Fedora Core 6 vs Ubuntu 6.10

I’ve been using Fedora Core 6 pre-release for a couple of days now, and I’m ready to write about my experience so far. Overall, there are both good and bad things about Fedora. Here are some things that I like about it:

  • dna.pngThe default desktop background is stunning. I like the DNA inspired theme and the Fedora logo. It has a professional and trustworthy appeal, but is free from the usual corporate seriousness.
  • Beagle is integrated into Firefox, something that’s actually quite useful. With a regular desktop search, results from both local files and web pages are neatly presented in the same window. A cute puppy icon in the lower right corner of Firefox tells you that Beagle is there indexing the pages you visit. However, the actual search tool is unfortunately well hidden. I had to manually add a search icon to the Gnome panels.
  • The graphical part of the startup process is very polished and professional. It feels like it’s using the native resolution (1440×900) of my screen, although I can’t verify that. See below, though, for my comments about the text-based part of the startup.
  • I like how grub displays a nice image and hides all scary details by default. Ubuntu could learn a few things here — their grub version is not themed at all.
  • The mouse cursor theme is nice. I like the Firefox-like dot spinning when the cursor is busy.

Things that could use some improvements:

  • The icon theme feels really outdated. It’s like going back in time if you compare with the Human (Tango-inspired) icon theme in Ubuntu.
  • firefox.pngSpeaking of outdated, after using Ubuntu 6.10 with Firefox 2.0 (beta) for over three months, Firefox 1.5 feels really old. I know the latest stable release is still 1.5.0.7, but the step back compared to Ubuntu is definitely something you notice, especially when you realize just how much better Firefox 2 is. I find myself searching for a close button on the tabs themselves. Since Fedora already comes with a beta version of Gaim 2, why can’t it also ship with a beta of Firefox 2?
  • Fedora Core starts up and shuts down horribly slow compared to Ubuntu. And it’s not just a perceived difference. Ubuntu starts up in almost half the time of Fedora on the same hardware. The big reason for this, I’m guessing, is the insane amount of system services started by default in Fedora. Not much has changed here since the old Red Hat days (back in the 20th century when I first tried Linux). Processing so many scripts one by one is bound to take a while.
  • The initial text that appears when you start Fedora looks like a scary virus or something. If I wasn’t a nerd, I’d think my computer was broken. Of course, if I wasn’t a nerd, I wouldn’t have written all this, would I? To be fair, Ubuntu is not perfect here either, but it doesn’t display nearly as much mumbo jumbo as Fedora!
  • The system updater struggled a lot when trying to install some sixty new software updates. I got many errors saying e.g. “Package gdm-2.16.0-10.fc6.i386.rpm is not signed.” Every time the error appeared, I had to uncheck the affected package and retry. After about six tries, the remaining updates installed without problems. It must be said, though, that I’ve never ever experienced a problem like this with the Ubuntu updates. It was rather annoying.
  • desktop-effects.pngFedora Core 6 is advertised as coming with “Compiz/AIGLX which provides all those fancy [desktop] effects“. However, it is not installed by default, and enabling it during install is not straightforward. Even if you manually add the compiz package, you’re still left with a non-functioning option in System > Preferences > More > Desktop Effects. You simply get no effects by default.

Fedora Core 6 seems to aim more for the corporate desktop than the end-user desktop. It has shortcut icons for boring applications such as OpenOffice.org’s Word, Excel, and PowerPoint equivalents. As if that’s the first thing I want to do with my new computer!

The general feeling after using Fedora Core 6 is that it’s not as “polished” as Ubuntu 6.10. Some examples of what I mean:

  • In Ubuntu, the media keys on my laptops (Dell Inspiron 6000, Latitude D620, and Inspiron 8600) work as expected. In Fedora Core, they don’t do anything. You need to configure this manually in System > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts.
  • Ubuntu includes a nice sound theme that plays e.g. a melody when logging in and out of Gnome. In Fedora Core, you hear a horrible system BEEP instead when GDM is ready, but no actual sounds. This happens because, for some reason, GDM is configured to play a sound when GDM starts, but the actual sound file is not set. You can activate a sound theme manually in Fedora Core via System > Preferences > Sound, but I recommend not to. The sounds are absolutely horrible.
  • Update IconThe system notification icon about new software updates is not clickable. It doesn’t matter if you click or double-click it — nothing happens. When right-clicking, however, a pop-up menu appears. This is counter-intuitive. Granted, a big balloon with information is shown then first time the icon appears, but clicking the icon should at least bring back the balloon. Not simply ignore the user interaction.
  • In Ubuntu, you are asked for your password when performing administrative tasks. This password is then cached for a few minutes, allowing you to perform other tasks without re-entering the password. In Fedora Core, you are forced to enter the root password every time you administrate your computer. This can be annoying if you need to restart an application to verify changes.
  • Ubuntu detects and enables your network card automatically during installation. Fedora Core detects it, but doesn’t enable it by default. You need to click Edit and enable IPv4 and IPv6 options manually. This is really absurd to me. Who wants to have their network card disabled by default? I hope this is just a bug in the preview version of Fedora Core 6.

