Friday, July 1, 2011

Fuduntu 14.10 Review

Back when I first tested and REVIEWED Fuduntu (14.7), I found it a bit lacking in certain areas, most of which were somehow linked to its Fedora inheritance. In fact, one of my main issues back then was that the influence of the distro it derived from was still way too evident. My review goes in detail into what my experience was like, so I recommend reading it to better understand how far release 14.10 has got.

Having talked with Fuduntu's lead developer Andrew Wyatt for some time now, I knew he wanted to keep pushing Fuduntu towards becoming a distro that could stand on its own, with a unique character. I kept checking back on it every now and after skipping a few releases that sounded interesting (but were perhaps too close to my first review), 14.10 felt like a great opportunity to find out what was happening at Fuduntu camp.

SO... WHAT'S NEW?

In the Official Fuduntu 14.10 ANNOUNCEMENT there is plenty of information around new features, packages and tweaks. Here's a brief summary including some highlights:

Features

-Linux kernel 2.6.39.1
-Adobe Flash 10.3
-Chromium 12
-Shotwell 0.10.1
-EXT4 is now our default filesystem during installation
-Support for nVidia (akmod-nvidia), and ATI** (akmod-catalyst) proprietary drivers
-A tool to help simplify customizing your installation
-A Theme refresh, correcting several bugs and streamlining the look and feel.
-New background choices
-New tweaks to improve Flash playback
-Bug fixes
-As always, the quarterly patch rollup

Default Applications (for new installations only)

-Chromium 12
-Google Mail
-Empathy
-Google Docs
-Banshee
-VLC

As you can see, there are lots of interesting things listed here. Let's see if Fuduntu 14.10 lives up to its expectations.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

After an interestingly looking boot up Plymouth theme, anything from the GDM theme to the default wallpaper and GTK theme, including a highly customized application catalog and a nice AWN menu at the bottom, screams uniqueness. Fuduntu 14.10 feels a lot more like an entity of its own, not so much a slightly customized Fedora desktop anymore.


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The set of default wallpapers incorporates a few new custom Fuduntu ones along with some GNOME classics. I personally like the Fuduntu creations, even if I find them too dark at times myself (probably better for battery life but perhaps not the best choice aesthetically given how laptops spend lots of hours in screen saving mode).


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Many of the Look&Feel elements that were part of previous versions return almost unchanged, like the custom GTK+ theme, Faenza Cuppertino icon theme, fonts, etc.


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Being the customization freak I am, it didn't take long before I changed things my way. Equinox GTK engine, Droid Fonts, standard Faenza and Conky Lunatico came together for quite a make up. Looking sexy, huh?


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APPLICATIONS

The application catalog also gained a character of its own, and I must admit I love where it's heading. Some of the choices that captured my interest the most have to do with leaning towards cloud applications, particularly Google related products. Chromium 12 is now the default browser, which is a great choice (I would have chosen Firefox 5, though, given its superior integration within the Linux desktop).


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When it comes to desktop Gmail and Google Docs, I wonder if this choice was somehow influenced by Peppermint OS. Any way you look at it, though, saving the space an Office suite (honestly, how many people really use OpenOffice or LibreOffice, let alone get the most out of them?) and an email client would take is a good idea.


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It could be argued that users are limited in what they can do offline (in fact, that's another argument to not use Chromium, as it does not support Gmail offline functionality), but with 3G and Wireless devices flying all over the place, chances are offline time shall be minimal.


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Other perhaps more common application choices include Shutter, Shotwell, VLC, Banshee, Cheese Webcam Booth, GIMP and Nautilus Elementary, to name about a few. I personally love these choices, as they are mostly what I use myself, but things got even better when I found Dropbox preinstalled as well!


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IT'S IN THE DETAILS

After using Fuduntu 14.10 quite regularly for a few days, I started to really notice how good a release it was. In the past, I have always found Fedora releases quite slow in terms of performance (not Fedora 15, though), at least when compared with Ubuntu and derivatives. It was hard to explain, but day to day activities always seemed to take longer in Fedora and, consequently, and the same applied in my Fuduntu 14.7 testing.

This time around, though, I noticed a big difference. Fuduntu 14.10 provides a snappy response, maybe just lacking when it comes to install/update packages, but I think that's the downside of using RPM packages (it has other advantages, though). Other than that, from booting up to logging in and opening applications, it feels fast and responsive. These performance improvements probably owe a lot to the enhancements introduced by Andrew and his team, some of which he discusses in the INTERVIEW I recently published.

Jupiter also provides an improvement in energy management. When I first tested Fuduntu, I must admit I didn't really notice much of an improvement, but my informal tests this time around show longer battery life.

