A Brief Review of Fedora 32

Written By: Jake Bauer | Posted: 2020-05-11 | Last Updated: 2020-05-11

A screenshot of my tablet's
    desktop with htop open on the left and neofetch open on the right.

I have a tablet which I usually have docked at my desk for watching livestreams or I bring it with me to read PDFs on the go (like D&D or software manuals). I was using ElementaryOS for a few months and it worked well with the touch screen but there was one issue that completely killed the experience for me: there was no virtual keyboard on the lock screen which meant that if the tablet locked for any reason, I had to plug in an external keyboard or restart it so that I could log in again (I configured autologin). This is a known issue that was flagged three years ago! I’m not sure why it hasn’t yet been fixed despite being a huge usability/accessibility issue.

Anyways, enough with the ranting. I decided to install Fedora because of the recent release and because I have never played with it before. It uses the GNOME desktop which, so far, seems just as touch-screen-friendly as the Juno desktop on ElementaryOS. I normally can’t use GNOME on any system with which I need to be productive (tiling WMs for the win), but for the case where only one or two applications are on the screen at once, it works very well. Fedora, as a whole, also seems like a well-polished system. The effort that has gone into making the boot splash feel seamless like it is with Windows has paid off and I can’t tell when I’m using a flatpak versus a native application.

So far, I have only two gripes with Fedora. The first is that I had to add the RPMFusion repositories and install ffmpeg to get the codecs necessary to watch Twitch streams. That in itself is not a problem, but there was no obvious, newb-friendly way to do it and I had to look up the issue in order to even figure out why I couldn’t watch streams and what I had to do.

The second is that the dnf package manager is really slow. When comparing it to apt from Debian/Ubuntu/Elementary/etc., and pkg from FreeBSD, and even pacman from Arch, dnf feels like it takes forever even to install just a single package. For example, I installed neofetch to take the screenshot featured at the top of this post and it took over a minute for it to present me with an “Are you sure you want to install this?” prompt just for that single package. On a more positive note, the way that dnf presents package installation to the user is really nice. It highlights package names, and splits the listing of what it’s going to install into nice categories so you can quickly see which packages are dependencies and which are suggestions and so on.

Update: ShellOwl on Mastodon informed me that there is a really easy way to make dnf faster. Just add the following to your /etc/dnf/dnf.conf:

fastestmirror=true
deltarpm=true

I’ve done this and it definitely makes it feel way faster; on par with the other package managers as far as I can tell.

Overall, it has been a positive experience. I don’t need to install packages often and I’ve fixed the codec issue so the two problems I highlighted above are really just non-issues now. The touch-screen experience has been great and it’s a solid Linux platform so I think I will be sticking with it for the time being.

This is my seventeenth post for the #100DaysToOffload challenge. You can learn more about this challenge over at https://100daystooffload.com.