Initial Feedback on the Community and Distro Itself

Introduction & Intent

Hi everyone, I hope this post finds you all well. I've been using Garuda's GNOME edition for a couple weeks now, and I recently joined the forum. In my time so far, I've really enjoyed Garuda and everything it offers. Here, I'm hoping to provide some constructive feedback about a number of things I've noticed. I'll do my best to organize everything. Nothing here is a strict suggestion or overt criticism, and I hope this is the right place and manner to say all this. If you just want the really relevant stuff skip to "The Distro Itself"

The Community

  • Besides the link on the Garuda startpage, I didn't find any specific documentation on joining the Matrix server. Maybe I missed it, but as someone new to Matrix I was initially confused about the account hosting and login process.
  • The forum is fantastic! Everything is organized, clearly delineated, and the existing guides are very good. Everyone is very repsonsive, and there's a positive nature to most of it.
  • The wiki is also very good. As I get deeper into my Garuda journey, it's something I plan to contribute to when I have something of value to add, and the steps for doing so are nice and outlined.

The Distro Itself

Note: There are probably good reasons for how things are done, and I already have a lot of respect for the devs here and their choices. These just represent my early observations.

  • After removing the built-in DarkReader extension, it was reinstalled whenever I updated FireDragon. I figure that's because the extension files stay on the disk? Not a big deal, maybe unavoidable/intended, but present nonetheless.
  • The GDM Wayland option in Garuda Assistant, and maybe the default configs for GNOME/X11/Wayland, might have something weird going on. Though the setting itself is disabled by default, the #WaylandEnable=false line in /etc/gdm/custom.conf is still commented out. GDM theoretically defaults to a Wayland backend when this is the case, but enabling the option in the Assistant made no changes to /etc/gdm/custom.conf or anywhere else I could find yet clearly caused something to change. This probably deserves its own post, which I may make at some point.
    • On top of this, all of the packages necessary to use the GNOME shell itself under Wayland or X11 are already present out of the box, which I think is standard for GNOME installs, but the option to choose Wayland required manually enabling via instead setting WaylandEnable=true in the mentioned custom.conf. This and the above situation make it unclear what the intended behaviors are.
  • The default shell configuration is a little bit confusing, for reasons noted below.
    • The presence of both ~/.bashrc and ~/.bashrc_garuda in the home directory. The ~/.bashrc_garuda doesn't appear to be sourced by default, is it just there to provide the option?
    • The use of fish as the custom shell for the terminal, but bash as the system default, initially threw me off. Now, I prefer it, as I love the end-user experience of fish in the terminal, but found occasional issues with using it as the system shell in the past.
    • Different values for QT_QPA_PLATFORMTHEME are set in ~/.profile and ~/.config/fish/config.fish, but in the default configuration (fish for the terminal, and bash for the shell), neither appear to be sourced. I use Kvantum Manager to make my Qt-based apps play nice with my theme, so this isn't an issue, but it is odd.
    • On my previous install, setting the default shell to zsh with the "Install default shell configs" option did place new configs, but still resulted in the zsh first-run screen showing up when I launched the GNOME terminal without the usr/bin/fish custom command enabled. I haven't used zsh alot, and had done some other funky configs, so I can't say if this is the expected behavior or not.
  • It's noted here that wireplumber is preferred over the installed pipewire-media-session, but I don't think that's a big deal. I haven't switched to WirePlumber personally, as I'm having no issues with audio now. However, on my previous installation I was experiencing consistent crackling on any audio output, and oddly high gain on my mic in, which was only possible to troubleshoot via WirePlumber. This was after a host of my own potentially inadvisable modifications though, so I have no idea whether any of that was my fault.
  • The inclusion of all the Garuda-specific configs in ~/.config/ for the apps listed in the Garuda Assistant, regardless of whether I chose to install them or not, feels a little weird. It seems like if the Garuda Assistant can reset these configs, it could also just add them as needed. But then again, if they're going to be somewhere out of the box regardless, I guess it might as well already be where they're relevant. I don't really have any issue with a handful of loose files that I might use at some point, and if you need to they're easy and (I think probably) safe to delete. It also occurs to me that automatically enabling these configs upon installation of the specific apps might require additional pacman post-install hooks, so if that's the case I can see why this is done instead.

