Softaculous is a script auto installer like Fantastico which you can find hosting control panels like cPanel, Plesk, H-Sphere, DirectAdmin and InterWorx. It's a open source software but they do have a paid version too. It's script library known to have more than 300 scripts and they are adding more and more. The free version has over 50 applications and the pro version have more than 280 scripts. Many Cheap Web Hosting providers Softaculous free version since it's free and has most of commonly used scripts like Wordpress, Joomla, free forum scripts etc. Why pay a month free for Fantastico when Softaculous offers this great free version !
I never had been a fan of Auto Installers. Always setup and configure my Wordpress blogs manually. Even forum scripts. This why you learn a lot about these scripts and how those behave. It makes life lot easy when it comes to trouble shooting. Few days ago I tested Softaculous in one of my VPS and I'm really impressed. Installation process is just 1-2 clicks. It's easy and fast. What took my attention is there are few great features like automatic script update option and also Automatic backup feature which make a cron job for taking backups every day, week or month. It makes life lot easy for someone who want to take backups but hate to mess with cron jobs.
This is really good way to install web scripts easy and fast. Something every cheap web hosting provider should offer in their control panels. If you want to become the cheapest web hosting provider in Block then this is one method to cut your costs.
I have just done a Google search for Softaculous vs Fantastico and also in few web hosting related forums. Seems Fantastico is dying if not already dead. Over 80% of web hosting providers say Softaculous is great, hands down. Cheaper, more updates, more scripts, less out of date scripts, even paid scripts (WHMCS, etc) and provide better support than Fanfastico has ever provided.