Sometime during the past two weeks I decided to install Fedora 36 on my Lenovo, and this is my usual roll-up of notes and sundry. Most of it was OK and unremarkable (which is good for technology these days), but (spoiler) there are always a few odds and ends that could be better.
There’s been a lot more going on, but that’s mostly on the hardware and 3D printing space, and deserves another post later on. Both things are connected, though, since I’ve set up this machine as a coding and 3D modeling/”creation” laptop without the myriad distractions of my main laptop.
Just as I expected, GNOME 42 broke most of my nice themeing. I think Adwaita looks like pants, so I hacked a few things to make it more welcoming:
- I set
/etc/environmentto override Adwaita system-wide (yes, I know it might break some things, I don’t care).
- Installed a baseline set of GNOME desktop extensions (
dash-to-dockand a couple of others).
- Added my usual fonts (MS web fonts, Fira Code and Inter as a system/UI font).
This made it look and feel close enough to my previous installs to be usable. However, some gripes remained:
- Desktop scaling is… still non-fractional, just like Fedora 35 (you get 100% or 200%, and that’s it)1.
- 100% text scaling reads like user acceptance testing was done by ants or something still in the insect phyllum. The display is 1080p, so it’s not that great, but it has a standard DPI, so this feels weird.
gnome-tweaksto set the text to 125% pops up an Accessibility icon in the top bar I cannot get rid of. I suppose that means I’m now officially old enought to rely on accessibility features?
- Trackpad gesture support works, but is… still sub-par. It’s usable and supports (non-configurable) multi-finger gestures, but feels slightly off when compared to Windows 11 on the same hardware.
- Full disk encryption works OK–I get a terse, but graphical password prompt upon boot, but it’s been years and it’s still not integrated with the OS to the point where I can avoid entering two passwords from a cold boot.
None of these are an inconvenience by themselves, but together they make for a good reminder of why I still use macOS as my primary platform.
I had a weird situation where shutting the lid did not send the laptop to sleep, which is utterly unacceptable in 2022 and was apparently fixed by a kernel update the day after.
It’s a bit too early to say things are fine given the battery charging issues I had with Elementary, but so far nothing untoward has happened and fast charging seems to work fine.
But it’s already quite noticeable that battery life is much shorter than on Windows, even with power settings set to “Power Saver”.
Update: A few weeks later, I realized that power settings change from “Power Saver” to “Balanced” for some reason. Not sure if it’s a GNOME or Fedora bug, but not being able to set a value and having the machine stick to it is very annoying.
I don’t expect this machine to come anywhere close to my MacBook Pro in that regard, but it is still disappointing to see Linux falling short of Windows in this kind of thing.
All my go-to CLI and GUI tooling (mostly dev and CAD tools these days) is a
dnf away, and when it isn’t, I haven’t had any issues getting updated versions, even stuff like Blender and Cura. But it’s been rather nice to see that I have some very nice (i.e., simple and straightforward) desktop applications available.
- Geary works better in this version, so much so that I might actually start reading my mail in Linux as well (I have long stuck to Mail.app as my only mail client for all my personal mail, so this is pretty high praise).
- Apostrophe is a very, very nice and simple Markdown editor that I used to hold these notes together.
- Secrets is a great native password manager, and having it readily available was very useful.
- Steam and Proton worked fine, at least as far as Quake Champions was concerned.
However, finding applications being easier doesn’t mean things are perfect, especially regarding
I get the advantages, but as a user, I just don’t think it is good enough. In fact, bits of the user experience are just atrocious–for instance,
Alt-Tab will show a generic icon and internal IDs for
flatpak applications instead of proper names, and I ended up installing
KeePassXC to replace Secrets because
flatpak applications still don’t follow GUI preferences.
So I’m still sticking to
RPM whenever I can.
Before the shift to Apple Silicon, I decided to try to use Linux as much as possible, and that includes my music hobby (for which I settled on Bitwig as my Linux DAW).
This poses a few challenges, but not insurmountable ones.
I installed Bitwig from
flatpak (temporarily, as it turned out) for a quick test and then proceeded to get the Windows version of Arturia Software Center to run, which entailed installing
playonlinux. This adds a few essentials to WINE that are not installed by
dnf automatically, and was a great time-saver.
All my Arturia software installed successfully, but using Windows VSTs entailed reinstalling Bitwig using bitwig-fedora (again,
flatpak isn’t that great a solution), apply yabridge to wrap the Windows VSTs into
.so files and, finally, installing
realtime-setup and adding my user to the
Fiddly, but doable if (like me) you’ve done something similar before and already know where to look. I suspect this would be nigh on impossible for most people stumbling into Linux, though.
But as a result I now have Arturia Pigments, V Collection 8 and FX Collection 2 working with a touch-enabled DAW, which is really nice (and one of the main reasons I reverted to Windows 11 in the first place).
The only caveat is that Arturia VSTs don’t seem to support multi-touch input when run via WINE, but I don’t recall if that worked in Windows 11.
I’m pretty happy with this setup in general. It feels cohesive and productive in ways that only macOS did until now, and is a welcome respite from Windows (although I will be installing a local Windows VM for emergencies). I especially like that GNOME has developed some macOS-like behaviors I use all the time, like hitting the spacebar to get a quick view of a file, and that it generally gets out of my way.
It also takes me closer to actually going out on a limb and building myself a full blown desktop PC for coding and gaming in Linux.
Now that GPUs are coming down in price, I think the end result would be almost on par with a Mac Studio for around half the price (and triple the wattage, but that’s another story).
Six months later, I learned about
gsettings set org.gnome.mutter experimental-features "['scale-monitor-framebuffer']", which is an experimental setting that enables fractional scaling in 25% steps – and works for me, too, although it seems to make the cursor vanish occasionally. ↩︎