Difference Between Debian and Ubuntu

There is no doubt that Linux distributions have gained much popularity and are widely used due to their stability and flexibility. Two of the most commonly adopted Linux distributions are Debian and Ubuntu. Currently, there are more than 290 active Linux distributions available on Distrowatch. Out of 290, 131 are derived from Debian, including Ubuntu distribution. The other 58 distributions are directly derived from Ubuntu. But, both of the distributions are different in experience and functionalities in every aspect. Thus, choosing one of the distributions is difficult, making it a hard choice.

These are the frequently asked questions, which one to choose: Debian or Ubuntu. Frankly speaking, Debian is considered to be well-suited for experienced users while Ubuntu is for beginners’ luck. Some people disagree with this difference. Today, Debian allows every user with hands-on control, making it suitable for every user while maintaining its machine.

Apart from this, Ubuntu might be a little difficult to start. However, Ubuntu is derived from Debian, still having their difference in tools or technologies. Therefore, they are differentiated on every grounds from installation to package management and community support.

We have mentioned how Debian is different from Ubuntu and what features differentiate them. However, before moving to the differences, we will first discuss Debian and Ubuntu.

What is Debian?

Debian came into the picture as an open-source and free operating system in 1993. It is one of the older Linux distributions available in the market for many Linux admin users, making it the most stable distribution. In addition, you can run this distribution on many devices that include laptops, desktops, and servers. In comparison to Ubuntu, Debian is more stable and versatile. Thus, making it less suitable for beginners to start learning.

Advantages Of Debian

  • The Debian distribution is managed and maintained by the community, making it community-driven. There are several experienced programmers and developers behind its success.
  • With the Debian operating system, you can easily install various tools. In addition, you can install Debian via CD and many other ways for your system.
  • Debian is very secure due to its security-centered features.
  • Debian has more support for hardware architectures like amd64 to arm64 and PowerPC among all Linux distributions, and many more.
  • You can avail yourself of Debian OS free of cost.
  • It comes with the biggest repository of software than any other distribution of Linux.

Disadvantages of Debian

  • If you are a Linux beginner, then Debian is not a smart choice for you. Debian is a little difficult for users to start their careers.
  • It does not have a short release cycle as compared to other Linux distributions.
  • Unlike other Linux distros, Debian does not have PPA’s.
  • It comes with a basic user interface, and most of the tasks are done via a terminal.
  • Unfortunately, it does not provide the enterprise version.

What is Ubuntu?

Unlike Debian, which is the oldest and stable, Ubuntu is new to the Linux market. It was launched in 2004, based on Debian distribution. Ubuntu is openly available to every user as it is an open-source and free operating system. It is available in three unique official editions- Desktop, Server, and Core for IoT. Thus, one can run Ubuntu on any virtual machine or device. As Ubuntu is derived from Debian, making it somehow similar to Debian, but with many differences.

Advantages of Ubuntu Linux

  • Unlike Debian, Ubuntu is user-friendly and is well-suited for beginners. If you are a new user of the Linux environment, then choosing Ubuntu is one of the smart choices.
  • Ubuntu is highly customizable, allowing you to run it on various devices and virtual machines of your choice.
  • You will get frequent update releases for this distribution.
  • You can run Ubuntu on low specifications system and will require fewer resources to install and run.
  • Beginners can try their luck with Ubuntu, and easy to get along with Linux basics.
  • You can easily update the Ubuntu version, especially the LTS.
  • You can use Ubuntu for personal as well as for enterprise solutions.
  • You can leverage the best package management with Ubuntu.

Disadvantages of Ubuntu Linux

  • Ubuntu is not based on its community; sometimes, skilled and experienced developers are hired to work on the OS.
  • You can get Ubuntu releases frequently but not tested as Debian, and thus, it is not a very stable solution.
  • You can avail both free and proprietary software, making Ubuntu not as free as Debian.