Bottom line: Fedora is a great Linux distribution, but not the best. I feel that — now more than ever — there are real reasons why Ubuntu is the most popular distribution. It’s not just a conception, it’s a fact [1]. More specifically, it’s a long list of small things making Ubuntu more thought out. Granted, some things are better in Fedora, but that’s mostly just cosmetic, such as the grub/gdm theme, desktop wallpaper, etc. On the other hand, Fedora has a less appealing icon theme and window borders, so they’re really even in that respect. Anyway, good luck to the Fedora developers! Fix some of the issues above and Fedora will get even better.

[1] Not really; it’s a matter of taste. Your mileage may vary. :-P

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26 thoughts on “Fedora Core 6 vs Ubuntu 6.10

  1. chele

    Re: FireFox in Fedora. Does Fedora ship an official mozilla build of FireFox, allowing them to use the trademarked name and icon, or do they have a special exception from mozilla incorporated allowing them to ship a modified version while keeping the trademarked name?

    Reply
  2. David Tenser

    As seen in the screenshot, Fedora ships with the real Firefox brand and logo. Red Hat/Fedora sends their patches for approval to Mozilla Corp.

    Reply
  3. Finalzone

     * The initial text that appears when you start Fedora looks like a scary virus or something. If I wasn’t a nerd, I’d think my computer was broken. Of course, if I wasn’t a nerd, I wouldn’t have written all this, would I? To be fair, Ubuntu is not perfect here either, but it doesn’t display nearly as much mumbo jumbo as Fedora!

    Mostly because it is a test release to see possible bugs on initial loading. It will be set to quiet mode on final version.

    * The system updater struggled a lot when trying to install some sixty new software updates. I got many errors saying e.g. “Package gdm-2.16.0-10.fc6.i386.rpm is not signed.” Every time the error appeared, I had to uncheck the affected package and retry. After about six tries, the remaining updates installed without problems. It must be said, though, that I’ve never ever experienced a problem like this with the Ubuntu updates. It was rather annoying.

    You are updating a test release with a rawhide package (those aren’t often signed due to their daily update). Given your knowledege of the distros, you can disable gpgcheck through /etc/yum.repos.d/fedora-development.repo.

    * desktop-effects.pngFedora Core 6 is advertised as coming with “Compiz/AIGLX which provides all those fancy [desktop] effects“. However, it is not installed by default, and enabling it during install is not straightforward. Even if you manually add the compiz package, you’re still left with a non-functioning option in System > Preferences > More > Desktop Effects. You simply get no effects by default.

    Final version will get compiz installed by default but the effects won’t be enabled because not all videocards work with AIGLX. Remember the open source version of Nvidia driver does not support 3D which explain the disabled function.

    Reply
  4. trent

    I really like the FC6 release. I’m looking forward to CentOS 5 (I like to play with new releases and all, but I prefer the stability of RHEL, SLED or Ubuntu LTS for my main system).

    1) Security. SELinux and firewall are set up by default.

    2) Compiz by default. On the final FC6 release, it’s installed by default; Xorg is set up by default if the drivers support AIGLX, and all you have to do is enable it from “System -> Preferences -> Desktop Effects” (it’s no longer in the “More” subcategory).

    3) Beagle search by default, with evolution, firefox and gaim integration. Btw, to perform a search just go to “Places -> Search”, you don’t have to add an applet.

    4) Bluetooth support. Finally, it just works.

    5) Nice looking Clearlooks theme. And it’s not brown. ;) I do agree with you that Bluecurve is outdated, but overall I think the distro looks very good.

    6) Xen support.

    In fact, what I don’t like about FC6 is the default icon theme, the number of CD’s required (5 on the test3 release, even though only 1 or 2 packages were required from discs 4 and 5, so they should be able to cut it down back to 3 discs), the number of services started by default, gutenprint 5.0 will only be available from extras, the fact that gthumb is still the default photo application instead of f-spot and that’s about it. The reason I’ll be moving to CentOS 5 though instead of just FC6 is that they issue too many updates, and I’d rather just have security and severe bug fixes to avoid breakges when updating.

