Quick Thoughts

So I Tried Fedora

As I mentioned in a previous post, I went ahead and spent my New Year's Eve like I have the past few years - alone while my son was fast asleep in his bed spending a few hours working with some tech. Last year it was a wipe and reload of my laptop. The year before that it was a cleanup of the files on my Original XBOX that has been TSOP flashed and now has a 2TB hard drive. This year, I decided I would get out of my comfort zone in terms of my Linux preferences and spend some time playing around in Fedora.

Now, in my last post I mentioned pulling a laptop from the "stack of laptops" which I'm fully convinced exists in the home of every tech person you've ever met. Instead however, I decided I didn't want to go through my stack at 9:30pm at night and risk waking the kiddo so instead I just fired up Fedora in a VirtualBox running on my Samsung Chromebook 4 which now runs Kubuntu and is basically my daily driver. I thought for sure that running even this live ISO in a VirtualBox with one CPU and a low 2GB of RAM (half of what this machine has under the hood) was going to create some problems with the performance and maybe my experience using Fedora, so I decided this would be more of a design and layout review as opposed to a performance review.

The first thing I noticed was how clean the desktop interface was. Coming from Kubuntu my first thought was "How do I make this screen larger? Because I'm missing my dock at the bottom so it's likely cut off". Turns out this wasn't the case. The dock just isn't there. That was a bit off-putting for me although I could see it being viewed as a waste of space for some. After all, this is why the vanishing taskbar exists. What I disliked about this layout was the dock does exist... in the Activities menu.

Where is the dock?

The button for the Activities menu being at the top was a bit weird but also it felt a bit MacOS to me. That was so much a bad thing as it was just different to what I'm used to. All in all, I did like the Activities menu. It allows for multiple screens and show the apps on each one as well as a full dock underneath. I don't use multiple displays mostly because I have multiple monitors and just spread things across them but if I were to use Fedora on a work machine I could see the benefit in having a desktop view for work things and then at the end of the work day just switch over to another desktop view for personal stuff.

The Activities menu shows apps open on each desktop view as well as a dock of applications

Another thing that jumped out at me was the lack of customization across the board. Maybe I'm spoiled because I use a KDE desktop environment where, let's be honest, you can configure anything and everything. I've even heard people complain that KDE is "too much" configuration. But I just felt in Fedora I didn't have the ability to configure anything and had to just deal with a lot of stuff the way it was. Now, that's probably not a fair shake given that I did only play with this distro for a little over 2 hours. I guess I can say that if there are customization options out there, they weren't obvious to me as far as finding them.

The final thing I noticed was honestly, the performance. I know what you're thinking: "You just said you're running this in a VM on a crappy Chromebook, of course it's going to be slow." That's just the thing. It wasn't as bad as I figured it would be. I'm running this instance of Fedora from live media (ISO file) on a VM that I've given a single CPU and only 2GB of RAM. And it's running great. So I went ahead and installed Neofetch (a tool I highly recommend and install on all my machines) to see exactly how great this thing was running. With the Settings app, Files app, and Terminal open this instance of Fedora was only using 702mb of RAM. Out of the 2GB I gave it. Now, I'm not running a game on it at 60 frames per second or anything but I was surprised at just how lightweight Fedora is by itself.

Screenshot showing Fedora 37 in a VM with Neofetch open in terminal. Even though this was running in virtual machine, it was only using 700mb of RAM with Terminal, Settings, and the Files apps open

In closing, Fedora is nothing like I thought it was going to be. I expected an operating system I was going to absolutely hate and in reality, it wasn't too bad. I don't think I'm ready to wipe all my Kubuntu machines and install Fedora on them, but this whole exercise encouraged me to maybe try and lay Fedora down on one of the "stack of laptops" laptops and try to drive it for a few days exclusively and see how I get along. It would be different but trying new things is one of the main ways we learn and grow and honestly, Fedora was quite fun to mess with for a bit.

With that being said I have a challenge for you: Go try a new distro yourself. If you use Windows for everything, see if you can try a Linux OS in a VM. If you use MacOS, see how you get along in Windows for a bit. If you use Linux, try a different distro and see how you like it. You might end up surprising yourself. And you'll almost definitely learn something.