this environment, it became more and more urgent for traditional desktops to find suitable alternatives. GNOME applications once looked native in other desktops and provided users with a consistent experience. This is no longer the case, yet this is still part of our expectation and so this is something we had to address.
A few years ago, developers used to write “Linux apps”. Most of them (at least all the GTK ones) looked consistent, with similar widgets, similar look and feel and you could use them in your favorite environment without worrying about them looking out of place. Nowadays, you can write “GNOME apps” or “Ubuntu apps” using specific techniques or following specific concepts which make them look awesome in their specific environments. And in a way, this is great. But as apps become desktop-specific or distro-specific they need to be replaced in environments they no longer properly support.
The idea of maintaining Cinnamon applications, or investing time in developing MATE applications or Xfce applications was rejected. For the most part, these desktops present similar needs so it made sense to maintain one generic set of apps which can be used in all of them, and to do so outside of the scope of any of these desktops.
The core ideas for X-Apps are:
- To use GTK3
- To use a traditional UI (titlebars, menubars)
- To be generic, desktop-agnostic and distro-agnostic
- To provide the functionality users already enjoy (or enjoyed in the past for distributions which already lost some functionality)
- To be backward-compatible (hopefully all the way to GTK 3.10)
The first two X-Apps to be ready are the text editor and the media player.
The text editor is based on the GTK3 version of Pluma and features the same functionality and UI as gedit 2.30:
The media player is based on totem 3.10:
It provides the same UI and Mozilla plugin (for Quicktime and WMP support) Totem 3.10 did.