Ubuntu or Fedora. Which one is for you?
For some, Ubuntu 8.10 was something of a disappointment. Not because it is bad, which it is not, but because is feels more like slightly refreshed Ubuntu 8.04 rather than a new release.
For one, Ubuntu’s promised desktop interface overhaul is still not in evidence and that was promised two releases ago. And then there is the fact that apart from a few minor tweaks it looks every but the same as ubuntu 8.04. Which is not good considering the ongoing talk from founder Mark Shuttleworth of how the Linux desktop must be as appealing as Mac OS X. Right now it feels as if Ubuntu is making no ground on that goal.
Fedora 10 on the other hand, does feel a fresher and slightly more exciting but then it is hard to draw too much from the comparison because the default Gnome versions on both of these desktops is the latest 2.24.1 release. So they both benefit from great new features such as the new tabbed file manager and a host of new default applications.
One of the things that Ubuntu does get right with this release is the much improved networking tool. In fact both distributions use the same base tool but each have additional tweaks in it. Ubuntu’s approach has been to improve its 3G capabilities, which it has done exceedingly well. In most cases inserting a 3G card or USB modem will automatically kick off the connection tool and connect the user to the relevant network. This alone makes Ubuntu worth a try.
Fedora on the other hand has added the capability to create ad-hoc networks using machines in a specific vicinity. So, for example, users in a common office could create an ad-hoc network between themselves without needing to have a dedicated router. Which is ideal for occasional situations but not a long-term solution.
Much of the differences between Fedora and Ubuntu now come down to the way that the two manage applications and the need to install new packages. Fedora still has an RPM-based system while Ubuntu has an APT-based system for managing software.
Given recent developments with RPM, choosing between the two is relatively hard. APT has, for sometime now, had the upper hand when it came to resolving package dependencies automatically. But with the inclusion of PackageKit – first introduced in Fedora 9 but now greatly improved – Fedora’s package management system looks like it could be every bit as good as Ubuntu’s in the next couple of releases.
One consideration when choosing between the two distributions is the amount of support that new, and seasoned, users can expect. Because both are open source community projects this is not a case of paying for support. Rather it comes down to the amount of support available online.
There is a strong case to suggest that Ubuntu wins this battle with ease. A simple search on Google for any Ubuntu support topics turns up tens of thousands – or even hundreds of thousands – of results. Typically, Fedora also has many thousands of results for the same search but it tends to be ten or 20 percent fewer than for Ubuntu.
In most cases, choosing between Fedora and Ubuntu comes down to personal preference, although Ubuntu’s support and package management make it a contender for the best Linux distribution.