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GNOME 3.34 released — coming soon in Fedora 31

Today the GNOME project announced the release of GNOME 3.34. This latest release of GNOME will be the default desktop environment in Fedora 31 Workstation. The Beta release of Fedora 31 is currently expected in the next week or two, with the Final release scheduled for late October.

GNOME 3.34 includes a number of new features and improvements. Congratulations and thank you to the whole GNOME community for the work that went into this release! Read on for more details.

GNOME 3.34 desktop environment at work

Notable features

The desktop itself has been refreshed with a pleasing new background. You can also compare your background images to see what they’ll look like on the desktop.

There’s a new custom application folder feature in the GNOME Shell Overview. It lets you combine applications in a group to make it easier to find the apps you use.

You already know that Boxes lets you easily download an OS and create virtual machines for testing, development, or even daily use. Now you can find sources for your virtual machines more easily, as well as boot from CD or DVD (ISO) images more easily. There is also an Express Install feature available that now supports Windows versions.

Now that you can save states when using GNOME Games, gaming is more fun. You can snapshot your progress without getting in the way of the fun. You can even move snapshots to other devices running GNOME.

More details

These are not the only features of the new and improved GNOME 3.34. For an overview, visit the official release announcement. For even more details, check out the GNOME 3.34 release notes.

The Fedora 31 Workstation Beta release is right around the corner. Fedora 31 will feature GNOME 3.34 and you’ll be able to experience it in the Beta release.

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What is Silverblue?

Fedora Silverblue is becoming more and more popular inside and outside the Fedora world. So based on feedback from the community, here are answers to some interesting questions about the project. If you do have any other Silverblue related questions, please leave it in the comments section and we will try to answer them in a future article.

What is Silverblue?

Silverblue is a codename for the new generation of the desktop operating system, previously known as Atomic Workstation. The operating system is delivered in images that are created by utilizing the rpm-ostree project. The main benefits of the system are speed, security, atomic updates and immutability.

What does “Silverblue” actually mean?

“Team Silverblue” or “Silverblue” in short doesn’t have any hidden meaning. It was chosen after roughly two months when the project, previously known as Atomic Workstation was rebranded. There were over 150 words or word combinations reviewed in the process. In the end Silverblue was chosen because it had an available domain as well as the social network accounts. One could think of it as a new take on Fedora’s blue branding, and could be used in phrases like “Go, Team Silverblue!” or “Want to join the team and improve Silverblue?”.

What is ostree?

OSTree or libostree is a project that combines a “git-like” model for committing and downloading bootable filesystem trees, together with a layer to deploy them and manage the bootloader configuration. OSTree is used by rpm-ostree, a hybrid package/image based system that Silverblue uses. It atomically replicates a base OS and allows the user to “layer” the traditional RPM on top of the base OS if needed.

Why use Silverblue?

Because it allows you to concentrate on your work and not on the operating system you’re running. It’s more robust as the updates of the system are atomic. The only thing you need to do is to restart into the new image. Also, if there’s anything wrong with the currently booted image, you can easily reboot/rollback to the previous working one, if available. If it isn’t, you can download and boot any other image that was generated in the past, using the ostree command.

Another advantage is the possibility of an easy switch between branches (or, in an old context, Fedora releases). You can easily try the Rawhide or updates-testing branch and then return back to the one that contains the current stable release. Also, you should consider Silverblue if you want to try something new and unusual.

What are the benefits of an immutable OS?

One of the main benefits is security. The base operating system is mounted as read-only, and thus cannot be modified by malicious software. The only way to alter the system is through the rpm-ostree utility.

Another benefit is robustness. It’s nearly impossible for a regular user to get the OS to the state when it doesn’t boot or doesn’t work properly after accidentally or unintentionally removing some system library. Try to think about these kind of experiences from your past, and imagine how Silverblue could help you there.

How does one manage applications and packages in Silverblue?

For graphical user interface applications, Flatpak is recommended, if the application is available as a flatpak. Users can choose between Flatpaks from either Fedora and built from Fedora packages and in Fedora-owned infrastructure, or Flathub that currently has a wider offering. Users can install them easily through GNOME Software, which already supports Fedora Silverblue.

One of the first things users find out is there is no dnf preinstalled in the OS. The main reason is that it wouldn’t work on Silverblue — and part of its functionality was replaced by the rpm-ostree command. Users can overlay the traditional packages by using the rpm-ostree install PACKAGE. But it should only be used when there is no other way. This is because when the new system images are pulled from the repository, the system image must be rebuilt every time it is altered to accommodate the layered packages, or packages that were removed from the base OS or replaced with a different version.

