Summary of Fedora Workstation feedback

So I composed an email today to the Fedora-desktop mailing list to summarize the feedback we got here on the blog post on
my request for reasons people where not switching to Fedora. Thought I should share it here too for easier access for the
wider community and for the commentators to see that I did take the time to go through and try to summarize the posts.
Of course feel free to comment on this blog if you think I missed something important or if there are other major items we
should be thinking about. We will be discussing this both on the mailing list, in our Workstation working group meetings and at Flock in August. Anyway, I will let you go on to read the email (you can find the thread here if interested.

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A couple of weeks ago I blogged about who Fedora Workstation is an integrated system, but also asking for
feedback for why people are not migrating to Fedora Workstation, especially asking about why people would be using
GNOME 3 on another distro. So I got about 140 comments on that post so I thought I should write up a summary and
post here. There was of course a lot of things mentioned, but I will try to keep this summary to what I picked up
as the recurring topics.

So while this of course is a poll consisting of self selected commentators I still think the sample is big enough that we
should take the feedback into serious consideration for our plans going forward. Some of them I even think are already
handled by underway efforts.

Release cadence
Quite a few people mentioned this, ranging from those who wanted to switch us to a rolling release, a tick/tock
release style, to just long release cycles. Probably more people saying they thought the current 6 Month cycle
was just to harrowing than people who wanted rolling releases or tick/tock releases.

3rd Party Software
This was the single most brought up item. With people saying that they stayed on other distros due to the pain of
getting 3rd party software on Fedora. This ranged from drivers (NVidia, Wi-Fi), to media codecs to end user
applications. Width of software available in general was also brought up quite a few times. If anyone is in any doubt
that our current policy here is costing us users I think these comments clearly demonstrates otherwise.

Optimus support
Quite a few people did bring up that our Optimus support wasn’t great. Luckily I know Bastien Nocera is working on
something there based on work by Dave Arlie, so hopefully this is one we can check off soon.

Upgrades
Many people also pointed out that we had no UI for upgrading Fedora.

HiDPI issues
A few comments on various challenges people have with HiDPI screens, especially when dealing with non-GTK3 apps-

Multimonitor support
A few comments that our multimonitor support could be better

SELinux is a pain
A few comments about SELinux still getting in the way at times

Better Android integration
A few people asked for more/better Android device integration features

Built in backup solution
A few people requested we create some kind of integrated backup solution

Also a few concrete requests in terms of applications for Fedora:
http://www.mixxx.org
http://www.vocalproject.net
https://gnumdk.github.io/lollypop/
http://peterlevi.com/variety/
http://foldercolor.tuxfamily.org
choqok for GNOME (microblogging client)

46 thoughts on “Summary of Fedora Workstation feedback”

  1. Hello. I think that you forget one important thing in 3rd Party, fonts rendering. Font on Ubuntu looks much better, using freetype-freeworld from RPMFusion make it better but it is not obvious for “normal” users.

    1. I didn’t know about freetype-freeworld, thanks for the tip. After using that I can actually use Source Code Pro as font in eclipse without it looking that bad. This font package should be standard, since the patents have expired from what I understand.

      1. I’ve brought this issue up recently and turns out that Microsoft patents are still valid, at least untill 2019.

        Perhaps patent encumbered software should be pushed into “freeworld” repository, but still supported, since this software is 100% legal pretty much everywhere outside US (and is legal inside US for personal use, so as long as user gets it himself – everything is OK for both the user and the distro from a legal standpoint).

        And yes, default font hinting and antialiasing is making my eyes bleed. Trying to imagine that on a 15″ 1366×768 (pretty average laptop monitor)… scary.

        1. Oh, and “one more thing” – why is thermald not anywhere in repos? Is there some obscure licencing/patenting issue or does it simply mean, that there is no maintainer and all it need is someone who needs it, and will package it?

          1. Hey there, new packager. I’m actually working on packaging thermals. Intel was originally going to do it themselves but they seem to have lost interest. I have a spec and SRC rpm all made up but because of finals (yay college life) I haven’t been able to submit a review request

    2. i second this. Proper high quality font rendering on Fedora Workstation is a must for artists, professionals and regular users alike!

  2. Also, not sure if this is the right place (maybe Gnome mail list) but anyway:

    * Gnome Tweak tool by default or it features integrated on Settings.
    * Minimize button by default (most people enable it using Tweak Tool).

