Javatpoint Logo
Javatpoint Logo

Debian vs Ubuntu

Introduction to Debian

Debian is also called Debian Linux/GNU. It is a type of Linux distribution made up of open source and free software and designed by the community-supported Debian project. It was created by Ian Murdock in 1993 on 16 August. Debian's first version (0.01) was published in 1993 on 15 September, and its initial stable version (1.1) was published in 1996 17 June. The stable branch of Debian is the most famous addition for servers and personal computers. Debian is also the base for various other distribution most importantly Ubuntu.

This Linux distribution is one of the earliest OSes based on the Linux kernel. This project is correlated on the Internet with volunteers' team instructed by the Debian Project Leader and three of the foundational documents which are as follows:

  • Debian Free Software Guidelines
  • Debian Constitution
  • Debian Social Contract

Several newer distributions are continually updated and the upcoming candidate is published after the time-based freeze. Debian has been improved openly and shared freely based on the GNU Project's principles since its founding. Due to this, the Free Software Foundation financed the project from 1994 November to 1995 November. The Debian project developed the non-profit organization software within the Public Interest for continuing supporting development financially when this sponsorship ended.

Features of Debian

Debian includes access to various online repositories that also include 51,000+ packages. Officially, Debian includes free software only; however, non-free software could be installed and downloaded using the Debian repositories.

Debian contains famous free programs like LibreOffice, Evolution mail, Firefox web browser, K3b disc burner, VLC media player, Evince document viewer, and GIMP image editor. Debian is a famous choice for several servers for example same as the OS component of the LAMP stack.

Let's discuss some features of Debian.

Debian vs Ubuntu

Desktop Environments

Debian facilitates DVD and CD images specifically created for LXQT, LXDE, Cinnamon, MATE, KDE, GNOME, and XFCE. MATE is supported officially while the support of cinnamon was included with Debian 8.0, Jessie. Some of the less basic window managers like WindowMaker, IceWM, Fluxbox, Openbox, Enlightenment, and others exist.

The default desktop platform of 7.0 version Wheezy was changed to Xfce temporarily due to GNOME3 didn't fit on the initial CD of the collection. The default for the 8.0 version Jessie has switched to Xfce again in 2013 November and return to GNOME in 2014 September.


Several versions of the Linux kernel available for all the ports. The i386 port contains versions for IA-32 PCs supporting real-time computing and Physical Address Extension for X86-64 PCs and older PCs.

Officially, the Linux kernel doesn't include firmware without any source, but this firmware is available inside the alternative installation media and non-free packages.


Several Debian parts are converted into various languages, containing package descriptions, documentation, website, and configuration messages.

The software localization level is based on the language, ranging from the supported French and German to the barely translated Samoan and Creek. The Debian version 10 installer exists in 76 different languages.

Support of Multimedia

The support of multimedia has been ambiguous in Debian about potential patent infringements and technologies like Adobe Flash without under very restrictive licenses or sources.

Still, packages with issues regarding their distribution can go in a non-free place. Software like libdvdcss isn't hosted at Debian.

Notably, a third-party repository available which is formerly names It is facilitating software that is not available in Debian like Adobe Flash Player, libdvdcss, and Windows codecs. Still, this repository is managed by Christian Marillat. The repository facilitates packages added in Debian already, interrupting the official maintenance.

Debian Packages

The operations of package management could be performed with distinct tools exist on Debian, through the lowest level command dpkg to front-end (graphical) such as Synaptic.

The suggested standard to administer packages over the Debian system is an apt toolset.

Besides, dpkg facilitates the low-level structure for package management. The database of dpkg includes all the installed software's list on the present system.

The command tool of dpkg doesn't know about repositories. This command could perform with the local .deb package files and details through the dpkg database.

APT Tools

APTE stands for Advanced Packaging Tool. It permits administering the installed Debian system for retrieving and resolving package dependencies through repositories. APT distributes cached packages and dependency information.

GDebi and Other Front-Ends

GDebi is known as an APT tool. It can be applied on the GUI and in the command-line. GDebi could install a file, i.e., a local.deb using the command-line such as the dpkg command.

However, with access to various repositories for resolving dependencies various other front-ends (graphical) for APT such as Apper, Synaptic, and Software Center. Also, GNOME software is called front-end (graphical) for PackageKit. GNOME software itself could work on the top position of several software packaging systems.


The DFSG (stands for Debian Free Software Guidelines) specifies the special meaning of the "free" word as in the "open-source and free software".

Several packages that obey these guidelines, usually fall upon the GNU General Public License (Artistic License or Modified BSD License), are included in the primary area, otherwise, they will be included in the contrib and non-free areas.

These two areas aren't shared in the official installation media, however, they could be manually adopted.

