2011-03-18

Comparison Test: Fuduntu 14.9 vs. Fusion 14 "Thorium"

Fuduntu Main Screen
Oh boy. I've been wanting and waiting to do this comparison test for quite a while now, and now I can finally do it! The problem was that Fusion 14 "Thorium" was just released a few days ago, and before that I didn't want to compare a stable release of Fuduntu to a pre-release of Fusion.

So let's look at the contenders. Fuduntu is, despite its name, not based on Ubuntu. It is based on Fedora (version 14.9 being based on Fedora 14 "Laughlin") and it is designed to be user-friendly like Ubuntu as well as optimal for laptops, netbooks, and other portable computers.
Fusion Main Screen + Mint Menu
Fusion is also based on Fedora (version 14 "Thorium" also being based on Fedora 14 "Laughlin"), and it aims to provide a complete and very user-friendly desktop experience with a slight emphasis on multimedia applications.

I made a multiboot live USB of these two distributions using MultiSystem. I did not install either one; I just tested the live sessions. Follow the jump to see what each one is like. Please note that this post is full of images, so now you know what may be causing the page to lag a bit if that happens.

Fuduntu

After the boot menu, Fuduntu booted quickly, and in the process it showed a nice boot splash with a spinning gray-scale Fuduntu logo. That led into the login screen, which seems appropriately themed, and because the user is set to login automatically, after a few seconds the login screen gave way to the desktop.

The desktop looks very elegant, and the main screen seems rather reminiscent of Apple's Mac OS X. On top there is a panel with the standard GNOME menu, a system tray, and a clock. There is only one desktop icon present, and that is to install Fuduntu. On the bottom is an Avant Window Navigator (AWN) dock with a couple useful launchers as well as a task switcher; the animations were a tad bit slow but still smooth and tolerable. That said, there is a menu entry in "System > Preferences" to switch between AWN and a traditional GNOME panel, and that worked smoothly both ways. The icon theme is a blue variant of Faenza with some icons modified for Fuduntu, while the blue window borders and the GTK+ theme are specially made for Fuduntu, and the window borders seem like a modernized Nodoka theme as used in Fedora up to version 11 "Leonidas". Altogether, the desktop looks very classy.

Mozilla Firefox in Fuduntu
Mozilla Firefox 3.6 is the only web browser present, and most proprietary codecs seem to be included out-of-the-box. Going to YouTube confirmed this; at the same time, I was also able to see that sound and wireless networking worked, along with my laptop's specially "Fn" keys to increase or decrease the volume.
Continuing with hardware detection, Cheese Webcam Booth, which is included out-of-the-box, correctly recognized my laptop's integrated webcam and mic the first time.
All the partitions of my USB drive were correctly recognized and mounted. I say this because it seems like this isn't guaranteed even today in current distributions and commenters here have asked me about it.

OpenOffice.org Writer + Nautilus Elementary in Fuduntu
Moving onto other applications, OpenOffice.org is present, but while Writer and Calc are of course included, Draw is included while Impress is not, which I found somewhat strange. I would think more people would need a presentation program rather than a vector graphics editor, but maybe that's just me.
Shotwell is the available photo manager available, and that's good because I like how relatively lightweight yet fully-featured it manages to be. Shutter is present for taking great screenshots, which really helped in writing this post.
Dropbox, Empathy, and Mozilla Thunderbird are all present in the "Internet" category as well.
Nautilus is the default file manager, and it comes with the very nice Elementary mod that better organizes the sidebar and makes the breadcrumbs pathbar look nicer.
Also present is the Jupiter power management tool. I don't really micromanage my laptop's power consumption, but in any case, Jupiter recognized that I was using a laptop and presented several power consumption profiles accordingly. Aside from power management, it could also do things like change the screen resolution and disable the laptop touchpad (and doing so was actually successful, unlike in Linux Mint), so I found it unexpectedly helpful. Hooray for pleasant surprises!

Scale effect in Fuduntu
I was surprised to see Ailurus present, because I always thought it was built for Ubuntu. Then again, its options show that it can be used for any GNOME desktop. For those of you who haven't heard of it, Ailurus is an extremely versatile and feature-packed GNOME desktop tweaking tool that does everything from customizing the login screen to installing new packages to customizing the cursor theme. When I opened Ailurus, it gave me an ominous warning about how installing things like libdvdcss2 (the library that allows restricted DVDs to play on Linux because no company wants to license that technology to any Linux distribution) violates the DMCA and how the Ailurus developers cannot be held responsible for any consequences coming from that. Well, a judge ruled a couple months ago that things like libdvdcss2 are legal for personal viewing (but not a whole lot else); we'll see how that plays out later on. Anyway, that aside, Ailurus worked well and did everything it claims to be able to do without a hitch.

