I will test these distributions on the following machines: A 1,2 Ghz AMD Desktop PC with 512 MB Ram and a 40 GB harddisk, 16 MB ATI Mach64 Rage II graphics, Samsung 76E Monitor, and a CDROM drive and CDROM burner, both from Samsung. Network Connection is a Realteck 10/100 Ethernet card, connected to the ultimate test: a not so easy D-Link DSL 564t-Router. The second machine is a ESC 1,8 Ghz TM5800 processor notebook with 256 MB Ram and a 30 GB harddisk, a 64 MB Nvidia graphics card, a DVD-burner and again a Realteck network card plus a WLAN card that will not be used in this test, because there was no wireless Router available for this test.
How do you get the Systems? Both Ubuntu and Fedora are available via download. But unless you have broadband, downloading might be a pain. This is especially true for Fedora, which ships with four CDs plus a rescue-CD. Ubuntu uses only one CD, which is somehow more "user-friendly" but we will discuss this later.
For both systems, there is the alternative of ordering the distros online. Ubuntu will ship them to you for free if you cannot afford them and you can also get a live-CD, something that is not in stock for Fedora, but Fedora is (opposed to Ubuntu) available in shops in the "Red Hat Magazine" which features stable Fedora versions with patches included. It is up to the user to decide who the personal winner is, but in this review, this is a draw.
What do you get? - Preinstall
Fedora ships with 5 CDs, Ubuntu with one. Thus you get a big choice of apps you can try on Fedora, including alternative Desktops like the fast XFCE4 or the ultra-popular KDE. You also get software for running servers, compiling software or alternative Webbrowsers. Lots of choices. Ubuntu gives you a pre-selected package of tools and apps. You get a basic system but can add thousands of apps later via apt-get/synaptic, once the system is installed. The basic apps-selection in Ubuntu is very good and well thought, but the lack of choice is something that might upset some users that are used to "free selection". For Server purposes, there are not enough tools included with Ubuntu, but for a basic office desktop, the package selection is perfect.
Due to the big amount of packages available during the install-procedure, Fedora wins in this category.
The installation was successful on both machines and no complications arose although the user-forums of boths systems report several problems. Especially Fedora seems to be more bug-ridden than Ubuntu. Users comlpained mainly of kernel-panics, media-file problems and networking woes. In Ubuntus forums, most questions related to software/media problems. So stability seems to be definitely better on the Debian based Ubuntu system.
Fedora installs with the Anaconda installer that is very easy to use. Point and click and you are done. The only thing that surprised here was the partitioning tool. On distrowatch, ReiserFS was mentioned as a supported filesystem. But the partitioning tool does not offer the option of using ReiserFS but only gives you the option of using ext2 and ext3 for Linux. The test on an already existing ReiserFS partition revealed that ReiserFS can be used IF it is already in place but formatting to ReiserFS seems to be impossible, which is a pity.
Ubuntu comes with a text-install (same as the "new" Debian text-installer) which is not bad at all. It gives you a lot of options for setting up your system although there is no package selection. The big plus here was the partitioning tool that worked extremely well and offered a lot of file-formats. You definitely get a bit more control in Ubuntu than in Fedora (or at least you have the impression) and it is a powerful tool if used by someone who is a little adept with installing operating systems but for someone who is completely untrained, anaconda would be a better installing-system. Draw