I honestly never thought I'd consider Fedora a rock solid enough distribution to serve as a daily driver for anything but developing and testing. This came with good reason: Fedora was always released as a bleeding edge platform, a playground for testers and developers.
That was the Fedora of old. What they have created with their 25th iteration is some sort of magical confluence of bleeding edge and bloody brilliant.
Don't get me wrong, Fedora is still a developer's paradise. The 25th iteration includes such developer-centric improvements as:
- Support for the Rust language
- Multiple side-by-side versions of Python
- The latest version of Docker
- Flatpak support built in
For anyone that hasn't touched Fedora for a while, you'll notice a few really interesting changes. One of the biggest came when I checked for updates. The Fedora package manager informed me of available updates and that they would be installed and applied upon reboot.
That was a bit confusing.
I'd never experienced an instance of Linux where an update would be installed and applied during a reboot. This was a process commonly found in Android (for platform upgrades). But on a desktop Linux OS? That's unheard of!
The updates in question?
- GStreamer Multimedia Codecs
- Typing Booster
Clearly this wasn't a major platform update. However, the package manager insisted a reboot in order to apply the updates and I complied. At first I assumed this an anomaly; but then it happened again (this time for a number of updates, including the kernel - Figure A).
Via the GNOME Software tool, there was no apparent means of updating without a reboot. Opening up a terminal window, I could issue the command (after su'ing to root) dnf upgrade and the necessary updates were taken care of. Of course, because the kernel was upgraded, a reboot was still necessary. The GNOME Software tool takes care of that in one sweep.
Nice touch, Fedora. Nice touch.
The unseen change
No matter how many of the improvements and changes we actually see in Fedora, they pale in comparison to the one we don't see. That change is Wayland. That's right, Fedora finally left X11 in the dust. It's about time. X11 is old — very old. X11 is the very definition of legacy. Wayland does a much better job of taking advantage of new hardware.
There are those in the community who believe it's still too early to be using Wayland as the default compositor protocol. However, after using Fedora 25 for a while, it's quite clear that Wayland is well beyond ready. GNOME on Wayland was much improved. Windows were smoother and faster to open and the stability of the desktop was a slight step ahead of X11.
But why Wayland?
Outside of X11 being so long in the tooth, Wayland brings something X11 simply couldn't deliver. Wayland was designed from the ground up to isolate clients from one another. This means there is no shared coordinate space and clients cannot snoop on one another's input or inject fake input events; clients cannot draw on each others windows or cover up windows with fake replicas. This is a serious security improvement, as X11 was never designed to deal with untrusted clients.
Couple Wayland with GNOME 3.22 and you have a really impressive desktop experience.
There are a number of other changes that appear with Fedora 25. Some of the more notable include:
- Linux Kernel 4.8
- MP3 Codecs
- Fedora Media Writer
- Compatibility checks for GNOME Shell Extensions disabled
That last entry should be of interest to those who depend upon GNOME Shell extensions. As of Fedora 25, the extensions are no longer compatibility checked against the GNOME Shell version. This means nearly every available extensions will work on GNOME.
Do note, however, that the Fedora Media Writer (a tool that allows you to create a bootable, live USB drive with Fedora) is not installed by default. This new tool can be found in GNOME Software and should be considered a must-have for anyone that requires bootable Linux USB drives. From the Media Writer main window (Figure B), you can create a bootable USB drive of Fedora Workstation, Fedora Server, or a custom image.
Not your average Fedora
Fedora 25 is a seriously impressive release. If you've been wanting to give Wayland a try or been disillusioned by previous iterations of the distribution, now's the time to return. Fedora is back and better than ever.
- Fedora's answer to Snap Packages only begs more questions (TechRepublic)
- GNOME privacy options give users even more desktop security (TechRepublic)
- How to make the most out of Google Drive on GNOME (TechRepublic)
- Ubuntu GNOME 15.10: The perfect Linux desktop distribution (TechRepublic)
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.