Early days

On August 15, 1997 the development of GNOME was announced with the following: “We want to develop a free and complete set of user friendly applications and desktop tools, similar to CDE and KDE but based entirely on free software.” by Miguel de Icaza & Federico Mena Quintero.



On March 3, 1999 the first major release of GNOME occurred with the release of GNOME 1.0. The GIMP ToolKit (GTK+) was chosen as the base for GNOME, with major effort devoted to offering a friendly platform for developers, supporting many programming languages. There were 3 subsequent releases over the next two years in the GNOME 1.x series. One of them was 1.4 and you can test it in a Virtual Machine. Download it here. (user: gnome / password: gnomehistory)

GNOME’s libraries have been available for use in any application, with freedom and without fees, under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License ever since and GNOME’s applications have been made available under the GNU General Public License with a commitment to software freedom.

GNOME Desktop with 1.4 version


GUADEC in Paris

The first GUADEC was held in Paris in 2000 as a one-off event, and attracted around 70 GNOME contributors. For many it was the first time they’d met in-person and was judged a success. GUADEC has been held annually since then in cities around Europe, organized by local volunteers, and has grown fivefold in size. GUADEC 2017 was held in Manchester, UK with more than 250 participants.

Happy GNOME contributors at the first GUADEC


The Foundation

The GNOME Foundation was announced at the Linux World Expo in San Jose, CA in August of 2000. The Foundation provides organizational, financial and legal support to the GNOME project. Partnerships with companies were also announced, including Red Hat, Compaq, Eazel, Helix Code, IBM, Sun Microsystems and VA Linux Systems. The Foundation was ultimately incorporated as a membership-based, not-for-profit corporation.



On June 26, 2002 GNOME 2.0 was released, the culmination of major efforts with the dual objective of enhancing the user experience and dramatically improving developer productivity. GNOME 2.0 was the first release in the 2.x series, which saw 16 more releases over the next 9 years.

The introduction of the Human Interface Guidelines (HIG), allowed for a more predictable and consistent interface for users. GNOME 2 also had a host of advanced accessibility features for users with disabilities along with a built-in accessibility framework for developers to meet Section 508 requirements.

GNOME 2.x was widely adopted over its many iterations, though many were unhappy upon its introduction. Said one critic upon the release of GNOME 2.0: “I found this default configuration, bone-headed, at best.”

GNOME Desktop with 2.0 version



GNOME 3.0 was an exciting new desktop designed for today’s users and which is suited to a range of modern computing devices. GNOME’s developer technologies were substantially improved for 3.0. Modernised and streamlined, they enable developers to provide better user experiences with less time and effort.

The most important goal of GNOME 3 was defined as the unification of the user experience. Many flaws were identified in the GNOME 2 desktop related to windows, workspaces and application launching, some of which were labor intensive and prone to errors. A much more holistic approach was needed to take it to the next level.

GNOME 3 was met by some with very positive reactions. Said one detractor, “I forgot how beautiful and stable GNOME 2 was.”

GNOME Desktop with 3.0 version



GNOME 3.22 brought comprehensive Flatpak integration for the first time. Flatpak, the next generation application framework for Linux, provides cross-distribution applications that are more secure than traditional Linux apps. GNOME 3.22 made it easy to install Flatpak apps using the Software application.


GNOME 3.24

GNOME 3.24 Portland was released in March 2017 including features like a brand new Recipes app, Night Light, and revamped settings, as well as improvements to the browser, photos, and IRC applications. Get GNOME 3.24 here


GNOME Turns 20

This year marks GNOME’s 20th anniversary. Users and developers flew out from around the world to attend GUADEC and have an early birthday party for GNOME, and Jonathan Blandford gave a keynote on GNOME's past 20 years.

Federico Mena-Quintero is getting ready to cut the birthday cake
People at GNOME’s 20th anniversary party

Here’s to the next 20 years!

The GNOME Project looks forward to many more years of development, with contributors old and new. We continue to be inspired by each other, and encourage you to join us in shaping the future of GNOME.