Linked by Fabian M. Schindler on Tue 23rd Nov 2004 18:53 UTC
Talk, Rumors, X Versus Y Linux distros are advancing everywhere. Not only servers but also on the desktop pc and notebooks. There are wild discussions, if Linux-Distributions are ready for serious business work or personal use. This critical review will deal with two long awaited Linux-distributions, Fedora Core 3 and Ubuntus Warty Warhog. Why these two? Because both feature Gnome 2.8 and it would not be a comparision on equal terms to compare Gnome to e.g KDE. Also, both use kernel 2.6.8+ and have their very own theme for the default desktop. Bluecurve for Fedora and Human for Ubuntu.
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My take on Fedora Core 3 vs. Ubuntu 4.10
by Chris Dunphy on Tue 23rd Nov 2004 21:24 UTC

As taken from a recent blog posting (November 22nd) I made on my site:

http://www.nerdsyndrome.com

I have been doing a lot of experimenting as of late in order to determine which flavor of the Linux operating system that I wish to run for the next six months on my workstation PARSEC. The two main contenders were Ubuntu Linux and Fedora Core 3. Both are based on the new GNOME 2.8 desktop and both include a lot of bleeding edge open source technology. However, Ubuntu Linux proved to be a vasty superior OS for workstation use.

It is worth noting that this comparison between Ubuntu and Fedora is with regard to desktop/workstation use. Ubuntu probably won't make a good server. For that, check out Debian Sarge, soon to be released, at http://www.debian.org. In fact, Ubuntu Linux is based on Debian, and uses Debian's awe inspiring apt package management tool. Besides the reiserfs problem I had (see below), most of the problems I had with Fedora would not apply to a server system. In fact, Fedora may be much better as a server than it is as a desktop operating system.

Fedora does include newer technology for the most part, such as Xorg 6.8, Linux 2.6.9, and SELinux. Fedora also has a graphical installer called Anaconda which is nice to look at. However, there are two main problems when it comes to Fedora. The software repositories that feed it are nowhere near the same as the Debian-based repositories that are used by Ubuntu. Not even in the same league. Thus, especially when installing non-free packages, like nvidia drivers, libdvdcss, flash, java, mplayer, and mp3 support, Ubuntu Linux is a lot friendlier. We are not just talking a little easier, but orders of magnitude easier.
Penguin Power Redux

Fedora desperately needs an up-to-date non-free yum or apt repository that at least contains things like mp3 support and nvidia/ati drivers (within a few days to a week of a release, not a month later). I don't mind fishing for DMCA (in the US) infringing packages like libdvdcss, but come on, make it easier to install non-free drivers. Considering that Ubuntu ships with the nvidia drivers in their restricted repository, and they also have a great Restricted Formats Wiki Page which has easy to follow instructions to install the other stuff you need for multimedia. To give you an idea how bad this is, consider that it took 30 minutes to get Ubuntu fully usable, wheras it took days to figure out how to get Fedora there, and I never fully did (see java and mplayer bugs below). This was the first big advantage that Ubuntu had over Fedora. Even with free packages, Fedora was missing applications like Bluefish. Inexusable.

Ubuntu is so successful this way, because they have many levels of repositories:

* main - the core Ubuntu distribution goes here.
* restricted - nonfree drivers and core libs go here
* universe - unsupported packages from the larger debian tree go here.
* multiverse - other non-free packages go here.

Fedora really needs to have something like this setup. The only nice thing about Fedora package management is up2date. This program will actually create a flashing red icon on your panel when there is security updates for the base Fedora distribution. This is a nice feature.

Ubuntu has inherited from Debian the best GUI front end for package management ever, Synaptic. With Synaptic, installing new packages is so easy that a computer novice could do it. Outside of the base Fedora system, the same cannot be said for htat OS. There is no GUI front end for the yum package installer (at least none that shipped with Fedora).

The other big problem area for Fedora was stability. Trying to install the nvidia drivers from the nvidia installer on Fedora Core 3 resulted in a hang. This required a workaround, which did solve the problem, until up2date installed a new kernel revision. Mplayer wouldn't play Quicktime movies with the proper audio. I couldn't get java to work with Firefox at all, it would crash the browser as soon as a java page was opened. When trying to use Reiserfs, a fresh install ended up with a corrupted /etc/passwd and corrupted /etc/group file, which meant I couldn't create a non-root user. This OS was just plain buggy. This was annoying to no end.
Penguin Power Plushtux

I really wanted to like Fedora. I am a fan of their Bluecurve desktop theme. They have a nice bootsplash screen at bootup. They use all of the latest technology (especially Xorg). It has a lot of polish, as well as bells and whistles. Fedora supports KDE as well as GNOME, whereas Ubuntu includes KDE in its universe repository, but it is not integrated or supported. However, in the end, Fedora just isn't as usable as Ubuntu is. This is unfortunate, because Redhat (the sponsors of the free Fedora project) have had three releases to get it right, whereas Ubuntu is still on their first release.

For those who may be wishing to try Linux, it is helpful to choose a flavor of the operating system that is relatively friendly to beginners. Despite the fact that Ubuntu has a text based installer, it really is one of the simplest versions of Linux that I have ever setup for desktop use. Check it out at http://www.ubuntulinux.org.

The only major problem I have with Ubuntu, is the long standing bug wheras K3B will only run with root permissions. Thus I have to launch K3B from the command line using sudo. I can live with that. I would also prefer to see Xorg as the XServer as opposed to XFree86. Ubuntu does use the new Debian text installer, but while some see this as a problem, I don't. With its superior package management system, good documentation, and overall stability, Ubuntu is a winner.