Fedora Linux has always been Red Hat's leading-edge distribution. While CentOS Stream is now a "rolling preview" of what's next for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), Fedora remains the real first-look at what's coming in RHEL's future and a useful distro in its own right. Now the Fedora Project has released the operating system's latest beta version: Fedora Linux 34.
As Matthew Miller, Red Hat's Fedora Project Leader, has explained, "Fedora integrates thousands of 'upstream' open-source projects into a unified distribution on a six-month release cadence, and every so often Red Hat takes that collection, forks it off, and produces RHEL." That remains the same.
So, what does the new Fedora bring us? Besides the desktop, which is often the first and sometimes the only thing users think of, Fedora also comes with different editions, each designed to address specific use cases for modern developers and IT teams. This includes Fedora CoreOS. This version addresses the needs of cloud-native, containerized developers.
As for the desktop, this new version uses the new GNOME 40 desktop. Its enhancements include a better desktop arrangement for search, windows, workspaces, and applications. It also includes multi-monitor improvements. It also enables users to choose between workspaces on only their primary displays or workspaces on all displays.
The most important change, however, for long-time GNOME users, may be that GNOME Extensions are getting a long-overdue overhaul. With GNOME Extensions Rebooted we should stop seeing updates breaking extensions and dependency issues. This is still a work in progress, so don't expect real fixes, but it's a start.
Another cranky Linux "feature" PulseAudio, the default Linux/Unix audio system, is being replaced by PipeWire. PulseAudio has been a bad reputation for its many problems. It's not really the program's fault. It's been maintained by only three part-time, volunteer developers. Pipeline is both more secure than PulseAudio, can work with containers, and unifies the two desktop audio systems JACK for low-latency professional audio and PulseAudio for normal desktop use-cases.
With luck, this will lead to PipeWire becoming the one audio infrastructure for both ordinary desktop and pro audio users. This should eventually end Linux's long audio fragmentation problem
All Fedora users will benefit from the latest Btrfs "Butters" file system translation data compression. Btrfs became Fedora's default file system in Fedora Linux 33. Now, it will come with transparent data compression. This significantly increases the lifespan of Solid-State Drives (SSD) reducing writes. This should also increase the read and write performance of larger files. You will, of course, also gain more effective storage room.
Want to give it a try? Fedora's developers will be happy to have you on board. You can download Fedora 34 today. Be sure to check the Fedora Linux 40 common bugs page and learn how to effectively report the bugs you find. This is, after all, a beta. A very good beta, mind you, but still a beta.