F42 Change Proposal: Fedora Plasma Workstation (System-Wide)

It’s actually pretty interesting how Plasma has been slowly growing, though keep in mind we might have a discovery issue here. Plasma could be picked less (partially) because it isn’t as prominent as Workstation.

That’s just a possibility of course. We have no way of knowing how many people picked GNOME specifically because they wanted a GNOME DE or because that was the most prominent choice.

For what it’s worth, I can give my very anecdotal thought process.
I’ve picked Workstation over the KDE spin not only because I ended up enjoying GNOME’s workflow a lot, but also because Workstation feels more integrated with the OS compared to the KDE spin.

This is likely caused by a combination of…

  • GNOME’s upstream providing more ways for distributions to integrate themselves.
  • Downstream issues and missing pieces with the KDE spin specifically.

…but I’m not sure which of these factors is the most responsible for this.


Here’s a few examples I’m reminded of:

  • Fedora Account integration exists on Workstation, but not in KDE spin:

  • The install process is a lot rougher and “glued together” in the KDE spin. Workstation gives you an “initial setup” flow after it’s done installing, but the KDE spin lacks that - all details must be given in the installer itself. Workstation usually also gets “first dibs” on improvements targeted at these components - the new Anaconda interface is only used with Workstation, for example.


Giving KDE a bigger spotlight (be that putting it in the same pedestal as GNOME or outright replacing it) would, in my opinion, depend on improving and polishing its integration with Fedora as a whole. Plasma’s much better integrated compared to any other spin, but it’s obvious which DE is getting the most love. :wink:

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I like the idea (because i prefer plasma).

But instead of ditching GNOME…

Why not ship both (GNOME and Plasma) on the official Workstation?
(neither pre-selected, of course!)

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Hello folks,

This is a generic reminder that this proposal is in the discussion period of our change proposal process, meaning that this is the ideal opportunity our community is welcome and encouraged to share their thoughts on the proposal and make suggestions that may improve it in a respectful and kind way. Please continue to share your experiences with, and provide feedback on, the software that the proposal is about so that the proposal owners can incorporate this into the proposal, where it might make sense, before the proposal goes to any formal decision making stage later on in the process.

The Fedora Project has a code of conduct that we expect our members to adhere to when engaging with other members on any of the projects platforms and tooling. we also have some guidance around how we use our change proposals category here on discourse. Any posts that break or infringe on our code of conduct will be flagged and may be removed.

Thank you all for contributing to a good discussion in this thread so far, and I hope this conversation continues in this positive way :hugs: :fedora:

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I am neither for nor against this proposal as long as both keep maintained in a reliable manner (which is the case at the moment).

But a slight addition: SELinux confined users might not be officially supported by Fedora at this time (although there are people who want to change that in future), but it might be added that at the moment, KDE is more far away from being usable with confined users compared to GNOME: I assume much policies equal to those in RHEL (which is GNOME-centered), or at least draw from their experience.

Somehow I would love that change since I am a KDE user myself, and I have some hope that change would improve the work on KDE when it comes to its SELinux compatibility (so far SELinux works out when it is kept out from the KDE desktop environment, which is of course the default for any desktop environment, but SELinux offers many more possibilities without noteworthy user restrictions if policies and profiles are set properly).

But I am also worrying if KDE is prepared for that… working with it for over a year now in a confined environment, it doesn’t feel sufficiently integrated with Fedora when radical means are enforced by SELinux, and so the question is also if such issues are limited to SELinux policies?

I would prefer more to create a Workstation that contains both KDE and GNOME, and to set one or the other as default for the user, so that they are not forced to choose their adventure (as Matt called it) but have some pre-determined default, but still the possibility to change the choice if they want.

Immediately replace GNOME by KDE as default feels too radical, especially given the high amount of users who are used to GNOME.

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In case my following questions are trivial, excuse my ignorance - I’m pretty new to Fedora.

Just to be clear, are you saying that the absolute numbers are growing for all (Gnome as well)?

And if that is the case, is it possible you might have available data divided in a per-release basis to share (as old systems are not likely to change as long as they work, which might to an extent skew the data in that direction).

While I understand what you are trying to say with that, and I mostly agree that not confusing new users with an abundance of options is a good idea, I think it’s at the same time doing great service at highlighting the main argument of KDE-Plasma visibility. As someone who has always liked KDE, I was put off jumping over to Fedora because it had a reputation of KDE-Plasma being a second-class citizen.

I’m glad I did try it in the end, and it has mostly proven to be a false reputation by the wonderful people working on it, but your statement somewhat proves the point people are making.

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Can’t agree more! I like GNOME because it provides a more modern UI design style and also Fedora is the best distro working best with GNOME.

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It seems like GNOME has been very long to start merging patches for supporting modern hardware features like Variable Refresh Rate and VR displays. AFAIK, these features are still not released? From an enthusiast perspective, this totally disqualify GNOME as the default desktop choice.

