Differences in systems

I am a beginner in Linux and have had a preliminary experience with Debian and Ubuntu systems, especially without a GUI. I am unable to distinguish the difference between these two systems. Can a kind-hearted expert explain it in a simple and understandable way?

Not that many. Ubuntu is after all based on Debian. If you can get around Debian, you will be able to switch to Ubuntu no problem.

Ubuntu has some additional stuff that theoretically should ease the management (though, it will give you some headaches at the beginning). Some of the things include:

  • netplan (on Debian your configure networking using /etc/interfaces and ifup/ifdown, on Ubuntu you have to edit files in /etc/netplan and use netplan apply
  • systemd is used for DNS (on Debian you directly edit /etc/resolv.conf, on Ubuntu that file is generated by systemd. You gotta play with it to figure out where systemd configuration is stored)
  • Ubuntu likes to setup filesystem with LVM by default. You have to learn where it makes sense and where it adds unneccessary complexity

Edit: Generally, when working with Ubuntu you can assume that you are working with Debian. Ubuntu has left hints on the different things. When you start editing typical Debian files you will see comments like this file is generated by XYZ, do not modify it directly.


Debian and Ubuntu are both popular Linux distributions with some similarities and differences. They are related to each other, as Ubuntu is based on Debian, but they have different goals and target audiences. Here’s a simple explanation of the main differences:

  1. Release cycle: Debian has a slower release cycle, with new stable versions coming out approximately every 2 years. Ubuntu, on the other hand, has a faster release cycle, with new versions released every 6 months. There’s also an LTS (Long Term Support) release every 2 years, which is supported for 5 years.
  2. Stability vs. up-to-date software: Debian is known for its stability, with the stable version containing well-tested packages, ensuring a reliable system. This can mean that some packages are a bit outdated. Ubuntu focuses more on providing up-to-date software, making it more cutting-edge, but potentially less stable.
  3. Target audience: Debian is often considered more suitable for experienced users and system administrators due to its stability and manual configuration options. Ubuntu, on the other hand, aims to be more user-friendly, making it a good choice for beginners and general users.
  4. Desktop environments: Both Debian and Ubuntu can be installed without a GUI, as you mentioned. However, when it comes to default desktop environments, Debian uses GNOME, while Ubuntu uses its own customized version of GNOME called “Ubuntu Desktop.” Additionally, Ubuntu has official flavors with different desktop environments like Kubuntu (KDE), Xubuntu (Xfce), and Lubuntu (LXDE/LXQt).
  5. Community and support: Ubuntu has a large, active community and extensive documentation, making it easier to find help and support. Debian also has a strong community, but it might be slightly harder for beginners to find help due to the more technical nature of the distribution.
  6. Commercial backing: Ubuntu is backed by Canonical, a company that provides commercial support and services for Ubuntu, while Debian is a community-driven project with no commercial backing.

In summary, Debian is known for its stability and is often preferred by experienced users, while Ubuntu is more beginner-friendly, providing up-to-date software and a more extensive support system.

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I’m wondering if this is still true. Documentation of newer Debian seemed to indicate they now use systemd’s setup directly, though all my Debian 11 installations are upgraded from previous versions, so I couldn’t confirm …
I believe you can install netplan if you like it. (I haven’t really looked into it. Should I check out netplan?) I prefer Debian, not sure if it’s just because I’ve been using it more and longer …


Ah, good to know then. I personally switched to Ubuntu, so my knowledge might be a bit outdated.

I think you should. At first I was also skeptical, especially considering that the documentation is lacking, though I came to love it. Netplan uses declarative approach where you just define your desired state and it makes necessary changes, without you having to apply changes step by step. Moreover, netplan also “tests” your configuration. When you apply changes, it gives you 120 seconds to confirm them. If you loose connection, netplan reverts the changes.