Are you looking for the best open-source operating system? You are probably aware that Linux has a range of operating system distros to choose from. Debian and Ubuntu are two commonly used Linux distros. While they may be similar, they possess some comparable features worth noting. Debian is an original distro created by Ian Murdock in 1993, while Ubuntu is a Debian-based Linux distribution developed by Mark Shuttlework in 2004.
In this article, we will look at how these two distros compare in terms of experiences, functionalities, and other aspects. With their similarities, it’s difficult choosing the best operating system between the two. So, which is one better? Let’s jump right in and find out!
Debian vs. Ubuntu: Side-By-Side Comparison
|No fixed cycle; Stable, Testing, and Unstable branch
|2 years cycle; LTS and Regular branch
|Multiple choices, from lightweight minimalist to full-featured Desktop Environment
|FOSS and proprietary software
|1GHz CPU, 2GB RAM, 10GB Storage Disk
|2GHz CPU, 4GB RAM, 25GB Storage Disk
|Slightly less stable than Debian but has regular updates
Debian vs. Ubuntu: A Quick Overview
While there is a wide range of Linux distributions, not all are independent or created from scratch. Debian is one of the few Linux-independent distros since it’s not derived from any other distro. On the other hand, Ubuntu is a Debian-based OS. This implies that it uses a similar APT packaging system as Debian and shares a good number of libraries and packages from Debian repositories. Debian infrastructure is utilized as a base.
Derived distros share the same management system and packages as the base distribution. But in the process, they also add in and change packages on their own. This brings out the difference in Ubuntu compared to Debian, despite being based on Debian.
Debian vs. Ubuntu: What’s the Difference?
Debian and Ubuntu distros have different purposes and use cases suited for different kinds of users. In this section, we’ll delve into some features that differentiate the two operating systems, highlighting their pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.
Both distros feature a GUI-based installation, but for new users, Ubuntu has a user-friendly installer which is a lot easier than Debian. Debian and Ubuntu both support hardware architectures like amd64, i386, arm64, and many more.
With the Debian installer, you get wider (but manual) configuration options as a result of the installer being based on nCurses (new curses). In contrast, Ubuntu gets the help of Ubiquity, based on Debian-installer parts, leaving you with fewer config options, thus making it easier for beginners to install.
Software and Firmware Compatibility
Both Debian and Ubuntu distributions seamlessly support various software. But in some distros, you may need some slight changes for the software to work. Debian aims at keeping everything free and open-source (FOSS) since it lacks proprietary software in its repositories. Also, the FOSS policy applies to its kernel due to the lack of proprietary drivers and firmware.
Although most Debian users opt to keep the system open-source, additional repositories can be installed manually. Users using proprietary hardware should manually add the proprietary drives since Debian doesn’t include any closed-source binary firmware.
In terms of functionality, Ubuntu offers open-source and proprietary software. This Linux distro provides the requirements for an off-the-shelf experience for users who require a quick setup, thanks to its large repository and driver support. Further, Ubuntu offers its PPA packaging system that allows users to add repositories and install third-party software. This leaves users with various software options.
Stability and Performance
Of the two Linux distros, Ubuntu falls short in terms of stability. Debian doesn’t have frequent upgrades, and they only occur after thorough testing by Debian’s development team to minimize bugs and unexpected performance behaviors. Therefore, Debian is often the considered operating system for servers. Ubuntu, on the other hand, has regular updates, and users who prefer working on newer software find it more appealing.
When it comes to performance, both distros perform equally well. But, it highly depends on the system’s hardware and the software component used. However, Debian doesn’t provide any prepacked or bundled package without any software or additional attributes. Debian is considered super lightweight, and when fewer resources are required to run, it releases more resources to be used by other running processes and software, making it a faster distro. Comparatively, Ubuntu offers various features and functionalities, adding weight and resulting in slower performance. However, Ubuntu performs faster than other Operating Systems like Windows or macOS.
As stated earlier, Debian primarily focuses on free and open-source software (FOSS). This implies that the kernel provided by Debian doesn’t offer proprietary drivers and firmware. For it to work, you’ll need to enable or add extra repositories and manually install it. To most new users, this turns out to be a challenge.
In contrast, Ubuntu provides drivers and firmware out of the box, making it better than Debian. This makes Ubuntu user-friendly for beginners due to a more complete off-the-shelf experience.
