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CentOS 8 Stream as a Desktop Workstation

masonbee
masonbee CentOS Stream

Since the change from CentOS to CentOS Stream earlier this year I have been wondering whether it would make a good base for a desktop. It turns out that it does as long as you use the EPEL and RPM Fusion repositories along with Flatpak.

I was pleasently surprised how it turned out in the end. It felt very solid, as it should, and I only managed to get it to crash once and that was only Gnome while trying to write to the disk at full speed. It has some quirks you have to get used to such as having to specify the type of wifi encryption or pluging in a drive only to find the exFAT file system isn't recognised but they are all easily solved.

What really makes it usable though is Flatpaks. Without them you would have to use RPM's from outside the immediate ecosystem with possible stability consequences. With them, if you can't find an application with a dnf search then you can generally install it from Flathub.

One downside though is that currently there is no way to update to CentOS Stream 9 (it requires a new install) which might be a pain in the future. It isn't needed right now but it is always good to look ahead. Also, why call it stream if you can't update from release to release? Puddles was taken?

Anyway, here are my installation notes.

Table of Contents

Installation

It's a pretty standard Anaconda installer with a few extra choices such as choosing what type of installation (Workstation in my case) and the default filesystem was XFS. There was a slight surprise when setting up the network because my password was refused as I hadn't specified the wifi encryption type.

Also, I didn't create a root password and ticked the box in Create User so that my user would become the administrator.

Post installation

Update

Post install the first thing I did was open up a terminal and update with,

sudo dnf update

I then answered yes to any questions. Meanwhile I did a little bit of house keeping before and after reboot.

House Keeping

Because I am generally doing other things I like to be able to access my computer remotely. In this case I set my IP address to static in Gnome Settings Wifi changed my hostname in Gnome Settings Detail and activated Screen Sharing in Gnome Settings Sharing.

To get the Screen Sharing to work I also had to open a port in the firewall so after rebooting for the update I installed Firewall from the Software Center, changed the zone for my network to Home and ticked the VPN port to be opened (5900). Finally under the options menu in Firewall I ran Runtime to Permanent to make my alterations stay after reboot.

Screen Sharing then worked (Remmina as the client, Vinagre used too much CPU).

Flatpak

Installing Flatpak is easy as there are instructions on the site. It should be pointed out that the Gnome Software Center can be a little slow with flatpaks so I find it easier just to use the instructions at the bottom of each application and install them from the terminal.

RPM Fusion

First install the EPEL release package.

sudo dnf install --nogpgcheck https://dl.fedoraproject.org/pub/epel/epel-release-latest-8.noarch.rpm

Then the free and non-free repositories.

sudo dnf install --nogpgcheck https://mirrors.rpmfusion.org/free/el/rpmfusion-free-release-8.noarch.rpm https://mirrors.rpmfusion.org/nonfree/el/rpmfusion-nonfree-release-8.noarch.rpm

CentOS Stream 8 also requires the additional step of,

sudo dnf config-manager --enable powertools

Appdata Update

Update your appdata with,

sudo dnf groupupdate core

Multimedia

As per RPM Fusion,

sudo dnf groupupdate multimedia --setop="install_weak_deps=False" --exclude=PackageKit-gstreamer-plugin

Group update,

sudo dnf groupupdate sound-and-video

Install the tainted repo to get libdvdcss,

sudo dnf install rpmfusion-free-release-tainted
sudo dnf install libdvdcss

And the tainted non-free repo

sudo dnf install rpmfusion-nonfree-release-tainted

They also specify to install the drivers from tainted but i didn't as everything seemed to be working.

sudo dnf install \*-firmware

Archives

It is always good to be able to open any archives you run into.

sudo dnf -y install unzip p7zip p7zip-plugins unrar

Extensions

I don't find Gnome to be at its best without a few extensions. In my case I like Dash to Dock and Appindicators at the very least. You also need Gnome Tweaks to configure and activate them.

sudo apt install gnome-tweaks
sudo dnf install gnome-shell-extension-dash-to-dock
sudo dnf install gnome-shell-extension-appindicator

Epilogue

And that is pretty much that. I have enjoyed it but I don't think I will stay with it for long. I have a hankering to install and setup Debian 11 next.