Switchboard 2.0 Lands In Isis Freyaby Daniel Foré

As part of our ongoing work on Isis Freya, 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 Freya 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 Freya 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.

Edited on June 22, 2014 to reflect the change from Isis to Freya. Read more here.

Published January 12th, 2014


Andy Aquino 9 months ago

Great improvement! Can’t wait for the new release.

Chemical Warrxian 5 months ago

me to, wish i it will come out soon.

TopNotch 9 months ago

Looks nice. Even though Lunia already is stunning.

Ivan Blagojevic 10 months ago

When can we expect any progress in stages? Whether it’s the alpha, beta ...

Chandler Bing 11 months ago

when is isis releasing? any official date?

Feldrok 11 months ago

Nice, I’ll try this distro now =) installing it in my Usb at the moment. I’ll buy a Macbook Pro later, and this looks really similar, so thats nice.

AjdinM 1 year 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

Nicholas Maguire 1 year 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 1 year 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 1 year 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 year ago

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

BenLogan72 1 year 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 year 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 1 year ago

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

flix 1 year 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 1 year 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

Nicholas Maguire 1 year 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 1 year ago

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

Fazliddin Juraev 1 year ago

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

Fazliddin Juraev 1 year 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.

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