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Which *buntu is right for you?

For those of us who still struggle to know the difference between Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Xubuntu.  This article should shed some light into the fundamental differences and perhaps also lead you to choose the one that best suits your needs.

Ubuntu is a community developed operating system that is perfect for laptops, desktops and servers. Whether you use it at home, at school or at work Ubuntu contains all the applications you’ll ever need, from word processing and email applications, to web server software and programming tools.

Ubuntu is a direct threat and competitor to Windows and Mac operating systems.  Ubuntu is and always will be free of charge. You do not pay any licensing fees. You can download, use and share Ubuntu with your friends, family, school or business for absolutely nothing.

Ubuntu with GNOME


Ubuntu is a community developed, Linux-based operating system that is perfect for laptops, desktops and servers. It contains all the applications you need – a web browser, presentation, document and spreadsheet software, instant messaging and much more.    The default distribution of Ubuntu comes with GNOME desktop environment.

The base of the operating system is all the same but if you like GNOME go for Ubuntu.  The Gnome desktop environment is probably the most widely used world-wide, it is easy, flexible and extremely customizable.  Many use Gnome because of it’s huge community base, easy access to support, custom themes and more.  At the time of this writing, Gnome 2.24 is out.

Kubuntu with KDE

According to the official Kubuntu website, Kubuntu is the first Ubuntu derived distribution.  You can get exactly the same effect by installing Ubuntu and adding the KDE packages (and removing the Gnome packages) from the Ubuntu archives.  Kubuntu uses the KDE graphical environment instead of GNOME.  According to the KDE’s official website, KDE or the K Desktop Environment, is a network transparent contemporary desktop environment for UNIX workstations. KDE seeks to fulfill the need for an easy to use desktop for UNIX workstations, similar to desktop environments found on Macintosh and Microsoft Windows operating systems. The UNIX operating system is according to us the best available today.

KDE is by far the most complete UNIX based desktop environment.  It comes with packages that meets all end user’s needs.  It is extremely user-friendly, has professional interface and in my opinion by should be the default desktop environment for a new user trying to learn Linux.  At the time of this writing, KDE 4.2 is out and it’s awesome!

Xubuntu with XFCE


According to Wikipedia, Xubuntu is an official derivative of the Ubuntu operating system which uses the XFCE desktop environment.  According to the creator of XFCE, Olivier Fourdan…“Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for various *NIX systems. Designed for productivity, it loads and executes applications fast, while conserving system resources.”  It short, it is a light weight desktop solution compare to Gnome and KDE.  This version can run on older systems, laptops that may not have enough cpu or memory power.

Xfce 4.4, the latest release embodies the traditional UNIX philosophy of modularity and re-usability. It consists of a number of components that together provide the full functionality of the desktop environment. They are packaged separately and you can pick and choose from the available packages to create the best personal working environment

More Ubuntu Derivatives

Edubuntu Edubuntu’s objective is to create an integrated and usable experience for educational users by enhancing Ubuntu with educational applications, tools, content, and themes.

GobuntuA flavour of Ubuntu that strives to be completely devoid of software, drivers or firmware with restrictive licenses.

Ubuntu Studio Designed for multimedia editing and creation.  Ubuntu Studio is aimed at the GNU/Linux audio, video and graphic enthusiast as well as professional.

Mythbuntu Designed for creating a home theatre PC with MythTV.  Mythbuntu is an community supported add-on for Ubuntu focused upon setting up a standalone MythTV based PVR system. It can be used to prepare a standalone system or for integration with an existing MythTV network.  Mythbuntu also uses the XFCE4 desktop.

Ubuntu MID (Mobile Internet Device) Edition – Ubuntu MID Edition targets an exciting new class of computers called Mobile Internet Devices. Ubuntu MID, based on the world’s most popular Linux distribution, and MID hardware from OEMs and ODMs, is redefining what can be done in mobile computing.

Ubuntu is a great and easy to use no matter which of the above derivative you pick.  However, some are meant more for developers and other things that are specific to an industry, such as education.  For a new user, the best options available to use are Ubuntu or Kubuntu.  I personally find the KDE desktop environment more user-friendly than GNOME but everyone has their own preference.

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