Hacker News feedback on what they want from their Desktop – We got it

So there is a thread on Hacker News based on a question from a Canonical employee asking for feedback on what people want from the next version of Ubuntu. I always try to read such threads even when they are not about Fedora or Red Hat. I fact I often read such articles and threads about non-Linux systems too to help understand what people are looking for and thus enable us to prioritize what we do with Fedora Workstation even better.

Fedora Workstation

Over the last few years I do feel we managed to nail down what the major pain points are and crossed them out one by one or gotten people assigned to work on them. So a lot of the items people asked for in that thread we already have in Fedora Workstation or have already in our roadmap. So I thought it would be nice to write them up and maybe encourage people to take a look at Fedora Workstation if you haven’t done so already. The list below is my trying to go through the long thread and pick up important and recurring topics, so I hope I got most of them, but if I missed something feel free to add a comment and I will try to answer.

1. Handling of DPI scaling and HiDPI
This has been something we been working on for quite a while. I think we where the first distribution to implemented general HiDPi and put a lot of engineering time into updating Wayland and GNOME to make it happen. That said things are not perfect yet. But we are working on resolving those. Jonas Ådahl and Rui Matos are currently trying to resolve the two main issues we still see. The first item is non-integer UI scaling. Currently we only offer integer scaling meaning that we only offer 2x scaling. This is to much however so we are working on a solution to offer fractional scaling like 1.5 for instance. We are certain to have that ready for Fedora Workstation 27, but there is a small hope we can finalize it already for Fedora Workstation 26. The other item is dealing with applications relying on XWayland because they do not support DPI scaling across two or more monitors, unlike native Wayland applications. We are dealing with that in two ways, one being working with upstreams to get their applications Wayland native like the work we been doing with LibreOffice and Firefox. We are also trying to come up with a scaling solution for XWayland using applications, but we haven’t been able to come up with a solution there yet.

2. Multitouch gestures like 3-finger swipe to change workspace.
This is another item we have put significant effort into. Over the last few years we made sure that we went from almost no touch support in the desktop to now supporting touch throughout the stack. The one big remaining item that was holding items like proper gestures back is that until kernel 4.12 is out the Synaptics touchpads are using PS/2. This causes only 2 touches to be reported, which is not great when you want 3 fingers gestures. With the new kernel, we will be using a different bus for those Synaptics touchpads, and we will have proper 5 fingers support. Benjamin Tissoires on our team has spent 4 years to get this code upstream but it’s finally here. We plan on backport this code to Fedora Workstation 26. Of course application developers will need to make use of the infrastructure in their applications for this feature to be fully realized everywhere.


3. Battery life
This is something we realize is a major issue and it has been on our agenda for a long time. It is a really hard issue to resolve because it is tied into a lot of things outside of control, like hardware used and in some cases third party drivers. That said, as many of you might know we recently set up a Laptop team here inside the bigger Red Hat desktop team and battery life is one of their top priorities. Christian Kellner is our point man on battery life and he has taken over the GNOME Battery bench tool that was originally created by Owen Taylor when we starting looking at battery life. He is currently working on improving GNOME battery bench and talking to hardware vendors to figure out what we can do. We are also actively speaking with NVidia to ensure that we can provide good battery life for hybrid graphics users when the binary NVidia driver is installed. We hope to agree with them on interfaces that should allow us to provide top notch battery life for such systems, but we are beholden to changes in the binary drivers to make that happen so it is also an example of the limits of what we can do on our own here.

GNOME Battery bench

GNOME Battery bench

4. UEFI issues
There where people on the Hacker News thread talking about issues with UEFI. Once again this is an area where we have a dedicated engineer assigned to UEFI and making sure it works great. In fact Peter Jones who is our UEFI point man is on the UEFI standards commitee doing ongoing work to ensure the standard is open source friendly and well supported by Linux. It is also worth mentioning that we created the Linux Vendor Firmware Service to make updating UEFI firmware and easy process. So if you see firmware updates offered in GNOME Software for your laptop or other devices that is because of the work we put into this service. We expect to have most of the major vendors signed up by the end of the year, so if your system is currently not supported that is hopefully a temporary thing. So this is both something that works well under Fedora and RHEL due to having someone dedicated to the effort and it is another example us doing the heavy lifting to make things actually happen.

UEFI firmware updates

UEFI Firmware updates

5. We got Wayland
A lot of people in the thread asked about Wayland support and well, we got Wayland! And this is another area where we dedicated serious engineering resources to it and are continuing to do so. For instance in addition to the above mentioned multi-DPI system work we are working on items such as HDR (High dynamic range) and next generation hybrid graphics support in Wayland. We are also working with NVidia to ensure their binary driver works well with Wayland.

Wayland Graphics

6. Something like Redshift
Some time ago we picked up on the growing popularity of tools such as Redshift and f.lux and this was another often repeated request in that Hacker News thread. Well we once again invested our resources into this and thus in the newly released GNOME 3.24 there is built in support for this feature, called Night Light. We drove this feature work and it will of course be available alongside GNOME 3.24 in Fedora Workstation 26.

