Linux is one of the most popular operating systems out there. It is better than the Windows operating system in a lot of ways. You can customize a Linux operating system according to your use. But there are many Linux distros available in the market, making it challenging to choose from all the options available. The two most popular Linux distributions are Ubuntu and Fedora. People often get confused about which of the two is better and why. This is an ongoing discussion among the Linux community as well.
Fedora and Ubuntu both released back-to-back one year after another. Both of these distros are one of the biggest names in the Linux scene. At the same time, they are radically different from each other, right from the philosophy to the way they look. Ubuntu and Fedora are contrastingly far away from each other but which among them is the best, how they compare against each other, which among these two is better for you. You will get these answers in a while. In this article, I will discuss the key differences between Fedora and Ubuntu, which will help you compare the two head-to-head and decide which one looks more suitable for your requirements.
But before comparing the two, let me briefly talk about Fedora vs Ubuntu.
What is Fedora?
Fedora is an open-source community supported Linus distribution. It was initially released in 2003. Currently, this project is sponsored by Red Hat, IBM and few other companies. Fedora project is a group of free software community members distributed across the globe. They work together and produce various open-source software, one of which happens to be Fedora. Fedora’s mission is to lead the advancement of free and open-source software and content as a collaborative community. Fedora does not aim to provide an OS for a specific target base but rather aims to lead the advancements of free and open-source software movement.
Fedora is more principle-driven, it even understands the urgency and needs to have one package management across all Linux distros. Fedora does not compromise on staying completely open source. Fedora is completely open-source, it neither incorporates nor encourages the use of proprietary code. Most Linux distros are not 100 percent open source, they do have proprietary elements such as graphic drivers included in them, prioritizing performance and user experience. But Fedora does not consent to this trade-off in its OS. Sure, you can install proprietary graphic drivers in fedora but they are not officially supported.
Fedora has always given a high priority to community expectations and needs. Fedora is a true “from the community for the community” project. Although Red Hat is behind fedora, it does not influence the decisions regarding the development of Fedora. Decisions driving Fedora are community-centric.
Benefits of Fedora:
- Complete open-source OS, so free to use
- Very large and active community producing new cutting-edge features
- Comes with unique security features with a powerful firewall
- Easy to use
- Offers multiple architectures
- Comes with many pre-installed software and tools
What is Ubuntu?
Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distributions out there. It may or may not be the best but it is definitely the most popular. It was initially released in 2004. The distributional package brand of Linux is developed by Canonical limited to use Ubuntu on desktops, servers and other applications. Ubuntu is also very popular operating system in the cloud domain. Google used Ubuntu to build its android development tools. Ubuntu was the first Linux distribution supported by valve for steam so when most people think of Linux, they are probably thinking about Ubuntu.
Ubuntu has always been the most popular Linux distribution. In fact, it is actually a comparatively young distribution. Ubuntu is a Debian Linux distribution. Debian is one of the most well respected and oldest distributions and it develops many advancements that Linux users rely on daily.
When Ubuntu was initially released, the goal was to take Debian which was somewhat tricky to install at the time in 2004 and make a Linux distribution that anyone could use. Ubuntu’s earliest releases focused on developing user-friendly features like a graphical installer that walked users through the steps of setting up Ubuntu. Ubuntu configured your computer for you, which wasn’t a given in the world of Linux at the time. It provided a ready-to-use desktop right after the install. Ubuntu also made a point of making third-party software like drivers easily accessible, another sore point for Linux users. Clearly, the effort to make Linux accessible worked because Ubuntu quickly won the hearts of longtime Linux users and newcomers alike.
Benefits of Ubuntu:
- Free to install and use
- Completely customizable as per your need
- Very secure, almost immune to trojans and malware
- Well suited for developers, give out-of-the-box support for programmers
- Comes with an easy-to-use command line terminal
- Updates without restarting
- Can run on older hardware with lower configurations
Fedora vs Ubuntu: Key Differences
Fedora is based on Red Hat Linux and it is also a contributor to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Ubuntu is Debian based and there are many different flavors of Ubuntu, some popular examples include Linux Mint and elementary OS. They are both supported by large companies, fedora by Red Hat and Ubuntu by canonical. This means they will be around for a long time and there is no concern of losing support due to lack of funds.
