Ubuntu vs Fedora – What’s the Difference ? (Pros and Cons).
Ubuntu and Fedora are both Linux operating systems – the former based on Debian, and the latter based on Red Hat Linux. The Desktop version of both operating systems comes equipped with a graphical desktop environment that makes it easy to take care of daily tasks. As such, either can be a good choice if you have some Linux experience.
But, if you’re new to Linux, you’ll likely want to start with Ubuntu. So with our article Ubuntu vs Fedora – What’s the Difference ? Let’s introduce Ubuntu.
Table of Contents
What is Ubuntu?
The Debian based operating system follows a six month release cycle, with each release supported for nine months. A Long Term Support (LTS) version is released every two years and is supported for five years, which can optionally be extended for an additional five years through an Extended Security Maintenance subscription.
Ubuntu’s version number convention follows a YY.M format, indicating the year and month of the release. At present Ubuntu 22.04 is the most recent release.
Features of Ubuntu
Ubuntu provides three official versions: Ubuntu Desktop, Ubuntu Server, and Ubuntu for IoT. In addition to the Ubuntu flavours, there are many more Ubuntu derived distributions released and maintained by passionate members of the Ubuntu community, each with its unique features. Many of these distributions are listed on DistroWatch.
GNOME provides easy point and click functionality with a powerful search feature that makes finding apps from the desktop a breeze.
Ubuntu also provides Ubuntu Software, an application that makes it easy to install any of the thousands of available software packages (mostly free, some proprietary) created specifically for Ubuntu based distributions.
Application security is managed by AppArmor, an implementation of name based mandatory access controls. AppArmor is installed by default and controls application access and capabilities.
Ubuntu provides good hardware support, especially for recently produced hardware, and enables the use of proprietary drivers by default. Drivers for some types of hardware, especially older printers and Wi-Fi cards, and even more recent graphics adapters, might require extra tweaking.
Next in this blog post Ubuntu vs Fedora – What’s the Difference ? is to talk about Ubuntu pros and cons.
Easy to use
Once Ubuntu is installed, it’s point and click easy to use – much like Microsoft Windows. Applications are easily accessible from the launcher, and can even be found by typing the first few letters of the application’s name on the desktop.
Easy to customise
One hallmark of Linux is its customizability – everything can be tailored to your heart’s content. If you’re new to Linux based operating systems, you’ll likely want to start customizing the Desktop environment. The
gnome-shell-extensions app allows you to customize the entire look and feel of the GNOME desktop.
Minimal hardware requirements
If you’re coming from Windows server, you might be surprised to learn that Ubuntu has always been free (unless you opt for a paid Extended Security Maintenance subscription or product). Ubuntu can be run on systems with limited resources and has far less resource overhead than, for example, Windows.
Linux based operating systems are faced with fewer threats than, say, Windows. On the one hand this is because Linux based operating systems have a smaller Desktop OS market share. On the other, it’s because Linux users tend to be more tech savvy.
Fast & stable
Operating systems tend to slow down as the number of installed applications increase. But Ubuntu remains fast and stable, as evidenced by my current install which remains as snappy as the day it was installed almost a year later.
Sometimes hardware problems on Linux based systems can be incredibly difficult and complex. Despite the guidance and support provided by a passionate community, fixing these problems can prove a huge obstacle for Linux newbies, requiring expertise and knowledge not always well documented.
Ubuntu and Windows are incompatible. But a free software application can be used to bridge this gap. It is possible to run Windows applications on Ubuntu. It is especially useful for Adobe applications, for example, or to install Microsoft Office. But it can be challenging and application stability (if you can get the desired app working) isn’t always reliable.
Given that Linux users have always put a lot of emphasis on the use of the CLI, you’ll sometimes find that it’s easier to run an app via the command line than using a graphical interface. And if aesthetics is an important part of your desktop experience, you may find that some apps (mostly older apps) are unattractive, and do not provide the means for easy interface customization.
Next in Ubuntu vs Fedora is time to introduce Fedora.
What is Fedora?
Before Fedora, there was Red Hat Linux. When Red Hat was discontinued in 2003 (so that its developers could focus on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), Red Hat was forked into Fedora Core – a free Linux distribution intended for home use.
Fedora is focused on innovation and making Linux work with the latest technologies. Fedora is an upstream source for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which simply means it’s essentially a testing platform for commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux and other Linux distributions.
Features of Fedora
- Fedora Workstation: Desktop based Linux with all the tools and features required for day to day productivity
- Fedora Server: Ideally used in a data center environment where infrastructure control is imperative
- Fedora IoT: Compact and installable on IoT devices, such as Raspberry 4, smart devices, etc.
Fedora Workstation ships with stock GNOME (compared to Ubuntu’s customised version).
Backed by Red Hat
The potential longevity of a Linux distribution is important to consider when choosing a distribution. Much like software packages that get abandoned, so to do some smaller distributions that do not enjoy community or financial support. Red Hat’s backing of Fedora is therefore a significant ‘feature’, if you will, and signifies that it is here to stay.
