Ubuntu vs Fedora
Two of the biggest names in desktop Linux are Ubuntu and Fedora. Both have a huge and sometimes emotionally charged following and will defend one against the other vehemently.
Ubuntu and Fedora currently support almost the same set of software without much difference. Be it desktop applications like LibreOffice, Skype, VLC or Server software like Apache, MySQL, PHP etc. The only difference could be how to install or provide support. In short, there is no difference for an average user.
There are some basic differences in the two operating systems at the basic level. And here is a basic comparison.
- Debian Based: Ubuntu is a derivative of Debian Linux distribution. Debian is one of the oldest Linux distribution dating back to 1993. It was built with the notion of strict adherence to free software on Unix/Linux. Hence, a big proponent of open source. Ubuntu is built on top of Debian and has greatly enhanced the user experience of using Linux. As Ubuntu has put it: Debian is ‘the rock upon which Ubuntu is built’. Ubuntu is owned and backed by Canonical Inc.
- Stability: One of the hallmarks of Ubuntu is its stability. It adheres to the strict rule of supporting only stable software/drivers as part of the distribution even if it is meant to be an older version. The result is that once Ubuntu is installed and running, it runs forever. Out running the hardware itself without ever crashing. If we wanted a newer version of a software, say LibreOffice, we might have to wait till the next release cycle of the Operating System. Which is great for most of the time, but frustrating at other times. Especially if the newer version has some great new features. Having said that, there is debate within Ubuntu community to support the latest software without needing to wait for the next release cycle of the OS. However, it is still too early to say if Ubuntu will change its core philosophy.
- Support: Supports the desktop for 5 years in their LTS (Long Term Support) releases. LTS releases are done every two years. The last one was 12.04 (named after the year (2012) and month (April). Any computer running this version will be supported till 2017. That’s long enough for the life of most computers/notebooks in home or in office. After that time, the Linux operating system will not stop working, in fact, it will still run great, but will not be supported by bug fixes and upgrades by Ubuntu officially.
- Uses Debian Package Manager: Currently, Debian software library supports close to 30,000 different software precompiled and ready to use. For example, Firefox, Libreoffice, VLC media player among others. It is one of the most important feature for any desktop user. The software is available through an App store (similar to Apple Appstore for iPhone or MacOS) which installs automatically onto the Ubuntu system. If there are any dependencies or additional software/drivers required, it will get it automatically. Hence, making the desktop more user-friendly.
- Supports Free and Proprietary Software: Even though Debian’s philosophy is Free and opensource, Ubuntu believes in supporting proprietary software as well, especially if it enhances the user desktop experience. This is especially true for drivers (Wifi, Display, etc) and even software applications (Plex Media Player etc). We can even find paid software offerings in Ubuntu Software Center thus attracting lot of commercial software developers to its platform.
- Backed by: Canonical is the parent company behind Ubuntu and funds its development.
- Redhat Derivative: Fedora is sponsored by Red Hat, the world’s leading Linux Server Operating System. As they say on their website: Red Hat invests in Fedora to encourage collaboration and incubate innovative new free software technologies. Fedora unlike Ubuntu is based upon free and opensource software and only supports those by default. Redhat is also one of the oldest Linux distribution dating back to 1994. In its initial years, Redhat was available for both Desktop and Servers. But in mid 2000s it abandoned the desktop releases and forked Fedora distribution.
- Redhat RPM Software Packages: Redhat package manager (RPM) has been around since 1997 and is supported across many platforms including Redhat, CentOS, Oracle Linux and Fedora. Making it easier for desktop user to install/find software to use including Skype, media players, music players etc.
- Latest and the Greatest: Fedora prides itself for releasing the newest software out there, even if it is a little buggy. Be it the latest drivers, the latest GNOME interface, the firefox browser anything. They want users to test and play with whats the newest out there. Sometimes things could break (rarely though) but with time they will improve and updates are readily provided by Fedora community when they are available.
- Pure open source: Only pure open source software are supported in Fedora. As Fedora declares on its website:
We believe we should use and distribute the software and content we promote to accomplish our mission of advancing free software. We provide free alternatives to proprietary code and content to make Fedora completely free and redistributable for everyone. That way, anyone can use any of our work for their own purposes, without legal hassles, to further spread free software.
- Backed by: Redhat is behind the Fedora project and even funds most of its development and support.