A Brief Look At Fedora 24

Written by Eric Griffith in Operating Systems on 16 June 2016. Page 1 of 3. 39 Comments

Author's Note: Fedora 24 RC1.1, composed on June 11, 2016, was used for this testing. While this is essentially the final release, minus a couple GRUB-related bugs, it is possible for minor things to change between now and the final release.

Another six months, another Fedora release, from the guys and gals wearing the funny looking hats. Fedora 24 Workstation comes with Gnome 3.20.2, Linux Kernel 4.5.5, Mesa 11.2.1, X Server 1.18.3, and Wayland protocol version 1.10.

The Install

This is one section that I am only going to touch on briefly. Anaconda is much the same as before. If you have gone through a Fedora install since the Anaconda overhaul a couple years ago, then you know the motions, and there are no surprises. The install was quick, easy, and basically painless. I still await some of the rumored changes that various developers are said to be working on, such as removing the hub-spoke model entirely. Alas, Fedora 24 is not such an ambitious release.

Thankfully, this release did fix a bug that I hit on both my laptop and desktop, with F22 / F23, where an encrypted raid-0 BTRFS system would have an incomplete initrd, leading to a failed boot state.

First Impressions

With the install done and the system rebooted, I was greeted with the default desktop. First impression? It's clean, and it looks nice. It's the exact same desktop, minus the changed wallpaper, that has been featured a few releases. But, for some reason, this new release just feels... cleaner. Maybe it's the crisper fonts the activity bar; maybe it's the darker wallpaper that pairs better with the black along the top; maybe I just like the new wallpaper more than past releases. Additionally, the animations feel smoother. I'm not sure if that's a side effect of Wayland, or if the developers sped up the animation speed slightly, but, whatever it is, I appreciate the slickness.

That being said... There is one part of the “first impression” experience that could use some tender love and care. The first time a user logs in, they are greeted by the Initial Setup utility. At the end of the guided setup, Gnome Help runs and shows off the Getting Started screen. Showing this screen is very understandable, especially considering that Gnome Shell has a fairly different paradigm than other desktops. Unfortunately, the screen is fairly sparse and spartan, making it look like it didn't load completely. It's not a breaking change, but considering that it's one of the first things that a new user is going to see, it feels... out of place.

Font Changes

In what is, probably, the most welcome change to Fedora 24: better font rendering by default! The upstream Gnome developers spent a portion of the F24 development cycle fixing up the default Gnome font: Cantarell. These changes were mostly centered around ensuring that Cantarell is consistent across common resolutions and sizes and that its design was being interpreted by the rendering engine in the way that it was meant to be.

In addition, the hinting was changed from ‘medium', the Fedora 23 default, to ‘slight'. A change that is consistent with the hinting on Ubuntu and other distributions and that is generally considered the best default choice.

This is not to say that things are perfect, some options are still only available from RPMFusion's freetype-freeworld package. But, at least things are in a much better place than previously. Eastern European users also received some attention this cycle. Special care was taken for Cyrillic lettering. Thanks to these changes, Cyrillic lettering should now be rendered correctly, and be visible.

If you are upgrading from Fedora 23 and have modified your font settings, but would like to turn them back to defaults in order to see the improvements, then run the following commands in terminal:

gsettings reset org.gnome.desktop.interface font-name
gsettings reset org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.xsettings antialiasing
gsettings reset org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.xsettings hinting
gsettings reset org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.xsettings rgba-order

Alternatively, these settings can be reset via Gnome Tweak Tool. More information is available here.

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