Nobara Linux 39 Released, Ditches GNOME in Favor of Plasma

Nobara 39 brings Nvidia driver updates for Wayland compatibility, Gamscope-session improvements, cleaner SteamOS session handling, and more.

Nobara Linux, a Fedora-based distribution designed specifically for gamers and content creators, has officially released its latest version, Nobara 39, just in time for the holiday season.

Based on Fedora 39 and powered by Linux kernel 6.6, the new release brings many updates and improvements, enhancing its users’ gaming and creative experience, so let’s see what it has in store for us.

Nobara Linux 39 Key Highlights

Nobara Linux 39 with Plasma 5.27 Desktop Environment
Nobara Linux 39 with Plasma 5.27 Desktop Environment

Shift to KDE Plasma

KDE enthusiasts have reason to rejoice since the highlight of this release is that starting with Nobara 39, the distro has moved from GNOME to Plasma as its primary desktop environment.

Here are the main reasons driving this decision:

  • Variable Refresh Rate/Freesync Functionality: Unlike GNOME, which still requires patched-in VRR functionality, KDE supports this feature inherently.
  • DRM Leasing for VR: Essential for VR in Wayland, DRM leasing is a feature well-implemented in KDE but faces challenges in GNOME.
  • Fractional Scaling: KDE supports this feature more robustly than GNOME, which remains experimental.
  • Integration with Steam: KDE’s default use in Steam Deck ensures continuous updates and improvements directly benefiting KDE users.

In light of this, Nobara 39 ships with the latest Plasma 5.27.10 and Frameworks 5.111.0. In addition, the KDE Gear apps collection has also been bumped to version 23.08.4, enhancing the user experience.

Changes in GNOME Shell Extensions

Due to the shift to KDE, several Nobara-modified GNOME shell extensions have been either removed or reverted to their Fedora-shipped versions. However, certain key features and patches are being retained in GNOME.

To upgrade from the older GNOME-based Nobara to the KDE version, you can make the switch in Nobara 38 before you upgrade by following the steps in this guide.

Nvidia Driver Changes

Nobara 39 introduces Nvidia’s 545.29.06 drivers from the New Feature branch, along with necessary patches for Wayland compatibility, addressing issues faced by various Nvidia GPU models.

OBS Studio Changes

In OBS Studio, the AMD AMF encoder patch has been removed, and the FFmpeg encoder has been upgraded, providing superior performance and compatibility for various encoding formats.

Furthermore, global enabling of “OBS_VKCAPTURE=1” and patching for native Wayland support GLFW, an OpenGL library, improve the overall user experience.

Nobara Welcome App Improvements

Nobara Welcome App
Nobara Welcome App

In Nobara 39, the Welcome app has seen several changes. Notably, it now offers options for installing Steam Game Fixups and Davinci Resolve Fixups, enhancing support for certain games and creative software.

The app has also removed the need for AMD Pro/Proprietary drivers, reflecting advancements in FFmpeg’s Video Acceleration API (VA-API) plugins.

Gamscope-Session Rebase and Improvements

Nobara 39 introduces significant enhancements to the gamescope-session, a key component for game session management. These improvements include the relocation of DM (Display Manager) service restarts to “/usr/bin/gamescope-session-plus” for cleaner session closures, integration with GDM and SDDM, and streamlined session selection and closure processes.

Furthermore, a new desktop “Return” shortcut and a “steamos-desktop-return” script for clean shuts down of the Steam client have been added, improving the overall user experience.

Steam Package Enhancements

The update brings crucial improvements to the Steam package, addressing compatibility and performance issues. It includes adding the libextest library for better controller support and a Steam download improvement.

Miscellaneous Updates

Nobara 39 includes adding new plasma packages, kernel patches for full Steam Deck OLED support, an upgrade to DNF5 for package management, a second set of mirrors for repository hosting, and a switch to Chromium as the default browser.

Moreover, the Update System app has been reworked for a cleaner GUI and improved update process. It now includes integrated media codec updates and a streamlined update notification system.

Nobara System Updater
Nobara System Updater

Those interested in the technical details and the complete list of changes in Nobara 39 can refer to the release announcement. Upgrading from the previous 38 release to 39 is described here.

The distribution is available for download from the project website in three variants. In addition to the official one, featuring a customized Plasma theme, GNOME and KDE editions provide a vanilla desktop experience.

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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