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Linux distro spotlight: Fuduntu

It's not unusual for Linux distributions to have somewhat offbeat names -- Ubuntu (named after an Africa-originated philosophy), Red Hat (the creator of the original distro, Marc Ewing, had a red lacrosse hat given to him by his grandfather), and the wonderful CrunchBang Linux (named after the characters usually used at the start of a script -- #!). In the case of Fuduntu, the origins of the name are quite simple: It's a combination of Unbuntu and Fedora, the Red Hat-sponsored Linux distribution.

Fuduntu started in 2010, with the first release of the distribution in November that year. It's a desktop distribution that was originally a repackaged edition of Fedora, but completely forked from the Red Hat distribution about a year ago.

The Gnome 2-based distribution emphasises "ease of use, performance, stability, and, for laptops, battery life," says Fuduntu's Lee Ward, who heads up the distro's communications team. The user experience is somewhat akin to Ubuntu prior to 11.04 adoption of Unity on the desktop, but with Fedora heritage, instead of Ubuntu's Debian DNA.

Ward, who knew Fuduntu's creator, Andrew Wyatt, prior to the distro's creation, joined the project early this year, beginning with aiding testing for the distribution, before moving into his current comms role.

"I've never been involved with an open source project before," Ward says. "I have always wanted to but found it difficult to get in especially since I'm still in school and learning how to program, etc. Fuduntu gave me a great opportunity. I was able to get in on the ground floor with a great distro and I felt a personal connection to it since I knew Andrew as well as several other team members."

When Wyatt created Fuduntu he "wasn't setting out to start another distribution and was surprised when it took off," Ward says.

"It was intended to be for personal use. He included changes and that he normally did after installing [Fedora], as well as being able to take that custom install and move it from computer to computer.

"He released it to the internet as an experiment and it just caught on."

It's hard to get accurate figures on Fuduntu's user base, but the team estimates it to be around 50,000; Fuduntu 2012.4 was downloaded more than 20,000 times in the first three weeks after its release, Ward says. Eighteen people are part of the core Fuduntu team, split between developers, packagers, support, communications and marketing.

"We're still growing, as well," Ward says, and it's easy for people to join the team (interested parties can email [email protected]). "Based on the skills they have or they're interests, the responsible team lead will work with them to get them up to speed," Ward says.

One of the selling points of the distribution is optimised power usage, so users can get more life out of their laptop's battery. Fuduntu includes Jupiter, a power usage applet created by Wyatt and licensed under the GNU GPL that optimises battery life as well as provides lets users adjust power-hungry features like Wi-Fi and screen brightness.

"In addition to Jupiter, we tune the kernel to reduce swappiness and manage paging less aggressively," Ward says. "We were also the first distribution to use tmpfs for /tmp and we try to reduce disk I/O's as much as possible to conserve power."

Fuduntu's team has some firm plans for improving the distro, but according to Ward it's not a traditional project roadmap with target dates. The team plans to fix bugs in the core platform, as well as introduce a range of improvements and updates, such as integrating the latest stable releases of the applications shipped with the distro (which include Chromium, LibreOffice, Thunderbird, GIMP, VLC and Nautilus Elementary). There are also plans to fork and rebrand GNOME 2.

"We are also looking at having to eventually either ship GNOME 3 applications or replacing all of the GNOME 3 apps with QT counterparts," Ward says. "For now, however, this is undecided and a low priority."

Distribution: Fuduntu

Latest version: 2012.4 (released 1 October, 2012)

Website: Fuduntu.org

Desktop environment: GNOME 2

Kernel: 3.4.10

System requirements:

" 32-bit: 900 MHz or faster processor; 384MB RAM; 5GB hard drive space

" 64bit: 1 GHz or faster 64-bit processor; 1GB RAM; 6GB hard drive space


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