Fedora 30 brings immense quality of life improvements to Linux on the desktop

Fedora 30 brings the usual mix of performance improvements and new packages, though progress in Fedora and associated projects makes Linux on the desktop easier to use.

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Fedora 30, the newest release of the venerable Linux distribution that serves (in part) as the staging environment for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, was released Tuesday, bringing with it a number of improvements and performance optimizations. Fedora 30 uses GCC 9.0, bringing modest performance improvements across all applications that have been recompiled using the new version, as noted by Linux benchmarking website Phoronix.

The new version includes some quality-of-life improvements, for which work began in previous versions. These include the new flicker-free boot process, which hides the GRUB loader/kernel select screen by default, and relies on some creative theming to incorporate the bootsplash image from your hardware into the loading process. This also makes updating software through the Software Center a more seamless process.

SEE: How to find files in Linux with grep: 10 examples (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Fedora 30 ships with GNOME 3.32, including all-new app icons using a new visual language reminiscent of Google's Material Design guidelines, making those applications blend well with the Google Chrome icon, for example. Importantly, the new version of GNOME provides more robust support for HiDPI displays, including experimental non-integer scaling, allowing for applications to be drawn at 150% or 175%, when using Wayland. Likewise, backend improvements to GNOME resulted in "noticeable frame rate improvements," according to the release announcement, resulting in "a faster, snappier feel to the animations, icons and top 'shell' panel."

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Icons in Fedora 30, from GNOME 3.32. The new icon designs are reminiscent of Google's "Material Design" guidelines, blending in well with the Google Chrome and Google Play Music icons. Some icons, like Rhythmbox, have not yet been updated with a new icon.

Screenshot: James Sanders/TechRepublic

Under the hood performance improvements

A number of changes made below the surface more directly impact users of Fedora who extensively use the terminal, use Fedora on servers, or use Fedora as a development environment. These include upgrading to Bash 5.0, Boost 1.69, and glibc to 2.29, as well as mass removal of Python 2 packages, and upgrade to Ruby 2.6 and PHP 7.3.

Likewise, changes to remove excessive linking for Fedora-built packages will improve startup times and smaller metadata files, and, using Zchunk to compress repository metadata, greatly speeding up the DNF package manager (which is often criticized for being sluggish, compared to apt.)

Fedora 30 also brings UEFI for ARMv7 devices, making it possible to install Fedora on UEFI-compatible ARM hardware similar to installing on any arbitrary computer.

A full list of changes made in Fedora 30 is available here.

Usability improvements make Fedora worth a second look

If it has been some time since you've taken a look at Fedora, the release of Fedora 30 is a great opportunity to become re-acquainted with the long-running Linux distribution. Improvements to GNOME have redeemed the usability of Fedora well after the initial release of the GNOME 3.x series, while greater attention to usability for users who are not necessarily IT professionals puts it on the same level for ease-of-use as Ubuntu.

Though GNOME is the default, it may simply not be your preferred environment. Fedora Spins for KDE, XFCE, LXQT, MATE-Compiz, Cinnamon, and LXDE are available, making it possible to use different desktop environments out-of-the-box, with no additional configuration. Users of Linux Mint will benefit from the familiar Cinnamon desktop environment, but with the added stability of Fedora.

New to Fedora 30 include packages for DeepinDE and Pantheon, the desktop environments used in Deepin Linux, called "the single most beautiful desktop on the market" by TechRepublic's Jack Wallen, as well as elementaryOS, which Wallen lauded as "spectacularly subtle." While these are only packages—requiring simple, though manual, installation—packaging these desktops is the first step to building a full independent spin.

Additionally, the rapidly-maturing Flatpak ecosystem makes distributing and using applications for different Linux distributions easier to get started for users coming from Windows, with popular applications such as Spotify, Slack, Steam, Dropbox, Nextcloud, Visual Studio Code, Android Studio, available among hundreds of other free and proprietary applications.

Fedora 30 can be downloaded here, in Workstation or Server variants. Additional packages, including advanced codecs and emulators, are available via RPMFusion.

For more, check out ZDNet's coverage of version 5.0 of the Linux kernel, used in Fedora 30, or review of Ubuntu 19.04, which uses a heavily customized version of GNOME 3.32.

Also see

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The Fedora 30 desktop.

Screenshot: James Sanders/TechRepublic