Fedora 38 GNOME desktop

Fedora 38 introduces two new spins, one with the Budgie desktop environment and one with the Sway tiling window manager. Its GNOME spin moves to GNOME 44. Fedora 38 also removes restrictions and whitelisting from its flatpak implementation.

Fedora 38 was released on April 18, 2023. So that you know what to expect when you install it, we took the beta for a spin to see what’s new in this Linux distribution’s latest release.

Fedora Linux 38: Another Strong Release

Fedora 38 is here. You can expect updated applications, refreshed desktop environments including a step up to GNOME 44, and two new desktop environment options. One of these is Budgie, and the other is a tiling window manager called Sway.

Fedora Linux has always placed stability at the core of everything they do. Fedora 37 was delayed several times until they were happy it was ready to be shipped. Fedora isn’t a Linux distribution for those who want to live on the cutting edge. It’s a distribution for those who need reliability, and expect their computer and applications to work every time they turn it on.

Evidently, this is a popular viewpoint. Fedora continues to go from strength to strength. Fedora 38 has an early final target date of April 18. If required, the date can be pushed back to April 25 as the final target date.

When Fedora 38 was in beta, we fired up a copy to give you the lowdown on what to expect in this distribution release that’s now hit the streets.

RELATED: What Is Fedora Linux?

More Desktop Choices

Fedora 38 comes with refreshed versions of many of its supported desktop environments. The most popular versions or “spins” use Xfce 4.18, KDE Plasma 5.27, MATE 1.26, LXQt 1.2.0, and GNOME 44.

New with this release are two new official spins. One features the Budgie desktop that was developed as the default desktop environment for Solus Linux, and the other is a tiling window manager called Sway. Sway works with i3 configuration files.

RELATED: What Is GNOME in Linux?


The default Fedora spin ships with GNOME 44. GNOME launches a new release of its desktop environment every six months or so. This release doesn’t deliver the type of radical changes that came with GNOME 40, but it does still pack in plenty of refinements and neat touches.

System Menu and Quick Settings

The system menu has had some improvements. Each quick settings button now supports two lines of text. The label for the button is shown in large text, and—where applicable—its current setting is shown below it in smaller text.

The Fedora 38 GNOME system menu

For example, the “Power Mode” button will show the current power mode, and the Wi-Fi button will show the name of the connected Wi-Fi network.

There’s a new “Screenshot” icon in the top-left corner. This opens up the screenshot tool. It behaves exactly as if you’d pressed the “PrtSc” button on your keyboard.

If you have background applications running, the system menu will show a new entry at the bottom of the menu. It tells you how many background applications you have running.

The Fedora 38 GNOME system menu with the background applications line highlighted

Clicking the arrow opens the “Background Apps” menu.

The Fedora 38 GNOME system menu with the background applications pane expanded

This lists the background applications. You can close them by clicking the “x” beside the name of the application you want to close.

It’s pretty basic. It doesn’t let you interact with the applications in any other way. You can’t right-click a menu entry to obtain a context menu, for example, so it isn’t a replacement for tray icons. Perhaps that will come in future releases.

File Browser

The file browser now uses thumbnails, when it can, to depict files.

The Fedora 38 file browser showing thumbnails in the file view

This is something users have been asking for, for a long time.

Another long-awaited and frequently-requested enhancement has made it into this release. That’s the ability to have expandable or navigable directories in the list view.

The Fedora 38 GNOME file browser with expandable directories in list view

This has to be enabled in the files browser’s settings. Click on the hamburger menu and select Preferences > General.

Usefully, long filenames are truncated with the ellipsis “...” is shown in the middle of the filename, not at the end. This means you can still see what type of file it is.

The Fedora 38 file browser truncating a filename int he middle, so that the file type is still visible

Tabs have received some attention too. Right-clicking a tab opens a context menu that allows you to close the tab, close all other tabs, re-open a closed tab, move the tab left or right, or open the tab in a new window.

The Fedora 38 file browser tab context menu

A neat addition is the ability to paste a copied image and create an image file. Right-clicking an image in a web browser and selected “Copy Image” from the context menu, then right-clicking in Files and selecting “Paste” from the context menu creates a file called “Pasted Image.”

The Fedora 38 file browser with a pasted image turned into a file

GNOME Console Terminal Emulator

The GNOME terminal emulator, console , now has a tabs overview mode. Hitting ” Ctrl+Shift+O” opens the overview screen.