After this, I took a trip to the package manager, which appears to be PackageKit in front of the YUM backend, which is also the default in Fedora. Installing things like games occurred without any issues. PackageKit seems a little old now, but it's still reasonably user-friendly.
Main Menu + PackageKit in Fuduntu
Skype is not included in the repositories enabled in Fuduntu, so I went to the Skype website and downloaded the Fedora RPM from there. Mozilla Firefox offered to open it with the package installer, and I accepted this; it installed relatively quickly and very smoothly, one stray authentication window notwithstanding. Afterwards, it recognized my webcam and mic just fine, as evidenced by me having a long conversation with someone in my family.

Desktop effects including wobbly windows were enabled out-of-the-box, and they worked very smoothly. The only other thing I was able to do was change the virtual desktop switching animation from the wall to the cube, because there's no CompizConfig Settings Manager present. That said, the "Scale" effect (known in KWin as "Present Windows" and in Apple's Mac OS X as "Exposé") was enabled, and moving the cursor to the top-right corner of the screen activated that effect, showing a cooler way to switch windows.

The last thing I tried was to suspend the system to RAM. I always have high hopes, and they always get shot down, even here. Oh well.

Overall, Fuduntu gave me everything I ever wanted and a bit more, and it was extremely stable throughout the test.


Fusion

After the boot menu, Fusion booted relatively quickly, though it didn't feel quite as quick as Fuduntu; plus, I didn't see any boot splash. After this, I was taken to the login screen, which looked a little too much like Microsoft Windows 98 in its blocky gray theme. After a couple seconds, the login screen gave way to the desktop.

The desktop looks quite reminiscent of Linux Mint (which the developers have said provided the inspiration for Fusion) as well as Microsoft Windows 7. There are a couple desktop icons present, though the wallpaper is unchanged from the default in Fedora 14 "Laughlin". There is one panel at the bottom, with, from left to right, a Linux Mint Menu (the latest version, but it unfortunately is configured to show the "Favorites" pane when opened), a "Show Desktop" icon, a DockBarX task switcher which acts much like the task switcher in the taskbar in Microsoft Windows 7, a system tray, a clock, and a workspace switcher. The icons are, as in Fuduntu, blue Faenza icons slightly modified for Fusion, while the GTK+ and window border themes are the Alliance themes modified for Fusion. This desktop also looks quite elegant.

Chromium + OpenOffice.org in Fusion
Chromium is the default browser, but when I opened it, I got a kernel panic. Uh-oh. Thankfully it turned out to be nothing serious and I was able to continue with the testing as if nothing happened. Most proprietary codecs seem to be included out-of-the-box, and they should be considering that this is a distribution that emphasizes multimedia. Then again, many developers are mindful of the legally questionable status are doing so; in short, these developers aren't among those, for better or for worse (and if you ask me, it's for better, but that's just my opinion). Once again, going to YouTube confirmed to me that both sound and wireless worked, along with the key combinations on my laptop to increase and decrease the volume.
Interestingly, Mozilla Firefox 4 is present, but it refused to load. That isn't an especially good sign. Well, at least one browser worked, and I suppose that's better than nothing.
Continuing with hardware, Cheese Webcam Booth correctly recognized my webcam and mic. Also, Fusion correctly recognized and automatically mounted my USB drive's partitions.

Desktop Cube + Nautilus + an example video in Fusion
Back to included applications, OpenOffice.org is present and it thankfully includes Impress. F-Spot is the default photo manager; I don't like it because whenever I've used it, I've found it too bloated and too crash-prone even for very small folders. Shutter is present for awesome screenshots, as it is in Fuduntu. There is a plethora of other applications present, aside from the multimedia ones emphasized on the Fusion website; some of them are kind of random, like TeamViewer 6 (which I suppose would be more appropriate for enterprise customers) Pan Newsreader, the RedShift tool to adjust screen colors, and the PosteRazor poster creation program. Others include Dropbox, Empathy, Mozilla Thunderbird, games (more like Quake 3, not the GNOME Games people play just to kill time), and others as well. There are a couple scripts including Beesu (I think) and Fedoraplus (formerly Autoten) for post-installation configuration, so I'm not entirely sure why they are visible in the live session as well. Ailurus is also present for configuration purposes and worked identically compared with Ailurus in Fuduntu. There are some KDE applications present as well, including the K3B disk burning application, the advanced file manager Krusader, and the default KDE file manager Dolphin. Speaking of file managers, Nautilus is still the default, but unfortunately it lacks the nice Elementary mod.
Weirdly, Jupiter was not present here, so I couldn't find a way to disable my touchpad; I guess that's because Fusion isn't tailored for portable systems. Oh well. It's not a huge deal.

Once again, I took a trip to the package manager, and the experience was identical to that of Fuduntu. Just for fun, I checked out the repositories used, and interestingly enough, Fusion uses some of the Fuduntu repositories; maybe I missed something, but I don't remember seeing the reverse being true. Once again, Skype wasn't present in the repositories, so I did the same song-and-dance to use Skype as in Fuduntu with identical positive results.

