An update from Fedora Workstation land

Battery life
I was very happy to see that Fedora Workstation 28 in the Phoronix benchmark got the best power consumption on a Dell XPS 13. Improving battery life has been a priority for us and Hans de Goede has been doing some incredible work so far. And best of all; more is to come :). So if you want great battery life with Linux on your laptop then be sure to be running Fedora on your laptop! On that note and to state the obvious, be aware that Fedora Workstation adoption rates are actually a major metric for us to decide where to put our efforts, so if we see good growth in Fedora due to people enjoying the improved battery life it enables us to keep investing in improving battery life, if we don’t see the growth we will need to conclude people don’t care that much and more our investment elsewhere.

Desktop remoting under Wayland
The team is also making great strides with desktop remoting under Wayland. In Fedora Workstation 29 we will have the VNC based GNOME Shell integrated desktop sharing working under Wayland thanks to the work done by Jonas Ådahl. It relies on PipeWire to share you Wayland session over VNC.
On a similar note Jan Grulich, Tomas Popela and Eike Rathke has been working on enabling Wayland desktop sharing through Firefox and Chromium. They are reporting good progress and actually did a video call between Firefox and Chromium last week, sharing their desktops with each other. This is enables by providing a PipeWire backend for both Firefox and Chromium. They are now working on cleaning up their patches and prepare them for submission upstream. We are also looking at providing a patched Firefox in Fedora Workstation 28 supporting this.

Wim Taymans talked about and demonstrated the latest improvements to PipeWire during GUADEC last week. He now got a drop in replacement that allows applications like Totem and Rhythmbox to play audio through PipeWire using the PulseAudio GStreamer plugin as Pipewire now provides a drop in replacement. Wim also keeps improving the Jack support in PipeWire by testing Jack applications one by one and fixing corner cases as he discovers them or they are reported by the Linux pro-audio community. We also ended up ordering Wim a Sony HT-Z9F soundbar for testing as we want to ensure PipeWire has great support for passthrough, be that SPDIF, HDMI or Bluetooth. The HT-Z9F also supports LDAC audio which is a new high quality audio format for Bluetooth and we want PipeWire to have full support for it.
To accelerate Pipewire development and adoption for audio we also decied to try to organize a PipeWire and Linux Audio hackfest this fall, with the goal of mapping our remaining issues and to try to bring the wider linux audio community together. So I am very happy that Arun Raghavan of PulseAudio fame agreed to be one of the co-organizer of this hackfest. Anyone interested in attending the PipeWire 2018 hackfest either add yourself to the attendee list or contact me (contact information can be found through the hackfest page) and I be happy to add you. The primary goal is to have developers from the PulseAudio and JACK communities attend alongside Wim Taymans and Bastien Nocera so we can make sure we got everything we need on the development roadmap and try to ensure we all pull in the same direction.

GNOME Builder
Christian Hergert did an update during GUADEC this year on GNOME Builder. As usual a ton of interesting stuff happening including new support for developing towards embedded devices like the upcoming Purism phone. Christian in his talk mentioned how Builder is probably the worlds first ‘Container Native IDE’ where it both is being developed with being packaged as a Flatpak in mind, but also developed with the aim of creating Flatpaks as its primary output. So a lot of effort is being put into both making sure it works well being inside a container itself, but also got all the bells and whistles for creating containers from your code. Another worthwhile point to mention is that Builder is also one of the best IDEs for doing Rust development in general!

Game mode in Fedora
Feral Interactive, one of the leading Linux game companies, released a tool they call gamemode for Linux not long ago. Since we want gamers to be first class citizens in Fedora Workstation we ended up going back and forth internally a bit about what to do about it, basically discussing if there was another way to resolve the problem even more seamlessly than gamemode. In the end we concluded that while the ideal solution would be to have the default CPU governor be able to deal with games better, we also realized that the technical challenge games posed to the CPU governor, by having a very uneven workload, is hard to resolve automatically and not something we have the resources currently to take a deep dive into. So in the end we decided that just packaging gamemode was the most reasonable way forward. So the package is lined up for the next batch update in Fedora 28 so you should soon be able to install it and for Fedora Workstation 29 we are looking at including it as part of the default install.

12 thoughts on “An update from Fedora Workstation land

  1. VNC?! Why VNC? It is one of the worst desktop sharing protocol ever…
    * no audio support
    * terrible security (8 character password)
    * terrible compression (if I’m not mistaken VNC is sending full or part screen compressed by JPG… Great maybe 20 years ago, but nowadays should be used something like VP9/h265/etc.)

    It is pity that quite new and promising technologies like Wayland and PipeWire are mixed with terrible and obsolete protocols like VNC.

    It is because of backward compatibility with Gnome+X11 that is supporting VNC? Gnome+Wayland now is not supporting desktop sharing at all, so it is very good opportunity to change VNC with something better.

    RDP would be great, but perhaps other solutions also could be used (FreeNX, SPICE?)…

    • VNC was chosen because it is simple and ubiquitous. Other (and better) will be supported, this is just a baseline. Through the browsers a lot of stuff will get support like Hangouts and BlueJeans. And SPICE will get full Wayland support for sure.

  2. Please, take a look at very old gnome-shell-mutter-clutter-whatever issue with sluggish < 60hz experience, it a shame that we all expect silken smooth feel with wayland but got windows 3 untill revert to gnome-xorg session.

  3. “if we don’t see the growth we will need to conclude people don’t care that much and more our investment elsewhere”

    There’s more than battery life that plays a important factor in choosing a distro. You should instead have seen the reddit threads as a metric, people went crazy about the improvements! It’s already obvious that this is something people care a lot about and love! Thanks!

  4. Can’t change the adoption rate if you’re already using it… Doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate all the power improvements. Kudos to everyone involved!

  5. I am happy to see Gaming as a first class citizen on Fedora. It is an area that I feel the Linux desktop can truly innovate in.

  6. The improvements to “Fedora battery life” is a great work. Kudos!!! We all need it. It will also mean that now existing fedora users will not be tempted to try different distros.

  7. I’ve tried Fedora recently and I’ve been delighted how easy was to install Google Chrome and other stuff with the new 3rd party software option in Gnome Software.

    Are you going to add Flathub as an option too for next release?

    Thanks for your work!

  8. Thanks for another great update Uraeus! I really like reading these stories so I hope you’ll keep doing them. Also major kudos to all the people you mentioned. Fedora really is a great Community! I’m very happy with F28 and look forward to all the cool new (Mesa!) stuff in F29 :-)

  9. Really hoping some of the improvements from Clear Linux make their way in fedora. For now this Intel distro is simply crushing benchmarks. Things like mesa / firefox should take advantages of advanced compiler features lite LTO PGO, etc..

  10. Here’s hoping that gamemode will be complemented with prompt updates to upstream stable mesa releases.

    I’m looking forward to all the advancements!

  11. Hi Uraeus,

    thanks for the great update, really good to be in the loop this easily. Screen sharing in Firefox or Chrome is the only blocker keeping me from running Wayland with all it’s yummy HiDPI improvements, so this news made me very happy :) Keep up the good work!

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