GNOME Night light


7. Improved GPU driver update
This is another item we be spending significant time and resources on. We have a team dedicated to work on the linux graphics stack, which includes people like the graphics subsystem kernel maintainer and RADV creator Dave Airlie, Nouveau maintainer Ben Skeggs, core X, Mesa and Wayland dev Adam Jackson, Freedreeno creator and maintainer Rob Clark and more. This team is pushing the linux graphics stack forward alongside their colleagues at Intel, AMD and NVidia. The one thing we recently been working on for instance is dealing with the NVidia binary driver which has been a pain for a long time due to the file level conflict with Mesa. We didn’t want to do a workaround or hack, so what we did was work with NVidia on their glvnd proposal to make that a reality. This included supporting glvnd in Mesa in addition to the NVidia driver, but also working with the OS level tools to ensure fallbacks and autodetection worked fine. We got the basics of glvnd support already in Fedora and are polishing it up. Hans de Goede who took over that work from Adam Jackson has recently be working with the fine folks at rpmfusion and negativo17 to make sure we have some good packages available taking full advantage of his work, and thus enabling easy install and upgrade of these drivers. We are also planning to start offering a COPR with the latest and greatest Mesa drivers going forward to ensure you can always have the latest drivers available if you want to test and try them out.

NVidia driver install

NVidia driver install

8.Improved printer support
Even in this digital work printing is still important and thus we got people dedicated to this task too. So Marek Kasik is working on ensuring we keep CUPS working well and Felipe Borges recently wrote a blog entry talking about the redesigned printer control panel. So this is another area we are spending serious resources on and continuously trying to improve.

New Printer panel

New Printer Panel

9. Improve Bluetooth
Bastien Nocera on our team is probably the person who has done the single most to make sure desktop bluetooth is working at all. We decided to boost that effort by having Christian Kellner work on this too, so he has been working on patches for various bluetooth related issues with Bastien providing guidance and code review. We are also working on coming up with some kind of bluetooth testing harness to allow us to catch regressions more easily and verify support on new hardware. Christian focus currently is improving the handling of Bluetooth Audio.

If you are contemplating giving Fedora a try I think the items above illustrate one thing very strongly and that is how many of these issues we are the primary force behind, so by using Fedora you are not only getting access to them first and at the same time have some assurance that the integration work has been done right, but you are also supporting the effort of moving these technologies forward and also putting yourself in a position to more directly interact with the engineers working on these and a long slew of other important technologies in the desktop and beyond. And our efforts are not just limited to writing code, like for example our current effort to clear the legal hurdles blocking Linux systems from supporting various media codecs. So if you haven’t already I strongly suggest you go to the Get Fedora website and grab our convenient Fedora installer or an ISO image. And as I said initially if you have other pressing items I didn’t cover here, feel free to post a comment and I will be happy to try to answer any questions I get.

108 thoughts on “Hacker News feedback on what they want from their Desktop – We got it

  1. Having better support for HiDPI in Java applications would be awesome. I know Java GUIs are a thing of the past, but many scientific tools still rely on this, eg Matlab, Maple, and similar.

    • Ok, thanks for the feedback. I need to check with our Java team about the status of that in the context of OpenJDK. Will see if I can also find a contact who can tell us about Oracles plan or lack of such.

      Update: Haven’t gotten a formal response yet, but found this ticket which seems to claim things work? http://openjdk.java.net/jeps/263

      • Thanks! From my reading there are still issues with AWT applications, but I’ll try to overwrite the Java version shipped with Matlab and Maple with the latest openjdk. I’ll report back.

        Either way, thanks for the work om Fedora — it’s getting more and more awesome all the time

        • I have now tried to use the version of OpenJDK that ships with Fedora 25 with Matlab and it does not appear to support HiDPI (i.e. everything is still tiny). This could be an issue with Matlab (who knows what happens inside that proprietary mess), so perhaps this is beyond what can be fixed by Fedora.

          • I got a response from our Java team. So the answer is that JDK9 should be fully HiDPI aware
            and work correctly. Note that it also depends a lot on the application, some applications may need adjustments too (for example when using images), where Java2D calls are mostly transparent to it.

        • I coudn’t start Matlab with java9 but IcedTea 3.2 backported the hidpi and gtk3 stuff to java8. Doesn’t fedora ship that? Matlab uses its own bundled java copy. To use icedTea I execute “GDK_SCALE=2 MATLAB_JAVA=/usr/lib/jvm/icedtea-bin-8/jre/ ~/MATLAB/R2017a/bin/matlab” This works pretty good on my 4K screen

          • Thanks! On Fedora 25 I can’t seem to install icedtea without getting the Java web plugin (which I really don’t want for security reasons). How do I install the IcedTea JRE?

        • Yeah, been planning to talke to Valve about that, I am getting tired of dealing with a tiny Steam window :)

    • I’m not a fan of Java, but Java apps are not a thing of the past – the JetBrains IDEs are great on Linux and many of their updates focus on font rendering and HiDPI support.

  2. Also Window snapping in Gnome (like Windows 10)! How is this still missing.

    • A Googling for Windows 10 window snapping seems to demonstrate a feature exactly like the on we already got in GNOME 3, allowing you for instance to drag a window to the edge of the screen and have it snap into place using the left half of the screen. Are you talking about something else or is it some finer points I am missing here?

      • yeah, it works out of the box with the drag-to-side, and we can easily assign the same super+left/right shortcuts to do that Windows (7 upward) uses

        I would love to see snap-to-quarter, though – not just sides – as this is really useful with larger screens and/or smaller windows

      • Perhaps they’re talking about the ability to grab the edge between two half-screen windows and drag it to resize them?

        (Even if they are not, it is a good idea)

        • I’m using Shelltile extension to do that. It does other things as well, but I really need just that feature.

          Anyway, that list looks good. I think the biggest gripe with Fedora is that many people (not me!) don’t like Gnome 3. Some prefer Gnome Classic, but don’t like that it can not be used with Wayland. Is that going to change at some point?