    Oh, and I like the fact that Firefox is not the 2.0 beta. The default theme now looks even less integrated, and I’ve had some annoying bugs with it on edgy. Installing a local copy from mozilla.com is quite easy though.

    About Ubuntu, I find the edgy release is shaping up to be a bit disapointing. The main features initially promoted by Mark S. haven’t been implemented (no compiz, no Xen) and overall I see no reason to upgrade from Dapper, which is well tested, well supported and stable. Basically, you exchange stability (dapper) for new features (edgy), except that the new features aren’t compelling enough to make the switch.

    Reply
  5. David Tenser

    trent: Thanks for the info about Compiz by default and the Places -> Search shortcut! I should have known that. I agree with most of what you’re saying.

    About the Clearlooks theme in Fedora, I think they should use the same border as Human (the glossy one). Of course, they should keep it blue.

    I agree about Edgy not really feeling exciting too. But personally, I’d rather have a snappy OS (Edgy starts faster and feels faster than Dapper and Fedora) with a little less support. Not sure exactly what programs would work in Dapper and not in Edgy, so I think it’s a fairly safe upgrade anyway.

    Reply
  6. David Tenser

    Finalzone: Thanks for the info. The part about showing all the scary boot text because it’s a test release makes sense.

    About the open source nvidia driver, I think the “Desktop Effects” dialog should inform you why it didn’t work. It should say e.g. “your video driver does not support bla bla. You can download bla bla.”

    Finally, the signing of packages should behave as it does in Ubuntu: warn the user that it’s not signed, but don’t refuse to install it.

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    > This password is then cached for a few minutes [...]
    It is easy for any application to hijack that. Sure, none of the bundled application would do that but it would be naive to assume that users won’t run non-bundled software.

    Reply
  8. Finalzone

    About the open source nvidia driver, I think the “Desktop Effects” dialog should inform you why it didn’t work. It should say e.g. “your video driver does not support bla bla. You can download bla bla.”

    You can request an enhancement through Bugzilla.
    http://bugzilla.redhat.com
    Given the free and open source nature of Fedora and the fact it is a USA based distribution, Fedora cannot directly link to a proprietary package to avoid legal issue.

    Finally, the signing of packages should behave as it does in Ubuntu: warn the user that it’s not signed, but don’t refuse to install it.

    Did you use the terminal to install package? When doing a local graphical installation, there is a warning message. You can report this problem through bugzilla.

    Reply
  9. rahul sundaram

    So thanks for the review.

    * Glad you like the theme. We made some minor tweaks to make it less dark than previous releases and other changes based on the feedback that we got during the development timeframe.

    * Beagle search has actually replaced the main search in places. We figured that this would be the best method to having it well integrated seamlessly rather than having it as stand alone application.

    * The keyboard special keys not working properly, GDM beeping and Puplet notifications (which is a issue I ran into too) are all bugs and feature additions that should be reported in http://bugzilla.redhat.com. I would very much appreciate if you take the time and follow the process to send us valuable feedback like this.

    * The graphical start up process uses a userland X server called RHGB in the bootloader option and does indeed have the exact same system resolution as your desktop. There is also a quiet option in the bootloader by default so that we have less text in the initial screen. This is ignored during the test/development releases since it makes debugging more harder. However the final release of FC6 should be much more reasonable in this. We also have several other debugging options and other deamons enabled on the system during testing to get more exposure so its quite normal that your system isnt booting or performing as much as the final release would. This is a tradeoff between good looks, speed vs debugging capabilities and for test releases we choose the latter obviously.

    * We have a Fedora artwork team at http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Artwork including Red Hat people during several of the backgrounds, cursor themes and other changes. So the last couple of releases are much better in this though historically our focus has been on core capabilities and to a very good extend still is.

    * Yum and graphical applications on top of it including Pirut package manager and Pup updater checks for GPG signatures by default. This is not merely a warning but a potentially serious security issue and a trojan on the mirrors would easily ruin your system otherwise. So we block by default on gpg check failures. You can disable it /etc/yum.conf however during test releases but it is not very advisable when installing packages from public mirrors for the reasons I mentioned above.

