What is Fedora Onyx?

As usual, Fedora 39 comes with the latest updates for the GNOME desktop environment.

But this release also introduces a new immutable alternative to Silverblue based on the Budgie desktop environment. Its name is Fedora Onyx.

First, what is Budgie?

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Budgie is a desktop environment for free and open source operating systems that has been available since 2014. Initial development focused on the Solus distribution.

Budgie is an attractive option for those who like simpler desktops like XFCE, MATE and Cinnamon but want a bit more sophistication.

What does Immutable mean?

Immutable desktop is a computer where you cannot change system files. The core system is read-only and will all be replaced with a newer version whenever an update is available. This way, your computer doesn't show up as unbootable due to a corrupted program.

If problems arise, you can roll back to previous versions of the operating system. You can also safely test newer, beta versions of your desktop or distro environment.

Although you rarely see the word "immutable" in advertising, many consumer-facing operating systems already achieve this, including Android, ChromeOS, iOS and macOS. The Linux version that appears on Valve's Steam Deck also cannot be changed.

What's different about Fedora Onyx?

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Anyone comfortable with Fedora Budgie will find much of it familiar. At a glance, the two projects are identical. In fact, if you're familiar with Budgie, the good news is that Fedora Onyx hasn't changed the formula. The interface here is largely the same as what you'll encounter if you download Solus.

What differentiates Fedora Onyx is the same as what differentiates Fedora Silverblue from Fedora Workstation.

  1. You use rpm-ostree in terminal to manage updates instead of dnf .
  2. The application comes in Flatpak package format. Fedora offers a number of applications in its own Flatpak repository, but you can find more applications on Flathub.
  3. You can add the RPM application to the system image with the rpm-ostree install command and reboot your system afterwards. Applications installed this way will appear in the applications menu.
  4. You can use toolbx to create a container where you install the application using dnf . Applications installed this way will not appear in the application menu.
  5. You can easily switch between Fedora Onyx, Silverblue, Kinote, Sodalite, and other Flatpak-only desktops without damaging or cluttering your PC.

You can download Fedora Onyx from the Fedora Project website.

Should I use Fedora Onyx?

Budgie may be newer than MATE and XFCE, but it still has a lot in common with a slightly more outdated desktop environment than what you'd find on a modern PC. If you like that traditional experience, Fedora Onyx is a way to keep the interface comfortable while adopting newer technologies underneath.