Fedora ships with the SELinux module, which is short for Security-Enhanced Linux. Compared to AppArmor present in Ubuntu, SELinux provides more granular security controls to isolate applications from each other. However, it should be noted that this also increases the complexity of SELinux.
The default install of Fedora Workstation includes the following applications:
- FireFox (web browser)
- LibreOffice (like Microsoft Office, but free)
- Cheese (webcam software).
- Rhythmbox (audio player)
Despite Evolution being the default Fedora email client, it wasn’t included with my test install. This can be remedied using Fedora’s Software application which makes it easy to install thousands of applications in a couple of clicks.
Out of the box, Fedora doesn’t include any proprietary drivers. Instead, it relies on open-source drivers. But access to third party repositories can be enabled, thus giving access to some proprietary software and drivers.
Easy to use & customise
As with Ubuntu, Fedora Workstation ships with GNOME (unless you’re using a spin). As such the desktop is easy to use and customise. One notable benefit is that the default Fedora installation comes with the minimum amount of pre-installed packages, making it easy to tailor the operating system to your needs from the get-go.
Fedora operating system is known for its first boot in the offline world. Witch such fast operating system it is possible to turn on a PC running Fedora to GNOME login screen in less than 20 seconds.
Newest software versions
With a focus on innovation and integration of the latest technologies, and because of its fairly quick release cycle, Fedora typically ships with the latest software versions.
The longevity of the operating system – thanks to its backing by Red Hat (which itself is sponsored by IBM) – is a relatively sure thing.
Entry into RHEL
If you’re aiming to eventually work on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, using Fedora provides a comfortable learning curve with which to explore the inner workings of a Red Hat-based OS environment.
DNF package manager
Fedora’s dnf package manager is a little easier to use than that of some other Linux distributions. With dnf it’s easy to check version history and perform rollbacks when necessary.
Quick Release Cycle
If you’ve installed Fedora, get ready to upgrade to a newer version in 13 months or less. While the rapid release cycle can be beneficial in terms of the latest and greatest hardware support, it can be disruptive.
Ubuntu and Fedora are on par with each other where support of older or less common hardware types is concerned. Despite the OS’s cutting edge state, you could find it hard to get your old printer operational and working to spec.
By default Fedora only provides access to open source applications. Installation of proprietary applications, or those not licensed as FOSS, will require you to enable RPM Fusion repositories. Smaller developers might not include Fedora RPM packages in their repositories, which means you may have to compile your chosen application.
At this point of the article Ubuntu vs Fedora – What’s the Difference ? it is time to compare both solutions.
Ubuntu vs Fedora: Feature Comparison
Fedora recommends 2GB RAM and 20GB disk space as a minimum. With my test install, I assumed it’d be happy with the same specs provided to the Ubuntu VM, which wasn’t the case. The minimum available space for Fedora is 12GB. Other than that, if you don’t need to manually partition your drive(s), the installation procedure is on par with Ubuntu.
Ubuntu package managers – applications that can be used to install software applications – include Advanced Package Manager (APT),which makes it super easy to install software packages since it automatically downloads and installs dependencies. Dpkg, on the other hand, does not automatically download and install dependencies, which can be a hurdle for new Linux users.
Fedora uses the RPM Package Manager (RPM) system. To simplify package and dependency installation, Fedora uses the dnf software package manager. Unlike Ubuntu, dnf updates repository lists automatically.
Ubuntu being developed as a Windows alternative offers easier access to proprietary drivers for video cards. It also has a robust and reliable Steam client that makes it easy to run Windows-only games on Linux.
Fedora also provides access to proprietary drivers, and also has a steam client. But, getting Windows only games to run without a hitch might sometimes require a little effort.
Fedora’s community is by no means small, but just a little smaller than Ubuntu’s. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the wealth of online documentation, getting assistance from the very enthusiastic Fedora community is easy. Get started with Ask Fedora.
Although threats to Linux based operating systems do exist – from malware to exploits – they are few and far between compared to Microsoft Windows. With Ubuntu, only the root account has superuser privileges capable of making system-wide changes. AppArmor is used to ensure application security.
Just like Ubuntu, Fedora is secure out of the box. It’s a Linux-based operating system, which means only the root account has super-user privileges. Fedora’s use of SELinux improves its security profile even more (on condition that you can make use of its advanced features), and provides more granular control than AppArmor.
Great job! We finished reading Ubuntu vs Fedora – What’s the Difference ? (Pros and Cons). now it is time to conclude.
Ubuntu vs Fedora – What’s the Difference ? (Pros and Cons) Conclusion
So which should you choose? The answer depends on what you want to use the operating system for, and your Linux skill level.
While there are differences between the two, as described above, general functionality is equal between the two. If you just want an operating system that can assist with daily tasks like browsing the web and sending emails, then either will be a good fit.
Fedora will require a slightly more Linux experience sooner than Ubuntu, be it for customization, gaming, or more advanced use. But, it’s also more cutting edge than Ubuntu and provides an environment that can make the transition to Red Hat Enterprise Linux easier.