Updated: February 8, 2013
Fuduntu is a very strange distribution. It's based on Fedora, but tries to be more user-friendly, sort of like Ubuntu. Then, the big difference between Fuduntu and other RedHat-based distributions like CentOS and Scientific is that it aims specifically for the desktop crowd, bringing you the latest kernel technologies and apps.
My last experience with it was ok, but there were some problems in the overall integration, some visual glitches, a handful of unnecessary programs, plus some plugin quirks. All in all, it was okay. Now, there's a new version that I want to test, and it's labeled 2013.1. For those of you who like small-print, you will like the idea of Gnome 2, full functionality out of the box, a semi-rolling-release-like model, optimization for laptops, and a handful of highly popular mainstream programs bundled with the distribution. There, follow me.
Live session - Lessons learned
I believe the 2013.1 edition is fresher and more elegant than its predecessors, coming with a very sensible, clean Gnome 2 environment. You get lovely icons, nice fonts, a bottom dock that does all the fancy stuff, and a wallpaper that blends well with the final product.
Desktop effects are available, and they work out of the box, which they did not on Fedora, mind you. Moreover, you can pimp up things considerably with wobbly windows and cube. However, if you stick with the defaults, you still get some rather stylish transitions and semi-translucent borders on inactive windows.
Networking and all that
Everything worked - Wireless, Samba and all that. There were no problems, like the last time, I am pleased to say, and no firewall conflicts. Either someone read my review, or someone just did what was expected. Or something else.
No Apple iTunes (Quicktime) thingie, or Microsoft Media Server (MMS), but you do get Flash and MP3 playback. The default Chromium browser will ask you if you want to enable the VLC plugin inside it when you try to play online content.
Installation - Old school
Fuduntu 2013.1 does not use the new Anaconda, either deliberately, or because there was no time to bundle it before Spherical Cow was released. The old one works predictably well, although there was one glitch. The installer lets you choose target devices. The thing is, if you do nothing, you can still configure whatever you want later on. But if you do wish to remove some of the disks from the available options in the partitioning stage later on, then you will struggle with identical model names, like I did. The worst part is, this step is entirely unneeded and confusing, and you can safely proceed onwards and do your selection normally.
You get no fancy slideshows, just a simple and quick progress bar. Fuduntu had no problem installing, with all the resident distros on the laptop, which include the Ubuntu and Kubuntu instances of the last LTS, as well as Linux Mint Maya. All in all, it worked well, bootloader and whatnot.
Fuduntuing - More lessons learned
The stylish trend of soft, gradual improvement continues after the first boot and user setup. Fuduntu does what is expected of it in a very sane, predictable manner, without any surprises or regressions.
The biggest improvement is in the app space. Fuduntu drops all the weird programs it used to bundle and gives you only a lean, highly useful arsenal that most people will want or need. On top of that, it comes with Steam and Netflix in its repo! Now, there's sensible choice, although Netflix might not work for everyone outside of the USA. You can read more about this in the DistroWatch review from several weeks back, so no point in me repeating it word for word. Although, we might come back to this in the future.
You get Chromium, VLC, Pidgin, GIMP 2.8, Cheese, LibreOffice, Shutter, Ailurus for tweaking your installation even further, and a Dropbox installer. Fairly restrained, and quite elegant, especially for a respin-type of distro, where things usually go wild.
They worked fine, so here's a nice screenshot:
Worked fine, no firewall conflicts, plus you even get the printer name string written without HTML %20 symbols, which is quite commendable. Really nice.
Stability, suspend & resume
Not a single crash or glitch. Everything was peachy.
Fuduntu is fairly lean on resources, taking 340MB on a 64-bit system, which is less than most other distributions with their respective desktop environments do. The CPU was also very quiet, and the responsiveness phenomenal.
And if you really feel like tweaking, it's all under Preferences. Looks like a busy lot, but believe me, Fuduntu 2013.1 is very restrained, very sensible, and you will easily find all the options you need without getting lost.
You even get the hardware drivers utility, much like the Ubuntu family:
I just realized something, as I wrote this review. I really, really like Fuduntu. And I have decided to install it on my HP laptop with its Nvidia card and see what happens there, and this includes testing Netflix as well as Steam. More soon.
The thing is, I could not find anything wrong with Fuduntu 2013.1. It's a perfect little distro. That said, do not expect a revolution. Gnome 2 has been around for a long time, and the technological advantage of Linux did not help it conquer the desktop, so there won't be any sudden renaissance now. However, Steam and Netflix could make the big difference. Plus all the rest, although normal people do not care about that.
From the purely Linux perspective Fuduntu 2013.1 is ultra-modern, ultra-stable, beautiful, stylish, elegant, well sorted, with a balanced set of programs, some unusual extras, and a rolling update model that should keep you sharp for all eternity. My only fear is that the small and unfunded development team could vanish, and then, no more Fuduntu. But other than that, it's really awesome. Honestly, not a single bad thing. This one goes alongside Linux Mint as the perfect all-around friendly distro. So, it gets 10/10, and you should expect several followup reviews with some extras. Let's hope I won't get disappointed, cause the bar has been set ass-kicking high. Splendid. Do try it.