Branches of Debian

Debian and has three branches (also known as suites, distributions, or releases) which are maintained regularly:

Debian vs Ubuntu
  • Stable is the present release and aims for well-tested and stable software requirements. Stable designed by freezing testing for some months in which bugs are resolved and packages with so many bugs are discarded. Then, the final system is published as stable.
  • Testing is known as the preview branch. Eventually, it will become the upcoming major release. Those packages added in this branch contain a few testing within unstable; however, they might not be set for release.

It includes new packages as compared to stable but earlier than unstable. The testing branch is continually updated as far as it is frozen. DVDs and CDs of the testing can be detected on the website of Debian.

  • Unstable is the trunk and always codenamed sid. Packages are also accepted without inspecting the distribution entirely. Usually, this branch is executed by many software developers who contribute to any project and require the current library is present and by those who go for bleeding-edge software.

Besides, Debian doesn't facilitate complete Sid installation discs. Although, instead of a minimal ISO that could be applied for installing on the network connection. This branch additionally could be installed by a system upgrade from testing or stable.

Organization of Debian

The team efforts and policies of Debian emphasize collaborative testing processes and software development. As an outcome, a new release tends to appear every two years along with the revision releases that set up important problems and security issues.

Debian developers are maintained inside a Web of trust. At present, there are about 1000 developers which are active; however, it is possible for contributing to a project without being any official developer.

A volunteer organization is a deviant project along with three of the important fundamental documents:

  • The Debian Free Software Guidelines specify the standard for free software and hence what software is admissible in the distribution. The guidelines have been accepted as the basis of an Open Source Definition.

However, this document could be considered separately and it is formally a segment of the Social Contract.

  • The Debian Social Contract specifies a group of common principles through which a project and its developers organize affairs.
  • The Debian Constitution specifies the organizational infrastructure for formal decision-making in the project and describes the responsibilities and powers of the Secretary, Project Leader, and other roles.

Developers of Debian

The Debian Project contains an applicant's influx wanting to become developers. The applicants should undergo the process of vetting which develops their understanding, motivation, and identity of the principles and technical competence of the project. This project becomes much complex throughout the years.

The developers of Debian join the project for several reasons. Some of them are explained as follows:

  • Debian is the primary operating system and they wish to develop Debian
  • To develop the support for favorite technology
  • To improve their maintenance work of Debian much easier
  • A desire for contributing back to a free-software community
  • They are associated with a derivative of Debian

Debian developers might resign from the position if deemed essential or at any time, they could be expelled. Developers who pursue the retiring protocols can be granted a status, i.e.,' emeritus' and they might regain the membership by a new member process.

Introduction to Ubuntu

Ubuntu is the Linux distribution that is based on Debian. Mostly, it is composed of open source and free software. Officially, Ubuntu is published in three essential editions which are as follows:

  • Server
  • Desktop
  • Core for robots and internet of things devices

Each of these additions can execute in a virtual machine or on the computer alone. Ubuntu is a famous OS for cloud computing along with OpenStack support. The default desktop of Ubuntu has been GNOME since the 17.10 version.

Ubuntu is published every six months along with LTS releases every two years. The latest LTS release is Focal Fossa (20.04) as of 2020 22 October. The current standard publication is Groovy Gorilla (20.10). It is supported for nine months.

This line is distribution is designed by canonical and a group of other developers which is based on a meritocratic governance model. Canonical facilitates support and security updates for all releases of Ubuntu, starting through the publication date and until the publication reaches it's developed end of life date. Canonical produces revenue using the premium services of sale associated with Ubuntu.

Background of Ubuntu

Ubuntu is created on the infrastructure and architecture of Debian. It comprises Linux desktop, server, and discontinued tablet and phone versions of the operating system. Ubuntu predictably publishes updated versions every six months and all the publications get free support for nine months with beneficial low-risk error fixes substantially, high-impact bug conservative and fixes, and security fixes. The first publication was released in October 2004.

The packages of Ubuntu are based on packages from the unstable branch of Debian, which can be synchronized every six months. These distributions use the package management tools (such as Ubuntu and APT Software) and deb package format of Debian.

The packages of Ubuntu and Debian are not essentially binary compatible with each other but the packages might need to be recreated through the source to be applied in Ubuntu. Several developers of Ubuntu are the managers of the packages in Debian as well.

Currently, Ubuntu is financed by Canonical Ltd. Canonical and Mark Shuttleworth announced the Ubuntu foundations creation on 8 July 2005 and facilitated starting US$10 million funding.

The foundation aims to make sure the development and support for every Ubuntu future version.

Ubuntu released the support of developer for third-party cloud management environments on 12 March 2009 like those used in Amazon EC2.

