Day-to-day differences between Fedora Silverblue and Ubuntu

I've talked about setting yourself up for success trying Fedora Silverblue in a prior post, and I thought I'd keep a running log of things that I find useful, interesting, different, etc.

Since I come from over a decade of Ubuntu usage I thought it might be useful for people to know what the differences are. I will try to focus on actual distro differences and not the skin deep ones since yes, the wallpapers are different.

The archive doesn't freeze. New software apparently goes in after release, I found it surprising that distrobox was uploaded to the stable release of Fedora.

Major kernel updates happen mid-cycle. One thing to remember is that a major kernel version upgrades come down in the current stable release of Fedora. This is mostly just a heads up since Ubuntu Desktop LTS has been doing this for a while, just at a much slower rate. aka. I am on Linux 5.16 and didn't even realize it.

Updates can be invisible. I set my updates to stage so that they apply over the course of my computer usage, they apply on reboot instantly, zero progress bars. Note: This is not the default behavior.  

You never have to see a screen like this again.

Performance. This is actually a feature from Fedora 34, not 35. On modern hardware having transparent zstd compression on the filesystem is really, really nice. And check out the improvements in Linux 5.16, this will only get better with time. Moving from Ubuntu with plain ext4 and snaps' numerous performance problems to a system like this a significant improvement. Grab a spare machine and try it, it's night and day faster.

Flatpaks. Things are moving, keeping up with the individual packaging updates has been hectic, but lots of smart people are working on hard on making Flathub better. Hop on over to the forum if you want to help out. If you're working on a desktop linux GUI app, reach out to us so we can help.

I don't have much to say, it's nice getting all the apps I need always be up to date, we just need more and more hands couldn't hurt, please consider helping out and/or donating. It's nice to finally go to, find out about an update to an app and already having it. No more six month delay. That's normal now, it's so much nicer than it used to be.

Gaming. I love this use case for image based desktops. I've used Linux long enough to know how to buy hardware, so for this new Gaming on Linux passion I went full Intel-based CPU with an AMDGPU (6800XT).

Steam with MangoHud has been working perfectly, I've logged countless hours gaming on this: God of War, Deep Rock Galactic, Ruined King, Hot Wheels, and then redid a playthrough of Warhammer: Space Marine.

Having fresh kernels and mesa at the pace that Linux gaming is going at right now has become more important to me, and avoiding PPAs and it's associated problems is just a win all around.

GNOME Software. Fedora neatly skips the entire mess of Ubuntu's Software Center / Snap Store rebrand/redo front end back end whatever thing. GNOME Software may still need love, but it works. The entire thing has been broken for three Ubuntu releases in a row just in case anyone is keeping track.

BTW, the Super-<search> workflow in GNOME has a neat feature of putting app search results right in that dash thinger, this is the way to use it IMO.

Someone tweeted about this app, I hit Super and type and there it is. I didn't have to wait 6 months.


Now, the final reason. Look at this.

Here are 1.2 million reasons to move away from this model.

Or maybe you've seen this tweet:

I was off by the way, it was 30,159,500 views. Eleven years of data saying that there is a problem with how traditional distributions are built for desktop end users. You know how many of those fucking questions and answers I touched over the past 11 years? Too many, that's how many.

I'm not doing that ever again, as much as I love my Ask Ubuntu fam (Shout out!) I would rather work on a world that deletes half the content from that site, and I mean that in a good way.

The problem with PPAs for end users is that they need to be system administrators to manage that, which as we have clearly shown, does not work. With Flathub I can get the apps I want quickly, and the more aggressive updates negate the need for system level PPAs. And I still have access to all of Ubuntu's packages transparently via distrobox anyway, I don't lose anything moving to this model.

But I'm scared. Yeah I was too. But don't worry, you know Marco and Adam wouldn't leave us hanging, so we automated it:

This script will take a silverblue system and transform it into something you're familiar with. Try it, you may like it!

And that's the lesson here, day to day, it's not different at all, the underneath has totally changed, and I think for the better. It's not there yet, but it's already better than the older model for client desktops.

Ubuntu Core Desktop. I'm not saying throw away your old distro, as you can see with distrobox we end up using those debian packages anyway, I am still using Ubuntu every single day, it's just not my host any more. It's a great combo, not gonna lie. And "normal" Fedora will be around as well. But I hope someone let's the team do an Ubuntu Core Desktop because it'd be nice.

These days Ubuntu LTS sits comfortably more conservative, while remaining fresh enough, it wouldn't even sit in the same category as Fedora. On the other hand if CentOS Stream had a Silverblue edition ...

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