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GENERAL FEATURESUbuntu is an ancient African word meaning "humanity to others". A distribution f(o)unded by Mark Shuttleworth and sponsored by Canonical Ltd. is currently one of the most popular GNU/Linux flavors. It's only for linux n00bs!Fedora is a general purpose system — it does not concentrate on one specific market. It is suitable both for home users, programmers and the corporate server. In each case it requires some customization however. It is the price that needs to be paid for trying to be good for everyone.
Supported architecturesamd64, i386, ppci386, ppc, x86_64, sparc (via Aurora Project), alpha (via AlphaCore)
Minimal hardware requirementsFor text-mode: <192 MB RAM, 450 MB hard drive
For graphical-mode: >256 MB RAM, preferable at least 2 GB HDD
For text mode: 200 MHz Pentium-class, 64MB RAM, 620MB HDD
For graphical mode: 400 MHz Pentium-class, 192MB RAM, 620MB HDD
Software freedom statushave been present in Ubuntu since the very beginning. The idea is to provide non-free drivers only in case that free drivers do not exist or are of significantly of lower quality. Ubuntu provides a monit when enabling proprietary drives, giving users the freedom not to use them.Free as in freedom.
Installer - overall(8) Since Ubuntu 6.06 (Dapper Drake), a graphical installer has been available with the Live-CD edition. The installer is fast and asks a small number of questions. It's one of the easiest Linux distributions to set up for a newbie user. Ubuntu's alternative text-based installer is based on Debian's text installer. It adds a few new screens in expert mode, and removes a few in novice mode, making it even simpler to install the system with default setting. The defaults are: latest GNOME with a selection of GTK software. Since Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon), the alternate-CD installer allows for encrypting the hard drive during the installation.(8) Very mature installer, offering features both for beginner and expert users. Contains most of the features a modern OS installer should have. The only flaw can be install speed and no separate expert mode.
Package selection(2) Not available. You can however install additional packages before running the Live-CD installer (graphically or using apt-get). Every package you install before running the main installer will appear in your final installation.(9) Present. Single packages can be selected (all dependencies resolved)
Predefined package groups(2) Desktop or server installations are available. No package group selection.(9) Very well-thought package grouping. All package groups include packages installed by default and optional ones. The default installation is a desktop system with GNOME.
Expert mode install(8) Expert/Beginner and kernel 2.4/2.6 choices.(7) No special "expert mode". Most of the screens (e.g. partitioning) include "advanced" options for non-standard configuration.
Graphical installer(6) Available since Ubuntu 6.06 (Dapper Drake). The older text (dialog-based) installer is also very simple and is more suitable for custom installations for advanced users.(9) Graphical (anaconda) or console based installation.
Installer speed(6) The Live-CD installation is pretty fast. The installer only asks a few questions and then copies the entire Live-CD image to the disk, configuring the hardware and the boot menu. The legacy (alternative) installation process is rather slow. Default installation took 35 minutes on 1.6Ghz, 1GB RAM laptop. On the same machine.(6) Reasonable speed of the installer.
Graphical system management(5) Ubuntu does not provide a disto-specific Control Panel (like in SuSE or Mandriva). Still, a lot of Ubuntu-specific tools have been added to the default GNOME desktop: the update notifier, update and installation manager (similar to Windows' Add/Remove Software application), an applet to mount disks, a NetworkManager (from RedHat) for wifi support, Beagle Search (Tracker since Gutsy Gibbon) integration and more.(7) Many graphical configuration tools (mostly GNOME-based). Most system-wide operations can be performed without the need to open the terminal window.
Console-based system management(8) Very good package configuration tool - debconf - from Debian project and standard Debian configuration tools are available(5) Some console tools provided, including network card configuration (netcard-config), etc.
Number of packages(8) Except for base Ubuntu packages (built and supported by the Ubuntu team), there are official but unsupported repositories: universe and multiverse. It all sums up to over 10,000 of Ubuntu specific packages. Using alternative sources from Debian or its derivatives is not recommended (and usually not useful).(7) Package number is better than openSUSE, but not as big as Mandriva or Debian. There are however lots of alternative sources of packages, like, etc. Recently, with versions Fedora Core 4 and 5 and the arrival of Fedora Extras project, the number of alternative software repositories grew considerably.
Package management, automatic dependency resolving(8) Dpkg, APT and aptitude - Debian package management tools are among the leading GNU/Linux tools for software management. Installing software in Ubuntu is simple and troubleless, and certainly much more pleasurable than in most distributions using the RPM format. Only Smart package manager is considered superior to APT (however, it can be used in Ubuntu as well).(6) The famous Redhat dependency hell is almost over with the arrival of yum (the default package manager) and apt-rpm (the alternative one).