    1. > Gnome Tweak tool by default or it features integrated on Settings.

      Tweak Tool is developed by GNOME as a way to have a UI for settings without crowding the system settings one. It’s up to the individual distributions to pick it up and include it in the default installation. This should answer both your questions.

      > Minimize button by default (most people enable it using Tweak Tool)

      Sure: many people enable it using Tweak tool because it’s the easiest way to enable it — as opposed to gsettings from the console, or dconf-editor.

      Until you know how many people enable minimization as opposed to people leaving it disabled, you cannot really say that it should be enabled by default, though.

      1. Hey Emmanuele.

        > Until you know how many people enable minimization as opposed to people leaving it disabled, you cannot really say that it should be enabled by default, though.

        Could be hard for me to know about “every” Gnome user but I think that my user base (friends, colleagues, coworkers and family) can give me an idea about how it is used.

        I can say that 100% of people I know using Gnome has been enabled at least minimize button (some also enable maximize button but not all).

        Maybe you guys (Gnome) can make the same as Fedora and ask users about what they use. From my side, I hear lots of complains since Gnome 3.6.

      2. >Until you know how many people enable minimization as opposed to people leaving it disabled, you cannot really say that it should be enabled by default, though.

        This is not a valid data-point, most people don’t know how to enable it. so they leave it disabled because they don’t know there is an option to enable it.

        A UI setup wizard that was activated on first sign-in would go a long way to resolving this.

  3. Apart from the points mentioned in your blog (particularly lack of an update tool, not-so-easy way to install third party apps and codecs etc), I do completely agree with Everaldo Canuto on all the three issues he has mentioned.
    1. Default font rendering needs improvement
    2. Gnome Tweak Tool
    3. Minimize button by default

    Also, I add that ..
    4. A consistent and unique ‘theme’ designed for&by Fedora

    The above issues are very important for new comers

    Over and above …
    5. A complete system back up tool (something like ‘Systemback’ for Ubuntu. Though the GUI needs a lot of face-lift, it does a very good job of creating a live ISO from existing installation)

    Pl do make a survey.

  4. I use Fedora, and have occasionally used Ubuntu. I prefer Fedora’s overall emphasis on Free + Open Source software and how Fedora / RH folks contribute more upstream, and that is part of why I use it. but here’s what I see as advantageous of Ubuntu:
    – Ubuntu is friendlier to less experienced developers (see SELinux)
    Although I see the benefit of SELinux and do use it, if I have to spend an extra 45 minutes configuring it to work with what I’m doing, that’s an extra 45 minutes that I could have spent doing something else. This is especially so for less experienced users. If they get stuck because of a cryptic SELinux issue on their web server, they might not take the time to sort it out. In the long run, this may be to their own disadvantage, but it might not seem like it at the time.
    – Docs on the web are frequently Ubuntu / Debian by default.
    As a documentation contributor, even translating package names across distros can take time and be difficult to sort out at times (and I feel like I know the Fedora ecosystem relatively well). I would encourage Fedora / RH supporters who see Ubuntu / Debian-only docs for their favorite projects (or less favorite projects . . . ) to port their docs to Fedora.
    – The breadth of software available across the entire platform. There’s a lot of software that’s available in Fedora that is not available by default in CentOS / RHEL (e.g., nginx, Xfce, owncloud). It’s easy to get nginx or Xfce through the EPEL repositories, but it’s another step. With Ubuntu, there’s just one platform, and you can enable / use what you want.
    I do understand that, with CentOS/RHEL, the software that you do have is vetted and supported. For some others, though, not having X, Y, or Z available by default is another reason to use something else.
    I feel like Fedora is making some good strides to be more developer and user friendly, but Ubuntu has had that focus for a few years. It may take some time to bear the fruits of a more developer/user focus.
    Thanks for reading. : )

  5. I agree with Everaldo. Although better HiDPI would be nice, my font issues were based around the need for better font rendering “out of the box” on LCD monitors.

    Also, feedback from a number of comments on documentation issues has not been included, and I think it is very important to consider these limitations for “basic” users…because good docs can reduce support requests for easy problems.

