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Forget Ubuntu 24.04 LTS, what you really want to download this month is Fedora Silverblue 40

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This month we’re half a year from Ubuntu’s 20th anniversary, it also coincides with the release of Ubuntu 24.04 LTS, but I have to say, it’s not the shiny new distro I’d choose to install. Instead I would choose a specific version of Fedora 40, namely, Fedora Silverblue 40, which was also released this month.

A bit of history

If you’ve only used Linux from around 2012 onwards, there’s a good chance you’ve had it easy to install and configure things; That’s because you’ve put a lot of effort into making installers easy to use, and in many cases, third-party software and drivers are now installed right out of the box.

Things weren’t always this way, however, running Linux used to be a real chore. This is one of the things Canonical wanted to solve with Ubuntu, it wanted to make Linux easier for users.

When I first started using Linux, I started on Ubuntu 8.04 LTS about a month after it came out and it was fine depending on the hardware I chose to install it on. It wasn’t as simple as it is nowadays, but it was a big improvement on the way things were before Ubuntu existed.

The wallpaper in Ubuntu 8.04 LTS ‘Hardy Heron’.

Another notable event from the past

As a full-time Linux user, Spring 2008, when I discovered Linux, is something I can remember well. Another event I remember about 18 months later was when Google held a keynote introducing ChromeOS and several follow-up videos it released showing the architecture and the great advances in security and stability that ChromeOS offered over traditional operating systems like Windows, macOS and Linux.

As we all know, one of the main problems with ChromeOS is that it is a web-first system. Although this becomes less of an issue as time marches on, it is still an issue. It seemed that if you needed a full desktop, you would have to stick with an operating system with a less secure architecture.

Better architecture for full desktops

Although I only discovered it much later, the Fedora Project released an “atomic” version of its desktop operating system alongside Fedora on May 28, 2018. Called Fedora Silverblue, this release of Fedora Workstation is a complete, but immutable, operating system.

Immutable doesn’t mean you can’t do anything, of course you can install your software and transfer your documents, what it refers to is the underlying system; The things you ideally wouldn’t want to trash.

With this read-only architecture at the core of the system, it means you get a more stable system that is less prone to bugs. On top of that solid foundation, you’re strongly encouraged and more or less led to use Flatpak versions of programs, meaning they’re all bundled in their own little box, separate from the base system that increases your system’s security.

On top of that, Fedora Silverblue grabs the latest software updates for you almost as soon as you log into your session; GNOME software is set by default to automatically download updates and they are installed the next time you turn off your computer; This makes sure your software is fresh and less likely to be exploited.

Just some of the programs in GNOME Software.

Because it uses something called OSTree, Fedora Silverblue has a nice little feature that keeps a previous version of your system (before the latest updates) that you can always go back to if you notice something is broken. This snapshot feature is also useful if you decide to jump between different atomic versions of Fedora, it’s a bit more advanced, but you can read about it at Fedora Docs (check the last three paragraphs of the upgrade section).

To me, the improvements brought by Fedora Silverblue and the other atomic versions (one for most other desktop environments) deliver much of what Google promised with ChromeOS to the traditional desktop scene. I would also say that the introduction of atomic desktops does for security exactly what Ubuntu did for ease of use 20 years ago.

Your choice this month

The Fedora Project is lining up the Fedora 40 series for release on April 23rd, while Canonical is set to release Ubuntu 24.04 LTS on April 25th. While there is an argument to choose Ubuntu if you want to stay with one release for many years, as opposed to Ubuntu upgrading every 13 months, I think most people will benefit from choosing Fedora Silverblue.

Not only do you get a better security setup, but Fedora also ships with newer software in some cases, such as the GNOME desktop environment. For end users, this option is probably the most ideal, while there is reason for Ubuntu to make fewer changes to business and perhaps education settings.

My experience with Fedora Silverblue

I only came across Fedora Silverblue recently, but I have to say that when stacked up against other systems like Ubuntu and Linux Mint, it’s my favorite. Not only do I appreciate the added security and more punctual update settings, but it was also quite pleasant to run on my resource-choked laptop.

Another thing I like about Fedora in general is the Fedora Writer tool to set up the Silverblue installation media. Fedora Writer is available on Windows, macOS and Linux – it lets you choose the version of Fedora you want and which USB stick you want to write it to, then it downloads the OS, verifies it, writes it to media, then verifies the installation media to make sure it is not damaged.

The security of obtaining Fedora Silverblue through Fedora Writer plus the implicit security of Fedora Silverblue makes it a particularly resilient choice, especially as the number of cyber attacks increases. For those who don’t remember, the Linux Mint website was hacked eight years ago and a malicious ISO was replaced with the legitimate one; This event helped push the need for ISO image validation, which Fedora Writer does automatically.

