Whenever we get a chance to look at the new Fuduntu, our first impressions are always about how nice it is to work with. Positioning itself as a lightweight, battery friendly distro, Fuduntu is one of the few remaining Linux distributions that still uses the venerable GNOME 2 desktop environment, enhancing its functionality with a dock similar to OS X. It’s quite fast, and comes with a decent selection of default apps to let you hit the ground running while you further enhance the experience.
Installation of Fuduntu is nice and simple, with some advanced options for storage and partitioning, followed by setting up users and other system options post reboot. This particular Red Hat/Fedora style of install is always great for OEMs or sysadmins, and the Fuduntu version is as good as any other bar the Mandriva derived distros. The whole process runs at a fairly normal speed on a modern computer, but is nothing to shout about.
The initial Fuduntu set-up comprises of Chromium for web browsing, LibreOffice suite for all kinds of office work, a small selection of media players. Enough to get yourself going of course, and the repos are well stocked with programming packages and IDEs, among everything else, so it’s quick enough to get down to some serious work if time is short. The dock for the GNOME 2 interface has been changed from AWN in previous versions to Cairo – apparently AWN is no longer maintained, and there are a few bugs present that are not being fixed. The Cairo dock is a nice replacement, work in practically the same way and allowing for some snazzy UI effects like previewing the contents of a folder on the dock, and of course hides away just fine when it’s not in focus.
It seems odd in 2013 for a modern, up-to-date distro to still be using GNOME 2, especially with some high profile alternatives. Especially MATE, which is slowly maturing as a very competent replacement and upgrade to the original code base. GNOME 2 of course still runs fine, and the extra functionality from Cairo is much appreciated, however it may be time to think about changing to MATE.
There are a couple of new, fairly high profile apps that have been added to Fuduntu – namely Netflix and the Steam Beta client. Fuduntu is the first Linux distro to officially support and distribute either of these via their repos, although of course there’s a few caveats. Netflix itself has to run on Wine, and installing and setting it up takes a while as it sets up enough core Wine modules to allow it to run. It can then be found in the Sound & Vision part of the applications menu, however we generally had issues getting it to work on our review setup in what was apparently a rare case for people using Fuduntu. Steam is a native app though, so there wasn’t any problem there. Of course, both of these apps are restricted, proprietary, non-free software, and that is not likely to change in the forseeable future – it’s just nice to have them so readily accessible.
Fuduntu is a great, user-friendly distro that is very much focused at users that are in the community and need a straightforward version of Linux to use day to day. The extra additions and changes make sure it’s kept relevant as well, and as a rolling distro it means you’ll have to worry about upgrading a lot less than with others.
Fuduntu is a pleasure to use, and doesn’t really have any concessions made to appease any particular sect of the community. The use of GNOME 2, while perfectly fine, still seems odd, but it works well even with the new additions of Steam and Netflix. Great for laptops too with its power management.