    Thanks for enabling this feedback process…

  6. OK, so there are two kinds of feedback you got:
    There is the ‘personal preference’ stuff like ‘minimize button by default’ and ‘include extension x’ and there are is the ‘ essential features fedora and gnome are missing’ stuff.
    I can’t understand things like:
    >>including a backup solution<>update UI<>install Tweak Tool by default<<
    You may argue about if advanced setting should be included into the settings or be hidden behind an 'advanced configurations' button, but who wants to completely remove advanced UI options from the operating system. It's not even one megabyte on the disk and doesn't harm anybody. But if a casual user wants to change any option missing in the default setting he has to know somebody who shows him how to install the Tweak Tool first?!

    I have my personal favorites as well, I'm desperate for a better HiDPI support for example but please lets focus on stuff the 'average user' needs and let's create a smooth and intuitive desktop experience.

    1. System must be by default prepared for “normal” user that don’t know (or don’t know how to install) and advanced settings tool.

      When I arg about “minimize button by default”, I am just saying that “normal” user what to minimize window to work on another software. If an experienced user wants to disable minimize button, he can do it easily since he is an “experienced” users.

      Guys, default must be always for average (normal) users.

  7. @third party support: A package that fixes the problem with GDM and Amd Catalyst like on Suse or Arch would be nice.

  8. I missed your request for feedbacks, so I hope it’s not so late to give you mine.

    3rd Party software is a must I believe. rpmfusion is fine but we should have a simpler way to enable it. In Ubuntu you can check a 3rd party box during the install process – I know that won’t enable everything, but you got the idea.

    Although now I have a decent rig – ok screen is not that good yet – but usually people in my country (Brazil) and many others in the 3rd world are still running dual core with 2G RAM, so resource usage is a must as well. I understand gnome is resource intensive but a few things are not necessary to be enabled by default e.g. libvirtd (doesn’t make sense if I won’t run a vm, or just enable it if we start boxes), ibus (just enable it when I request and not by default), lvm (this one I know it’s a distro choice, but for regular user which just need one or two partitions, it’s like using a machine gun to kill a mosquito) and abrt (I really never used it) to name a few.

    I know gnome is the chosen one desktop and I really like it, but other spins lack a little bit of “care” e.g. the fact they don’t have an update manager gui/applet sitting in their desktop – I’m not talking about yumex, which is great for searching/installing software -, it is a little bit disappointing.

    Thanks for the opportunity to express myself.

  9. Out of memory handling. I has a laptop with 8GB of ram , an ssd and no swap. When the system runs out of memory (gnome shell leaks memory), it freezes completely and I has to remove the bartery.

    It would be very useful to leverage cgroups to reserve an small amount so I can login using the text console and kill the process which hogs the system.

  10. I’ve been using Fedora a lot at work since 17, I’ve been using it exclusively (no Windows) since 20.

    Personal opinions:

    Don’t do minimize by default. I’d rather just let Gnome 3 act like Gnome 3.

    I’d like a longer release cycle, or a rolling one. Having my third party repos break every six months sucks. A yearly cycle would be rad.

    Please ship a menu editor so I can hide icons and make custom one for applications that come in tarballs (Sublime Text, etc)

    1. Two tips:

      You can manage icons folders/categories in GNOME Software.

      And you can hide/create icons excluding/creating “*.desktop” files in “/usr/share/applications”, with GEdit.

      1. Seriously guys…
        Alacarte is a third party software that’s not even installed by default.
        Do I need a third party software to create custom launchers in MacOS dock ?
        Do I need a third party software to create custom launchers in Windows ?
        Obviously not, so why should I need one with the Gnome shell ?

  11. Other thing that could be discussed is the spins. Anything other than gnome is pretty much hidden. I know that gnome is the default, but I see no reason for anything else be so ignored, its hard for anyone to come across any Spin without specifically searching for it. Or even promoting some as official, like KDE and XFCE. I like KDE, but the spin needs a truckload of love.

    Netinstall is also hidden and labeled as ‘server’…

    And yeah, it’d be a glorious day when I finally see a rolling release edition of Fedora, kinda like the suse guys are doing with Tumbleweed.

  12. It would be nice to see more work on the Firefox GTK+3 support for the primary reason of not having so much wasted space at the top of the browser. This is especially important for laptop users.

  13. Optimus support incoming? Heck yeah. It is one thing that have drove me mad a bit as my new shiny laptop uses Optimus (and I tried twice to turn it on correctly according to instructions, but got stonewalled). Batt life with Intel is superb btw.

  14. And yeah, for me it would be also a “no” for minimize by default. Don’t change current logic. People wanting something different can easily tweak that experience. Concentrate on how easy total newcomers can enable things.