        • +1
          I miss the ability to snap a window and then resize it.
          Use case: 2 windows, 1 tiled left, 1 tiled right. Why gnome suppose I want theme at the exactly same size? most of the time I want one to be smaller and the other one to be larger. So I’ve to manually resize them instead of snap + resize. Pls fix this :)

      • You’re absolutely right. Windows 10 works pretty similar to what GNOME did for years. Windows 10 also offers some minor (but neat) feature like dragging a window to a corner to make it use a quarter of the screen.
        Another feature is to display all other open windows in a overview and “ask” the user which should be placed to the right side, when dragging a window to the left border (or the other way around).
        Both neat, but rather minor from their impact. I’ve used the quarter-feature only once.

        • I actually find the Windows “auto-overview on the other side” feature a bit annoying, because often I’ll half-maximize a window over another window, and I want the half-contents of that window visible. If I resized that window, that would move the contents around, and make it harder to switch between the two.

          • The big difference is though on that you can drag the edges of the windows and if you snap another window to the other side, it will take the remaining space and not exactly half of your screen.

  3. Good work guys. Fedora is.definitely a solid distribution and amongst the best.

    The one thing that always puts me off though is SELinux. When enabled it gets in the way of using my computer, and when disabled I have a consent niggle in the back of my mind that this is NSA code so can I really trust it?

    Can they turn it in and somehow it it against me? E.g. lock me out of my own files etc?

    How about offering Ferdora in 2 flavours: with SELinux and without?


    • @Daniel, check out this video so you can learn why SELinux is an important part of the security architecture of your system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNoVgDqqJmM

      Do watch it all the way through and you’ll not only learn how to understand SELinux policy and what an SELinux reported denial means, but how to fix it properly (not by turning it off, which is like turning up your radio super-loud when your engine makes a funny noise).

      As for your questions: (1) No, the NSA can’t use SELinux to get at your files. :-) Not only is SELinux open source code audited by many other security people, it actually is built to prevent other people from getting at your system illicitly. (2) No, Fedora isn’t planning to offer a second flavor without SELinux. Our users’ security is too important to us.

      • I think this reply missed the point. When running Fedora as-is you get seemingly random pop-up windows with SELinux warnings from time to time. As an end-user this is frustrating as you have (and should not have) an idea of how to handle these.

        Most people won’t mind SELinux as long as it doesn’t get in your way. The current state of Fedora is that SELinux gets in your way from time to time. It shouldn’t for that.

      • I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, the complexity often turns people off. Since completing my RHC* certifications, I’ve come to understand what was once complex and truly appreciate SELinux. I can’t imagine a situation in which I would feel ‘ok’ about disabling it.

  4. I wish among these there was someone working on shell’s performance issues on integrated graphics too… It even got worse with the new release, to the point that made me switch DE…
    The issues has been around for years, and Bugzilla and the whole internet got enough reports of it…

    • would you mind sharing the bugzilla link? I don’t doubt that there are some integrated chips where performance regressed over time (especially for very old ones) but in general performance should be pretty good.

      • https://bugzilla.gnome.org/buglist.cgi?bug_status=__open__&content=performance&no_redirect=1&order=Importance&product=gnome-shell&query_format=specific

        I think 52 open and mostly unnoticed bug reports shows that something is wrong in that department…
        They are not all about integrated chips, but you can see those a lot more these, probably because dedicated cards have gone strong enough not have those issues.

        And about the regression I doubt there is any reports, 3.24 has just been released, it’s just what I can clearly see, and shell’s bugzilla is a true mess in which all gets ignored, so don’t really expect any bug reports…

        • Performance issues are not getting ignored, but the major performance improvements require some re-engineering that we think is likely to break a lot of extensions. So we are trying to weigh if the performance improvements we can achieve are worth breaking a ton of extensions to achieve them. That said there are some things being done, like pulling more of the stack interfacing with OpenGL into the Shell allowing us to optimize it without worrying about breaking ABI for other software relying on those libraries.

          • I see, so maybe a GNOME 4 would allow some breakage?
            Currently there are only a handful maintained extension that got fair number of users, which I tend to believe are active enough to be able to handle the breackage, the rest don’t even get updated for new releases as it is…
            Tough just my thought, it’s not based on anything or such.
            Hope we’ll get to see performance improvements without much cost in breackage.

          • Putting aside a possible gripe about how the extension api should be largely orthogonal to implementation, does using gl make the most sense for the compositor?
            I mean, maybe it does. There certainly a state machine-like aspect to it, but it seems to carry a large cost when you’re actually making heavy user of it.
            As such, i wonder if vulkan doesn’t make more sense given that it has surprisingly decent driver support (except for the open source Nvidia, i believe) and allows (well, “forces” might be a better description) the developer to explicitly create their pipelines.

  5. Drag executables onto dock to make a launcher, without editing a file or installing/knowing about alacarte. Right click options on dock launchers to change cwd, args, icon. Thx for your attention

  6. What keeps me from using Fedora is Gnome 3. Quit this experiment (it’s not even clear, whether it’s improves usability) and provide a UI that 90% of desktop users expect (Windows). It’s an easy fix. You are missing a huge number of potential users.

    • Well there are other Fedora spins you can use. You don’t have to use the one with the default GNOME install. Fedora strives to make you happy!

    • Ok, I’ll bite (I’m sure I’ll regret this later):
      Why should Fedora have a UI like Windows 10? Sure, I guess there are a lot of users who like the Windows UI. But they can use Windows. Why make a “Linux” UI which is so similar? Given the limited developers working on free desktops why not take care of users who do not like the Windows UI?

      They are sure looking for something different so they are more willing to use gnome (switching from Windows -> Linux can be challenging for reasons unrelated to the desktop UI).

