Ubuntu Linux has been my favourite Linux distribution since Ubuntu 4.10 first came out. That has changed with the releases of Ubuntu 11.04 and Fedora 15.
Since Ubuntu 10.04 I’ve become increasingly concerned with the direction Canonical and the Ubuntu project has been going towards. I’ve noticed a rush to put out drastic user interface changes without the team properly testing other important code (I bought a battery last year, it’s now broken at 43% after running Ubuntu exclusively for one year – an OS shouldn’t do this).
Fedora and I are old friends. My first experience with Red Hat/Fedora was when a friend convinced me to use Red Hat Linux (it wasn’t Fedora yet) version 7.1 as a firewall/router on an old IBM Pentium system. I liked Red Hat Linux so much I bought version 7.2.
I stuck with the Red Hat / Fedora combination until bumping into Ubuntu 4.10. Ubuntu 4.10 improved on the end user install/configuration/use experience. Now the Fedora/Ubuntu experience seems to have reversed. For the 11.04 release of Ubuntu the team decided to go it alone and develop their own super-GUI dubbed ‘Unity.’ The Fedora crew stuck with the direction the Gnome project is taking and deployed ‘GnomeShell.’ Both GUIs are evolutions, but I found myself adapting to GnomeShell much faster than Unity – there’s just something about the hot keys and interface that feel better than Unity.
The Fedora project seems to have improved a lot more than just the user interface. When I loaded Fedora 15 I didn’t have to separately add a wireless driver, it was just there (I also didn’t have to activate it in a restricted driver manager, it was just active and ready to go). Programs I use like Audacity worked correctly, no fiddling with PulseAudio to get the right setting to record from my mic.
A week of use and I’ve found some minor annoyances:
- the add/remove software user interface is still as ugly as ever
- some lesser known programs I tried crashed (I suppose I could always compile a newer version)
- some applications don’t appear when the super key is pressed (Empathy for example)
Fedora 15 isn’t perfect, but it’s a vast improvement over previous versions of Fedora and I like it enough to keep it on my notebook for now. Of course my wonderful wife is also a Linux user. She’s continuing to use Ubuntu 11.04.