Conclusion

I haven't faced anything unmanageable with Garuda and the overall experience has been fantastic. I've expressed how blown away I am by the distro in other posts/comments, but I'll say again here how much I appreciate the work of the devs.

If anyone has any insights on the things I've mentioned, please let me know! I may bring forth some of the specifics here in their own posts on the relevant sections of the forum, this is just where I've put my initial notes together (and I don't just want to spam the forum with each individual thing). Also, if any of these things might be worth documenting on the wiki and/or in the form of a general/GNOME-specific guide here on the forum, I'd be more than happy to whip something up. I'd love to contribute what I can, and could compile my own info alone or work with devs // more experienced community members.

Cheers!

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Nice complete review, I learned a few things while reading it!

Speaking of which, what issues have you hit by using the system shell as fish?
I changed mine recently from bash to fish, to match my terminal, but haven't found any impact.

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The weird result comes mainly from the very strongly opinionated Gnome/GDM devs IMHO.

As a note, there are two things that need to be separated:

  • GDM: on Wayland or on Xorg
  • Gnome: on Wayland or on Xorg

IIUC Archwiki/GDM, there is also a udev rule for that.

I think you will find the linked article interesting, if not already read.

If QT_QPA_PLATFORMTHEME is not properly set to qt5ct (if I'm not wrong), and set the kvantum as controler in Qt5ct settings, you wouldn't be able to control Qt5/6 settings with Kvantum, AFAIK from experience (but have not been using Gnome lately).

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To be fair to the fish shell, it is a younger project, and my issues with it came up a bit earlier in the projects development. It improves by the day, and I know it's making strides in the right direction.

A select few apps, I can't recall specifically but I do know they were mostly more niche programs, seemed to run a bit slower and hit occasional snags. There was also a window manager or two that supposedly wouldn't play nice. It's likely because fish isn't fully POSIX-compliant and, while it is possible to run normal .sh scripts under the shell, it seems to handle them a bit differently.

Glad you got something out of the post! I doubt you'll face anything too odd using fish nowadays and it really is a lovely thing.

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Thanks for the response!

I figured the initial configuration with regards to Wayland had to be the result of specific decisions, so that makes sense. Nothing I couldn't deal with, and I do understand some of the ire directed at Wayland in general.

Yeah, I realize I wasn't super clear on this in my original post. I wasn't able to tell whether GDM itself was using an X11 or Wayland backend before or after choosing that setting in the Assistant. However, that setting alone produced changes in behavior in apps once back in the GNOME Shell still under X11. Enabling the option in GDM's custom.conf enabled selecting the option to use Wayland for the shell itself. I've never had to do that as most other GNOME distros I've used came with both enabled, so I'm not sure if that's the expected behavior in this case, but it wasn't much of an issue.

I did trawl through the whole GDM Archwiki page before making this post in case there was anything glaring I missed. The udev rule seems NVIDIA-specific so I brushed over it initially as I'm not using an NVIDIA card, but I'll look into it, thanks for the tip!

I don't have the QT_QPA_PLATFORMTHEME set to anything as far as I can tell, I checked through what both bash and fish had listed as the set environment variables. Installing Kvantum immediately caused my Qt5/6 apps to start using the native GNOME titlebars from my theme even prior to installing any themes and without Qt5ct installed at all. Not sure what the deal is there. Since I'd already achieved the desired behavior I didn't poke into this one as thoroughly but I'll do a bit more digging now.

It was my impression that bash sources ~/.profile automatically, but it only contains a handful of env vars that mostly aren't relevant to me so I'm not pressed about it either way.

Thanks again!

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