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Ubuntu vs. Linux: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Ubuntu is an operating system based on the Linux kernel, while Linux is the kernel that serves as the foundation for various operating systems.
Ubuntu vs. Linux

Key Differences

Linux is a generic term referring to Unix-like operating systems based on the Linux kernel, whereas Ubuntu is a specific distribution, also known as a distro, of Linux. The Linux kernel serves as the core interface between a computer's hardware and its processes, enabling communication between the two. Ubuntu, on the other hand, is one of the many operating systems that use the Linux kernel, providing a user-friendly interface and applications.
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Nov 20, 2023
While Linux provides the essential foundation for several open-source operating systems, Ubuntu aims to offer a polished, easy-to-use experience out of the box. Linux itself doesn’t come with an interface or packaged software; however, Ubuntu combines the Linux kernel with the GNOME desktop environment and a suite of tools to create a complete system. Ubuntu is known for its regular release cycle, with new versions coming out every six months and long-term support (LTS) releases every two years.
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Ubuntu offers a unified look and feel and its own software repositories, whereas the broader Linux ecosystem includes a variety of desktop environments, package managers, and distribution-specific tools. Ubuntu focuses on user-friendliness and support, making it a popular choice for those new to Linux. Conversely, Linux, being just the kernel, does not have a user interface and requires a distribution like Ubuntu to interact with it in a meaningful way.
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The development of Ubuntu is led by Canonical Ltd., with the company providing commercial support for it. Linux, however, is developed collaboratively by contributors around the world, led by Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel. Ubuntu contributes to the Linux project by sending patches and updates upstream to the kernel and other components, helping to improve the Linux ecosystem as a whole.
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Comparison Chart

Nature

Operating system
Kernel
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User Interface

GNOME (by default)
N/A (kernel only)
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Support

Canonical Ltd. support available
Community support
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Usage

Desktops, servers, and cloud
Embedded systems, servers, desktops, and more
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Package Management

APT and DEB packages
Varies by distribution (RPM, DEB, etc.)
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Ubuntu and Linux Definitions

Ubuntu

Regularly releases updates and has LTS versions.
Ubuntu’s LTS version offers five years of support.
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Linux

Is developed by a global community of contributors.
Contributions to the Linux kernel are managed through a mailing list.
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Ubuntu

Offers its own software repositories for application installation.
I used the Ubuntu Software Center to install new apps.
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Linux

Includes a variety of distributions beyond Ubuntu, such as Fedora and Debian.
I'm exploring different Linux distributions to see which one I like best.
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Ubuntu

Comes with the GNOME desktop environment by default.
The latest Ubuntu version features the newest GNOME desktop.
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Linux

The kernel that underpins a variety of open-source operating systems.
Linux is at the heart of many server environments.
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Ubuntu

A Linux distribution with a focus on user-friendliness.
I installed Ubuntu on my laptop because of its ease of use.
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Linux

Does not come with a default desktop environment.
After installing Linux, I chose to use the KDE desktop environment.
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Ubuntu

Managed and supported by Canonical Ltd.
For enterprise support, you can purchase Ubuntu Advantage from Canonical.
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Linux

Can be used in many different types of devices, from phones to supercomputers.
Android is based on the Linux kernel.
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Ubuntu

A philosophical doctrine or approach to life that emphasizes social unity and generosity of spirit.
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Linux

(software) Any unix-like operating system that uses the Linux kernel.
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Ubuntu

(South Africa) A Nguni Bantu ideology focusing on people's allegiances and relations with each other.
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Linux

An open-source version of the UNIX operating system
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is Ubuntu?

Ubuntu is a Linux distribution designed to be easy to use.
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What is Linux?

Linux is the kernel that serves as the foundation for operating systems like Ubuntu.
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Is Ubuntu the same as Linux?

No, Ubuntu is an operating system that uses the Linux kernel.
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Is Ubuntu free to use?

Yes, Ubuntu is free and open-source software.
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Can I use Linux without Ubuntu?

Yes, there are many Linux distributions other than Ubuntu.
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Who supports Ubuntu?

Canonical Ltd. provides commercial support for Ubuntu.
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What's the difference between Ubuntu and other Linux distributions?

Ubuntu is known for its user-friendliness and support, while other distributions may have different focuses.
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Who created Linux?

Linus Torvalds created the Linux kernel.
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Is Ubuntu suitable for beginners?

Yes, Ubuntu is considered one of the most beginner-friendly Linux distributions.
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Can I run Windows software on Ubuntu?

Not natively, but you can use compatibility layers like Wine.
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Is Linux a full operating system?

No, Linux refers to the kernel; a full operating system includes the kernel and other components.
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How often is Ubuntu updated?

Ubuntu has a new release every six months and an LTS release every two years.
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How do I install software on Ubuntu?

You can use the APT package manager or the Ubuntu Software Center.
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How do I get help with Ubuntu?

You can access community support through forums, ask Ubuntu, or get commercial support from Canonical.
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Can Ubuntu be used for servers?

Yes, Ubuntu has a server edition specifically for this purpose.
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What programming languages can I use on Ubuntu?

You can use almost any programming language on Ubuntu.
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Can I customize Ubuntu?

Yes, Ubuntu is highly customizable with themes, extensions, and other configurations.
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Do I need antivirus software for Ubuntu?

Linux systems are less prone to viruses, but having antivirus software is still a good practice.
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What desktop environments can I use with Linux?

You can use various desktop environments like GNOME, KDE, XFCE, and others.
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Can I use Ubuntu for programming?

Yes, Ubuntu is widely used for programming and development work.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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