We had noticed a little while ago that Fedora is on the rise when it comes to distros used for Linux Gaming. It was then brought to our attention that Nobara is also a thing, as a derivative of Fedora. But what exactly is Nobara about? And who’s working on it? We asked Glorious Eggroll (of ProtonGE fame, who also happens to drive the Nobara project) to clarify some points for us:
Boiling Steam: It seems like Fedora is becoming a lot more popular these days as a Gaming Distro. What do you think are the key factors explaining this sudden peak of interest?
Glorious Eggroll (GE from there on): Fedora has not only worked on a lot of polish over the last few years (speaking from experience since Fedora 28), but also has been pushing for “firsts” in order to get tech that applies to gaming advanced. Moving to wayland by default was a big step, which involved a lot of problems – but the only way to iron out those problems is to get bug reports, and in order to get bug reports – you need users running the tech causing the problem. The same thing applied to moving to pipewire as a default. Both of those were huge steps and now that a lot of the major bugs have been/are beeing ironed out – the rewards from fixing them are becoming more and more prevalent. Now with both KDE and GNOME (patches pending merge request review) having multi-monitor variable refresh rate support on wayland that is a huge step! Also again with the switch to pipewire many of the complaints from pulseaudio have become things of the past. I also feel the individual efforts of both GNOME and KDE to enhance the user experience and pay attention to user feedback (points at the LTT linux challenge… shudders) have greatly helped. For the longest time I personally refused to use wayland on KDE simply because you could not choose a primary monitor. Man I’m glad they changed that. But again to reiterate my point I think Fedora taking the leap with pushing new technology into use and ‘forcing’ it to get worked on in order to shine has really paid off.
Boiling Steam: Since when is Nobara available? Are you the sole developer at this stage or is there some kind of team?
GE: Right now Nobara mainly consists of myself and Jan (sentry), with a lot of testers/helpers in my Discord server. Jan handles regular maintenance of the kernel and it’s patches while I handle pretty much everything else. I started working on Nobara near the end of last year. I got tired of installing Fedora then having to repeat the same ever-growing list of fixes, configuration changes, repo additions, and so on every time I performed an install on any new machine I used regularly. After working on it a bit privately I realized that Fedora is a very very good base OS (the likes of Debian, Arch, Ubuntu) and so on, yet it was a distro that quite literally no-one made forks off of. Not only that but many bug fixes from Fedora often make their way to Red Hat (and vice versa) – who wouldn’t want that kind of stability while retaining constant upstream fixes and version updates? Fedora has a 6 month release cycle but they are -constantly- updating, patching, and backporting fixes to the packages during that time. Nothing really stagnates for extended periods.
Boiling Steam: Any idea based on download stats or other metrics how popular it has become so far?
GE: I have -no idea-. I haven’t bothered with trying to check any metrics like that. I just made it and put it out there hoping it would help other people besides myself.
Boiling Steam: What is the goal of Nobara?
GE: To put it simply, ease of use. Install the OS, install your games, and have them run out of the box. plug in controllers – have them work out of the box. When you turn on a console and game, you go to the game and boom you’re in and your controllers and accessories all work. Same thing -generally- with gaming on windows sans a few driver installations. People use windows for gaming because they can just install their game and run it, and it’s good to go. Linux CAN ALSO do that, and I want to prove it. I want to show that you don’t need a head full of tech knowledge to play video games on a different OS. At the same time, I also want to prove that you -can- regularly update your system safely -without- the entire system getting hosed or bluescreened or what have you. A lot of people have day jobs and family/kids and can’t always focus on fixing those issues even if we are more than capable of doing so. You just want the damn thing to work when you need it to, ya know?
Boiling Steam: Do you see it as remaining as a Fedora variant or would you want it to be part of “vanilla” Fedora? Or some other end goal?
GE: That’s another reason I chose Fedora as a base – it gets the bleeding edge features without a lot of the bleeding edge cuts and bruises. It’s a good middle buffer between bleeding edge and stability and has proven itself over the years to be very good at its job. I’m confident it will remain based on Fedora unless something out of my control prevents me from using Fedora as a base.
Nobara can never be considered an official Fedora spin/variant because we do not follow Fedora’s 3rd party policies. Most of the answer to this can be found in our EULA, which is provided to the user upon downloading ISOs from our website:
(2) You understand all Nobara-specific packages and code modifications have been created by end-user individuals. There are no companies officially involved.
(3) You understand that this distribution is -NOT- to be considered a ‘Fedora Spin’. It is completely independent project from Fedora, and there are no Fedora developers or parties involved. Nobara uses Fedora packages, code, and repositories. That is the extent of the relation.
(5) This distribution provides third-party repositories and packages which are already enabled and installed for functionality. It does -NOT- conform to Fedora’s 3rd party policies, found here:
By downloading, installing, and using this distribution, you agree that you understand these 3rd party repositories are installed and enabled, and that this distribution ships with some of these packages installed.
There may most definitely be patches/fixes that Nobara reports and/or sends to upstream Fedora, but because of our packaging we will always be different.
It may seem a bit silly to have a EULA – but the goal here is user acknowledgment. Normally, the user installs the OS, then acknowledges within the OS enabling the rpmfusion repos, manually downloading 3rd party packages such as those from ffmpeg or gstreamer, possibly missing a dependency and having issues. Instead – we get the acknowledgement upfront. We say “hey – we’re enabling these repos for you and installing these packages so that your games will work without missing dependencies – but we need you to agree that you understand this”. By shifting the acknowledgement from within the OS to before even downloading the ISO – it avoids the user having to perform several extra, possibly error-prone steps (enabling repos, installing packages via gui or terminal, forgetting various dependencies).
We hope you may now be interested into this project, and potentially take it up for a spin! In any case, you can follow the ongoing work on Nobara on their website.