      In the end the important thing to remember is that free software is not aiming at the maximum amount of “market share” or “winning against Windows/macOS”. The was the quintessence of the – now very dated – article about “Linux is not Windows”.

    • It’s a matrer of taste. I like gnome 3, and I think it’s a really good DE!
      If you don’t like gnome 3, nobody forces you to use it! There exist Fedora variants with other DE like KDE, Cinnamon, etc.

  7. The title is “We got it”, but after reading this post, I’d describe the Fedora situation as “These are hard problems (especially with third-party drivers), and we’re working on them, too”. You’re doing great work, but you’re not there yet, either.

    One of the tricky parts about reading a competitor’s wishlist is that you don’t know what caused those customers to use the competitor’s product in the first place. Yes, Fedora is better at A, B, and C, but it’s worse at D, E, and F. You don’t need to remind me that Fedora is better at A. The reason I’m not a Fedora user is because E happens to be super important to me.

    You should be sure to focus not just on areas where Ubuntu is lacking, but on areas where Ubuntu excels. Those are areas that helped Ubuntu win those users in the first place. By definition, anything that Ubuntu is not so good at is an area that isn’t as important to Ubuntu users, or else they wouldn’t be Ubuntu users.

    • Well part of what I was tring to convey here is that we are actually working on these issues. Until we decided to do it no other distribution was working on getting all the pieces in place to resolve the challenges with the NVidia driver and hybrid graphics system once and for all. Instead it was all bandaid and duct tape.

      • Right, and that’s great, but by definition these are all secondary issues for Ubuntu users, who find Ubuntu good enough despite them not working right.

        Anyway, I look forward to these improvements coming to other distributions. Thanks. :-)

    • I think you raise some important points. However I appreciate that Red Hat/Fedora is not in to win “against” Canonical/Ubuntu but to improve the overall state of the desktop. This is not a zero sum competition. It is not abount winning.

      If Fedora would just do the same things as Canonical we would get two very similar distributions without many differentiating features (as developer time would be dedicated to make achieve parity with things Ubuntu already solved) and the overall state of the Linux desktop would not be improved.

      By adding new features and really fixing long-term issues we can achieve something significantly better. These features also benefit Ubuntu (when they add the new versions).

      However I’m absolutely in favor of fixing papercuts and shortcomings in Fedora. But that requires time/resources which are in limited supply. Good news is that some motivated users could tackle smaller issues/papercuts on their own and improve the code one commit at a time.

    • This is right: look where Ubuntu excels. I’m not using Fedora today because of one thing: the version Support is too short.
      I understand that it is lot of work to maintain different version of the distribution for a long time, and the main goal of Fedora is to have up to date Software and test new technologies.
      I install GNU/Linux to many users, and it is impossible for me to maintain such a distribution to all users.
      I choose to install Ubuntu (Linux Mint actually) because of their Long Term Support.
      Fedora and Ubuntu have different goals, and thus have different users.
      Another point, more personal, is Gnome Shell is not enough customizable. It is a torment just to add a launcher in the dock…

  8. I really like the Night light featutre, but it seems still missing some usability of Redshift.
    I need the ability to adjust temperature of daytime and night manually, and also smooth transition between day and night.

    • You can change the whitepoint by using gsettings (cli) or dconf-editor (gui).
      So, the functionality is there, but just not exposed.
      I agree, however, that it should be exposed because what brings about eye strain is a pretty personal issue.

  9. Hey Christian, thanks to you and your team for driving all this excellent work!

    I’m curious about the BT Audio improvements you were speaking about — what can we expect there?

  10. I still can’t use a bluetooth keyboard on linux because devices only pair after a user login.

    But I can’t type my password because my keyboard isn’t paired.

    And I can’t let my wife use the computer because ky keyboard unpairs when I try to switch users.

    Please. Fix this.

    • Have to say that is unlikely, and while I have nothing to announce today we are looking at building a strong relationship with a hardware vendor to make the hardware and software integration better.

  11. They all sound really great. I believe I am still Ubuntu because of the vast amount of packages I can find for it.

    However, this might less and less be a problem with these platform-independent packaging formats.

  12. Christian – do you know if the DPI scaling is going into upstream GNOME? I would love to hear more about that as I know many GNOME users were interested in this particular feature and I would love to be able to talk about it.

    • Yes, it has all gone upstream into the drivers, X.org, Wayland, GNOME Shell. GTK+ and probably a few places I am forgetting :)

  13. very nice write-up, i appreciate all the effort that goes into fedora and understand it is not easy to make everything work. I’ve been using fedora for the last 3-4years more-less happy to see where it is going and how stuff works on fedora.

    However, having a Nvidia GTX970 card i feel like i’m in the darkest corner of the universe, continuously my drivers break, wayland has never worked for me not with fresh installs with nouveau, nor with the binary drivers. I’m now again with a system that boots into a black screen for a week already so reinstall seems like the only option, again, like every half year roughly.

    I’ve downloaded Arch yesterday and will try more luck there.

    Still, thank you for all the work that goes into it. I’m sure I’ll get back to fedora after some releases in the future.

  14. Please fix printing. The print dialog should be much better, the print preview should always be shown – and be accurate.

  15. Hey I’m currently on Fedora 25 and things are definitely looking good. One thing I’m still having issues with is audio. So my usecase is that I have a laptop, which I use while on the go but also as a workstation when docked.

