Fedora 35Fedora 35 was released on 2 November 2021, slightly after the anticipated launch in late October. I respect their delay, the Fedora team did not want to release a buggy product, or they still had some key issues to workout; nevertheless Fedora 35 is here. For some background, Fedora is a Linux distribution which aims to create, "an innovative, free, and open source platform for hardware, clouds, and containers that enables software developers and community members to build tailored solutions for their users." (Quoted from getfedora.org.) Many Linux users will know Fedora as the community and upstream version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the enterprise version of Fedora known primarily for running on servers and a company to provide support.
The installation process for Fedora 35 was straightforward. I always encrypt my drives with LUKS encryption, and the installation process offered me a simple way to do this. Additionally, as a user who hops distros about 2-3 times per year, I have all my Steam games on one hard drive, and I install distros on the other (home and root on the same drive, usually same partition). GNOME Disks (after installation) allows me to setup auto-mount for the hard drive that stores all my games; this drive is also encrypted and when I setup auto-mount through GNOME Disks the application stores the encryption key on the LUKS encrypted drive where I installed Fedora. Very convenient.
Fedora 35 -- Setting up mount options (full image size: 1.5MB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
From a layman's perspective, and as someone who has installed dozens of distros over the last five years, the installation was simple and great, but it seemed to be missing something. Upon first boot I realize what was missing - I did not setup a user profile during installation, which is odd. But it works. Its almost as if you're installing the operating system for the machine, and whoever gets the machine can do the rest; the feel is similar to an OEM install.
Upon first boot, the user is presented with a Welcome Screen. First it displays privacy options, which allows the user to disable location services and automatic problem reporting. As a privacy advocate, I appreciate and respect these options. Next, the Welcome Screen allows the user to enable third-party repositories. This is a trick.
This is a trick because, if you read the intro, Fedora is an open source platform. What they have done with this simple toggle is profound: they are empowering the user with the ability to enable third-party repositories. The user can decide if they want to use proprietary software in support of their hardware needs, and most of us need proprietary software whether it be from NVIDIA, Intel, Microsoft, etc. Fedora: thank you for empowering the user through this easy option. The next section, called About You, allows the user to setup a profile and password, rating the strength of the password on a range from weak to strong. Usually this process is done in the installation, but I kind of like how the team behind Fedora went their own way.
Usage as a daily driver
The default desktop of GNOME 41 is beautiful. Although there surely are a few Fedora zealots, you will not find many fanatics in the Fedora community (the community seems very kind and professional). This correlation also applies to GNOME desktop environment users. GNOME 41 is beautiful, only needs minimal tweaking (such as enabling a dark theme), and I prefer all of the other defaults straight out of the box. One thing I miss in Fedora (which was available in the Arch LinuxAUR) was NetworkManager's GNOME WireGuard plugin which allowed me to setup WireGuard connections through the GUI. I don't mind using the command line, but as a reviewer I like to see more user friendly interpretations of command line applications.
Installing the NVIDIA drivers on Optimus (dual video card) laptops has become much easier in the past two-to-three years. With NVIDIA Prime Offloading most distros only require relatively new NVIDIA drivers and newish X.Org drivers. I had only minor issues utilizing my NVIDIA card in my laptop with Fedora - I needed to install the kernel-devel package through the dnf package manager to get NVIDIA to work. In hindsight, I would have liked to install the NVIDIA drivers through GNOME's Software GUI, but I used the command line before I thought to use the GUI.
Time from the LUKS decryption screen to GNOME Display Manager was approximately 20 seconds, quite good for boot-up times. Consider also that I use a solid-state hard drive for my main installation media, which improves boot times significantly. Its not mere milliseconds, but it is very good for a full distro.
GNOME 41 is super polished. It seems like everything works out of the box (come on NVIDIA, lets get you on board). Whereas on other distros I would need to configure many options and drivers to get everything working properly, Fedora just works. The polish extends to all of the facets of this operating system. The boot-up splash screen is simple and beautiful. The installation of updates is clean, and the rebooting during installation is well polished. Fedora knows how to take control of an operating system and do it properly. I love how dnf (the package manager) handles updates and installing software. My Steam games worked as expected. I could edit photos easily using the photo editing software of my choice. Firefox worked great for streaming media. The HDMI output was perfect. What can I say, Fedora leaves little left to want. Yes there may be more highly configurable distributions, but Fedora seems to be one of, if not the most professional distribution I have used. (I have not been a Fedora user in the past.)
Fedora has pushed out a polished, beautiful, and clean new version with the release of Fedora 35. It may not be a major, life changing, reinterpretation of Linux gospel, but it is a solid update bringing new features and was well thought through. Not all Linux distros are refined out of the box, but thankfully we have Fedora 35. I may be a chronic distro hopper, but I will stay with Fedora for the foreseeable future. I highly recommend Fedora 35 to new Linux users, professionals, and advanced users.
Fedora 35 used 1,126MB of RAM upon first boot, with NVIDIA drivers.