The Fusion developers have done a great thing in including an "Examples" folder in the home folder to test things like audio and video playback. It had OGG video and audio samples, SVG images, InkScape (which is also included) tutorials, and even a video on the "Core Principles of Free Software". What was that last one? I'm a sucker: it turned out to be a link to a Rickroll on YouTube. Hehheh. Nice one, Fusion developers.

Scale + Fire Paint effects in Fusion
Desktop effects including wobbly windows as in Fuduntu were enabled out-of-the-box, and I was especially pleased to see the desktop cube effect as the default workspace switching animation as opposed to the desktop wall effect. Here, the CompizConfig Settings Manager was present, so I was able to go crazy with effects. As in Fuduntu, moving the cursor to the top-right of the screen activated the "Scale" effect for present windows. One advantage Fusion has here is that moving the cursor to the top-left of the screen activated the "Expo" effect for workspaces akin to Mac OS X's Exposé for virtual desktops.
In addition, when clicking on the simpler tool present in Fedora and Fuduntu for using desktop effects, I was able to switch from Compiz as the WM to the GNOME 3 Shell. Weirdly, the only changes I noticed were the disabling of Compiz desktop effects for obvious reasons and the decreasing of the number of virtual desktops from 4 to 2. I thought I might have to log out and log back in for the change to take effect, so I did that. That resulted in another kernel panic, and this time, I couldn't see the panel, and the ALT+F2 program launcher didn't work. Uh-oh. I knew I could do press CTRL+ALT+F1 to go into a terminal, but I figured I had seen most of what Fusion had to offer anyway, so I ended my time with Fusion there.

Verdict

I came into this test thinking that Fusion would surely win the test because it sounded more committed to the user experience on its website than Fuduntu on its website and because Fusion had more available applications as well as a longer development time. (On that note, I'm a little disappointed that Fusion 14 "Thorium" has taken this long to come out considering that Fedora 15 "Lovelock" is coming out relatively soon, but then again, that's probably due to a much smaller development team.) But then, I figured that most of what Fusion had that Fuduntu didn't have was pretty much useless to me so I would end up removing it, and Fuduntu had things like Jupiter which were more useful to me that Fusion didn't have. Plus, in a more subjective way, Fuduntu just felt snappier than Fusion. Finally, Fuduntu was rock-solid in terms of stability, while the two kernel panics and the failure to open Mozilla Firefox 4 in Fusion did not inspire confidence. It's a shame that there are so many Ubuntu remixes but so few based on Fedora, so it's great to see two stellar distributions here; I would highly recommend either one to a newbie. But then, there has to be a winner, so the ranking is:
1. Fuduntu 14.9
It feels nimble, stable, has everything I need and not a whole lot that I don't, and feels a little more polished and less cluttered.
2. Fusion 14 "Thorium"
It's like Pinguy OS for Fedora: it's got everything anyone could ever ask for and more. It feels just about as presentable as Fuduntu, but it's held back by 2 kernel panics and a non-starting major application. Plus, it feels slightly less snappy and a little more bloated, probably because of the extremely large application list.

24 comments:

  1. Thank you for the review! FYI, Fuduntu secured distribution licenses for our shipped codecs so we are completely legal in this regard. :D

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  2. @FEWT: Woah, it's a comment from the Fuduntu creator! Out of curiosity, what might you have said if Fusion won instead? :) Anyway, I figured that Fuduntu would have secured all the legal issues, but I'm still a little surprised at the warning Ailurus spits out before starting. Thanks for the comment!
    @Barnaby: Thanks for the support!

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  3. @PV - I would have congratulated them, and taken action items of things to improve. We don't license libdvdcss, but we don't ship with it either fortunately. :D

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  4. Could you please specify the source of your statement, "Well, a judge ruled a couple months ago that things like libdvdcss2 are legal for personal viewing (but not a whole lot else)."
    TNX

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  5. @Anonymous: I read it in a couple different places, but here's one particular article from Linux Journal. I suppose I wasn't entirely accurate in that the matter hasn't been fully settled yet. Thanks for the comment!

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  6. @FEWT: That's awesome to know. Thanks for the comment!

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  7. Great review! Very detailed and well written!
    If I had a choice, I would go for Fubuntu.

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  8. @DarkDuck: Would you have said that if you hadn't read this review? ;) Thanks for the support!

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  9. Thanks for your review, Reviews like this keep us on our toes and motivate us to do an even better job.

    Valent,
    Fusion Linux Project Leader.

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  10. Regarding bugs you have encountered, as you already said we have really small development team (just me) so we have to leverage other repos until we build a stronger team so that we can maintain some of our own packages.