Fedora Silverblue comes with the default set of GUI applications that are part of the base OS. The team is working on porting them to Flatpaks so they can be distributed that way. As a benefit, the base OS will become smaller and easier to maintain and test, and users can modify their default installation more easily. If you want to look at how it’s done or help, take a look at the official documentation.

What is Toolbox?

Toolbox is a project to make containers easily consumable for regular users. It does that by using podman’s rootless containers. Toolbox lets you easily and quickly create a container with a regular Fedora installation that you can play with or develop on, separated from your OS.

Is there any Silverblue roadmap?

Formally there isn’t any, as we’re focusing on problems we discover during our testing and from community feedback. We’re currently using Fedora’s Taiga to do our planning.

What’s the release life cycle of the Silverblue?

It’s the same as regular Fedora Workstation. A new release comes every 6 months and is supported for 13 months. The team plans to release updates for the OS bi-weekly (or longer) instead of daily as they currently do. That way the updates can be more thoroughly tested by QA and community volunteers before they are sent to the rest of the users.

What is the future of the immutable OS?

From our point of view the future of the desktop involves the immutable OS. It’s safest for the user, and Android, ChromeOS, and the last macOS Catalina all use this method under the hood. For the Linux desktop there are still problems with some third party software that expects to write to the OS. HP printer drivers are a good example.

Another issue is how parts of the system are distributed and installed. Fonts are a good example. Currently in Fedora they’re distributed in RPM packages. If you want to use them, you have to overlay them and then restart to the newly created image that contains them.

What is the future of standard Workstation?

There is a possibility that the Silverblue will replace the regular Workstation. But there’s still a long way to go for Silverblue to provide the same functionality and user experience as the Workstation. In the meantime both desktop offerings will be delivered at the same time.

How does Atomic Workstation or Fedora CoreOS relate to any of this?

Atomic Workstation was the name of the project before it was renamed to Fedora Silverblue.

Fedora CoreOS is a different, but similar project. It shares some fundamental technologies with Silverblue, such as rpm-ostree, toolbox and others. Nevertheless, CoreOS is a more minimal, container-focused and automatically updating OS.

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5 GNOME keyboard shortcuts to be more productive

For some people, using GNOME Shell as a traditional desktop manager may be frustrating since it often requires more action of the mouse. In fact, GNOME Shell is also a desktop manager designed for and meant to be driven by the keyboard. Learn how to be more efficient with GNOME Shell with these 5 ways to use the keyboard instead of the mouse.

GNOME activities overview

The activities overview can be easily opened using the Super key from the keyboard. (The Super key usually has a logo on it.) This is really useful when it comes to start an application. For example, it’s easy to start the Firefox web browser with the following key sequence Super + f i r + Enter.

Message tray

In GNOME, notifications are available in the message tray. This is also the place where the calendar and world clocks are available. To open the message tray using the keyboard use the Super+m shortcut. To close the message tray simply use the same shortcut again.

Managing workspaces in GNOME

Gnome Shell uses dynamic workspaces, meaning it creates additional workspaces as they are needed. A great way to be more productive using Gnome is to use one workspace per application or per dedicated activity, and then use the keyboard to navigate between these workspaces.

Let’s look at a practical example. To open a Terminal in the current workspace press the following keys: Super + t e r + Enter. Then, to open a new workspace press Super + PgDn. Open Firefox (Super + f i r + Enter). To come back to the terminal, use Super + PgUp.

Managing an application window

Using the keyboard it is also easy to manage the size of an application window. Minimizing, maximizing and moving the application to the left or the right of the screen can be done with only a few key strokes. Use Super+🠝 to maximize, Super+🠟 to minimize, Super+🠜 and Super+🠞 to move the window left and right.

Multiple windows from the same application

Using the activities overview to start an application is very efficient. But trying to open a new window from an application already running only results in focusing on the open window. To create a new window, instead of simply hitting Enter to start the application, use Ctrl+Enter.

So for example, to start a second instance of the terminal using the application overview, Super + t e r + (Ctrl+Enter).

Then you can use Super+` to switch between windows of the same application.

As shown, GNOME Shell is a really powerful desktop environment when controlled from the keyboard. Learning to use these shortcuts and train your muscle memory to not use the mouse will give you a better user experience, and make you more productive when using GNOME. For other useful shortcuts, check out this page on the GNOME wiki.


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Fedora 30 supplemental wallpapers

Each release, the Fedora Design team works with the community on a set of 16 additional wallpapers. Users can install and use these to supplement the standard wallpaper. The Fedora Design team encourages submissions from the whole community. Contributors then use the Nuancier app to vote on the top 16 to include.