    So when I’m out and about I’m using the built-in audio, but when I’m docked at home I’m using a Xonar U7 USB audio sound card. The issue is the “dock” also has a sort of audio device in it, so when I’m docked there are 2 additional audio devices present.
    The issue I have is that there isn’t an easy way to tell the system “Hey! When the USB card gets attached it has priority so switch to it, instead of the dock sound card”. A “drag n drop” solution on the devices list would be awesome. I have worked around this by blacklisting the dock sound card but this should be easier imo. I’ve also noticed that after an update some time ago this stopped working. So the soundcard gets switched to the USB sound card but apps still output to the built-in audio device. I need to sort of “click built-in, click usb” in settings and after that apps seems to actually switch to the external sound card.
    So having to manually select the sound device every time I dock/undock paired with a not working mic input (which causes me to undock the laptop for team calls) is actually pretty cumbersome.

    Second issue I have is with the soundcard itself, output works fine, microphone seems to be detected but I can’t seem to get it to work. When I tap on the mic the input visualisation seems to register _something_ but when I try to talk to the microphone no one hears me.

    So.. all of this is just to say please also focus on day to day stuff with audio devices. I know the linux ecosystem in general has come a long way with this, and it’s so close to being almost perfect (for me at least) that the small issues are really annoying now :)

    Keep up the good work and thanks for the effort!

  16. Linux Desktop works for me because my favorite ebay sniper Biet-o-Matic, a VB open source app, became usable via wine.

    Is there any Bluestack equivalent in the Linux Desktop world?

    In am glad that you look into the Bluetooth audio issue, even now Linux is supreme to Windows where often drivers are not provided by manufacturers. Still there are some annoying bugs or regressions that occur arbitrarily, such as the inability to switch from headset to hifi mode.

    GPG Suite on Mac OS X demonstrates what extra mile could be walked in terms of end-2-end email encryption usability. I don’t know how Apple does it but Apple Mail gets you to write shorter emails, a great productivity gain. And with the third party GPG suite plugin it is fantastic. Most Linux professionals heavily use and rely on email encryption but are aware that they cannot recommend these tools to their friends and parents.

    I would recommend you to follow Apple’s example when it was a minority desktop and look at the Desktop needs of a very special faction of users, in Apple’s case artists, and make the Desktop the very best for them. For instance for web developers and IT pros it is already quite close. Still the post-Rails generation oddly uses Mac OS as their development Desktop and a Linux web cloud.

    • indeed following Apple’s example from when it was a minority desktop is a good idea imho too.

      Fedora and GNOME don’t seem to focus so much on creative people, i mean, if you use a lot of content-creating apps, or pro apps, like Ardour, look at their plugin windows or Jack clients, Blender, Gimp, Inkscape, various convertors…. they don’t seem well integrated, visually at all. Or even the ‘quick preview with spacebar’ function everybody sorting a lot of content uses doesn’t do a good smooth job…

      I don’t see the reasons – probably there are some, like lack of manpower – but that’s sad as Fedora Workstation, when installed, gives the impression of a well designed and all-in desktop… It’s only when you start to dig deeper and install all these additional tools that you find out “OK, this isn’t the right OS for these tasks”. When downloading advanced third-party apps, they rarely show screenshots from a gnome environment, it’s either Ubuntu – for wide used apps – and for a lot of tools they show either XFCE or KDE/Qt.

      The first, and very important step is done – people have the feeling they want do their work with Fedora ant the GNOME desktop – now please focus on adding and fixing the bits which makes them feel that the system works better than their previous system/os

  17. I love Gnome 3, but the thing that keeps me on KDE is that previously Gnome 3 didn’t play nice with VNC (The dreaded “Oh no! Something has gone wrong” error).

    I work from home regularly, and I need my desktop at home too (my home rig obviously runs Windows). Can Gnome 3 play nice with VNC in some way? Cos, if it does, I’m back to Gnome 3 in a heartbeat.

  18. Funny but I’m a Fedora user and I am also RH certified sysadmin working with operations, consulting and devops. All from my Fedora laptop.

    Here are my 50 cents.

    1. Handling of DPI scaling and HiDPI
    No use to me.

    2. Multitouch gestures like 3-finger swipe to change workspace.
    No use to me.

    3. Battery life
    Good! I have a Thinkpad X260 with two batteries and I’m satisified but more battery life is never unwelcome.

    4. UEFI issues
    Never impacted my work. I did have UEFI issues but that was because I wanted to use secureboot to sign virtualbox drivers. I gave up when I realized Lenovo hadn’t implemented the required features.

    5. We got Wayland
    Good, I have no complaints.

    6. Something like Redshift
    I use redshift. F.lux on my macintosh. It’s very necessary for me because I often work late.

    7. Improved GPU driver update
    Integrated Intel HD graphics is fine for me.

    8.Improved printer support
    I rarely print from my Fedora laptop but I do use the printer at work from my macintosh. So I have no idea how well it would work but I might have need for it.

    9. Improve Bluetooth
    Rarely necessary for me, even though I do have bluetooth speakers at home.

    Here are my own points that I feel are much more important.

    10. Exchange Calendar, calendar, calendar.
    My calendar is my life. I work in a corporation that love Microsoft, so everything is ruled by Exchange. Fedora must have better Exchange calendar support.

    11. Exchange mail
    Exchange is everything here, Evolution must get better at it. Today it works better than in past versions but there are still strange errors.

    12. HDMI and audio
    This is a minor issue but I often have to re-seat my HDMI cable a few times before it works. Either the image doesn’t show up or the screen is left active when unplugged. And lately I’ve had to manually switch over audio but this used to work.

    • We have a person maintaining Evolution specifically for Exchange support, if you file bugs in the Red Hat bugzilla he tends to be very concientious about looking into them and provide fixes.

