Hands-on Linux: New versions of Ubuntu, Fedora and openSUSE

Reviews of Fedora 10, openSUSE 11.1 and Ubuntu 8.10.

When you're talking Linux, three big names always pop up: Canonical's Ubuntu, Novell's openSUSE and Red Hat's Fedora. Ubuntu has ridden a groundswell of both consumer and commercial support to its current ranking as the most popular Linux distribution. OpenSUSE, with its business underpinnings, has always been popular in Europe and has been making inroads in the U.S. And it is largely thanks to Fedora that Red Hat has become the biggest Linux company with a major role in community Linux.

Each of these "big three" has recently released a new version of its distribution, which means it's time to check them out and decide which is No 1. Or, more properly, which is No. 1 for what user.

To test them, I installed each distro on a Dell Inspiron 530S powered by a 2.2-GHz Intel Pentium E2200 dual-core processor with an 800-MHz front-side bus. The test machine had 4GB of RAM, a 500GB SATA (Serial ATA) drive, and an Integrated Intel 3100 GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) chip set. This is a standard 2008 computer, which retails for approximately $450.

I also ran each distribution on other PCs to get an idea as to how they worked on a day-to-day basis. For example, I ran openSUSE on a Lenovo ThinkPad R61, Fedora on a Gateway GT5622 desktop and Ubuntu on an older Gateway 503GR desktop.

The Linux distros all had several things in common. First, installing each of them was a no-brainer. I popped in the CD, DVD or (in Fedora's case) a USB memory stick; got the computer to boot from the installation media; agreed on the time zone, the keyboard type and the new username; and then had a cup or two of coffee. At the end, each distribution was installed and ready to go.

In every case, there wasn't even a hint of a hardware problem. It's less trouble these days, frankly, to install Linux on a PC than it is Windows Vista.

The same was also true with getting each distribution to work with my hybrid Active Directory/Samba domain-based network with its server and NAS devices, and with a variety of Canon and HP printers. Within half an hour, I had each distribution working with my CIFS (Common Internet File System) and NFS (Network File System) servers.

In addition, installing new software with each new PC was a snap. On each system, I added the Banshee music player; Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Flash Player; and Crossover Linux|, which allows users to run Windows programs on top of Linux. Once installed, all these programs, and more besides, ran as smooth as silk.

To date, none of these Linux distros have given me a lick of trouble, and they've worked extremely well. Now, more than ever, I can't see any general reason why someone wouldn't use one of these Linux desktops in place of Windows.

None of this should be surprising, since these distributions are identical at the core -- all three are built on top of the Linux kernel 2.6.27 and use the GNOME 2.24 desktop. While their ingredients may be the same, though, the dishes made from them are quite different. What sets these three and other great Linux distributions apart is how they mix their ingredients together.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags ubuntufedoraOpenSUSE

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?