Features of Ubuntu

  • Ubuntu's default installation includes a huge range of software that contains Transmission, Thunderbird, Firefox, LibreOffice, and various lightweight games like chess and Sudoku.
  • Several additional packages of software are accessible using the Ubuntu software (built-in) and other tools of APT-based package management.
  • Several additional packages of software that are by default no longer installed like Synaptic, Pidgin, GIMP, and Evolution, are accessible within the repositories and also installable using the primary tool or any other tool of APT-based package management.
  • Cross-distribution flatpaks and snap packages also exist. These both packages permit installing software, like some of the software of Microsoft, in most of the big Linux operating system.
  • GNOME file is the default file manager which is formerly known as Nautilus.
  • By default, each application software installed is free software. Ubuntu redistributes a few hardware drivers also that exist in binary format only; however, these types of packages are openly marked in the restrained component.

Security of Ubuntu

Ubuntu by default focuses to be secure. User programs execute with low privileges and can't corrupt the OS or other files of users. The sudo tool is applied for assigning privileges to perform various administrative tasks which permit the root account for remaining locked and supports protect inexperienced users from opening security holes or making system changes for high security. Polkit is being highly implemented on the desktop.

By default, most of the network ports can be closed for preventing hacking. A firewall (built-in) permits users who are installing network servers for controlling access.

The GUI exists for configuring it. Ubuntu can compile its various packages with GCC features like buffer overflow protection and PIE to strengthen the software. These added features greatly enhance security performance.

Ubuntu also supports complete disk encryption and encryption of the private and home directories as well.

Installation of Ubuntu

The system requirements change between Ubuntu products. A PC with a 2 GHz dual-core processor, 25GB of free disk space, and 4GB of RAM is recommended for the Ubuntu 20.0 4 LTS desktop release.

There are various other distributions of open to such as Xubuntu and Lubuntu far less strong computers. Ubuntu supports the architecture of ARM.

It is available on the Power ISA while the earlier architecture of PowerPC was at a single point supported unofficially, and now new CPUs of Power ISA are supported. Officially, AMD64 architecture of x86 64 a.k.a.supported.

  • Live images are the critical way for various users for accessing and subsequently installing Ubuntu. These could be downloaded as the disk images and burnt subsequently to the DVD and booted.
  • The installation of a USB flash drive can additionally be used for booting Kubuntu and Ubuntu in a form that permits permanent storage of user settings and a USB-installed system's portability between various physical machines.
  • The Live USB Creator of Ubuntu could be used for installing Ubuntu over a USB drive in new versions of Ubuntu (without or with a live DVD or CD).
  • Making a bootable USB drive along with persistence is as easy as dragging any slider for determining how much capacity to reserve for endurance. Ubuntu uses Casper for this.
  • The desktop edition could also be installed with the Netboot image which applies a Debian-installer and permits possible specialist Ubuntu installations: upgrading from earlier installations without using network access, fixing up automated deployments, RAID, or LVM partitioning, installs over systems along with 256 MB of RAM.

Variants of Ubuntu

Officially, the Ubuntu desktop is the variant suggested for most of the users. It is simply known as Ubuntu and formally known as Ubuntu Desktop Edition.

It is developed for laptop PCs and desktops and supported by Canonical officially. From Ubuntu version 17.10, the GNOME shell is the desktop environment (default).

From Ubuntu version 11.04 to Ubuntu version 17.04, the default was the Unity desktop interface. Several other variants are differentiated by simply providing a distinct desktop environment.

Xfce and LXqt are often suggested for applying with earlier PCs that might have less processing power and memory available.

Official distributions

Many flavors and editions of Ubuntu simply install a distinct collection of default packages than the standard Ubuntu desktop. Because they distribute similar package repositories, each of the similar software is exist for all of them.

The Core of Ubuntu is a sole exception because it has only access to the packages within the Snap store.

Some of the major distributions and their description are discussed below:

Debian vs Ubuntu
  • Kubuntu: It is a flavor of Ubuntu that is using a KDE interface rather than Unity interfaces and GNOME applied by Ubuntu desktop.
  • Ubuntu Core: It is an edition of Ubuntu concentrated on embedded and IoT systems. It doesn't apply the package manager of traditional apt unlike various other variants but entirely relies on the Snap packages.
  • Lubuntu: This distribution is a flavor of Ubuntu that is more energy-efficient, less resource-hungry, and lighter. It uses the LXqt desktop environment (applied LXDE before version 18.10).
  • Ubuntu Kylin: It is a flavor of Ubuntu focused on the Chinese market.
  • Ubuntu Budgie: It is a flavor of Ubuntu using Budgie.
  • Ubuntu MATE: It is another flavor of Ubuntu using MATE which is a desktop platform forked through the code base of the now-defunct GNOME 2. It focuses on the desktop metaphor.
  • Xubuntu: It is a flavor of Ubuntu using Xfce. This flavor is intended to apply on less strong systems or those who explore the highly capable desktop environment on the faster systems and also applies GTK+ applications mostly.
  • Ubuntu Studio: Ubuntu Studio is based on Ubuntu. It is facilitating various open-source applications for the creation of multimedia aimed at graphics, video, and audio editors.
  • Ubuntu Server: Ubuntu includes a server edition that applies similar APT repositories to the Ubuntu Desktop Edition. Primary differences among them are the X Window environment's absence in the default installation of a server edition (however, one can be installed easily including KDE, GNOME, Xfce, or Unity) and a few alterations to the process of installation.

