COSMIC DE: First Spring Update!

March updates banner with COSMIC logo

Ahh, spring. Sun is shining, birds are chirping, and COSMIC is blossoming into a beautiful desktop environment prototype. Carl (System76 CEO) is thoroughly enjoying daily driving it at work: “There’s nothing quite the same as feeling the design by using it daily.” It’s not quite ready yet for you or me, but Carl feels it’s close to being ready for the design team to use daily. For now, completed software pieces are being used alongside temporary engineering workarounds. Once those workarounds have been replaced by designed, implemented, and user-tested software, we’ll have an alpha release to play around in.

That part is further away…but it’s exciting! Each month, more and more pieces are coming together for Pop!_OS’s new desktop environment. Read on to see what was added in March.

The launcher

The UX and engineering teams are all working together to bring Launcher to a more finished look and feel. Check out the latest styling for the Launcher in the screenshot below!


Maximize and Full Screen

In Pop!_OS 22.04 LTS, maximize and full screen are separate functions. The main difference between the two is that maximized windows border the top panel, while a full screen app covers the top panel and hides the title bar. However, in COSMIC DE, the dock or panel can be oriented on any edge of the screen, float or extend to the edges, be large or small, stay hidden, or intelligently hide when a window overlaps the panel.

If panels are always hidden or intelligently hide, is there really a difference between maximize and full screen? In COSMIC, maximize will abide by your preference to keep panels always visible, always hidden, or intelligently hide. Each panel can be set separately, so your top panel can be always visible while your bottom panel intelligently hides.

While Pop!_OS won’t have a separate full screen mode for application windows, apps that feature their own full screen mode will still be able to use it via their respective controls or shortcuts. So these apps like browsers, presentation software, LibreOffice, and yes, the full screen button in YouTube and other video players will continue to function as expected.


Active hints and configurable window gaps are now working in tiling mode! Tiling features are getting close to parity with Pop!_OS 22.04 LTS with the notable exception of stacking. Additional features and hints to make auto-tiling easier for more users are also in the works.


COSMIC DE’s iced GUI toolkit animation crate is now ready and published! Cosmic-time provides a simple API to build and show complex animations efficiently in applications built with iced. It was created to be easy to use; no math required for any animation, and custom animation support for devs to create their own. Head to the link to see what’s next for cosmic-time!

Performance improvements

Big performance improvements have been made to cosmic-text and the text editor. For one, RAM usage for the text editor has been cut in half. It also starts up a half second faster; Jeremy (Principal Engineer) says it feels instantaneous now. By applying these improvements to libcosmic, other COSMIC applications will see a boost in speed as well.

Xwayland cosmic-comp improvements (these two updates) considerably reduced demand on CPU resources. Carl noticed his desktop running much quieter after this update. Side note: Levi (QA Lead) says COSMIC is working “pretty darn well” on NVIDIA systems, thanks to the work done on the compositor.


Substantial progress has been made developing the widget library for creating COSMIC applications. Once the widget library fills out, focus will move to creating panels in COSMIC Settings that introduce functionality to customize the COSMIC desktop experience.

Drag and Drop

Drag-and-drop functionality has been merged with Smithay-client-toolkit, which opens the door for the team to complete work on workspaces, the application library, and much, much more.

Optimizations from community contributors have been added to Smithay that are already being used in cosmic-comp. One such optimization improves NVIDIA support by allowing faster copies between multiple GPUs.

Iced animations in the wild

A Linux software center project is already using our iced animation crate in their project! It’s cool to see our contributions contributing to other open source projects out there.


I hope you enjoyed this March edition of What’s New in COSMIC DE! We’ll see you next month with more updates. Enjoy the warmer weather! (Or colder weather, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere.)

Like what you see?

Share on Social Media