Instead of Debian having a default desktop environment, you choose your preferred desktop interface during installation. The options, however, range from lightweight window managers to fully featured desktop environments. Debian’s desktop environment is super lightweight compared to that of Ubuntu. The lightweight nature is crucial during the distro setup involving older hardware.
Ubuntu, on the other hand, uses an off-the-shelf interface installed by default. Ubuntu features a user-friendly desktop version that is highly intuitive. While Ubuntu versions 17.10 and younger use the GNOME Shell desktop environment, the older Ubuntu releases utilize Unity. However, the predefined option doesn’t limit users from using alternative desktop environments (DE). Other Graphical User Interfaces, such as Xubuntu for Xfce or Kubuntu for KDE, can be installed in Ubuntu alongside an existing setup. To manually configure and edit anything, including the desktop environment, switch to “expert mode” during installation.
In terms of security, both distros feature an in-built security and patching system for any threats and vulnerabilities. However, Debian has a more strict policy. Unlike Ubuntu, Debian does not offer an access control management system for firewall protection. In comparison, Ubuntu allows users to use both AppArmor and the firewall. In addition, it is easy to complete security settings in Ubuntu, thanks to its user-friendly interface.
Community and Support
Debian is a community-based project. This means the community members govern maintenance and other activities. On the other hand, Ubuntu is run and published by Canonical — which works with hardware manufacturers and software vendors to offer commercial services and solutions to Ubuntu. Therefore, though Ubuntu has a community, any final decisions must get approval from Canonical. Canonical offers Ubuntu and other enterprise clients professional support at a fee, a feature not available with Debian.
Pros and Cons of Debian
|It’s community-driven since it’s maintained and managed by the community
|No enterprise version is available
|Features a wider range of repositories than any other Linux distro
|Has a basic GUI, thus most tasks are done through the terminal
|It’s a free open-source OS
|It requires some level of expertise to use, thus not friendly for Linux beginners
|Supports more hardware architectures like amd64, arm63, PowerPC, and many more
|It doesn’t have a fixed release cycle as compared to other Linux distros
|It’s more secure due to its security-centered features.
|It has no PPA (Personal Package Archive)
Pros and Cons of Ubuntu
|It has a user-friendly interface thus well-suited for beginners
|It’s not community-based, skilled and experienced developers are sometimes hired to work on the OS
|It can run on various devices and VMs due to its customizable features
|It’s slightly less stable than Debian as the frequent releases are not tested, thus leading to unexpected performance
|It has a regular release update cycle
|It’s available in both free and proprietary software, hence not as free as Debian
|Requires fewer resources to run and install, hence suitable for lower specification systems
|Easy to update
|Used for both personal and enterprise solutions
Debian vs. Ubuntu: Must-Know Facts
- Both Debian and Ubuntu are open-source Linux distros, but Debian is based on community support, whereas Ubuntu is managed and run by Canonical corporate.
- Ubuntu features two kinds of releases, LTS and Regular, which occurs at an interval of 2 years period, whereas Debian has no fixed cycle, but has three different releases, Stable, Testing, and Unstable.
- Debian is an independent distro since it’s not derived from any other distribution, whereas Ubuntu is a Debian-based operating system.
- Debian is a faster distro as its super lightweight compared to Ubuntu, which offers more features and functionalities, resulting in slower performance.
- Compared to Ubuntu, Debian offers more support for hardware architectures like amd64, arm63, PowerPC, and many more.
- Unlike Debian, which requires more manual configuration settings, Ubuntu has a user-friendly interface, thus well-suited for beginners.
- Debian is a more stable operating system, and no regular updates occur to avoid bugs and unexpected performance.
Debian vs. Ubuntu: Which One Is Better?
There are several Linux distros available, but Debian and Ubuntu are the most popular. So, which one should you use? While both are excellent open-source Linux distros, making the ultimate choice depends on your specific needs and preferences as well as the intended use case.
However, Ubuntu is considered user-friendly, making it well-suited for novice Linux users, while Debian is better suited for users with a certain level of expertise. Either way, Debian and Ubuntu are great operating systems that can be utilized by just about anyone. In this article, we have mentioned various comparable features between Debian and Ubuntu to help you make an informed choice.
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