Fedora 35 bridges the gap between the seasoned and the new user

Fedora 35 beta is now available, and Jack Wallen finds what was once considered a distribution geared toward the seasoned pro is now ready for the average user.

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Image: Fedora Project

For the longest time, I considered the Fedora Linux distribution to have an audience of one—those dyed-in-the-wool, experienced users. There's a good reason for that. Fedora is a bleeding-edge distribution, so things can break, go south or not work.

I've been reviewing Linux distributions for decades now, so I've experienced several Fedora releases. When this particular flavor of Linux first hit the virtual shelves, it was very much not a platform for the new user. It would break and require admin-level attention.

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But something happened along the way to number 35. Fedora became really solid. This was partially bolstered with the help of the rock-solid GNOME desktop. And even with Fedora including the newest versions of GNOME didn't seem to cause the operating system to falter. 

To borrow a cliché, it all just works. 

However, it does more than just work. I'd go so far as to say that the last few Fedora releases have worked exceptionally well, as well as any other desktop distribution. And Fedora 35 is no exception to this new rule.

This latest release is scheduled to be available near the end of October. However, I wouldn't be surprised if that date was pushed back, seeing as how the beta was only just released. I had to download and install a daily build to do this review (so keep that in mind).

With that said, let's dive in and see just what makes this release of Fedora so special.

The software

First, let's highlight some of the software included and their versions. The list looks something like this:

  • GNOME 41
  • Firefox 92.0.1
  • LibreOffice 7.2.12
  • Cheese 41.0
  • Rhythmbox 3.4.4
  • kernel 5.15.0-0.rc3.25.fc36
  • firewalld 1.0.0
  • Binutils 2.36
  • GCC 11
  • glibc 2.34
  • binutils 2.37
  • gdb 10.2
  • Perl 5.34
  • Node.js 16.x
  • Python 3.10
  • RPM 4.17
  • PHP 8.0

That pretty much sums it up. In fact, the list of included software is pretty bare-bones. You won't even find an email client pre-installed. That's fine because you can fire up GNOME Software (Figure A—which has enjoyed a good amount of polish since its last release) and install anything you want.

Figure A

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GNOME Software running on the default Fedora 35 GNOME desktop.

It should also be noted that the developers have made it even easier to install third-party software (such as Zoom, Minecraft, or Bitwarden) by way of Flathub, which will appear in GNOME Software along with standard applications.

One of the best things about the Fedora 35 desktop is the new GNOME workflow. It's truly genius how much easier it has become to work on this open-source desktop. Yes, the horizontal workflow was introduced in GNOME 40, but the developers have added an extra bit of polish in this new release to make it even better.

Power profiles

One of the new additions to GNOME 41 is the ease at which you can switch power profiles. From the system tray menu, you can select from Balanced or Power Saver profiles (Figure B).

Figure B

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Switching between Power profiles is very easy now.

Say you're on a laptop and you've got access to a power outlet. Switch your power profile to Balanced for more power to work. If you're on that same laptop, but don't have access to an outlet, switch to Power Saver to conserve your battery.

There is also a new Multitasking section in the Settings window (Figure C), which allows you to configure Hot Corners, Active Screen Edges and Workspaces. 

Figure C

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The new Multitasking section in the Settings window.

Other new additions include:

  • GTK 4.4
  • GDM (login manager) enables Wayland sessions even if using X.org.
  • The calendar application now supports reading ICS files.
  • SIP accounts now have a GUI manager.
  • VoIP calls can be made using a new dialer app.
  • Epiphany browser (called Web) blocks YouTube ads out of the box.
  • GNOME Disks now uses LUKS2 for encrypted partitions.

GNOME also benefits from considerable work done to Wayland (especially with NVIDIA devices). That translates to more speed, reliability and smoothness. And it shows. I can honestly say I haven't seen a release of GNOME this buttery smooth.

It's not just about the software and tweaks

Fedora 35 shouldn't be judged by the software and the tweaks it includes. Part of the reason for that is because the tweaks outnumber the user-facing software titles. What this distribution should be judged by is how well it bridges the gap between new users and seasoned vets. What was once a distribution for those with considerable skill has transformed into a Linux distribution that could be used by anyone. 

Yes, Fedora is still considered a bleeding-edge distribution (because it uses newly released software versions). And if this is a big concern for you, you could always go for Fedora Silverblue (which is a stable version of Fedora). But if my experience is any indicator, Fedora is just as rock-solid as any distribution I've used. The culmination of bug fixes, new software, the work that has gone into Wayland and everything that is GNOME makes Fedora 35 a version of Linux any user type would be happy working with. 

If you're itching to try a new Linux distribution (or Linux in general), I'm happy to finally say Fedora Desktop is a desktop operating system I can recommend to anyone. This new release is absolutely stellar in performance, stability, and usability.

Brilliantly done, Fedora Project.

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By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....