  15. My two displayport monitors stopped working in the upgrade from f-21 to f-22-beta. (Radeon Firepro 2460 framebuffer, Samsung S27A850D monitors) a single-link dvi monitor plugged into the same frame buffer via a connector-adapter works just fine.

  16. I know this is a long shot, but maybe a way to check and fix permissions in root. One can do it in OS X and Solaris/Illumos via PKG. This doesn’t exist in any Linux distribution that I am aware of, and I think this would be a standout feature. Sometimes stuff happens and trying to reinstall a whole system can be a pain in the ass. Other than that, I love Fedora:) Or maybe Selinux can do this already?

  17. I stopped recommending Fedora workstation when Red Hat sales made it clear that Red Hat does not take the Linux desktop seriously.

    Red Hat will hold “webinars” (nice “open standards” sounding word) which actually turns out to require Cisco WebEx. Cisco has a web page detailing how the WebEx software for Linux is not kept to the same features as for Windows or Mac. It also does not work at all on a standard out of the box install of Fedora.

    When I brought up the problems with attending Red Hat webinars to sales, I was advised to try a different workstation running a different OS.

    Let me say that again just to be clear, the recommendation to use something other than Fedora Workstation came from **Red Hat** themselves.

    It should also be noted that RHEL for Desktop and RHEL for Workstation also will have the same issues with Red Hat webinars using WebEx.

    So, I have to ask, what does Red Hat’s mission statement really mean? It says, “To be the catalyst in communities of customers, contributors, and partners creating better technology the open source way.” It seems like Red Hat put that on their website because it sounds good. However, they don’t seem to actually mean it.

    Red Hat WebEx “webinars” are exclusionary to the Fedora and RHEL workstation community and are as far as you can possibly get from being part of the “open source way.”

    Before going to the wider community, did you ever consider asking Red Hat sales first why they recommend people should migrate *away* from Fedora workstation?

    Will being unable to watch Red Hat webinars ever be a Fedora release blocker? Or will Red Hat ever provide webinars that are intended to work with the default configuration of Fedora and RHEL?

    As a side note, the response to bug #987981 did not win any points for Fedora use with novice users. When both the RealVNC and TightVNC clients require running “gsettings” before they can work, then at the very least it should be noted that maybe gnome-control-center should be able to toggle the require-encryption setting. Instead, it is “NOTABUG” that at least two VNC clients fail for Fedora Workstation and everyone should just get to know the magic “gsettings” line. You think you could ever walk your mom through doing that over the phone?

    Good luck in being a Fedora workstation advocate. You have a lot of work ahead of you.

    1. I can’t speak for Red Hat as a company, but I can share my experience with you as a long-time Red Hat employee.

      First, I’d like to ask you how long ago was this? I know a lot of RH conferences use BlueJeans now which has a very Linux-friendly client and work quite well with RHEL and Fedora desktops. I am very sorry that you had this experience and that your raising concerns about the issue was responded to in that way.

      The particular sales person you spoke with may not have been aware that on the corporate side we do actually try as best we can to work with third party vendors like that to support Linux desktops and open/standard formats. For example, I was involved in a project some years ago after we received some complaints that our quarterly public investor calls were offered in windows media and real format only – I was part of a team that worked with the vendor to offer more Linux-friendly audio options (we ended up getting mp3 added, and while we pushed very hard for ogg, the vendor was not in a position to provide that support at the time altho we offered to provide help from our development team.) Our corporate communications team (in charge of those webcasts) was extremely supportive of this project.

      One problem with being a large open source company with strong principles is that not everyone else – esp 3rd party vendors – cares so much about those principles and for some things it is near impossible to find off-the-shelf open source friendly offerings. :-/

  18. At 2010, I was a IT student and decided to use Linux as my main OS for day today activities. I started with Ubuntu (still have the CDs we could get via post at those days) but I never satisfied with the defaults. I installed and tried themes, icons, screen savers, Elementary hacks and I loved it. Then GNOME 3 happened. I still believe GNOME 3 is the the best thing happened to Linux world (Android != Linux), unfortunately but the worse thing is Ubuntu tried to build their own components (trying to become next Apple) and never properly supported GNOME 3. People tried GNOME on Ubuntu, it was so unstable all the times and never supported the latest versions. Also some told that GNOME is unstable, has less features, fails in accessibility and so on; because of reasonable amount used Ubuntu.

