After using Fedora for about 5 months now, I think it would be a good time for me to share my experiences about it. This is the first time I’ve ever done such a “review” before. I am by no means an authoritative journalist nor an experience Linux user so take my words with a pinch of salt. If this ends up helping future development of other distribution development, that would be the best I could hope for.
TLDR; I think Fedora is a great distribution for software development or as a content creation workstation. I think the very minimal install, packed with the latest technologies provides a great platform to those who are well versed with Linux-based operating systems. For those who want a basic computer without having to go through some somewhat technical tweaks(AKA normies) then I think there are better options out there.
Why I decided to start using Fedora: My previous installation EndeavourOS, a basic Arch distribution, was having a lot of issues with gaming and WINE. While EndeavourOS itself is a great distribution, I realized that I would likely benefit more from a different distribution. One that had the latest software features, was well supported by commercial software and not rely on community packaged releases, and have stable releases and updates where I could rely on the system to work without too many issues. Fedora, a distribution known for using the latest software features, releasing stable releases with a rock-solid reputation, and backed up by Red Hat with access to .rpms, arguably the second most widely used software format (behind .deb). It seemed like the perfect distro for me to use.
Installation: I’ve tried some distros before, mainly Debian-based or Arch-based, and I have to say Fedora Probably has the best installer or somewhat technical people. While it isn’t the dummy-proof installation that Pop!_OS provided, it was a very simple yet effective installer that saved my bacon a few times when Windows update decided to $h!t itself and break the boot loader. Every distro’s installer failed to repair it except Fedora’s which restored Grub and installed Fedora in the empty partition.
Now with the system installed, I was on my way to see if this could be my final distribution.
I really appreciate the fact that Fedora 33 uses BTRFS by default. I’ve had many issues on other distributions to get BTRFS systems to properly work. Most often required much troubleshooting to get encryption to work as well. I also really appreciated the LUKS decrypt boot menu. It’s 2021, having a proper decrypt GUI instead of dealing with Grub-rescue was very nice.
I also enjoyed the crash report application being installed by default. It’s nice to know that the app you opened actually crashed instead of waiting a minute then launching from the terminal to see what the error message is. I also really like how easy it is to report any system critical issues directly to Red Hat Bugzilla. It felt like I was actually contributing to the development of Fedora when in reality I probably created one too many annoying bug reports haha.
After installing Lutris and Steam, gaming basically worked out of the box on my Desktop. I was able to play Red Dead Redemption 2, Cyberpunk 2077, and Titanfall 2 with no issues right out of the box(on EOS, these games straight up refused to startup). I did however have to go back to X11. Wayland’s forced sync and xWayland input lag make it undesirable for gaming, especially with high refresh rate gaming(144hz baby).
Anything related to software development worked very well. I installed VSCode, and Gnome Builder. I’m learning C right now and gnome-builder, while it has some issues, has been a great IDE. It’s super lightweight, themes well with Gnome Desktop, and has more than enough features for me to use. Flatpak support went perfectly in fact.
Finally, I really liked the readability of DNF. DNF’s layout made it so easy to see what was being updates, what was being removed, etc. I really think other package manager utilities can learn from DNF in this regard.
No LTS release is something I very much enjoyed. While this may sound crazy I personally don’t like LTS releases for my devices. I found that the existence of LTS releases caused some issues with installing software. Either I’m using the LTS version and the app is released not, or I’m on the latest version and the app is released for LTS. With Fedora, it’s just available for the version I’m using.
Lastly, from what I can tell, Nvidia Optimus and AMD Switchable graphics worked perfectly fine with no issues. I just enabled the repo in Gnome software, installed the drivers, then had to option to offload an app to the dGPU by just right-clicking it in the app grid. It dumbs easy to use and it worked well.
Here are some of the issues I’ve had that I have been able to fix or tweak to use.
Timeshift BTRFS snapshots aren’t simple to set up. Because Timeshift uses a very specific subvolume layout that Fedora does not use, you have to rename these subvolumes in order for Timeshift BTRFS snapshots to work. You could use Rsync options or use Snapper but the familiarity and simplicity of Timeshift meant that I needed to find a way to fix this. Finding the solution was not easy, it was behind many Duckduckgo pages, but I finally found a guide and made a simplified version on the Fedora discussion forum here. After the tweaks, I was able to use BTRFS snapshot features to work with Timeshift.
For some reason, DNF has been extremely slow on my machine. I don’t live in the US, I live in South Korea, which makes me believe there aren’t many mirrors here. Whatever the cause was, DNF was painfully slow and needed to be tweaked. This was a simple tweak I had to do, edit dnf.conf text file to use the closest mirror, enable deltarpm, and have up to 20 simultaneous downloads. While this tweaked DNF is still much slower than Pacman or apt, it’s at a point where it is useable.
Fedora’s stock repos don’t provide much software. For some legal American reason, apparently, Red Hat can only provide OSS on Fedora. To get the rest of the software, I need to enable the RPM Fusion repos. Having to enable those features for every install was a bit tedious but not the end of the world.
Finally, while this issue isn’t contained to Fedora, I’ll still include it in case someone else needs a solution. The wireless Bluetooth connection with my Xbox one controller didn’t work. I simply could not connect it in any possible way. After some searching, I found the xpadneo project. The drivers from then worked effortlessly and allowed wireless connection with my Xbox controller.
The Ugly :
These are issues that I could not find a solution as to now, and might be the reasons I go and find a different distro(but probably not since the good generally out ways it)
While wireless Xbox controls worked with that simple tweak, I cannot get a stable connection with my wired Xbox controller. After a bit of gaming, the game will suddenly unrecognize the controller, or the controller itself will turn off. I have tried countless other tweaks to fix this issue but have stilled failed to get it to work.
Piper and Kdenlive, two apps I use often, do not function properly. While I have found suitable alternatives to these applications(solaar and Kdenlive from Flatpak), I will have to go back to them eventually. I am still trying to figure out why they won’t work but for now it means I have to rely on suboptimal replacements.
Some applications don’t appear on Gnome software center. For example, while Discover, dnf search, and dnfDragora are able to find and display packages like libratbag, Solaar, and Timeshift, Gnome-software reports that such software does not exist. Apparently, this because these apps do not provide app data, so Gnome-software cannot display them. This is a pain. While I do not “fear” the terminal, I prefer to use it as sparingly as possible. While Discover and dnfDragora do not have this issue, they are a bit buggy and quite frankly look like they belong in 2010. In 2021, I think it is fair to say that basic Computer functionality shouldn’t require the use of ancient UIs or terminals, especially if you want Linux desktop to grow to a larger user base.
And Finally, despite using the second most popular format type, some software only releases .deb files, or only supports RHEL or Centos .rpms which aren’t perfectly matching with Fedora.
To wrap things up. I still really like Fedora and will likely use it until my college class requires me to switch off to a Debian-based distro for software compatibility. I appreciate everyone who contributed to making this fabulous distribution.
I have been making a list of things to tweak in Fedora. I really believe Linux-based operating systems can approach a much wider audience. It just needs some adjustments to meet the average consumer’s needs, and I think Fedora can be a perfect base for my spin-off distribution when I start my business (big dreams).
Well, that’s all I have. I hope you all have a wonderful day.