This server edition supports hardware virtualization. Also, it can be executed inside a virtual machine either in hypervisor or host operating system like Kernel-based Virtual Machine, QEMU, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, Oracle, VMware ESXi, or other IBM PC compatible virtualizer or emulator.

Difference between Debian and Ubuntu

Debian and Ubuntu are quite the same in several respects. They both use the DEB packages and APT package management system for installation manually. Debian and Ubuntu both include a similar default desktop platform which is GNOME. It means that the default feel, look, and most of the pre-installed/default applications will be the same.

S.No. Debian Ubuntu
1. It is original It is on the Testing branch of Debian
2. It is not recommended for newcomers It is better for newcomers arguably
3. It uses only free software It uses both proprietary and free software
4. Debian is more stable Ubuntu is less stable than Debian
5. Debian has unscheduled releases Its releases on a particular schedule
6. The stable releases of Debian include support for a maximum of three years Its LTS releases include support for a maximum of five years
7. It is lightweight It needs better hardware
8. Its desktop version includes several desktop environment options Ubuntu applies the GNOME desktop environment (Unity for earlier versions) by default
9. Try the Debian server at Vultr for free Try Ubuntu server at Vultr for free
10. If we are in an enterprise platform, we should use Debian because it is more secure and stable. If we need the current releases of each software and if we apply the server for some personal use then we should use Ubuntu.
11. There is no release cycle specified officially in Debian. Although, we will find that a newer version occurs almost two years once. For example Buster. Reasonably, Ubuntu includes a normal release cycle. There is an LTS version released every two years and two versions published every year. For example Focal Fossa.
12. Entirely, Debian is community-driven. Debian is developed and maintained by developers and programmers across the world. This way of development confirms continuity. Completely, Debian is centralized control-free. It is one of the causes of an undetermined stable release cycle. Ubuntu is maintained and developed by Canonical. It has a few advantages for being maintained by a company. It has a support line (official), a definite release cycle, and also specific industrial hardware/software support.
13. Debian includes only open-source and free software inside its repositories. It is mostly wide for various users. Also, Debian supports PPAs. Debian only has authentic open-source software inside its repositories. Ubuntu includes a wide variety of software repositories. It has an excellent selection of software available in its repositories, although, there are other options to include.
Note: The repositories (default) are sufficient in most cases.
14. Debian provides minimal pre-installed software. It enables Debian to act better in an easy installation. Besides, Ubuntu provides more software promising possible features that can be examined bloat. It could differ from one user to another. The software could be uninstalled for making the system very lighter, but, that may not work always because the users still do not know which of the packages are necessary to the system.
15. If we are gamers, then probably we will be interested in the latest drivers, hardware, and software support. While Debian potentially can facilitate that, it is possible that we may finish up breaking Installation. Debian concentrates on the open-source factor of the software. Ubuntu also supports various proprietary packages which often combine graphics drivers which are necessary for gaming. With gamers, it is a fact that Ubuntu and its distributions (such as Pop!_OS) have been performing much better related to both hardware and software support.
16. Debian applies the Debian installer and it is based on the nCurses for the Installation process. Debian installer facilities many more options than Ubiquity. Besides, Ubuntu applies an installer known as Ubiquity.
17. Debian needs more tinkering for getting things done. Things can be done quickly with Ubuntu comparatively.
18. Debian facilitates some choices if it comes to desktop environments. The desktop environments offered are LXqt, LXDE, MATE, KDE, Xfce, Cinnamon, GNOME, and something known as 'standard' which is Debian without the graphical interface. GNOME is the default DE for Debian. Ubuntu contains distinct named distributions for distinct desktop environments. For example, KDE with Ubuntu is Kubuntu. Xfce with Ubuntu is Xubuntu and others. Several Ubuntu flavors are Ubuntu MATE (MATE), Xubuntu (Xfce), Ubuntu Budgie (Budgie), Lubuntu (LXqt), Kubuntu (KDE), and Ubuntu (GNOME).

Youtube For Videos Join Our Youtube Channel: Join Now

Help Others, Please Share

facebook twitter pinterest

Learn Latest Tutorials


Trending Technologies

B.Tech / MCA