    In 2011 I shifted to Fedora, saw the stability of GNOME 3 in there but as a newcomer honestly I was struggled. I had Nvidia drivers to install, sometimes installation crashed when installing GRUB2, OS crashes if the PC not properly shutdown (I think this is one of the number 1 reasons, people don’t like to shift to Fedora. And even on Fedora 22 alpha/ now beta I faced this problem), also with SELinux.

    Meanwhile I shifted to openSUSE, it fixed the boot loader if GRUB2 installation crashes, always gave the latest GNOME version, professionally customized the default UIs and gave GUI tools for administrative tasks, never need to recover the OS if the PC not properly shutdown, gave amazing web interface to search packages (https://software.opensuse.org) and especially it had official Facebook group which helps newcomers to fix small issues (I know we have forums but this is where we can easily find community and ask help, especially for newcomers/ in the busy world; also see the active discussion on https://goo.gl/9TZH8G).

    From 2011, I live with GNOME, saw amazing things on GNOME 3.4, 3.6, 3.8 ; stable, beta and alpha versions of fedora 15 – 22, openSUSE 12.x -13.x (also on Elementary OS, Windows 8 & 10 and Windows Phone 8 & 10) ; GNOME dash, notifications, Software and default apps and especially on GNOME Design wiki(superb decision, wish it would be more social). And honestly I felt in love with GNOME 3 and respect Fedora for it’s real free and open-source culture (I really mean it)

    Please improve the stability of the OS (it crashes, even if the PC not properly shutdown. Running ctrl + d and fsck not the solutions; OS should recover itself), adding a default dark theme is a great decision and new flat dark theme is brilliant. Also please create a modern icon set, everybody waiting for it. Continue making the system simple, clean and modern. Experiment on totally full screen system, responsive apps, transparent borders, border less buttons(like did with close button ;) ) and technologies like webRTC, Rust lang. Please make an official documentation on building GNOME apps, for absolute new comers (waiting for years). And make friends with other open source systems like Mozilla, VLC and etc. Use social media, you can talk to mass community and it helps to them a lot, especially newcomers. And last… please bring GNOME to a tablet (officially, Red Hat backed; has huge potential) where GNOME can really shines. Thanks.

  19. So, this is rather good distro, but I run into multiple issues with my Cube i7. Touch screen is not working(everything is good on deb-based, ex. Ubuntu) & Realtek Wi-Fi, Bluetooth is not recognized. Screen rotation is not working, but it’s more minor issue from my experience.

  20. Thank you for the poll. I did not know it and just read todays post on phoronix (silent reader). The average user wants to see movies and tv series. Some of them require a good player and codecs. I suggest adding a “non-free” or some kind of repo for the codecs and also add the player mpv to the repos.

    1. GDM already supports multiseat via logind, a part of systemd system management.

  21. Christian,

    I haven’t tried in earnest to linux-desktop since the 90s, and I recently installed Fedora 20 on a Chromebook Pixel. I want to tell you that it has been, on balance, a wonderful experience, thank you.

    As a user what I want to see most is things “just work”ing out of the box. Perhaps you’ve thought of this before, but maybe it would be good to declare a few machines to be “flagship” hardware and put extra UX focus there. Pixel, Macbook, Thinkpad, these machines and a 100% reliable Fedora install demonstrate Fedora as a world class user OS.

  22. Regarding 3rd party software I have never heard someone saying that it does not cost us users, I am at least convinced that we might have more users if we were more proprietary friendly.

    However, I find RPMFusion to be easy enough to find and install and I am convinced that the choice of Fedora to be FOSS only is part of Fedora’s soul and must be preserved (and yes that includes refusing to link to 3rd party repo/software and refuse to include them).

  23. Agree wholeheartedly with @B Galliart about Red Hat’s attitude toward the Linux desktop. I’ve always felt that RH is too GNOME centric and only offers the even heavier KDE for the enterprise desktop.

    Many companies have thousands of desktops with many of them ‘underpowered’ by current standards. Wouldn’t it be logical to actively support a lighter, more classic looking, and arguably more easily customizable DE like XFCE or LXDE?

    I have not found the newest generation of DEs (gnome-shell, Unity) amenable to my way of working. There is a disturbing attitude of their evangelists saying ‘Our way is the only way’ that mirrors the directions of Microsoft, Apple, Google, Mozilla, etc.

    Red Hat, we deserve more choice – you can do better.

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