    * When I submitted the pre release announcement to osnews, I did not including the wording on AIGLX/compiz and the editors there have added it. So its not a feature actually much advertised by Fedora as such. You can find a brief note about it in the release summary and more instructions desktop section of the release notes both of which I wrote. Of course more integration is needed but for now we have provided a very easy way to switch between metacity and compiz with a single click. The “desktop effects” item has been moved to system=>preferences and compiz is installed by default now as per my requests to do so. Xorg compositing is also enabled by default. The desktop section in the release notes has been updated to include this information and it also has a link to the list of hardware it works on. Compiz and related bling is not ready yet to be enabled by default yet.

    * The password caching feature has been in Red Hat Linux and every Fedora release. It shows up as a shield icon in the panel systemtray and the cache stays active for sometime automatically. You can right click to make the cache go away immediately if you are concerned about security or altogether disable it even.

    * I am not sure which network card you are using but mine is of course automatically enable by default. If it doesnt, thats a bug and again kindly use bugzilla to report them.

    Hope that clarifies a few things. If you need any help or more information, feel free to drop me a mail at sundaram AT fedoraproject.org

    Reply
  10. David Tenser

    The password caching feature has been in Red Hat Linux and every Fedora release. It shows up as a shield icon in the panel systemtray and the cache stays active for sometime automatically. You can right click to make the cache go away immediately if you are concerned about security or altogether disable it even.

    This was my understanding as well. Having tested earlier Fedora Cores (e.g. http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/djst/archives/004356.html), I was surprised that it wasn’t there in the system tray this time. Maybe another installation bug?

    I will file a few bug reports. Thanks for your response, Rahul.

    Reply
  11. Pingback: UNIX-WORLD NEWS : Fedora Core 6 vs Ubuntu 6.10

  12. Federico

    nothing about Xen?

    it’s fully integrated on fedora
    and there is also a great version of native Eclipse

    with *only* one additional repository (livna development) you can also install everything needed for mp3, dvd, and proprietary codecs.

    you’re right, FC is for high-end users

    Ubuntu is more friendly but doesen’t comes with this tools “out of the box”

    Reply
  13. Joe

    Would it be possible to email me the new FC6 cursors you referenced in your blog post?
    I would love to be able to use them in windows. I think I can find someone who can convert them to cur and ani files for me.

    Thanks.
    Joe

    Reply
  14. Martin Fleming

    Its seems you are a bit negative towards fedora. I dont remeber the last time i installed ubuntu and everything worked out of the box. You have to install sshd, vncserver, nfs etc to get ubuntu to operate efficiently on a home network.

    Fedora on the other hand is a power distro that makes configuring the system to your needs a lot more flexible.

    Granted, its not perfect but with experiencing ubuntu and running mostly fedora machines in my office, i dont think Ubuntu is anywhere near the standard of fedora, its just been made easier for newbies

    Reply
  15. Ganesha Bhaskara

    I was using FC since its first release. As more stuff started creeping in, the distro has gotten slower, buggier and harder to use. A simple suspend to ram was broken for most of the lifecycle of FC5. I switched to FC6 test* and was pretty impressed with it. After seeing repeated release delays, update problems and still unpolished desktop integration and finally switched to Ubuntu Edgy-Eft. I am extremely impressed with Ubuntu, especially with the desktop integration and ease of adding/removing and updating programs. I hope FC developers give more importance to usability in the subsequent releases.

    Ganesha

    Reply
  16. Bud

    I’ve used FC6 for a few days at home, and now I’m typing this using Ubuntu 6.10 at work. Because they are both Gnome-based, there really are very few differences between them from a day-to-day user perspective–Gnome is, well, Gnome. Ubuntu decided to go with a few more updated apps, like Firefox 2.0 (pretty weird having Ubuntu not recognized by it’s spelling checker!) and Gaim 2.0Beta, but that is about it.

    From an admin standpint, apt-get for Ubuntu works well, and is a lot quicker than yum for Fedora. As far as graphical equivalents, Synaptic is much superior to Yum Extender. Getting multimedia was easier for Ubuntu since they have the packages needed listed on their website and enabling the needed repos in Synaptic was easy. For Fedora, Google-ing was necessary, and somewhat hit-or-miss, but http://www.fedorafaq.org helped out, even though it hasn’t been updated for FC6 yet.

    Big picture: This is a great time to be a Linux user! FC6, Ubuntu 6.10, OpenSUSE 10.1 (except for their package update problems–now fixed), plus others are all great, free options that work well at the desktop or server levels. Everyone should enjoy.

    –Bud

    Reply
  17. Edward

    Hi,

    In regards to your Dell,
    If you look in the install of FC6 your find there is a option for supporting your Dell in ‘Hardware Support’ I forget where it is though but next time have a better look when doing the install…

    I think Fedora need to work harder on making things more ‘stable’ in turns of the ‘big’ bugs but they dev so fast though. Basicly they need more dev !