    For Firefox 4 we rely on Tom Callaways repo. Firefox 4 package worked great but just prior to Fusion release it got updated with a critical bug. Since release Fusion community worked with Tom to track down the issue and let him know of this bug. Since then our users have tested all Firefox 4 packages and they all work without any issue.

    You haven't seen our welcome script because it is disabled on live cd/usb so you have missed one feature that users really like in Fusion Linux.

    Also if you have any video files please try Arista transcoder just by right clicking on them and choosing one of many transcode formats.

    Fuduntu had 9 releases and it had time to fix and Fusion 14.1 will have most of the issues you have seen fixed.

    I'm just not sure what kind of kernel panic issues you are having, we use same kernel as Fedora so any issues present in Fusion kernel are also and issue in Fedora kernel. My best guess is that it is an compiz and video driver issue in combination with your hardware because I have tested Fusion 14 on few different laptops and haven't seen kernel panics.

    Thank you once more for your review.

    Valent,
    Fusion Linux project leader.

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  11. @Valent: Thank you so much for your humility and persevering attitude. As I said in the article, Fusion is an amazing distribution as it is. Also, I do agree that the comparison was slightly tilted given that Fuduntu has released 9 point releases since the original Fuduntu 14, but honestly, I wanted to do this before the release of Fedora 15 "Lovelock". Again, thanks for the comment!

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  12. "Fuduntu had 9 releases and it had time to fix and Fusion 14.1 will have most of the issues you have seen fixed."

    @valent - I do believe we both started working on our respective distributions at the same time.

    We have had 9 point releases, this is true but in an extremely short time period.

    We have a pretty decent size team, but until mid February I was the sole developer, and until last week the sole packager.

    Our quasi agile quasi waterfall approach to distribution development has helped us mature very rapidly and we have chosen to engage the Fuduntu Team and our user community as part of our development process.

    Fuduntu is the product of our users as much as it is the product of the Fuduntu team. :D

    One thing I would like to recommend, you use a lot of bleeding edge (development grade) software. This could become a significant issue for you in the future as it is not really ready for general use.

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  13. There are some rather bad bugs in Fedora. One is for some reason they have repackaged Chrome using Mandriva and Asian languages just don't display on it(box effect).
    Also zsh is broken by default.
    This is the only Fedora(or red hat) spin with these bugs and for many they are a turn off.
    A review of Kororaa(gnome) could be cool too. Low key but stable and fast.

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  14. @FEWT: Well, it's nice to have those things cleared up!
    @AjarnMark: I can certainly see how those things would be turn-offs. Also, it's funny that you mention Kororaa — I was just thinking about reviewing both the KDE and GNOME versions. The reason why I haven't done so yet is because I'm waiting for a final release.
    Thanks for the comments!

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  15. I appreciate this article. The other day I saw an article about Fusion and even a youtube video on it. It was nice to see these side by side. I for one think that I will try out Fuduntu instead of Fusion. I do not like having mono applications or having so many that I would not use and having to uninstall them. I am glad that we have so many options to chose from.

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  16. I have followed the Fusion spin and have found the small forum extremely helpful in getting bugs resolved. I am grateful that projects are being developed with a Fedora Base that are aimed at new users. IMO, this is how Linux systems will survive the onslaught of smaller "All-in-One" devices. Hats off to both teams - The users become the winners.

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  17. @United against - Fuduntu uses Mono for a few different things including Jupiter which is part of the core distribution. If you need a distribution that is "Mono free", Fuduntu may not fit your needs. :D

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  18. @United against: Well, I'm glad that you enjoyed this!
    @Das Freaky: It's exactly like a free competitive market — the customer always wins. So who says Linux is communist?
    @FEWT: Thanks for the clarification!
    Thanks for the comments!

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  19. One thing I did not like about Fuduntu is that it wanted me to make my root directory ext3 instead of ext4. I was able to make the boot directory ext4 but because supposedly the live cd was in the format ext3 I had to use this same thing to copy this over to my hard drive which is odd since Fedora 14 does not have this problem. I am also not sure how things will be when Gnome 3 comes out for both these distributions so I might just stick with Fedora and use XFCE instead.

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  20. We are sticking with GNOME2 and focusing on 14 until we deem GNOME3 ready for general use (we don't yet).

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  21. @United against: Huh. That's interesting. I wouldn't have known that because I didn't install either one.
    @FEWT: Thanks for the clarification.
    Thanks for the comments!

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  22. Hi prashanth,
    I have a question , both (fusion and Fuduntu)have any plans to integrate fedora 15 due to release in 7 days ?

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  23. @Shankar: I haven't seen anything on their respective websites; as far as I know, the next things that are coming up are minor updates for version 14 of each. I do hope that they come out with their respective versions 15 soon after Fedora 15 "Lovelock" comes out. Thanks for the comment!

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