Updated: January 2, 2019
A conflicting message, you might say. After all, I wasn't too happy with what Fedora 29 delivered on me old laptop with Nvidia, 'twas basically a no-go, but the experience with this distro on my Lenovo G50 machine was pretty good, and there, we had an in-vivo upgrade. And so I decided, despite the woes and problems what I encountered, to actually give you a fresh pimping guide for Fedora.
This is not a new thing, and we've done this many times before. As a baseline, check my Fedora 24 & 25 customization guides, and also, don't forget CentOS, for the idea is very similar. Then, more recently, I've also shown you how to make Fedora 28 very pretty and slick, and today, we shall attempt something similar with the latest release. Follow me.
This is the first step and still needed. There are two ways you can go about this. One, Gnome Software lets you enable third-party support, but this means you can only install software through the UI. This means you should install RPM Fusion Free and Non-Free packages so you can do also command-line work with dnf.
Download the two packages and then open/install through Gnome software or install them with dnf:
dnf install <rpm fusion package name>.rpm
Now that you have the repos, you can install whatever you like. My (short) list runs as follows:
dnf install thunderbird vlc gimp steam
Chrome & Skype
These two are quite popular, so you might want them, too. The easiest way to configure them is just to download the RPM packages and install them. Again, like RPM Fusion, either on the command line or through Gnome Software. Both will configure their own repositories for future updates, so you do not need to worry about that. If still in doubt, look at my Fedora 24 & 25 guides.
dnf install <locally downloaded google-chrome-* or skype-* package>.rpm
Another very important tool is Gnome Tweak Tool (GTT). It lets you customize your system behavior, so you can change the Gnome defaults to something more productive. We will talk about the steps you need to take to make Fedora look and behave dandy in a moment.
dnf install gnome-tweak-tool
You also want your distro to be legible. There are two things you need to do here - maybe three. Now, we need GTT. Under Fonts, change anti-aliasing to Subpixel (for LCD screens), and keep hinting at Slight. You may also want to consider additional fonts, like Ubuntu, which are the best fonts in Linux overall. I showed you this in the Fedora 28 customization article.
sudo cp <new fonts, e.g. Ubuntu>.ttf /usr/share/fonts/
fc-cache -f -v
The third tweak is to change the font color. This will depend on your theme. Now, we still haven't done any theme changes, but if you believe the fonts are too pale, and in most distros and in most situations, they will be, then you can edit your Gnome theme. You can change the color value to pure black for best contrast, provided you're using a light desktop (like duh), or white fonts for dark themes.
Basic desktop tweaks
The next step is to make the distro faster to use, i.e productive. In GTT, under Windows, turn Min and Max window buttons on. Go to Gnome Extensions and install the Gnome browser addon. This will allow you to install Gnome extensions, which further enhance/extend the desktop functionality. The following items are super useful:
- User Themes - allows loading new Gnome shell themes; we'll need for later (GTT > Appearance).
- Extensions - an inceptive extension to easily toggle extensions on/off.
- Places Status Indicator.
- Media Player Indicator.
- Show Desktop Button (by JSZVB); currently broken but quite useful (not needed with Dash to Panel).
New themes & icons
You can go wild here. But essentially, some of the fine art that you can get from Gnome Art includes the following themes: Breeze, Yaru, Gnome-PRO GTK, Mc-OS-themes. As for icons, my personal choice would be one of these: Numix, Papirus, La Capitaine, Suru, or Faenza. Download and extra the archives with the relevant themes, and then copy them over to: ~/.themes and ~/.icons, respectively. Create the folders if they do not exist.
Something sweet and practical:
And that's it. Now if you look back at my earlier articles, some things have definitely improved over the past couple of years. You don't need to worry so much about music support, you need fewer packages and third-party sources, plus it's easier to set them up, and things are working more smoothly overall. Hence, this guide can be shorter and just as effective.
In the end, making Fedora 29 suitable for everyday use includes a bunch of Gnome tweaks, fresh themes and icons, some third-party repos and software, fonts, and you're good to go. If you type fast, you can probably get all this done in about half an hour of leisurely work. But should you? Well, that's the matter of taste and sheer practicality. Gnome 3 won't be my day-to-day desktop, for sure, but it ain't ugly and can be made reasonable, so if you're inclined that way, you might as well Gnome with style. To wit, we end. Scene.