Debian vs Ubuntu

Debian provides the base of many different Linux distributions, including Ubuntu However, just because Ubuntu is based on Debian, it does not mean they are the same, and in this video I will explain the differences between the two distributions

Debian was founded in 1993 by the late Ian Murdock Funding comes from selling commercial support and community donations Ubuntu was founded in 2004 by Canonical The funding model is the same as Debian with selling commercial support and community donations Debian focus on stability, rather than being at the bleeding edge, as evidenced by the fact in 24 years they have only reached version 8

7 at time of recording, with version 9 imminent There are three active releases of Debian: Stable which is currently named Wheezy is the official production release of Debian Testing which is currently named Stretch is what will become the future stable release No release date is set, as Debian will only release when they consider it to be stable enough Unstable (or Sid) is where most of the development work is done

Sid will never get released, it is just a rolling development version of Debian If you hadn’t realised the names come from characters in the movie Toy Story Security updates are provided in a timely manner to Testing and Stable, however Sid may lag behind In terms of Architecture, Debian is available in 32 and 64 bit as well as ARM There are three different ISO files for system installation: Net installer, Live Image, and a larger Complete Installation ISO for anyone without an Internet connection

The default desktop for Debian is Gnome, although many of the more popular desktops are available as official flavours, including: Cinnamon, KDE, LXDE, MATE, and XFCE I will point out the focus with Debian is most certainly with the Gnome desktop, and is particularly evidenced with lower quality build of KDE desktop I don’t find it to be such a problem with unofficial KDE specific distributions based on Debian, for example SolydK, but it could well be to do with a point which I brought up in my Ubuntu vs Arch video in regards to the packaging and dependency quality Ubuntu operate on a fixed release schedule of once every six months, with Long term support releases once every two years The interim releases are supported for just 9 months, and the LTS releases are supported for 5 years with optional pay for support to extend further

There is an official upgrade path between releases of Ubuntu with the preference being to retain users on the LTS releases Ubuntu offer four official variants: Ubuntu Desktop, Server, Netinstall, and Snappy core which is for Internet of Things The default desktop for Ubuntu is now Gnome, and although we have not seen a release yet, I believe it will be a stock version of Gnome, just like Debian has Prior to Ubuntu 1710 the default desktop was Unity 7 for desktop systems and Unity 8 for mobile, however Canonical have ended their venture into mobile convergence and reverted back to using the Gnome desktop for future releases

In terms of system architecture Ubuntu is available in 32 and 64 bit, as well as ARM There are several official derivatives of Ubuntu supported by Canonical, which increases the desktop selection up to: Budgie, KDE, LXDE, MATE, and XFCE Ubuntu have one up Debian offering the Budgie desktop, however they lack the Cinnamon desktop in the official releases Each release of Ubuntu starts life from Debian Testing, and is then supported by Canonical for the life of the distribution Ease of Install Both Debian and Ubuntu have an easy to use point and click graphical installer

Sudo Behaviour This probably the most obvious difference between Debian and Ubuntu, and is more likely to affect users transitioning from Ubuntu to Debian, rather than vice versa Ubuntu have removed the root user, and have instead provided sudo rights to the user created at system install In comparison Debian have a root user, but have not given sudo rights to the user created at system install What this means is if you want to elevate you privileges in Ubuntu you simply type “sudo” and then the command, whereas doing that in Debian will put you on Santa’s naughty list By default you have to use the command su to switch user to root in Debian

The switch is persistent until you exit In comparison sudo is a temporary elevation for a few minutes Again this difference in behaviour can cause annoyance to anyone transitioning between the two systems From a security point of view removing the root user does make an Ubuntu system safer as a hacker would have to guess both the user and password Although it is possible to prevent logon to root with remote access tools such as SSH, which perhaps nullifies this advantage

The behaviour can be changed on each distribution to replicate the other But as to what is really best it comes down to a personal preference Packaging Both distributions at their core use deb packages, which can be installed via dpkg, apt, Synaptic, or a desktop specific package manager It is possible to add third party repositories to both Debian and Ubuntu, however it not always possible to add the same third party repository to both distributions due to conflicts in version numbers Canonical provide Launchpad, an open source project hosting service, which allows you to further expand the number of available applications to Ubuntu

Official advice is Launchpad PPA’s should not be used in Debian, but hey some rules are made to be broken It has to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis as to whether it is possible to add a specific Launchpad PPA into Debian Ubuntu also support installation of “snap” based applications which come supplied with all their dependencies in one snap package and are run in a sandboxed environment Debian has only just gained the necessary snapd application in Testing and Sid, which is essential for installing snaps There is no real winner here as both distributions share the same packaging formats

Perhaps the only advantage goes to Ubuntu in that there is a wider selection of third party repositories to be installed from Launchpad Choice of Applications Debian is dedicated to free software (as in free open source), and as a result you have to enable the Contrib and Nonfree sections from the repositories Without the repository modifications you will be unable to install proprietary audio and video codecs or proprietary firmware and drivers Ubuntu do not seem to be bothered by the difference, and they enable the Restricted (proprietary software), and Multiverse (copyright limited) repositories out-of-the-box In my opinion I want the best software and I’m not too bothered whether it’s open source or proprietary

The winner in this section is the distribution that best suits you personal ethics and standards Bleeding Edge (or lack of) Debian Testing and Sid are about as close as you can get to the bleeding edge, however stable can be quite a long way behind A little too distant perhaps for my liking when I’ve had to deal with old desktops and programming for ancient versions of PHP and Python Ubuntu has no bleeding edge version (unless you look at the derivative KDE Neon which has a bleeding edge KDE desktop and apps) The regular release schedule of six months does mean that applications stay a little more up to date

For users of Ubuntu LTS releases Canonical do provide newer kernels with the Hardware Enablement Stack, which will provide support for CPU’s and hardware which post-dated the release of the distribution Upgrading Ubuntu provide an official upgrade path between distributions with the preference to keep users on the LTS releases Debian seems to be a bit more unofficial, as you have to manually edit the /etc/apt/sourceslist file In my experience upgrades have been successful, however I do have to say it is no where near as convenient as the point-and-click software updater in Ubuntu

Conclusion Whichever way you look at it there is simply no denying the fact that without Debian there would be no Ubuntu Actually it would probably be based on something else From what I have seen with other Linux distributions based on Debian they tend to mimic the behaviour of Ubuntu with using sudo and enabling install of proprietary software out-of-the-box, which suggests to me that the Ubuntu method is perhaps the preferred option for most users I can’t say the Debian method is necessarily wrong, more that its different Looking at the systems I have in my house it is three Debian to four Ubuntu

I have three Raspberry Pi’s running Raspbian, two x86 servers running Ubuntu server, a gaming system running Ubuntu, and my main desktop which runs KDE Neon Running Debian is definitely a progression for an Ubuntu user, as it requires slightly more command line usage The long time between stable releases maybe an issue, however it can be rectified by switching to the Testing release of Debian A new user could get by with Debian, but they may find it easier to utilise one of the distributions based on Debian If you like my videos then please consider being a Patreon and support Quidsup

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Source: Youtube