Voting has closed on the extra wallpapers for Fedora 30. Voters chose from among 56 submissions. A total of 128 Fedora contributors voted, choosing the following 16 backgrounds to include in Fedora 30:

(Editors’ note: Thank you to Sirko Kemter, who authored this article and conducted the voting process.)

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4 tips for better tmux sessions

The tmux utility, a terminal multiplexer, lets you treat your terminal as a multi-paned window into your system. You can arrange the configuration, run different processes in each, and generally make better use of your screen. We introduced some readers to this powerful tool in this earlier article. Here are some tips that will help you get more out of tmux if you’re getting started.

This article assumes your current prefix key is Ctrl+b. If you’ve remapped that prefix, simply substitute your prefix in its place.

Set your terminal to automatically use tmux

One of the biggest benefits of tmux is being able to disconnect and reconnect to sesions at wilI. This makes remote login sessions more powerful. Have you ever lost a connection and wished you could get back the work you were doing on the remote system? With tmux this problem is solved.

However, you may sometimes find yourself doing work on a remote system, and realize you didn’t start a session. One way to avoid this is to have tmux start or attach every time you login to a system with in interactive shell.

Add this to your remote system’s ~/.bash_profile file:

if [ -z "$TMUX" ]; then tmux attach -t default || tmux new -s default fi

Then logout of the remote system, and log back in with SSH. You’ll find you’re in a tmux session named default. This session will be regenerated at next login if you exit it. But more importantly, if you detach from it as normal, your work is waiting for you next time you login — especially useful if your connection is interrupted.

Of course you can add this to your local system as well. Note that terminals inside most GUIs won’t use the default session automatically, because they aren’t login shells. While you can change that behavior, it may result in nesting that makes the session less usable, so proceed with caution.

Use zoom to focus on a single process

While the point of tmux is to offer multiple windows, panes, and processes in a single session, sometimes you need to focus. If you’re in a process and need more space, or to focus on a single task, the zoom command works well. It expands the current pane to take up the entire current window space.

Zoom can be useful in other situations too. For instance, imagine you’re using a terminal window in a graphical desktop. Panes can make it harder to copy and paste multiple lines from inside your tmux session. If you zoom the pane, you can do a clean copy/paste of multiple lines of data with ease.

To zoom into the current pane, hit Ctrl+b, z. When you’re finished with the zoom function, hit the same key combo to unzoom the pane.

Bind some useful commands

By default tmux has numerous commands available. But it’s helpful to have some of the more common operations bound to keys you can easily remember. Here are some examples you can add to your ~/.tmux.conf file to make sessions more enjoyable:

bind r source-file ~/.tmux.conf \; display "Reloaded config"

This command rereads the commands and bindings in your config file. Once you add this binding, exit any tmux sessions and then restart one. Now after you make any other future changes, simply run Ctrl+b, r and the changes will be part of your existing session.

bind V split-window -h bind H split-window

These commands make it easier to split the current window across a vertical axis (note that’s  Shift+V) or across a horizontal axis (Shift+H).

If you want to see how all keys are bound, use Ctrl+B, ? to see a list. You may see keys bound in copy-mode first, for when you’re working with copy and paste inside tmux. The prefix mode bindings are where you’ll see ones you’ve added above. Feel free to experiment with your own!

Use powerline for great justice

As reported in a previous Fedora Magazine article, the powerline utility is a fantastic addition to your shell. But it also has capabilities when used with tmux. Because tmux takes over the entire terminal space, the powerline window can provide more than just a better shell prompt.

Screenshot of tmux powerline in git folder

If you haven’t already, follow the instructions in the Magazine’s powerline article to install that utility. Then, install the addon using sudo:

sudo dnf install tmux-powerline

Now restart your session, and you’ll see a spiffy new status line at the bottom. Depending on the terminal width, the default status line now shows your current session ID, open windows, system information, date and time, and hostname. If you change directory into a git-controlled project, you’ll see the branch and color-coded status as well.

Of course, this status bar is highly configurable as well. Enjoy your new supercharged tmux session, and have fun experimenting with it.


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5 cool music player apps

Do you like music? Then Fedora may have just what you’re looking for. This article introduces different music player apps that run on Fedora. You’re covered whether you have an extensive music library, a small one, or none at all. Here are four graphical application and one terminal-based music player that will have you jamming.

Quod Libet

Quod Libet is a complete manager for your large audio library. If you have an extensive audio library that you would like not just listen to, but also manage, Quod Libet might a be a good choice for you.

Quod Libet can import music from multiple locations on your disk, and allows you to edit tags of the audio files — so everything is under your control. As a bonus, there are various plugins available for anything from a simple equalizer to a last.fm sync. You can also search and play music directly from Soundcloud.