Head-to-Head Comparison between Debian and Ubuntu

Feature Debian Ubuntu
Download link
Developers and community The Debian Community The Canonical Company
Initial Release September 1993 October 2004
Base OS Original Linux Debian based
Software Type: Free Only Free & proprietary
Suitable for Advanced or experienced users Beginners
Hardware Compatibility: Vast Supports more devices and platforms
LTS Support Five years Five years
PPA Not supported Supported
Release Cycle: Irregular Steady: 6-month interval
What’s Special Rock-stable Frequent/regular updates
Security Very secure Less secure

Difference between Debian and Ubuntu: Explained

Below are a few aspects on which you can differentiate Debian from Ubuntu.

Basic Foundation

Debian was launched in 1993, making it the oldest Linux distribution. In comparison, Ubuntu was launched in 2004 and is based on Debian. You will get Debian’s testing branch and Ubuntu based on the latest package from the unstable Debian branch. Whenever you make any change to Ubuntu for every release, all the changes will be pushed back to the Debian codebase.

Installation Process

With Debian, you can support various hardware architecture like amd64, i386, arm64, and others. Also, Ubuntu supports various architectures like Debian. Both Linux distribution will offer you GUI-based installation. But Debian’s installation is trickier than Ubuntu’s.

Debian takes the help of the Debian-installer based on nCurses, while Ubuntu takes the help of Ubiquity based on parts of Debian-installer. In short, with the Debian installer, you will get more configuration options but manual, making it a difficult option for beginners. In contrast, the Ubuntu installer is user-friendly, not leaving you with many config options.

Package management

Ubuntu and Debian use the same software package management system but they have different software repository sets. With Debian, you are free to choose any free software, excluding proprietary software. In addition, it allows you to install any paid software but require manual configuration settings.

On the other hand, Ubuntu supports every software (free and paid both). With Ubuntu, you will get a universal software management system (Snap). You can use snap on the same distro, preventing distro-based software fragmentation.

Software Compatibility

Both Distros (Debian and Ubuntu) support various software seamlessly. But sometimes software may not work well on some distro and require some change to work. You might need to edit the deb packages to meet the dependencies. However, Ubuntu offers its packaging system called PPA. You can operate it through Ubuntu’s dashboard. This feature is not available in Debian.


In terms of performance, both Debian and Ubuntu work faster. However, Debian does not provide any bundled or prepacked package without any software or additional features. It is considered to be lightweight and super fast than Ubuntu. Ubuntu works faster than other operating system like Windows or macOS. As we all know, Ubuntu comes with various features and functionalities, adding some weight, impacting its performance a little. Still, Ubuntu works faster on every latest computing machine.

Target User Groups

If we consider the user groups, Ubuntu is well-suited for beginners due to its advanced features. However, if you are an experienced user, you should opt for Debian as it requires more manual configuration settings.

Security Aspect

Both the distributions come with an in-built security system and patching system for any threats and vulnerabilities. In comparison to Ubuntu, Debian offers a strict policy implementing user’s policy. But Debian does not provide any access control management system for firewall protection.

With Ubuntu, you can use AppArmor and firewall enabled. In addition, Ubuntu has an efficient and easy-going user interface that does not take much effort to make security settings.

Corporate Backing

Debian is based on community support and is an open-source Linux distribution. At the same time, Ubuntu is also available for free but is still managed by Canonical corporate.


There are several Linux distributions, but Debian and Ubuntu are the most commonly used distros. Every company uses these two for their projects depending on project needs and the users available. We have mentioned various aspects where you can differentiate between Debian and Ubuntu. You can use this article to understand the clear difference and choose the right Linux distribution for your work.

About the author

Simran Kaur

Simran works as a technical writer. The graduate in MS Computer Science from the well known CS hub, aka Silicon Valley, is also an editor of the website. She enjoys writing about any tech topic, including programming, algorithms, cloud, data science, and AI. Travelling, sketching, and gardening are the hobbies that interest her.