Like most Linux noobs, my first experience with Linux was using Ubuntu to bless an old laptop with a new lease on life - who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks? That was a few years ago now, and I've been using Linux ever since, from Debian to Arch in various iterations.
There were a few occasions when I re-installed windows, only to feel my blood pressure rising at every janky window movement, uninstallable pre-installed program, and infringement upon my privacy.
Ubuntu has made some poor choices since I first installed it, but still dominates the Linux desktop space, and if it isn't ubuntu, then it’s a derivative of ubuntu like Pop!_OS which I have previously written about.
But more than ever before, now is the time for general Linux adoption amongst the masses as their everyday operating system. Linux is catching on, and that's a good thing. Helped by the cloud revolution, which means most of what people do is shifting to the browser, and is, therefore, accessible cross-platform, people are getting on board.
Boutique laptop companies like System 76 have been joined by big players such as Lenovo and HP, in shipping some models with Linux pre-installed. Gaming is even picking up steam - pun intended - on Linux.
But it's not all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows I am afraid. Linux suffers from probably the poorest marketing imaginable. No, Linux’s success is in many ways in spite of its community, rather than because of it. Not everyone thinks it's fun to spend a weekend installing Arch Linux with the command line.
New users don't want to be inundated with options and opinions on everything from the Graphical User Interface to the package manager. YouTube, Google, and Reddit are awash with reasons why one new distribution is far superior to another, or why one desktop environment is sleeker, prettier, or more libre.
Most of these reviews don't even discuss the actual distribution but rather the desktop environment that it comes installed with, which is entirely customizable in any case. But fundamentally, all of these distributions are, at their core, almost entirely alike and the debate around the perfect Linux distribution only discourages newcomers, and in the worst case, outright intimidates them.
Fortunately, a solution to this conundrum with which the Linux community is faced is readily available.
If the Model T put the world on wheels, then Fedora is going to put the world on Linux. Fedora is the new Ubuntu, or to be more precise, as Ubuntu has become slow and bloated, Fedora has filled the void. It comes with an untampered GNOME desktop environment out of the box. It is clean and stable. It is ideal for seasoned Linux professionals and Linux noobs alike. I use it because I trust it is going to work, and because it’s clean, simple, and uncluttered.
Fedora is a cutting edge rather than bleeding edge distribution. It sits at the intersection of the hard-core Arch community with their rolling updates - which often break - and Ubuntu - which is often months behind. Newcomers - well actually most Linux users generally - don't need the absolute latest packages, but they also don't want to have to wait months and months to receive them either. Fedora gets the balance just right by staying up-to-date but stable at the same time.
Like many of you, I was a serial distro-hopper. I enjoy it, I switch between tiling managers and KDE plasma, Arch, and Debian-based distributions. I live in the terminal and enjoy tinkering and learning. But all of this started with a vanilla Ubuntu installation, and I then took it upon myself to learn more.
Fedora is the new Ubuntu, and it is the perfect on-ramp for new users. There are even Fedora spins for exploring other desktop environments. GNOME might not be to your taste, but it’s simple, and it can always be changed later. You might prefer Pacman, and that's ok, you can switch to Arch later too. The point is, that there needs to be a single, friendly on-ramp for macOS and Windows users looking to give Linux a try.
So the next time a friend or family member asks for help with their old PC, install fedora on it and tell them it’s called Linux.
Also published here.