GNU/Linux Distribution Test: Fedora 34

Owned by Red Hat, Fedora is a community-driven project based on the commercial Red Hat Linux Enterprise. With the ending support for CentOS, another community project based on RHEL, Fedora remains the last one and can be considered a possible solution to those not wanting to upgrade to CentOS Stream.

Despite still being actively maintained, the long-term future of Fedora appears to be up in the air, as the discontinuation of the more-popular CentOS, according to long-term users, could indicate that Red Hat is beginning to get rid of non-profitable projects. Nevertheless, the release of Fedora 34 demonstrates that this community project is not doomed (yet).

Although encountering a graphical glitch when hovering over the window that lets users either test the OS first or install it straight away, Fedora proved to provide a quite stable live environment.

Since I am familiar with GNOME, its latest version differs noticeably from GNOME 3 by seemingly being more accustomed to touch screens and somewhat resembles Deepin with its round edges. With Activities now displaying Workspaces and the panel horizontally, it becomes even more obvious. In contrast to GNOME 3, however, navigating through GNOME 40’s Activities is less smooth, though still tolerable.

Installation

A bit ironic that Fedora calls the Manjaro partition “(Unknown Linux)”

Since Fedora is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, it also ships with its graphical installer Anaconda. Deciding to do an off-line installation, I chose my language (German) and timezone. The keyboard layout was set to German automatically. Once set, I chose the drive Fedora will be installed on and was notified of the HDD not offering enough space, allowing me to select a different disk or overwrite an existing partition. With just two clicks, the correct partition was selected, and Fedora handled the creation of a separate home partition automatically during the installation process, which took nine minutes. Unlike other popular distributions such as Ubuntu, a system reboot has to be done manually post-installation to leave the live environment.

Shortly after booting the installed OS, Fedora still required some action before becoming fully usable. A setup window lets users choose to opt-out of location services and automatic reports, and create an user account. Once done, a new window providing a simplified slideshow summarizing new features of GNOME 40 opened.

The first issue I would run into occurred shortly after attempting to connect the machine to the internet via Ethernet, indicating that Fedora either installed wrong network drivers or cannot detect the network card at all.

As it turned out, Fedora did not install r8168 at all and only provides the incompatible r8169 driver. Things began to get more frustrating when checking available kernel modules via /sbin/lsmod and attempting to find and load r8168 with modprobe, as it turned out that Fedora does not support this network card out of the box. After wasting an hour to figure out a solution, I decided to give up, as making big adjustments to a stable distribution would skew this review.

Other Findings

As the choice of pre-installed software is quite limited, I decided to focus on how GNOME 40 performs, instead. Alongside the less-smooth navigation of Activities, the mouse pointer often ended up replicating itself when navigating a Workspace. The latter, however, can only be witnessed when loading a Wayland session.

Technically, I could have just taken my Manjaro review and change some terms and screenshots, as the issues both systems suffer from seem to be identical. In addition to the lack of support for my network card, which is something I did not experience prior to testing Manjaro, despite always opting for free drivers, GNOME 40 appeared unfinished and not really suited for Desktop usage. Though the “roundness” might be popular, it became too distracting.

Fedora 34, beginning to focus more on looks, is another version following a clumsy Fedora 33 that suffers from issues that easily could have been avoided. Since I chose to test a popular stable OS, I was surprised at how many graphical glitches I would encounter and how it lacked useful software such as GParted to manually edit partitions pre- and post-installation.

With this version causing more critical issues than its predecessor, one quickly could come to the conclusion that the Fedora Project will suffer a similar fate as CentOS in the near future, though it still is too early to figure out, whether Red Hat (or its parent company, IBM) will discontinue Fedora entirely in favor of CentOS Steam to save costs or continue to use Fedora’s stable branch as an additional testing ground to compliment CentOS’ official successor.

Hardware

HP Pavilion 500–344ng

Processor: AMD A8–6500 APU @ 3.50 GHz

Display: ATI Richland Radeon HD 8570D

Memory: 8 GB RAM (7.18)

Storage: 1 TB WD10EZEX-60M HDD

Network: RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Controller

If you want me to be able to continue reviewing distributions, provide some tips for beginners, and perhaps even become independent from Medium, please consider supporting me. Any advice and critique is also appreciated.

[Migrated to WriteFreely: https://writefreely.public.cat/magda/] IT, internet culture, 20th century history, philosophy. https://sestralena.tumblr.com/support