Fedora 38 is finally taking shape
New Budgie and Sway spins, Xfce 4.18, and initial support for Unified Kernel Images
A Fedora Project meeting this week is starting to set the shape of the next release, Fedora 38, due in April.
Two very visible changes were decided earlier this month. Two additional desktop environments (we are using the word "desktop" somewhat loosely here) will get their own new spins with this version. One of these is the new Fedora Budgie, which will have the Budgie desktop environment first seen in the Solus distro.
There is an interesting little bit of history here. Solus first registered on our radar back in about 2015, with a different new desktop environment which was called Consort.
Consort was a fork of the existing Fallback desktop mode in GNOME 3.4, which is still around but was later renamed Flashback. Flashback is an alternative shell for GNOME 3 which gives it a look and feel very much like GNOME 2, with two panels at the top and bottom of the screen.
Oddly, this is separate from GNOME Classic, implemented as a GNOME extension, which does… well, pretty much the same. Solus abandoned Consort, developed its own new desktop Budgie instead, and now that's making its way into Fedora. As we're trying to avoid making any reference to anyone smuggling budgies anywhere, let's just say it's the circle of life or something.
We took a very brief look at Budgie during our Ubuntu remix roundup last year, and while we don't feel it offers any radical new technology, it's certainly shiny.
The current Budgie version 10 is based on some GNOME technologies, but the plan is that the future Budgie 11 will switch to using tech from Enlightenment instead. The Budgie team are far from the first to encounter difficulties working with the GNOME project, as we covered in connection with GNOME 42's theming engine and also Linux Mint's Bluetooth support hassles.
Another new Fedora Spin in version 38 will be based on the Sway tiling window manager. Sway isn't strictly speaking a desktop environment as such. It's a way to automate the arrangement of windows on screen.
At risk of generalization, we find that the sort of users who favor tiling window managers tend to be very keyboard-driven, and spend most of their time inside terminal windows. They often regard things like desktop icons, docks and so on as unimportant fripperies. Sway is in some ways a Wayland version of the older i3 tiling window manager for X.org.
Some of the other visible changes in Fedora 38 more routine and expected. For example, there's a Fedora Xfce spin, and Fedora 38 will include the new Xfce 4.18 desktop. Xfce is very mature, quite slow-moving, and the project doesn't put out new releases very often, so the inclusion shouldn't cause any problems. It's already part of Endeavour OS 22.12 and the new SystemRescue 9.06.
The installation program will switch from using the unmaintained
dmraid tool for accessing "soft RAID" arrays, to the kernel's integral
mdraid instead. Soft, or "firmware RAID", is unfortunately a tech that just won't die: it uses special drivers and system firmware to make several separate hard disks appear as to the OS as if they were one. It's mainly aimed at Windows and has long caused problems in other OSes.
There will also be preliminary support for Unified Kernel Images. We discussed this tech in some depth back in October last year. It's the latest initiative from ex-Red Hatter and now Microsoftie Lennart Poettering, or "Agent P" as he's known around these parts. We suspect that, at least in its early dats, this may cause far more problems than it fixes, but only time will tell.
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Recently, the developers at X.org decided to block servers which use byte-swapping, as LWN explains. This change has been accepted into Fedora 38, too, and will probably propagate out to most other Linux distros in time. Virtually everyone still supports X11, despite Wayland's adoption still slowly increasing.
Less visibly except for developers, Fedora 38 will also bump the Pyramid Python-based web framework to version 2, and update the PHP web-development language to version 8.2. Other programming language updates should include Go 1.20, Ruby 3.2, LLVM 16, GNU Make 4.4. There is a full list for those who want to prepare themselves.
Some things probably won't make it into this version, but should appear in Fedora 39. The DNF package-management command, which replaced YUM back when Solus was new, is due to get a new version, DNF5, soon – but that is being held back until Fedora 39, if then. GNOME 44 is also scheduled for release only shortly before Fedora 38. Although we suspected it would be too late, we've since been informed by Red Hat that Fedora 38 will have Gnome 44.
Fedora and Ubuntu are about the same age, and share a similar release cadence: both put out a new version about every six months. Fedora's schedule is a more flexible, though, and over its roughly 19 years, some years have seen only one release and other three. There is a possibility that the next version may slip, but it will appear at some point. ®