Games and VR may not be the priority in the enterprise world, but the best DE for users in general is the one which at minimum will prioritize enabling hardware features.

We can discuss ergonomic preferences all we want, but a non working piece of hardware trumps any other reason to chose between DE.

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Small side-note: The idea of including both Plasma and GNOME in the same offering would be a lot easier to pull off with Fedora Atomic, where it’d just be a matter of switching around images.

Maybe things could even be changed so there’s separation between core system components and the DE/Interface. Here’s a very rough, very pseudo-technical, example:

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I don’t know about that… my cousin installed Fedora with Gnome on my elderly aunt’s laptop (which came with Windows 7) and she was very confused about how to switch between windows as Gnome doesn’t have any kind of taskbar or dock - and also no way to have desktop icons for apps.

Are you equating people who are ND with disabled elderly people?

Furthermore, there is already a tour that opens up on startup, that explains this functionality.
Perhaps the tour is in need of improvement, but that is a separate issue and not relevant here.


If you want to debate the concept of “why do we even need a tour”, consider that Android phones nowadays give a tour in how to use gesture navigation.

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Especially the lack of a dock is a bit of a problem IMHO but that could be solved by shipping a dock by default, like Ubuntu does.

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I think you raise excellent points in your comment!

It feels that way to me as well, especially given Phoronix bringing, their comment section here.

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I made an account just now, to give my own opinion and thoughts about this proposed change, as someone that started his linux journey last year after trying out many distros.

One of the reasons I didn’t try fedora sooner is because it seemed that its main focus was on Gnome and as a person that wanted to game and get the best and latest features that Linux could provide I wanted to use KDE. I eventually did give Gnome a try, unfortunately I didnt stick with it because of the uniformity issues between GTK and QT apps that really bothered me but that’s besides the point of this discussion.

Instead of opting for either Gnome or KDE as the main workstation desktop environment. I would prefer if KDE was integrated into workstation as an option for install process after boot or promoted equally as its own workstation edition.

KDE has been at the forefront implementing inovation of the linux desktop environment, with Gnome lagging a bit behind on certain features, and with it being used by Valve on the steam deck it has received quite a lot of support especially for gaming.

Overall I think KDE fits more the experimental side of Linux than Gnome, its worth at least the discussion on the benefits of making a workstation edition of KDE.

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I agree on the principle of equity.

But, even without me being part of Fedora as an organization, I can recognize that funding is a perpetual concern, especially given the amount of requirements to undertake such.

Bugs, Issues, Support, and more have to be dealt with, and already these processes are burdened.

Keeping up with KDE spirit, Fedora should allow users to choose their preferred desktop environment during installation, just like Debian does, or Fedora Core did back in the day. Or at least promote KDE to “workstation” version, like current release with GNOME. Leaving KDE as a “spin” does not do justice for developers, who really did a great job, and are not stopping anytime soon.

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I really dislike people trying to argue whether GNOME or KDE are more user friendly. When you have two such different desktops with completely different paradigms, I really do think its down to personal preference which someone prefers.
I think a good compromise (and a good idea in general) is making the network installer more visible and accessible, like OpenSuse and Debian do.

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As a Sway user, I believe that this proposal is biased and resembles a user forum post. The statement ‘Plasma provides a more traditional user experience’ would suffice. The other points, such as ‘standardization support,’ seem like an attempt to justify the statement, even if they are not relevant. Aren’t all members involved in the standards? If most standards were led by Sway, would that influence Fedora’s defaults? Yes, KDE is doing a great work on the standards, but I don’t see how it makes it more suitable as a default from the others.

Similarly, suggesting that OpenMandriva switch to Xfce as the default desktop environment due to issues with KDE themes causing home directory wipes or occasional crashes (both of which are fixable) or asking Mint to switch from Cinnamon because it does not support Wayland yet, would not be taken seriously. Fedora is Gnome’s main distribution, changing that will only cause bumps in their relationship.

No offense but I believe the main proposal author’s biases should be taken into account. It is no secret, as multiple blog posts have been written about it, that they do not have a good relationship with Gnome.

I am against multiple choices on the installer, I chose Fedora Sway because it is opinionated and focuses on my needs. The team behind it cares about providing the best experience from top to bottom. It does not feel like another choice just to please a minority, which is something I cannot say about almost any other distro out there.

I suggest a homepage with two buttons prominently displaying ‘Workstation’ and ‘Spins’.

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I do agree that going away from GNOME because of technical limitations that can be fixed, like HDR, VRR and so on is short-sighted. Many of them like Variable Refresh Rate, and Fractional scaling are already part of GNOME even if they are experimental, and work is on going to support the Global Shortcuts Protocol within Wayland (We just need apps like Discord and OBS to support this portal more frankly :p).

As for having a network installer, I don’t see why Fedora can not continue to give the same amount of polish to each desktop, compared to each desktop having their own installer.
A button leading to the spins section next to workstation is a good idea I do agree, it can be hard to find the Spins section as it stands right now.

