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Fuduntu 2012.1 review – lightweight desktop, heavyweight contender

Now forked from Fedora, Fuduntu has a new release strategy, a subtle facelift and thousands of new packages to choose from…

Though highly optimised for lightweight computers like netbooks and nettops, Fuduntu is still first and foremost a general-purpose desktop distro. Since its last release (14.12), the project has taken an interesting turn by forking from Fedora 14 to become a truly independent distro. To coincide with this transition, its creator Andre Wyatt has also made a change to release numbering and the schedule it keeps – the name will now follow the year and quarter of the release. This is the first release of 2012, hence the 2012.1 moniker.

Since Fuduntu 2012.1 has arrived quite quickly since 14.12, it’s not surprising to see that there isn’t a massive amount of change  beyond package updates and subtle tweaks to look and feel. Typographic buffs will doubtless notice the project has moved to Google Droid Sans as its default font and has put quite a bit of work into refining the metacity theme. Direct comparisons show the windows and menus are now much crisper and clearer, which gives the distro a distinctly tighter, cleaner appearance.

It’s a very slim and light distro with one of the smallest software collections we’ve seen to date. That said, all of the choices are sensible and it helps ensure the machine remains quick and efficient. Of the core packages that have been updated for this release, the two most notable are Chromium 16 and Linux Kernel 3.1.6. Fuduntu seems to favour Google for many of its core applications, with Google Mail and Google Docs catering for communication and office tasks respectively.

In other software news, GIMP has been dropped from the default software list, leaving just Shotwell in Applications>Graphics. The tried and tested combination of Banshee and VLC take care of music and video, while the Remmina remote desktop client and Empathy join the previously mentioned ‘Internet’ applications along with leading cloud storage service Dropbox.

Despite having a light selection of pre-installed applications, Fuduntu does offer a bigger selection of packages in its repository and  notable options to have been updated since the previous release include LibreOffice (to version 3.4.3), Firefox (to version 9) and Thunderbird (also to version 9). The range and diversity of packages within Fuduntu’s repositories has increased quite drastically since November too, which is great to see.

Fuduntu is built primarily for speed and ease of use and in a world where the hardware market is becoming dominated by increasingly smaller and lighter devices, this is definitely the right area for a distro to specialise. While many of the previously mentioned package choices do much of the hard work in this regard, Fuduntu also sports Nautilus Elementary, not to mention tweaks to move the /temp and /log directories to RAM and less swappiness, thereby ensuring hard drives spin-up less frequently. Finally it also features the Jupiter, a lightweight (and increasingly popular) power and control applet also authored by Andrew Wyatt.

Verdict: 4/5
It’s a very exciting time for the Fuduntu project. With a change of tack and its biggest launch-week release to date, Fuduntu 12.1 is proof that a small project with a well-defined direction can do well despite the exposure and punching power of heavyweights like Fedora, Mint and Ubuntu.

You can find more details and links for Fuduntu at