Fedora 40 is just around the corner with more spins and flavors than ever

KDE edition has the most conspicuous changes, and could become future flagship

Fedora 40 is in the final stretch before launch tomorrow, with release candidate 1.14 in testing.

There are more spins and editions than ever, with the GNOME-based Workstation edition plus half a dozen different desktop spins, as well as Server, IoT, Cloud and CoreOS editions, and more.

Fedora 40 Workstation uses an unmodified version of the latest GNOME, with Wayland by default.

Fedora 40 Workstation uses an unmodified version of the latest GNOME, with Wayland by default – click to enlarge

All editions will use the latest kernel 6.8. The flagship GNOME edition showcases GNOME 46, the beta of which we covered back in February and which will also appear in Ubuntu 24.04 mere days later. That's no coincidence. At first, both distributions were based on the GNOME desktop and their release cycles were intended to synchronize with GNOME's semi-annual releases. The GNOME edition replaces the trusty Cheese webcam app with the new Snapshot app that appeared with GNOME 45.

The most significant changes are found in the KDE edition among the desktop versions. Fedora doesn't have long-term support releases, which is one reason it's able to include newer components. As such, unlike Ubuntu 24.04, Fedora 40 will have the shiny new KDE Plasma 6 desktop – specifically, version 6.0.3, and with only a Wayland session available by default. (Indeed, there's a proposal open to switch the Workstation edition to KDE, although we doubt it will happen.)

The Fedora Project has recycled primary sponsor Red Hat's old Atomic brand (which the company sunset after acquiring CoreOS), and will use it to group its growing collection of immutable desktop distributions: Silverblue (with GNOME), Kinoite (with KDE Plasma), Sericea (with Sway), and Onyx (with Budgie).

Fedora aims to be the best distro for software developers, and Red Hat's announcement of the beta highlighted some of the tools for machine learning and large language model development that it will include, including the Python-based PyTorch and version 6 of AMD's ROCm framework complete with support for AMD's latest MI300 accelerators.

Compared to the rise of LLMs, containers are positively old hat now, but Fedora IoT is revamping its tooling around bootable containers, which are built using ostree and updated using bootc.

Developers get fresh versions of the heavyweight tool suites, including LLVM 18 and GCC 14, along with which come binutils 2.41, glibc 2.39, and gdb 14.1. Other updates include Ruby 3.3, GoLang 1.22, PHP 8.3, PostgreSQL 16, Podman 5, and OpenJDK 21. Under the hood, it uses RFC 5227 Address Conflict Detection for handling IPv4 address conflicts, and the Wget downloader has been upgraded to Wget 2. Version 5 of the DNF package manager, which was held back from Fedora 38 early last year, still didn't make it in two releases later, but it's being evaluated in some subsidiary roles. However, there have been several simplifications to the way DNF downloads files and metadata. For a detailed list of all the components and versions, there is a full changeset.

The KDE edition has the newest shiny to show off, with Plasma 6.0.3 and nothing but a Wayland session.

The KDE edition has the newest shiny to show off, with Plasma 6.0.3 and nothing but a Wayland session – click to enlarge

We gave very quick test drives to both the GNOME and KDE editions in virtual machines. Our advice for Fedora 39 still holds – don't try to run Fedora in VirtualBox. Even using the latest version 7.0.16, we experienced so many problems it was unusable. Using the UTM hypervisor, though, which uses QEMU under the hood, both versions ran much more smoothly, just without sound. The GNOME edition feels very responsive, and the new global search function in the Files app is handy. The search is not truly global – while it instantly found things in our home directory, it doesn't seem to search the parts of the file system where the OS lives – but it's a useful addition. We had to disable 3D acceleration to install the KDE version, but once installed we saw no problems after re-enabling it.

These are not lightweight OSes, though. Immediately after startup, KDE 6 used 1.5 GB of RAM, and 4.1 GB of disk. The GNOME Workstation used 1.3 GB of RAM and 3.5 GB of disk. This is an OS for modern hardware, and while it should perform well, it will want plenty of fast storage and a recent model of GPU, supported by the latest drivers, to do it.

Compared to some previous releases, the changes in Fedora 40 are not massively disruptive. Linux is in its mid-30s – after all, it predates Windows 3.1, and OS/2 2.0, and the first release of Windows NT. Its wild anarchic youth is a fading memory. As a software stack, it's not only mature, it's showing distinct signs of middle-aged spread. This means fewer dramatic changes, but it also signals that it's moving away from its former territory as a low-end OS for older hardware. ®


This aging vulture has to perform a web search to check which name denotes which desktop in each Fedora immutable edition, every single time. The same applies to the openSUSE project's immutable distros, which were, the last time he checked, openSUSE Aeon for the GNOME edition, openSUSE Kalpa for the KDE edition, and openSUSE Baldur for the Xfce edition.

If anyone has a hypothesis to explain why distro vendors are so fond of giving their immutable distributions whimsical names, please send in your ideas on a postcard comment below.

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