How to choose between Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu and Lubuntu

How to choose between Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu and Lubuntu

There is more than one Ubuntu. You can download Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, or Lubuntu – but what’s the difference and which one should you choose? The answer depends on what you are looking for: Linux is all about choice.

What is the difference?

To choose correctly, you will need to understand the strengths of each “flavor”. This could be Kubuntu’s bling and polish, Ubuntu’s “set it and forget it”, Xubuntu’s retro simplicity and stability, or Lubuntu’s ability to run on older, less powerful hardware.

Despite the different names, all of these are based on the same underlying Ubuntu software. They include the same Linux kernel and low-level system utilities. However, each has different desktop and flavor-specific applications. This means that some are more complete, while others are lighter, so everyone feels a little different.

Since these releases are built to make Linux more accessible, they won’t necessarily get positive marks in a genius Reddit thread. Flavors are about practicality rather than command-line ingenuity.

Here is a look at four of the Ubuntu distributions. Find out what it does and what it doesn’t, so you can decide which one works best for you:

Ubuntu: Best for Linux beginners

Ubuntu desktop

Ubuntu it installs quickly and easily on almost any modern hardware, often in as little as 5 to 10 minutes. It only needs 4GB of memory and a 25GB hard drive (get it, Windows 10!).

The GNOME desktop, with the dock on the left side, is surprisingly intuitive, even if it’s not at all conventional and not necessarily easy to set up. You’ll need to install a couple of apps, such as the GNOME Tweak Tool, as well as wandering through the jungle which is the website of the GNOME Shell extension and its mini-apps.

The software, including the LibreOffice office suite, Firefox browser, and Thunderbird email client, are mostly immediate replacements for everything Windows offers. That said, the Software app, which handles the installation, is clunky and prone to crashes and has been “fixed” for years .

Kubuntu – best for tweaking and customization

Kubuntu desktop

Kubuntu uses the KDE Plasma desktop and assorted KDE apps (Kwallet, anyone?) on top of the Ubuntu base. While there are no official minimum system requirements, that means it may not feel as light or nimble as Ubuntu in terms of size or resources (and there is no 32-bit version).

But Kubuntu offers a much nicer look and feel than Ubuntu, plus the flexibility to tweak the desktop to look like almost anything you want. Its Dolphin file manager is generally considered to be among the most productive in the IT world. Additionally, developers have consistently replaced many of its infamous K-apps, such as the browser, email, and office suite, with Firefox, Thunderbird, and LibreOffice.

The disadvantages? The remaining K-apps and their dependencies tend to clutter up the hard drive. Also, if you want to install a non-KDE app, it often means installing a set of non-KDE files to make it work, which adds to the confusion.

Xubuntu: the best for simplicity and stability

Xubuntu desktop

There is nothing glitzy or postmodern about it Xubuntu , which uses the Ubuntu-based Xfce desktop. This is its biggest advantage: it is as stable, reliable and solid as Linux distributions. In this, the Xfce desktop is so out of date that it seems like it hasn’t changed in the past decade (and mostly it hasn’t changed, except for its stability).

Plus, Xubuntu doesn’t require much in the way of system resources – the minimum requirements are just 512MB of memory and a 7.5GB hard drive. Despite that, it can run the same apps as Ubuntu (LibreOffice, Firefox, VLC, and the rest).

But it also means that because Xfce is so different from GNOME, you may not be able to install a must-have GNOME app you might want, like the Tweak tool. And because it’s so old-fashioned, there’s little you can do to change it. If you think desktops need more than a dock, wallpaper option, and icon change, then Xubuntu isn’t for you.

Lubuntu: Best for a lightweight desktop

Desktop Lubuntu

Lubuntu is born as a distribution designed to run on older, slower and lower spec hardware, and this remains one of its strengths: it needs just 1GB of memory (although, like Kubuntu, there are no official minimums) .

But its developers have refined its approach in the last two versions, focusing on a lighter but more modern distribution. Hence the move to the LXQt desktop, the Calamares installer used by Fedora, the KDE Muon software center and the decision to abandon the 32-bit version.

The LXQt desktop is similar to Xfce in that it is lighter and simpler than GNOME and Plasma, although it uses some of the same code under the hood of Kubuntu’s Plasma. In this, it’s probably fair to think of the new Lubuntu as a lighter, less bland version of Kubuntu that also uses less resource-intensive apps, like Trojita email and Featherpad text editor. The problem is that this new approach remains a work in progress and there are been various reports in forums and elsewhere of repeated bugs .

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