Ubuntu vs Fedora: which is best?

How the next generation of desktop Linux distros compare

We have a winner – at least, until next time…

There are lots of exciting new technologies coming to the Linux desktop, and some neat refinements of features and software we already had. Both Fedora and Ubuntu, and a whole host of other distros, have a lot to recommend them.

The truth is that there is a distro for everyone. If you want some of the latest technologies, especially in terms of underlying system code, virtual machines and other of-themoment tech, Fedora is a good bet. If you want to have a friendlier desktop experience where your every whim is catered for, Ubuntu would be better for your needs.

And, while we're on the subject, if you want to run KDE, you are probably better off with OpenSUSE. There are certainly more than enough Linuxes to go around.

Giving back to the community

Recently there has been some friction in the Linux community about who contributes to the success of Linux as a whole. This stemmed partly from the publishing of a survey of Gnome developers, which revealed that Red Hat was the largest corporate contributor of commits to the codebase (nearly 17%) followed by Novell (10%), with Canonical/Ubuntu contributing just 1%. Read the details yourself at www.neary-consulting.com/index.php/2010/07/28/gnome-census-report-available.

In a blog post, Canonical's Mark Shuttleworth espoused the view that Ubuntu was giving something back to the community, in its own way:

"I didn't found Ubuntu as a vehicle for getting lots of code written, that didn't seem to me to be what the world needed. It needed a vehicle for getting it out there, that cares about delivering the code we already have in a state of high quality and reliability."

So, who is right? Maybe they both are. It's completely understandable that, for example, some Debian contributor feels that Ubuntu is in some way getting credit for their work. It is also true that, before Ubuntu, Linux was perceived as difficult to use and unsuitable for anyone but the most hardened geek.

Ultimately, all the open source projects and people that work in or around them make contributions to Linux, and because all the Linux distros are part of a shared community, they all contribute too. Which one you choose is really down to what you want to use Linux for.

What is certain is that there is a lot to discover in virtually every different flavour of Linux, so be adventurous – don't just install one and stick with it. With virtual machine technology and a huge range of live distributions, it's easier than ever to take a new version of Linux for a spin.