Ubuntu and Fedora have their own separate installers. Installing a Linux operating system was always a pain until these installers were introduced. The Ubuntu installer guides you step by step to install Ubuntu on your system in just 10 minutes. This installer can also identify if you already have a Windows system installed and it will help you set up dual boot option in only a few clicks. Fedora uses anaconda installer for the installation and the user interface is very easy and simple to understand. When you are using an anaconda installer, you can do a lot of customizations while installing Fedora.
Fedora and Ubuntu both provide desktop environments with a beautiful user interface using GNOME. But there are differences in the implementations of GNOME between them. Fedora uses the vanilla version of GNOME as default, whereas Ubuntu comes with a customized GNOME desktop called Unity desktop.
Both Fedora and Ubuntu have a release cycle of 6 months. Fedora has a lousy reputation of never launching their new releases on time. Their new releases are supported for 1 year and after that, you need to upgrade to a more recent version. Ubuntu comes with regular release and long-term support (LTS) release. Regular releases of Ubuntu come after every 6 months and long-term support release comes after 2 years and is supported for 5 years.
Package management is one of the major key differences in the Fedora vs Ubuntu debate. Fedora uses ‘yum’ whereas Ubuntu uses ‘apt’ for providing and managing software applications. Fedora uses rpm but Ubuntu uses dpkg for package management. So, the packages meant for Fedora will not be available for use on Ubuntu and vice-versa. They also have a universal package format that they are rallying behind, but Ubuntu is using snap packages and Fedora is using Flatpack. Canonical snap store (Ubuntu) is not fully open source but all of the flatpak (Fedora) and gnome-software used as the GUI frontend on Fedora are open source as per Fedora’s philosophy.
Both distros have excellent performance however, I feel Fedora’s RAM management is better than Ubuntu. It has early oom or early out of memory killer that’s baked into it. To be brief, OOM is a much more aggressive out of memory killer than the one in the Linux kernel and has a huge impact on low memory systems and systems with memory-intensive applications in terms of RAM usage. On a fresh boot, Ubuntu uses significantly less RAM compared to Fedora.
It is not easy to identify a clear winner when it comes to community support, and both have a massive and active community. Fedora is open source in true nature and everything in Fedora is done by its community. From the user interface to all the minor/major releases, the community is involved in it. Ubuntu also has a big community worldwide. The documentation provided by the ubuntu community is straightforward to understand and use. You can post your questions on the ubuntu forum where the community participates actively, and you will get your answers for sure.
Which one to choose: Fedora of Ubuntu?
Both are solid, dependable distros that will serve you well in your daily tasks. If you are using Linux distribution for personal use or just starting with Linux, you can go with Fedora. Fedora has a much faster release cannon with new features every six months, this requires more frequent OS upgrades. If you want to choose a Linux distro for development purposes, Ubuntu will be the right choice. Ubuntu has the option of long-term support releases, these LTS releases are supported by canonical for five years, making it potentially a superior choice for consistent and reliable access to the same environment and tools. However, in Fedora’s defense, system updates and OS upgrades are very smooth and have very little downtime. So, now the choice is yours!
Here is a table with key differences between Fedora and Ubuntu:
|Python, C, C++
|Python, Java, C, C++, C#
|Fedora project (sponsored by Red Hat Inc., IBM and other contributors)
|rpm, yum, DNF, Flatpak
|Dpkg, DEB, Snap
|6 months for regular release, 2 years for long-term support (LTS) release
In short, both Fedora and Ubuntu are very popular Linux distributions but still have their own differences. Think about the parameters on which I have compared both the distros in this article and choose the one which fits your requirement. With either of them, you won’t be disappointed.