      Yeah, HDMI behavious is annoying me too and is something we should look at fixing. Thanks for the feedback.

  19. My major issue with Fedora and any RHEL-based distro is dnf and yum. They constantly fetches all the repo metadata. It was not fixed with the dnf rewrite.

    • I always hated yum/dnf for that reason , dnf metadata is very big, and packagekit (gnome software center) doesn’t use the same dnf’s metadata so he re-downloads it everytime.

      did the problem solved in fedora 26 alpha ?? because I will not use fedora until they solve it.

  20. Thanks for this peek behind the scenes. Speaking of SElinux, more ASLR would be nice.

  21. I use a lot of workspaces and multiple monitors in GNOME 3. It would really be helpful, if when I right clicked on a title bar, I could tell it to move the window to workspace number X, rather than just up or down. I used to have an extension that allowed this I think, but it no longer works as of a while back and the overview mode doesn’t really do multiple monitors, if memory serves correct.

  22. Internationalization support for Gnome terminal. Its a long standing bug!

  23. As a couple of other folks have mentioned, it’s important to keep in mind that the premise of that original post was, “what could Ubuntu do better?” In that context, what you DON’T see there are the things that Ubuntu does well already, but that folks feel might be lacking in Fedora.

    Speaking for myself, I can tell you that a HUGE part of the reason I stick with Ubuntu are their LTS releases. Those are just super important to me: more than most anything, I value a desktop that I don’t have to overhaul/reinstall on a frequent basis. Ubuntu’s five years of support puts it way out ahead of Fedora’s one.

    (As a developer, I of course need to stay more up to date than the LTSes themselves are, but that’s what /usr/local/ is for. It’s trivial to keep those things up to date myself, and frankly, even Fedora would be too slow for me with most of that.)

    • Point taken, but be aware that this isn’t the first time we look at features people would like to see in Fedora, so we do know there are of course a lot of other important things too. As for LTS releases what we have done to offer something there is that we started updating the desktop in RHEL (and thus CentOS) every year or so. Giving you a rock stable platform with a fairly up to date desktop.

      • I used to ask for an LTS in your previous posts for feedback. However, I can say that he new rock stable platform has won me over. Fedora is fine without an LTS version. Thank you for your great product!

  24. Hi
    I using Gnome Shell on tablets (previously 7 inch DEXP Ursus 7W and 10.8 inch Dell 7140, now 8 inch Dell 5855 and 12 inch Dell 9250) for a year so I have experience to share.

    Good things:
    1, Less memory consumption than Windows 10, but only after disabling Gnome Tracker and Gnome Software autostart.
    2, Onboard onscreen keyboard is much better than Windows onscreen keyboard and have good Gnome Shell Extension (Onboard can be opened up with swipe from bottom).
    3. No single app looks blurry with font size adjustments like 1.15 or 1.25.
    4. On Dell 7140 I got up to 7.5 hours with tlp while in Windows 10 it’s usually around 5-6 hours. On Dell 9250 I got up to 6 hours with tlp, while in Windows 10 it’s usually around 4-5 hours. But I not sure how much Opera battery saving feature contributed to this numbers, I didn’t tried it on Windows (used Edge while testing).
    5. Much greater stability overall. In Windows it’s not unusual that devices received update that put touchscreen or integrated audio into non-functional or semi-function state (because Windows update install driver not intended for particular device). Also Intel GPU drivers in Windows for BayTrail and Skylake is far, far from ideal – compositor and games could crash, GPU driver update could broke resume from suspend.

    Bad things:
    1. On tablets with 1-2 GB of ram every megabyte of memory counts, so user need to disable Gnome Tracker and Gnome Software autostart. Maybe it’s good idea to make this process easier or make Gnome Shell use less memory some other way?
    2. Onboard need Wayland integration, and this is difficult for something like Onboard. It’s not just regular application, it’s onscreen keyboard, so it’s require very tight integration. Maybe it’s good idea to help Onboard developer? I know that Gnome Shell have own onscreen keyboard, but I don’t think you can expect from user make keyboard layouts for this keyboard, don’t you? There for example is no Russian keyboard layout, and lack of many features that Onboard have (like buttons for double click or right click for legacy apps; different keyboard for different screen sizes which is actually very important, as for example Win10 onscreen keyboard just looks silly on 10-13 inch devices; using dictionaries to help with text input; auto-show automatically enabled/disabled is tablet is docked/undocked, etc.)
    3. No video and audio hardware decoding/encoding. As far I know VA-API is available with all video drivers, but Google and Moozilla still refuse to implement hardware decoding. So even if Red Hat will get it working in Epiphany it’s not going to help much because most of your userbase use Firefox and Chromium-based web-browsers (I using Opera for their battery saving feature). Hardware audio decoding is available on modern Intel platforms via TinyCompress but no single app using it. TinyCompress could be very useful for music playback in low-power mode (like on smartphones or tablets with Android or iOS).
    4. Suspend freeze (S0i3 state) is struggle on every device, drivers is not there. Intel chipset drivers seems like doesn’t properly prepare hardware for C9/C10 state, so battery drain in suspend is much faster than with Windows 10. Intel buttons drivers is not there too , take a look at this https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=102281 (patches is available, but it’s not in mainline, and you can’t expect tablet user to compile kernels) or at this https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=100171 or in my case with Dell 9250 I need to hold button for at least five second to get tablet suspend/resume and no reaction on wakeup events (for example from magnetic folio that suspend/resume tablet on open/close folio) while tablet is suspended. And on BayTrail and CherryTrail suspend is working of very few devices.
    5. There is no Connected Standby (Win8 feature name) or Connected Modern Standby (Win10 features name). Tablet can’t recieve emails, IM messages or playback audio in suspend.
    6. No email client with touch interface. No onscreen touchpad (needed to control tablet with external screen attached). Gnome Clocks can’t wakeup tablet via RTC to playback alarm sound, etc.
    7. No ability to disable 3G/LTE modem on Dell’s tablets, and probably many rfkill issues with other vendors.