Now you mention Sway though, maybe we should consider it as the replacement for GNOME instead of KDE /j

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To suggest no change in response to this proposal is perhaps the most egregious of all. Even if the visibility of “spins” were elevated in the manner that you suggested on the Fedora website, that wouldn’t change the fact that to find details on Fedora KDE is still another click away. Contrast this with the Atomic Desktops, where all of the desktop choices are afforded equal placement on the same page.

I agree wholeheartedly that a serious discussion is long overdue on how the GNOME and KDE desktop offerings on Fedora can stand side-by-side as equals. I support the Workstation installer offering a choice between GNOME and KDE, or alternatively the Workstation downloads page having separate ISOs for GNOME and KDE.

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I as a normal user always got the impression that KDE Plasma was not as reliable or well put together because of it’s spin status then later i learned that it is considered as a release blocker which seemed contradictory to me. Why is it only a spin if it can halt the release of a new Fedora version. And others i have talked to have echoed that they were hesitant in giving Fedora KDE a try because of it’s spin status.

Then i started keeping a eye on the discussions within KDE SIG and to me all involved really seem dedicated and keen on delivering a reliable and great experience and seem to have a good relationship with upstream and my interpretation of the numbers @mattdm posted is that KDE Plasma is the second largest/popular Fedora offering.


So with these points in mind and because Gnome and KDE Plasma cater two different audiences i can´t help ask myself why both are not treated as equals on the homepage, marketing etc.

Workstation Gnome
Workstation KDE Plasma

So i as a user would like to see both offered when i visit f.p.o/workstation

Edit: And to be clear i have no clue on what technical/legal/philosophical limitations, if any, there might be with having KDE marketed as prominently as Gnome. My comments are purely from my view as a normal everyday user. And as such this proposal to replace Gnome (if i had any voting power) would be -1.

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Foreword

Mattdm, thank you for sharing Fedora’s desktop environment usage graph. That was useful in formulating my opinion on the proposed change.

Background Disclaimer: I sysadmin 10+ Fedora Kinoite/KDE-Spin workstations and donate to the KDE community.

Recommendation

In its current form, I would recommend the proposal be changed, edited or withdrawn. This is not a commendation of Plasma or the proposal’s authors, but rather a strong belief that a lesser problem is being addressed via the proposal.

Rationale for questioning

In 2024, the world has decided that a majority of the funding/labor/attention that is being spent on open-source desktop environments (Linux-targeted) is focused on two entities, namely GNOME and KDE Plasma. This focus is not guaranteed, nor can it be. The proposal in question indirectly reflects the sentiment that as technologies ebb and flow in their forward looking nature, Fedora (as a project) should response accordingly by changing its “banner.” That could be argued as true, given the project’s stated mission, but is a “banner” change an accurate response given the skilled innovations in both of the aforementioned desktop environments? Over what window of time do we judge? An organization can quickly loses its identity if tangible elements change repeatedly within too short of an interval (even if the action is justifiable to the stated technical mission).

Seeing a problem

People have needs and they are different. Plasma and GNOME are meeting needs, demonstrating high degrees of innovation, and are the recipients of global mindshare. Fedora has acknowledge this by granting both release blocker status, but this understanding is not shared visibly in the presentation layer. KDE Plasma has the same weight as XFCE or LXDE, a spin. Only a deeper dive into the project reveals the truth. This proposal’s comments shows that members of the community feel that this presentation is preventing people from finding something of value, a great Plasma distribution.

A brief personal aside: My team actually avoided Fedora for years because the Fedora site gave off the impression that GNOME was the sole focus and that the KDE Spin was a mere courtesy gesture. In reality, this was a very incorrect impression to hold as Fedora hold one of the best Plasma implementation on the market today.

Is there an answer?

Yes and no, but this proposal is not it. Wisdom shows that GNOME and Plasma need each other at present. The two paradigms operate in tandem. GNOME offers the world an “ideal” where purposeful simplicity creates functional accessibility (a leader). KDE Plasma offers a “framework” for creating functionality based on the unique demands of its user (a servant).

I doubt a DE will ever exist that is both “a servant and a leader” in nature, so the Fedora project will have to deal with the hand it is dealt. I can not provide a complete answer, but I would respect any decision to elevate Plasma’s visible standing within the project’s image. This also extends to any initiative which provides “guidance” to aid new users in finding their correct Fedora experience. The project’s challenge would then be how to keep its identity cohesive if it has separate parts of equal concern.

Closing

Fedora is a distribution of Linux that is in a class of its own. I am happy to be a Fedora Kinoite user and want to do what I can to help the project thrive. Fedora implemented underlying technologies that have changed my view of systems (rpm-ostree, systemd, dnf, btrfs, flatpak, selinux, wayland, pipewire, cockpit, etc…). Even if people don’t know these techs are there, I believe they are better off living on top of them. The last thing I want to see is desktop environment issues blocking people from having a better life. Hopefully someone smarter than I can find a way for both Plasma and Gnome to accessible to the right people.

-ChrisHRD

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