Graphical package management tools(8) Synaptic - a graphical frontend to APT - a software installation and update tool, very useful if someone likes to click rather than type. Also, an "Add/Remove applications" program is delivered, which is much simpler and more straightforward than Synaptic, but allows to install only the most typical desktop applications. Clicking on DEB package invokes a GNOME installation tool which resembles InstallShield known from MS Windows.(7) Fedora Core 5 provides yum based graphical tools such as Pirut for package management and Pup as the updater. Fedora Core 6 provides an update notifier called Puplet. There is Synaptic (a frontend to APT) and other similar tools available as the alternatives. Previous Fedora Core releases (FC4 and earlier) included the old up2date application for package management and a desktop Alert Icon.
System boot-up speed(6) Thoughtful selection of services and default configuration make Ubuntu boot usually a bit faster than Debian. It's getting better with each release, but there is still some room for improvement.(5) Average boot-up speed. The boot-up scripts written properly.
System responsiveness(7) Fair responsiveness of the system. Working with Ubuntu seems faster than with the default Debian installation, but not as fast as with one of the performance-optimized systems like PLD, KateOS or Zenwalk. Technically, packages (except for the kernel and libc) are compiled for 486, but with Pentium III (or higher) optimizations.(5) Acceptable speed and responsiveness, although there are no special optimizations for either desktop or server use.
Popularity(9) Ubuntu got extremely popular during the last couple of years and currently occupies the first place in the DistroWatch rank. The creators claim that it has over 8 million users worldwide.(7) Very popular distro. For many months locates around 1-5 place on the DistroWatch rank.
Security focus(8) All of the key security packages (including kernel packages) are being updated on a daily basis, so if you update the system frequently, you should not have to worry about security much. Additional security tools (like SELinux or AppArmour) are not installed by default, though. There is no graphical firewall and almost no security tools in the default installation either.(8) SELinux is included in the default install. Fedora Core offers a whole bunch of extra security features like Exec-Shield, Compile Time Buffer Checks, ELF, Data Hardening, Restricted Kernel Memory access and more.
Stability and maturity(7) Ubuntu is based on Debian, which is one of the most stable and mature distributions available. Still, Ubuntu comes with fresh software and instabilities may occur. Kubuntu on the other hand is considered a bit worse in terms of stability since recent versions of KDE usually break more often that fresh GNOME.(6) Fedora Core stability is comparable to similar distros like Ubuntu or openSUSE. There are many efforts to make the software testing within Fedora Core even better by implementing an automated test system. Will Woods is currently leading this project.
Does the installer support multiple languages?(8) Ubuntu installer is translated into 40 languages which makes it one of the leaders in this area. Internationalization is one of the Ubuntu project priorities.(8) Fedora installer is pretty well localized.
Is the system localized after installation?(7) The installed system is localized. The only problems may occur with QT-based applications. QtConfig app can fix this problem when installed.(7) System speaks the language selected during the installation process. Of course not all apps are well-translated, but Fedora-specific ones usually are.
Is manual system localization easy?(5) If something does not work, we should make friends with dpkg-reconfigure tool which makes it easier to change the package configuration without the need to mess up with the configuration files.(8) Additional localization procedures are easily available (docs, FAQ-s)
Support for restricted formats(5) You can install all the non-free packages from the multiverse repository (no officially supported but hosted at The Restricted Formats wiki entry describes the Ubuntu policy and the multiple ways of getting support for non-free packages. Using EasyUbuntu — a graphical non-free software installer is another good option here.(4) Fedora is a community distro devoted to Free Software thing. No support for non-free formats is available by default. Fedora Wiki entry Forbidden Items explains the reasons for this and offers possible solutions. If you need restricted formats for some reason or don't care for the FSF philosophy, don't worry. You can still install all the packages from third-party repositories like
Sagem DSL modem support(6) Eagle-USB has been available as a Debian package since version 4.11 (Warty Warthhog). Unfortunately, the support for Thompson modems got worse and worse with every release. Now, it's not possible to install the modem without kernel recompilation.(4) No eagle-usb packages. Kernel source and manual module compilation is necessary.
Alcatel DSL modem support(6) Speedtouch modem installation is not fully automatic. Package "speedtouch" is responsible for firmware loading. Still, we have to copy the driver manually. Manual configuration is also a must.(4) Like in Sagem, installation process is totally manual.
A speedtouch.conf script (tested with FC2 and FC3) can be also downloaded from to make the process automatic.
Wireless support(8) System automatically detects the common supported wireless cards and looks for the wireless connections using NetworkManager (adequate icon appears on the desktop appears if WiFi is available). Of course, standard Debian tools for dealing with wireless cards are also available, so is Ndiswrapper for Windows-only cards.(7) Good WiFi support. Native drivers are well supported (clickable installation). Ndsiwrapper is available for Windows-only cards.

Each system gets a mark from 0 (min) to 9 (max). In most cases the description precises the mark. A question mark (?) means that we do not have any information about certain feature.