    Okay, I can continue this list, but hopefully you get overall idea. Great support for tablets right now, but many things have to be fixed. By the way, how to open context menu of file or folder in Nautilus by using only touchscreen?

  25. I have Fedora 25 installed on one machine and love it. I would love to install it on another machine as well but I am having difficulties in getting BOINC up and running on Fedora. The BOINC manager software fails to connect to the client. If this was addressed to work out of the box I would install Fedora on some more of my systems.
    Otherwise, keep up the good work. Fedora workstation is a really really nice OS overall.

  26. Fedora Design Suite maintainer using Gnome Shell for a long time. Having been in contact with some Gnome development by filing reports improve the experience notably the information related to hybrid graphic cards on Settings -> Details -> Overview.

    Points nice to have:
    – Easy method to group icons in overview mode. Current method is to create a group in Software which works but unrefined. For example, attempt to group Hugin suite in a folder is very difficult. Using the method from the Android interface will improve the experience considering that Gnome Shell was also made to support touchscreen in a future.

    – It was too bad Empathy did not receive more enhancement as the concept improved the experience by combining all chat system from Hangout to IRC. Consolidating an effort using a LEGO principle could avoid repeating duplications.

    – Gnome Boxes needed support of accessing files and GPU passthought VirtualBox has. I frequently use the former for a while but VirtualBox now support 3D allowing testing Design Suite Labs iso.

    – Improve the sound settings and integrate support of equalizers (Pulseaudio Equalizer) via add-on or extension. Also better detection for USB microphone plugged on laptops.

    – Further improvement of AMD hardware support notably power management and start/stop session. I just realize how open source Radeon driver has improved a lot especially the hybrid graphics.

    – Improved documentation about creating a HIG for Gnome Shell, extensions and more which was very difficult to find.

    – Restore Gnome Integration for Firefox and also Thunderbird if possible.

    – Improving backup interface making it user friendly.

    – Packagekit failed to respect some parameters from repo conf like exclude and will not properly synchronize.

  27. Nice article.

    I’m using fedora workstation 25 as my only os on a MacBook pro mid 2015 for work (also used at home on a laptop and a Intel computer key) I love it but I have minor annoyances.
    1. Mixed dpi support for chromium based app (slack, atom and chromium in my case). I often need to plug on a TV or projector and my Mac has a retina display. Those app do not scale automatically, I have to restart them.
    2. Better displayport 1.2 with Daisy chaining. A lot of time gnome looses my display conf and I have to do it again. Also sometimes one of my 3 screens go black for a few seconds. Also the session crash from time to time. It is also VERY annoying to change the screen order when you have a screen in portrait mode.
    3. My MacBook takes ages to start. Bug report here: https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=115741
    I also need to force shutdown it, it won’t shutdown properly
    4. Why is the FaceTime HD driver for webcam not upstream ? It works well but I have to recompile it manually after each kernel update.
    5. When I plug my HDMI cable on a Toshiba laptop I have to manually change the sound output
    6. Bluetooth disconnect from time to time and is slow to start when I’m on the login screen with an apple keyboard
    7. Intel compute key wifi/Bluetooth works very badly, driver is not upstream and I have frequent locks.
    8. When clicking on global notification delete button it delete them one by one, even if the animation run for all of them.
    9. Dleyna crash all the time (I don’t use it I just get a lot of abrt report)
    10. Lots of hardware error mce machine event logged on MacBook pro. Do not seems to have any effect but it’s anoying to have them pop in abrt
    11. If I drag a window from one screen to another in a different virtual desktop it doesn’t work. I have to drag it to the current virtual desktop and then to the new one.

    I think I have a lot more minor annoyance but those are the most important !

  28. An awesome project would be an equivalent to KDE Connect to see notifications from the phone on the desktop, to receive and reply to SMS in the notification area, to quickly send files to the phone and vice versa, to be able to lock / unlock our session according to the distance of the smartphone, to sync clipboard and a lot of other cool things.

  29. A nice feature would be a central configuration tool for mouse buttons(mouse which has more than three buttons). Libinput creates for every button an event, but there is no simple solution to bind this keys to functions, like the keyboard shortcut tool. There should be a way to track a mouse button and connect this event to gnome shell actions like switching window, open overview…
    Same for multitouch gestures.

    • We have a tool for that called Ratbag, its been in development for a while, but I will ask Peter H. and Benjamin T. to package it for Fedora.

      • Is the source for this tool on github? I didn’t find something about ratbag.

  30. Fedora 25 would not properly save multimonitor (4 and more) display configurations. At next boot, the displays would have to be Re-cognition. This problem is common to all distros I have tried. I hope it will be fixed once and for all.

  31. Can you please introduce regional calendars like the Indian National/Saka Calendar? This was present in KDE earlier and has been removed while I don’t think it was ever present in Gnome. Even Windows 10 now has support for the Indian Calendar. It is important for older people who still use the older calendar system.
    It would be nice if you stopped installing Evolution by default. I and my parents check email only using browser (gmail, hotmail). Evolution trying to ‘help’ when clicking on a email address in kind of confusing for them.
    Also, can you introduce support for fingerprint login at Gnome login page?
    One more thing is introducing the network speeds to be in Kbps, Mbps as well in the system monitor. The current notation used is kind of useless to show to the everyday ISP field engineer who most of the time gets confused by it. It would also be nice if the data used shown in the system monitor was stored for longer like in Android phones for a history of how much data has been used in that month.
    Using Chrome or Firefox seems to heat up the laptop too much. They seem to use the disk a lot unlike in Windows. Please try to resolve this.