A potential downside of Fedora Silverblue for some users is its reliance on Flatpaks. If you use a lot of desktop applications, you may find software unavailable. I would recommend checking it out Flathub To see if there is a Flatpak package for all the software you need but there is a lot available so most people should be covered.

If you find all your applications on Flathub, the best way to install them after setup is to look for them in the software tool that comes with Fedora and search; Everything that is in Flathub is also in the software.

Based on my use of the Fedora Silverblue 39 over the past few months, my experience has been extremely positive. I think my biggest gripe (it’s really not that much of a problem) is only after I log in and the system decides to grab available updates. Also, for anyone using Firefox, you’ll want to install the Flatpak version of Firefox from Mozilla in GNOME Software so that you won’t have any issues playing video on the web, it will also be free of Fedora’s customizations for it. browser.

This particular laptop struggles a bit due to the nature of the processor (1.1Ghz dual core), so when the updates start downloading and I try to open the browser things can be a bit sticky but usually this resolves quickly and the device is fast (man) again. Most people shouldn’t have this problem if they bought a decent computer in the last decade.

One I don’t know is how well a major Silverblue upgrade will go, I’ll get to try it first when Fedora Silverblue 40 is released later this month. If it’s anything like the updates, I don’t expect any problems at all.

Here are my laptop specs, in case you were wondering

Since I mentioned my laptop’s hardware, I thought it would be appropriate to share some more details about the particular laptop I’m using to experience Fedora Silverblue. I’ve previously run Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and to a limited extent, Windows 10 on it, so I’ve seen how each works here.

Some of the main specifications are as follows:

  • Processor: Intel® Celeron® N4000 (1.1 GHz) × 2
  • Memory: 4.0 GB
  • graphics: Intel® UHD Graphics 600 (GLK 2)
  • disk space: 500 GB

As you can see, the RAM should be enough to run an OS and a few apps and actually know it’s enough because I’ve watched the memory manager not even fill up while the machine crashes; It all depends on a low-power, dual-core, dual-threaded processor.

Of all the operating systems, Windows 10 and Ubuntu were definitely the heaviest feeling. If I remember correctly, there was a super annoying bug I ran into with Ubuntu where the whole system would lock up when I tried to backup my data.

The Cinnamon edition of Linux Mint was good, better than one of the supposed lightweight spins, but still not as smooth as Fedora Silverblue was for me.

I’m not sure if this is GNOME’s way of porting things or what, but Fedora Silverblue seems to throttle background apps to allow for maximum visible program performance. It feels a little different compared to other operating systems I’ve used and it really benefits this laptop a lot.

The fact that Fedora Silverblue runs great on my low-power laptop highlights that it should be a great choice for most people trying to install it. This fact leads well to the next point I want to discuss.

A solution for computers that do not support Windows 11

This editorial included a good deal of reminiscing. In the time since I discovered Linux in 2008, many of our computing activities are done online, heck, I’m even writing this article in Google Docs, a web browser-based office suite. With this trend away from desktop applications, the fact that Linux doesn’t support some Windows programs isn’t that much of a problem, and by the way, Linux offers some great alternatives in many cases.

Analyst firm Canalys reported in December that a whopping 240 million PCs could end up in landfills after Windows 10 expires in October 2025, as people upgrade their machines to get Windows 11. Frankly, it’s an environmental disaster because many of these PCs have gone without any issues other than the fact that they do not meet certain arbitrary requirements.

With that in mind, I’d recommend Fedora Silverblue to anyone facing the Windows 10 end-of-life dilemma. Even if you decide to get another PC for Windows 11, at least you’ll have a backup PC or you can hand it to friends or family knowing full well that it’s running Secure operation.

What about Ubuntu?

Look, I love ubuntu but its core is still much what it was 20 years ago when it came out, overly dependent on dev packages. Canonical also failed to convince the community of the benefits of snap packages, just as it failed with the Unity desktop. So, I think with Fedora’s more evolved atomic desktop and without the politics surrounding Snap, Fedora Silverblue 40 stands as the better distro to choose this April over Ubuntu 24.04 LTS.

I hope the Fedora project continues with its atomic desktops and moves to make them the default option and I hope Canonical sits up and takes notice and makes a similar move. As it stands, Canonical doesn’t offer anything equivalent to Fedora Silverblue for desktop users, and that’s a shame, I’d like them to go in that direction, or at least have an alternative to the main Ubuntu version.

Concluding remarks

Unless something really nasty happens during the upgrade to Fedora Silverblue 40, I have to say I’m totally sold on Fedora Silverblue. I’ve used Ubuntu and Linux Mint extensively over the past decade, and for me, neither matches Silverblue. We finally seem to have most of the security benefits of ChromeOS with a full desktop experience.

If you have experience with Fedora Silverblue, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it and if you’ve had any major issues, let me know in the comments section. If you’re looking to upgrade or change your computer’s operating system this month, which way do you go? Ubuntu, Fedora Silverblue or a third option?

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