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Why is F34 the Most Popular Fedora Linux in Years?

This week ZDNet dedicated an article to “the most popular Fedora Linux in years.”

Red Hat’s community Linux distribution Fedora has always been popular with open-source and Linux developers, but this latest release, Fedora 34 seems to be something special. As Matthew Miller, Fedora Project Leader, tweeted, “The beta for F34 was one of the most popular ever, with twice as many systems showing up in my stats as typical.”

Why? Nick Gerace, a Rancher software engineer, thinks it’s because “I’ve never seen the project in a better state, and I think GNOME 40 is a large motivator as well. Probably a combination of each, from anecdotal evidence.” He’s onto something. When Canonical released Ubuntu 21.04 a few days earlier, their developers opted to stay with the tried and true GNOME 39 desktop. Fedora’s people decided to go with GNOME 40 for their default desktop even though it’s a radical update to the GNOME interface. Besides boasting a new look, GNOME 40 is based on the new GTK 4.0 graphical toolkit. Under the pretty new exterior, this update also fixed numerous issues and smoothed out many rough spots.

If you’d rather have another desktop, you can also get Fedora 34 with the newest KDE Plasma Desktop, Xfce 4.16, Cinnamon, etc. You name your favorite Linux desktop interface, Fedora will almost certainly deliver it to you… Another feature I like is that, since Fedora 33, the default file system is Btrfs. I find it faster and more responsive than ext4, perhaps the most popular Linux desktop file system. What’s different this time around is that it now defaults to using Btrfs transparent compression. Besides saving significant storage space — typically from 20 to 40% — Red Hat also claims this increases the lifespan of SSDs and other flash media.
Although the article does point out that most users will never reach the end of that SSD lifespan (approximately ten years of normal use), it suggests that “developers, who might for example compile Linux kernels every day, might reach that point before a PC’s usual end of useful life.”

In a possibly related note, Linus Torvalds said this week in a new interview that “I use Fedora on all my machines, not because it’s necessarily ‘preferred’, but because it’s what I’m used to. I don’t care deeply about the distribution — to me it’s mainly a way to get Linux installed on a machine and get all my tools set up, so that I can then replace the kernel and work on just that.”

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