  32. I like to fiddle with settings and the look of my desktop, but I think that for the general consumers you need a more comprehensive tool for configuring the desktop right after the first login (KaOS uses something like that, Kaplan, borrowed from Pisi Linux). The most important element should be the dash. All of the user’s activity in the OS implies clicking on the dash. So, users should be allowed to customize it freely, transforming in a MacOS-like dock, or a Windows-like taskbar. Also, there are some common sense things that should be implemented, like the the ability to maximize/minimize a window by clicking on the dash. And the dash should be much more responsive, like plank or Unity’s launcher.
    Another suggestion: right now it’s very hard to acces root files via terminal. The command “nautilus –no-desktop” almost doesn’t work.

  33. Please think about a practical solution to run windows programs on top of Linux. That’s the major drawback for Linux desktop, not HiDPI and Wayland.
    Wine is a joke and having a virtual windows on top of Linux make me feel silly.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  34. Hi,

    @uraeus please consider looking into better integration of kpatch !

  35. Overall, I think Fedora team has been doing very good job with many things. With that said, here is some feedback on things that you should consider changing:

    1) Add advanced options for power users as extra options.

    One of the most annoying things about Gnome is that the advanced settings have been completely removed.

    For example, try changing the Desktop Background color (i.e. no picture, just a solid color) to black. You cannot. I cannot believe this is even a thing. I mean really? This is by far the best example of the half-baked approach Gnome team has taken and why so many people are hating on them. Having default (dumbed down) options is one thing, but removing advanced options and trying to force power users to work certain way is really bad idea and you will always end up with rebellion (and hate) on your hands.

    I mean, would it really been that big of a deal to add an extra button that says “custom color” and allows one to set a different background color? Instead, someone at Gnome team has decided that people should not have anything but few options that they have decided as appropriate. At least, this is what it seems like to a veteran user that is used to power and freedom.

    There are numerous other examples of this in Gnome suite.

    In another example, in the Gnome Web (i.e. Epiphany), there is no option to automatically clear history on exit. So while not clearing history by default is okay behavior (for novice users), it is very annoying that an option for this has been removed (or not even put in). Power users want options like this (both Chrome and Firefox have this option) and it is really annoying that there is _no_ way to do this with Gnome Web. It basically makes this app not usable for my team.

    Another example: Gnome Boxes has a little keyboard menu that allows one to use a mouse to pass keyboard input to the VM. However, the option that is missing in there (and no way to add it) is to pass Ctrl+Alt+Del which is required for Windows VMs. This might not seem like a big deal – however currently Wayland intercepts Ctrl+Alt+Del and redirects it to the shutdown menu, which means that Windows VM is unusable in Gnome boxes under Wayland (you cannot unlock Windows VM). Note that virt-manager provides such option and works and that is exactly my point. Gnome suite apps keep removing advanced options and in turn this makes them unusable by power users.

    2) You should have a better Gnome shell extensions integration with gnome software. As it is, only few of the extensions can be installed instead of all of them and recent Firefox update has broken the http://extensions.gnome.org plugin which makes it very difficult to get some extensions installed. Some of the extensions are available in Gnome Software, however not all of them which is very annoying. It is confusing why one can install only some extensions from the Gnome software, and now that Firefox does not work out-of-the-box, I hear people complaining about this all the time. The point is, extensions are the way to customize the desktop and these customization should be only few clicks away in the “advanced settings” somewhere.

    3) Proprietary AMD GPU drivers should also be added to RPMFusion (or whatever) repo as the OpenCL implementation in Mesa is still not there. This will probably require you to work closely with AMD which should not be a problem seeing how they are open source friendly. This is one of the main complains I hear from people using Ubuntu vs. Fedora.

    4) Improve hybrid graphics. Even with the updates in F25 which made everything a lot better, many people in my team still have major problems with this.

    5) Allow custom color settings for the desktop background (wallpaper). I cannot believe this is even something I have to mention and is demonstrates #1 issue above very well. Allow advanced settings for people who know wtf they are doing.

    6) Nautilus needs some love. If you copy files with multiple window instances, the progress pops up everywhere and after that it gets stuck (i.e. doesn’t go away). Again, I assume that the problem is that whoever is working on it has tested it only with single-window instance and it worked in that case. However, there are a lot of power users that have multiple windows so this should be a test case.

    7) Dragging and dropping files does not work correctly when Desktop Icons are enabled – the dropped files always end up on the desktop. I understand that Gnome folk are strongly opinionated against desktop icons, however there are many people that like this feature so until features like this are fully supported, people will use different desktops. Again, this should be an advanced option (currently in gnome-tweaks which is not installed by default in Fedora and thus not easily discover-able) and should be fully supported.

    8) Install gnome-tweaks by default and make it easily discover-able.

    Please note that these are just few critiques and overall I think Fedora team has been doing a great job, however you should seriously consider adding advanced options to allow power users to make their setup work the way they want it to work. This is by far the biggest reason the Gnome team gets all the hate.

    Now, consider if people could (with an out-of-the-box setup) click on few checkboxes in the control panel and get the environment they want. You would have a lot of more happy customers.

    Keep up the good work.

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