Fedora Kinoite: A fascinating take on the operating system



Fedora Kinoite is a great start to a desktop that might be ideal for business use cases, if it can overcome just one glaring caveat.

Image: jivacore / Shutterstock

Linux distributions have become more and more ubiquitous year after year. As the popularity of the open source desktop increases, so does the number of distributions available. But then, one could say that it has been the case for a very long time. I remember back in the early 2000s it seemed like a new distro was popping up every day, each of them seemingly either trying to find their own special niche or just enjoying the popularity of another distro.

But every now and then something unique pops up to show just how flexible and powerful a Linux distro can be. It is in this category that I place the new Fedora Kinoite Distribution.

SEE: Linux Turns 30: Celebrating the Open Source Operating System (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)

What is Fedora Kinoite?

On the surface, Fedora Kinoite is a redesign of Fedora with the KDE desktop. But once you get through the surface, you find it is much more than that.

At the heart of Fedora Kinoite is Fedora Silverblue. What is Silverblue? It is primarily an immutable operating system, which means the root filesystem is mounted read-only by default. As a result, the likelihood of accidental damage and / or malicious attacks is greatly reduced. So not only do you already have the inherent security of Linux, but you associate it with a read-only root file system and you benefit from a marked increase in security offered by the operating system.

Another difference between Silverblue and other distributions is that the updates are atomic. What does it mean? Atomicity is a basic operating principle that ensures that one of two things will happen:

  • The operation will complete successfully and the state resulting from the action taken will be predictable.
  • If the action fails, the operation will be completely aborted / reversed, and the resulting state will be exactly as it was before attempting the operation.

In other words, any atomic upgrade will either be completely successful (and the operating system will work as expected) or it will fail (and the operating system will continue to work as before the upgrade attempt). This means that no system upgrade will cause the operating system to fail.

This is important for a production office.

Consider the instance of Fedora Kinoite that I created for the purposes of this article. After installing the operating system in VirtualBox, I tried installing the VBoxLinux guest additions (to better interact with the operating system). While running the script, an error occurred with the warning that the file system was mounted read-only. In other words, the installation of this toolkit was not going to happen.

However, installing anything from the KDE Discovery tool went exactly as expected.

SEE: 40+ open source and Linux terms you need to know (TechRepublic Premium)

Why use Fedora Kinoite?

There are two good reasons why one would choose to use Fedora Kinoite. The first is that you want a desktop interface that looks as good as it looks familiar. With KDE Plasma, every user will immediately feel at home. There is hardly any learning curve with this user interface, as it is very similar to Windows 7 (Figure A).

Figure A

kinoïtea.jpg

The KDE Plasma desktop interface is as user-friendly as you will find it to be.

But more than the user-friendly nature of Fedora Kinoite, the immutability of the operating system makes it an outstanding choice for any business use case where a reliable and secure desktop operating system is a top priority. If you need a desktop operating system that is virtually guaranteed to work, even if an upgrade fails, Fedora Kinoite is the best option you’ll find.

The blatant warning

There is one glaring issue that you will face while using Fedora Kinoite and that is the lack of business apps. This should come as a surprise, as most Linux distributions (thanks to Snap and Flatpak) are able to install tools like Slack and Skype without a problem. This is a big problem with Kinoite, however. Even though the distro supports installing Flatpak, no matter how I try, I can’t install Slack or Skype. Actually it doesn’t matter which app I try to install from Flathub.org … the task fails (even after adding the correct Flathub repository with the flatpak remote-add –if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo order).

This is unexpected behavior, since these same applications will install (via Flatpak) on Fedora Desktop without problems. My only guess is that this is either a KDE Discover problem or an immutable desktop function. If it’s the latter, that’s going to be a major issue going forward, especially if Kinoite is to be adopted by businesses as a desktop operating system.

Another problem is that some applications are weirdly placed in KDE Discover. For example, if you search for GIMP (the image editor), you won’t find anything. But if you go to Applications | Graphics | Painting and editing, you will find the GNU image manipulation program. Guess what? It’s GIMP. Why it is listed as such is beyond me.

Likewise, you won’t find an installed email client or even the KDE office suite, Calligra. And if you search for Calligra in the KDE menu, you’ll see an entry like Get Calligra Words. Click on that entry and Discover opens with an error.

That doesn’t bode well, which is a shame because Fedora Kinoite is an absolutely fantastic base from which to build a perfect desktop operating system for businesses. If the developers could fix this major problem, they would have something really special on their hands. Until then, however, Fedora Kinoite is banned unless you need a minimum number of apps.

Hopefully very soon the developers will fix this glaring problem. Until then, I suggest you give Kinoite a try to see what an immutable desktop can do for you.

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