Quod Libet works great on HiDPI screens, and is available as an RPM in Fedora or on Flathub in case you run Silverblue. Install it using Gnome Software or the command line:

$ sudo dnf install quodlibet

Audacious

If you like a simple music player that could even look like the legendary Winamp, Audacious might be a good choice for you.

Audacious probably won’t manage all your music at once, but it works great if you like to organize your music as files. You can also export and import playlists without reorganizing the music files themselves.

As a bonus, you can make it look likeWinamp. To make it look the same as on the screenshot above, go to Settings / Appearance, select Winamp Classic Interface at the top, and choose the Refugee skin right below. And Bob’s your uncle!

Audacious is available as an RPM in Fedora, and can be installed using the Gnome Software app or the following command on the terminal:

$ sudo dnf install audacious

Lollypop

Lollypop is a music player that provides great integration with GNOME. If you enjoy how GNOME looks, and would like a music player that’s nicely integrated, Lollypop could be for you.

Apart from nice visual integration with the GNOME Shell, it woks nicely on HiDPI screens, and supports a dark theme.

As a bonus, Lollypop has an integrated cover art downloader, and a so-called Party Mode (the note button at the top-right corner) that selects and plays music automatically for you. It also integrates with online services such as last.fm or libre.fm.

Available as both an RPM in Fedora or a Flathub for your Silverblue workstation, install it using the Gnome Software app or using the terminal:

$ sudo dnf install lollypop

Gradio

What if you don’t own any music, but still like to listen to it? Or you just simply love radio? Then Gradio is here for you.

Gradio is a simple radio player that allows you to search and play internet radio stations. You can find them by country, language, or simply using search. As a bonus, it’s visually integrated into GNOME Shell, works great with HiDPI screens, and has an option for a dark theme.

Gradio is available on Flathub which works with both Fedora Workstation and Silverblue. Install it using the Gnome Software app.

sox

Do you like using the terminal instead, and listening to some music while you work? You don’t have to leave the terminal thanks to sox.

sox is a very simple, terminal-based music player. All you need to do is to run a command such as:

$ play file.mp3

…and sox will play it for you. Apart from individual audio files, sox also supports playlists in the m3u format.

As a bonus, because sox is a terminal-based application, you can run it over ssh. Do you have a home server with speakers attached to it? Or do you want to play music from a different computer? Try using it together with tmux, so you can keep listening even when the session closes.

sox is available in Fedora as an RPM. Install it by running:

$ sudo dnf install sox

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3 cool productivity apps for Fedora 28

Productivity apps are especially popular on mobile devices. But when you sit down to do work, you’re often at a laptop or desktop computer. Let’s say you use a Fedora system for your platform. Can you find apps that help you get your work done? Of course! Read on for tips on apps to help you focus on your goals.

All these apps are available for free on your Fedora system. And they also respect your freedom. (Many also let you use existing services where you may have an account.)

FocusWriter

FocusWriter is simply a full screen word processor. The app makes you more productive because it covers everything else on your screen. When you use FocusWriter, you have nothing between you and your text. With this app at work, you can focus on your thoughts with fewer distractions.

Screenshot of FocusWriter

FocusWriter lets you adjust fonts, colors, and theme to best suit your preferences. It also remembers your last document and location. This feature lets you jump right back into focusing on writing without delay.

To install FocusWriter, use the Software app in your Fedora Workstation. Or run this command in a terminal using sudo:

sudo dnf install focuswriter

GNOME ToDo

This unique app is designed, as you can guess, for the GNOME desktop environment. It’s a great fit for your Fedora Workstation for that reason. ToDo has a simple purpose: it lets you make lists of things you need to get done.

Screenshot from GNOME ToDo on Fedora 28

Using ToDo, you can prioritize and schedule deadlines for all your tasks. You can also build as many tasks lists as you want. ToDo has numerous extensions for useful functions to boost your productivity. These include GNOME Shell notifications, and list management with a todo.txt file. ToDo can even interface with a Todoist or Google account if you use one. It synchronizes tasks so you can share across your devices.

To install, search for ToDo in Software, or at the command line run:

sudo dnf install gnome-todo

Zanshin

If you are a KDE using productivity fan, you may enjoy Zanshin. This organizer helps you plan your actions across multiple projects. It has a full featured interface, and lets you browse across your various tasks to see what’s most important to do next.

Screenshot of Zanshin on Fedora 28

Zanshin is extremely keyboard friendly, so you can be efficient during hacking sessions. It also integrates across numerous KDE applications as well as the Plasma Desktop. You can use it inline with KMail, KOrganizer, and KRunner.

To install, run this command:

sudo dnf install zanshin

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