Switchboard 2.0 Lands In Isisby Daniel Foré

As part of our ongoing work on Isis, Corentin Noël and a few others have given Switchboard a major overhaul of both its backend and frontend. The new Switchboard 2.0 is faster, more future proof, and even a bit sexier.

As you may know, Switchboard is our System Settings app. It is a platform for extensions called “plugs” that provide its settings panes. In our efforts to improve performance and future-proof our apps to run on newer display servers, we’ve moved our extension architecture to take advantage of GModule instead of Xembed. Panes now load noticeably more quickly and there are no graphical glitches (like black flashes).

In addition to this backend overhaul, we’ve updated Switchboard’s Interface to take advantage of the latest features of GTK 3.10, like animating the transition between panes and using the new compact HeaderBar. We’ve also done a bit of polishing with GTK CSS to make the grid view look nicer.

A Couple Notes

Developers should know that with the move to GModule, there was a small architectural choice made: our previous Xembed architecture allowed the use of other toolkits like Qt in plugs. However, GModule enforces the use of native GTK. Since we haven’t yet seen anyone write a Switchboard Plug using a toolkit other than GTK, this isn’t a major issue; In fact, it should ensure consistency in look and feel for our users.

Another small concession was the removal of the ProgressBar from Switchboard’s title area. Since moving to HeaderBar, that area is now occupied by the title of the current Plug. We’re encouraging Plug developers to instead design progress indicators in more contextual locations in their plugs.

Since Isis is still unreleased, this milestone represents our development work so far. Testers may encounter issues, but rest assured that we're still working! If you're a developer, we welcome branch merge requests to make Switchboard even better. But for the general public, we ask that you wait until we announce Isis Beta to report bugs.

Get Involved

Since Switchboard is completely extensible, there is a big opportunity for modders to offer new kinds of plugs. One of the more popular plugs available for Switchboard is the “Tweaks” plug. But, we could still use developers to work on default plugs too! Some big requests waiting for a developer are things like custom keyboard shortcuts and redesigns for complex plugs like Printers, Displays, and Locale.

If you’d like to write a plug for Switchboard, you can browse the code of our sample plug here. It includes all the boilerplate code so that you can jump right into the good stuff.

If you’re a designer interested in sharing your plug idea or a developer looking for inspiration, don’t forget to check out the Switchboard Plugs group on deviantART.

As always, we have links and resources available for interested developers and designers on our Get Involved page.

Published January 12th, 2014


AjdinM 2 weeks ago

I’d like to say what you guys done amazing job on OS, and we’d all like you to keep on good work. Along with custom shortcuts (which is mandatory for every serious linux user), i’d like you to add “single command-line interpreter”. Sorry i couldn’t describe it any better, but it’s think you get when pressing alt+f2 in linux mint distribution. I found that many linux users prefer this kind of keyboard interaction, and for many it would be crucial for many changing to elementary OS.
Good luck with good work :D

NicholasM 3 weeks ago

I have one question I’d really like an answer to. I am kinda new to the Linux environment. I’ve used Ubuntu, Pear OS,  Mint, and Elementary OS.  I love the feel and beauty of Luna, but is there a way to change the app launcher it uses? I don’t like the Slingshot app launcher.

Branni Mikal 3 weeks ago

I can’t wait to have this :) it’s looks like it will blow Luna out of the water and it looks far more gorgeous than Luna already!

Now, how do we go about actually testing this version? I don’t mind it being unstable… just saying ;)

Groud Frank 3 weeks ago

“More beautiful than Luna” . Imagine that there is actually something more beautiful than Luna. It blows my mind! :) I want wait to take this for a spin!

caosz 1 month ago

This is great. The best one I have seen. I’m eager to see updates.

BenLogan72 1 month ago

Hey Elementary Team,
Just want to send you guys another quick note of encouragement.  I use elementary every day.  I show your OS to every Linux geek I know.  I just used elementary to make a presentation at a job interview.  That’s how much I trust this OS!  One of the interview panel members was really impressed: “The dude comes in here rocking a Linux Box.  And a stable one at that!”  Funny stuff. 

Keep up the great work guys.  Thanks for creating something that me and my family (eleven year old, and seven year old) enjoy on a daily basis.  You guys are brilliant.


Pradhuman Panigrahi 1 month ago

I am always interested in this type of great features…......This is the best and sexiest os i have ever seen….till now after trying MAC, WINDOWS 7or 8, ubuntu, mint etc…............

amhhernandez 2 months ago

I think this is a great feature, it’s very useful!

flix 2 months ago

I love elementary OS because of the Design and the Functionality but I really want to know when isis will come. It would be enough to know in which quarter of this year it will come. (I hope that it will come this year ;) )

Also I would like (the option of) an office suite, e.g. libre office or Abiword and Gnumeric.

But all in all eOS is already my favourite Linux distro, keep on developing! :)

Nandish 2 months ago

I love Elementary OS. But with uncertain dates on release, it may drive away many users to other distro’s.  Please keep us updated on the latest status of ISIS and other major stuffs. We need more regular blogging from the Elementary team. Getting the updates from launchpad is not really easy

NicholasM 2 months ago

I really love Elementary OS :) It’s fast and beautiful! I’ve been using it as my main operating system for about a month now. I am really looking forward to Isis.  Keep up the great work! I hope the music app gets kinda redone though.

sinma 2 months ago

Is it possible to completely disable all animations in all apps (unlike GNOME Shell)?

Fazliddin Juraev 2 months ago

Yes! But you will have to open terminal for that.

Fazliddin Juraev 2 months ago

Elegant OS! But it is pity that it does not support UEFI mode, that is why I can only enjoy it with LiveCD. I tried to install it on my PC with UEFI support, no luck! I think it is because eOS is based on ubuntu 12.04 which poorly support UEFI. On the same PC I installed ubuntu 12.04.4 without any problem. After that I added eOS ppa and installed elementary-desktop. But experience is awful.

It would be nice if elementary team added advanced downloading page where people can choose updates such as 12.04.1, 12.04.2, 12.04.3, 12.04.4. Or pantheon should be distributed as DE for Linux.

Ilja Bituzki 2 months ago

I had the same problem too !

But now I do it like this :
I connect the HDD from my PC to my notebook(which dont have UEFI) and install eOS via notebook on the PC’s HDD.
After installation the HDD goes back into the PC.

KeepOn Swimming 2 months ago

Hi guys

Like a few people here, I use Luna at home and at work.  Absolutely brilliant.  Its not often that one get to use “boring” as a positive description, but here it applies.  With zero crashes and a gui that gets out of the way, I now have time to concentrate on work…

I know the dev team is now super busy, but it would be really nice if we can get a bit more feedback or information once in a fortnight.  The current rate of communication on Journal makes this project look a bit abandoned.

Can’t wait for Isis.  Keep up the good work!

Samuel Cecílio 2 months ago

Exactly. A little more information would be great.

Kelemen János 2 months ago


Sometimes it is quite a bit of information.

Daniel Foré 2 months ago

It’s definitely not abandoned. We’re committing code every single day. The problem is, most of it isn’t newsworthy. I’m not sure it warrants blogging about how we fixed a bug where box-shadow was being inherited in panel menus or that we’ve finished deprecating icons from gtk.stock in Music. A lot of the development work is really kind of boring stuff. But it’s essential to providing that stable bug-free experience.

We’ll definitely keep blogging as exciting stuff happens in development, though :)

Kelemen János 2 months ago

Thank you!!!

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