|Fuduntu Main Screen|
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|
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.
FuduntuAfter 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|
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|
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|
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|
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.
FusionAfter 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|
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|
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|
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.
VerdictI 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.