The GNOME console terminal emulator showing the tab overview

The overview shows a thumbnail of each tab. You can close tabs, drag them to reorder them, and open a new tab. Clicking a thumbnail closes the overview and takes you to the that tab.

Settings Application

The Settings application has had some improvements too. The Settings > Network > VPN dialog now offers Wireguard VPN as an option.

The Wireguard VPN configuration pane int he Fedora 38 Settings application

RELATED: What Is the Best VPN Protocol? OpenVPN vs. WireGuard vs. SSTP and More

On a Wi-Fi connections, you can display a QR code. Devices that scan this code get all the information they need to connect to the Wi-Fi network, so only let trusted people scan it.

The “About” pane now shows the kernel version.

The Fedora 38 Settings application About pane showing the kernel version

The “Accessibility” pane has been reconfigured to categorize the options into groups. This makes locating an option much easier.

The Fedora 38 Settings application Accessibility pane

The “Keyboard” and “Mouse and Touchpad” panes have been redesigned, making them clearer and easier to understand.

The “Mouse and Touchpad” pane allows you to configure gestures as well as mouse settings.

The Fedora 38 Settings application Mouse pane

Other GNOME Tweaks

The login screen now uses a blurred version of your desktop wallpaper as its background, and the user avatar is bigger.

The Fedora 38 login page

Mutter has better Wayland integration, which should be most noticeable when you’re using Wayland fractional scaling.

Work continues to root out and replace all of the old GTK3 code.

Unrestricted Flatpaks

To install software, Fedora has always had a GUI-based Software application and dnf, the terminal window tool. It also comes with flatpak pre-installed.

The dnf tool and the Software application both used to point back to the Fedora repositories. This meant they they installed the applications from RPM files, the native Red Hat package management system.

Repositories in flatpak parlance are called remotes. The Fedora flatpak implementation used to point back to a Fedora remote. Savvy users could enable other remotes, but Fedora’s flatpak used a whitelisting scheme that prevented some proprietary applications, or unofficial applications, or even applications that came with prescriptive—in Fedora’s view—licensing terms.

Fedora 38 changes that. It removes all whitelisting and filtering and provides unrestricted access to the wider flatpak ecosystem. Of course, dnf works the way it always did, but the flatpak implementation is now that of vanilla flatpak .

The flatpak changes also roll through to the Software application. Now, when you install an application, you’re able to see whether it is available as an RPM or as a flatpak in the Fedora remote or another remote such as flathub.

The installation type menu in the Fedora 39 Software application

You can then make an informed decision about which one to install.

Software Versions

As expected, many of the bundled software packages have been updated. Here are the versions of some of the major applications.

  • Kernel: 6.2.8-300.fc38.x86_64
  • LibreOffice: (X86_64)
  • Boxes: 44.0-stable
  • GCC: 13.0
  • binutils: 2.39
  • glibc: 2.37
  • GNU Debugger: 12.1
  • GNU Make: 4.4
  • Golang: 1.2
  • Ruby: 3.2
  • PHP: 8.2

Another Great Release from Fedora

Fedora continues to shine with its latest release. There’s a comforting robustness and sense of considered engineering about Fedora. To some users who are used to distributions that inhabit the dangerous frontiers of the cutting edge, Fedora might feel a little staid. The flip side of that is Fedora is reliable and stable. And that’s one of its benefits.

Just because a distribution is cautious and holds dependability as an important guiding premise, that doesn’t mean it can’t look good, run fast, and be a pleasure to use.

You can get started by downloading the official desktop version of Fedora 38 from Fedora Workstation page. If you’d prefer to use a different desktop than GNOME, try one of the spins instead. Install it on a computer or in a virtual machine, and see what we’re so enthused about.

Profile Photo for Dave McKay Dave McKay
Dave McKay first used computers when punched paper tape was in vogue, and he has been programming ever since. After over 30 years in the IT industry, he is now a full-time technology journalist. During his career, he has worked as a freelance programmer, manager of an international software development team, an IT services project manager, and, most recently, as a Data Protection Officer. His writing has been published by  howtogeek.com, cloudsavvyit.com, itenterpriser.com, and opensource.com. Dave is a Linux evangelist and open source advocate.
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