One thing I miss in Jupiter, though, is the ability to manually tweak it to my liking. In that regard, KDE does a really good job providing several energy management profiles, all of them customizable. It does not stop there, for users can also decide when each profile kicks in. To provide a quick example, high performance profiles usually turn screen brightness all the way up, which may not be necessary with newer devices that already incorporate very bright screens. Therefore, what if I want to configure screen brightness for the high performance profile to be at 85%? Similarly, what if I want to trigger power saver profile when battery life is at 45%? I think those are parameters that most users with portable devices would like to be able to customize. Moreover, this approach is not necessarily intrusive, it wouldn't really require any extra effort from users. They would still be able to use default profiles if they so choose, but if they want to customize them, then the option is there. I would love to see something like this come to Jupiter moving forward.

So far I haven't been somewhat negative about the Fuduntu Fedora inheritance, but that's unfair, there are certainly many great things coming from it. One thing that I found pretty cool from a user stand point came about when I was trying to download a torrent file. I double clicked on the torrent file and the system detected that there was no default torrent downloader. I was then presented with a list of options to install. I chose Transmission, went ahead with the installation and that was it, I was set! Very neat and tidy!

HARDWARE

In terms of hardware support, Fuduntu 14.10 partially passed my HP 2740p test. Having Kernel 2.39 series onboard, I was confident it would recognize its Intel HD video card, which it did, but it failed to do the same with its infamous Broadcom wireless card. Most distros I have tried have failed at this very same trial, but Zorin OS 5 did not, so there is room for improvement here. Similarly, Ubuntu and its derivatives do a great job noticing that the firmware is not available on the machine but can be downloaded, offering the end user the option to do so at will. Fedora, and consequently Fuduntu, are not there yet.

Other hardware recognition tests I ran involved printers and photo cameras, all of which were successful. Bluetooth worked smoothly as well, but I must admit I didn't test any Webcams.

GETTING THERE QUICKLY

Fuduntu is a fork of Fedora, but it is also inspired in Ubuntu, which shows. Its goal of providing a great Linux distro for tablets and laptops while offering a smooth user experience and overall ease of use is certainly closer now than it was just six months ago. This is nothing short of amazing, for Fedora requires much more polishing than Ubuntu if the goal is to create an easy to use laptop/desktop distro. During the few days I have been using Fuduntu, it somewhat reminded me of Moon OS, a great Ubuntu fork, which is quite an achievement considering where each of them starts from.

All in all, Fuduntu 14.10 is a great release which I recommend to anybody, even users who have historically used Ubuntu. Fedora fans will surely enjoy the smoother user experience, but even Linux novices will find lots to enjoy.

Congratulations to the Fuduntu team for a fine piece of work, can't wait to see how it continues to evolve, specially now that GNOME3 is available.

10 comments:

  1. I tried Fuduntu last evening and liked it very much until I tried to update the system and add new applications. In comparison, Fedora repos seem to fly. Perhaps I hit a bad day but unless they can improve the repos performance, this is a show stopper for me.

    despite the above, Congrats to the developers for doing a great job.

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  2. If you want to try another interesting Fedora remix, there is Kororaa Linux (GNOME and KDE version). I found it particularly interesting for the good KDE version.

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  3. Just spent one day using Fuduntu and I'm very impressed!

    It's my second favorite distro, closely behind Fedora 15. The minimal software choices are excellent.

    Update speed does't seem to be a problem. Maybe a little on the slow side. It's hard to judge, even if one used a stopwatch.

    I prefer Thunderbird over Empathy, a bit. Neither app rocks my world, though.

    Thanks for the review. I would never have known of Fuduntu otherwise.

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  4. Should have said I prefer Thunderbird over Evolution.

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  5. Tried them all, this is the one I'm going to stick with, its great

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  6. Love fuduntu - lets hope it can stick with Gnome 2 as long as possible. The main reason I choose it over Ubuntu and Mint however, is that it connects to my wifi connection far far better even though my router is only a few feet away. I still can't understand why people have to make the choice between Evolution and thunderbird - keep E-mail in the cloud with Gmail.

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  7. I have tried Fuduntu for 2 days now, and it works like a charm. The desktop is beautiful, performance is good and choice of software is wise. I had to manually install Libreoffice, but the instructions at libreoffice.org helps a lot. I have read that redhat will support Gnome 2 with updates for a long time, maybe Fuduntu will benefit from this to avoid upgrading to 3?

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    1. This is right. Rhel 6.2 has got Gnome 2 and this is supported until 2020. From 2017 you have only security patches ;) Long live Gnome 2 + Fuduntu = Beutiful User Experience

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  8. AnonymousSep 24, 2011 12:51 AM

    Tried them all, this is the one I'm going to stick with, its great

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    +1! Nothing short of amazing this one...

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  9. I have Fuduntu on my laptop, replacing Mint 11 which was nice but sucked the power when on battery. Fuduntu gives me longer battery life, but I do miss an Office Program (I have actually installed Libre Writer) and an offline email program.

    I use the laptop when travelling by train in outback Australia, where there are periods of time with no 'net access so I am, perhaps , a special case.

    Still, it would be nice to have Thunderbird on the machine.

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