    *Another thing that goes out to mostly all Linux distros is, more hardware support out the box !!!*

    This is SOOO important if Linux is going to get to the desktop !

    Thanks,
    Edward.

    Reply
  18. Ess

    I agree with your comments. I have been using Fedora since the release of FC4. It took me sometime to get used to working in Linux….eventually, I got used to it and got accustomed to installing new software etc. However, recently a friend of mine recommended Ubuntu…so I decided to give it a test drive by installing it on a VMWare workstation. It took me less than a week to decide to switch over to Ubuntu. Personally, I think it is the best distribution of Linux at the moment, and the most user friendly as well. I install Ubuntu on my laptop (Dell INSPIRON 6000) and everything works out of the box.

    Thanks,
    Ess

    Reply
  19. Yogesh

    hi

    This is not a comment. But I recently switched from windows to Linux. I am using the Ubuntu 6.10 on a DEll Inspiron 630m laptop. As such everything is working fine but there is a problem with the ethernet connection. Its very unstable. it goes on off continuously and most of the time its off only. There’s no problem with the device since its working fine on windows. And also my wireless, bluetooth, etc are working perfectly fine on Ubuntu. I ve attached the lspci output and the log that the system generates continuously when the ethernet connections get disconnected.

    lspci output
    Ethernet controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4401-B0 100Base-TX (rev 02)
    Subsystem: Dell Unknown device 01b5
    Control: I/O- Mem+ BusMaster+ SpecCycle- MemWINV- VGASnoop- ParErr- Stepping- SERR+ FastB2B-
    Status: Cap+ 66MHz- UDF- FastB2B- ParErr- DEVSEL=fast >TAbort- SERR-

    SYSTEM LOG
    Feb 22 00:11:32 dillu dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to 255.255.255.255 port 67 interval 5
    Feb 22 00:11:37 dillu dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to 255.255.255.255 port 67 interval 7
    Feb 22 00:11:44 dillu dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to 255.255.255.255 port 67 interval 7
    Feb 22 00:11:51 dillu dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to 255.255.255.255 port 67 interval 10
    Feb 22 00:12:01 dillu dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to 255.255.255.255 port 67 interval 10
    Feb 22 00:12:11 dillu dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to 255.255.255.255 port 67 interval 7
    Feb 22 00:12:18 dillu dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to 255.255.255.255 port 67 interval 14
    Feb 22 00:12:32 dillu dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to 255.255.255.255 port 67 interval 1
    Feb 22 00:12:33 dillu dhclient: No DHCPOFFERS received.
    Feb 22 00:12:33 dillu dhclient: Trying recorded lease 10.93.253.8
    Feb 22 00:12:36 dillu dhclient: No working leases in persistent database – sleeping.
    Feb 22 00:16:11 dillu dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to 255.255.255.255 port 67 interval 6
    Feb 22 00:16:17 dillu dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to 255.255.255.255 port 67 interval 15
    Feb 22 00:16:32 dillu dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to 255.255.255.255 port 67 interval 21
    Feb 22 00:16:53 dillu dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to 255.255.255.255 port 67 interval 10
    Feb 22 00:17:03 dillu dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to 255.255.255.255 port 67 interval 9
    Feb 22 00:17:12 dillu dhclient: No DHCPOFFERS received.
    Feb 22 00:17:12 dillu dhclient: Trying recorded lease 10.93.253.8
    Feb 22 00:17:15 dillu dhclient: No working leases in persistent database – sleeping.

    I would be very grateful if you could help me out in this

    Reply
  20. David Tenser

    Yogesh, sorry but I’m not an expert at those things. I would advice you to post about it in the relevant forum instead of this personal blog. :)

    Reply
  21. Pava

    Can someone help me out with a high res driver for vmware on FC6, recently installed FC6 on VMWare workstation 5.5.3 and can only get 800×600. As far as i know it is not possible to use the host operating system’s display driver directly

    Thx

    Reply
  22. McLinux

    All the crumbling of FC6 vs Ubuntu 6.10 doesnt hold any meaning when any of them fail at understanding the underlying hardware. I have a fairly recent hardware and Ubuntu just failed identifying the harddisk on the other hand FC6 just worked. I eventried the latest version of Ubuntu but with no success.

    Reply
  23. Affix

    Fedora Core is the Only linux distribution I recommend to any one. I love the way it handles applications and its clean interface.

    Reply

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