Fedora and Ubuntu Compared: Page 2

Does Fedora offer a viable alternative to Ubuntu?
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Unfortunately, there are some suggested areas where Fedora is simply missing the point—most specifically, under the DVD playback and video driver sections. In each case, the suggestion is to either do the impossible or rely on a sub-par alternative. For DVD playback, it's suggested that the user rely on WebM or Ogg Theora. Sounds great in practice, until you realize this is impossible unless you've either decrypted a DVD via Handbrake or pirated the DVD content. As for asking users to rely on non-proprietary video drivers, this works fine unless that user is planning on running common video games. At that point, if the game runs at all, the performance will be so bad with the open source video driver that it makes sticking with this approach impossible.

Fedora really stands its ground with gaming. Even common Linux-friendly games ranging from Frets of Fire to Sauerbraten are clearly marked as software Fedora developers won't package and offer. Ubuntu by contrast, offers each of these things Fedora does not.

Ubuntu and Fedora vs. FSF

Obviously, Ubuntu would never be considered safe to use under the Free Software Foundation's (FSF) view of things. Fedora on the other hand, seems to attempt to meet with FSF approval, as demonstrated here in an email exchange with Richard Stallman. As you read through the email, two things become clear instantly: First, the person asking for clarification on licensing questions clearly seeks the FSF's approval. Second, Stallman isn't completely convinced that Fedora goes far enough when compared to other distributions that the FSF does actually recommend.

And this is where things become very fuzzy overall. If Fedora is trying to reach out to FOSS lovers more so than Ubuntu, yet doesn't meet with the FSF's strict standards, where does this leave Fedora? Some might even speculate that Fedora is a niche distribution.

Ubuntu vs. Fedora for Usability

Currently, I run Arch (and Manjaro), Ubuntu and OpenSUSE. Each distro offers me something unique and compelling in my life. Sadly though, I can't think of a need where Fedora would fit in.

If I were looking for a FOSS-friendly, GNU/Linux experience, I'd likely recommend one of the FSF's preferred distributions linked above. For a strong Ubuntu alternative, Manjaro or OpenSUSE fits the bill. And finally, if you want to take full responsibility for your desktop, Arch is just awesome in how deep you can control your desktop experience. But Fedora, honestly, is not addressing a clear need that I can put my finger on.

All of that said, because Fedora is mirroring a FSF-recommended distro in its inclusion of FOSS software only, it's a distribution best suited to those who dislike MP3s, DVDs, proprietary drivers and non-FOSS applications. Now don't misunderstand me, I think a truly FOSS-empowered distribution is a healthy option. It keeps things pure, for those who prefer a pure Linux experience. But according to Stallman himself, Fedora isn't quite up to the task of being a FSF-recommended distro.

So would I recommend Fedora over Ubuntu? Honestly, no, I wouldn't. I'm more inclined to recommend one of the options listed above instead, as I can better explain how I personally have benefited from each of them myself. Nothing against Fedora—it's fine—but it just simply doesn't have a well-defined niche these days.

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Tags: Linux, Ubuntu, FOSS, open source software, Fedora, desktop

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