Debian vs Ubuntu – Which is better?

Short Answer (quick read).

The question “Debian vs Ubuntu” can be answered by taking a quick look at both systems. So, here we go:

Advantages of Debian operating system on your VPS:

  • Open source software
  • Lightweight
  • Numerous configuration options
  • Can easily be adjusted

Disadvantages of Debian operating system:

  • Only for experienced users
  • Fewer updates

Advantages of Ubuntu operating system on your VPS:

  • Suitable for inexperienced users
  • Can also be installed on mobile devices
  • Always up to date

Disadvantages of Ubuntu operating system:

  • Is controlled by a company (not open source)
  • Less flexible in terms of adjustments

What is the difference between Debian and Ubuntu from this wonderful Cloud hosting company?

At this Cloud provider the difference between Ubuntu and Debian is exactly the same as listed above. In addition the company’s Ubuntu and Debian operating systems are faster, cheaper, with a better help desk, and the security is also at a higher level. Another difference is the fact that the company’s Debian and Ubuntu systems operate in the Cloud. This practically eliminates downtime. And, it’s the only web host in the world with a strict No Overselling Policy.

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Hopefully this summary was good enough to explain Ubuntu or Debian. However, we invite you to read on to learn everything about the details.

Long explanation.

Difference between Debian and Ubuntu.

Debian and Ubuntu are two of the most popular Linux distributions and are even related to each other. There are, however, significant differences between the two operating systems when comparing them. While Ubuntu is practically the standard for private desktops, Debian is primarily used as the operating system for vServers (VPS) and power PC’s. In this article I compare Debian and Ubuntu by explaining the advantages and disadvantages of the different variants and why the choice is not that difficult in the end.

What is a distribution and a derivative?

A distribution is a selection of coordinated user software (e.g. a desktop environment, system administration or office tools) that is added to a Linux kernel. A derivative is a spin-off from an existing project in which parts of the program code are further developed independently of the original project.

How many types of Linux are there?

In total there are around 290 different Linux distributions, 131 of which are derived from Debian and 58 were developed directly from the Ubuntu code.

What does the name “Debian” mean?

Debian is a word created by the project’s founder, Ian Murdock, and is made up of the name of his ex-wife Debra and his own first name (“Deb – Ian”).

Debian – The mother of many distributions

Debian has been around since 1993, making it one of the oldest Linux distributions on the market and forming the basis for a large number of other distributions such as Ubuntu or Raspbian. It exists for different architectures, including i386, amd64, mipsel and arm64, for each of which there are different installation media. All downloads are also managed as simple file lists. So, if you don’t know what an MD5 file is and what it’s used for, you’d better stay away from it.

The software for Debian is installed through packages. To do this, the operating system uses the Advanced Packaging Tool (APT), which checks when installing whether all the necessary packages are available, and otherwise installs them later. Only a few command lines are required to update a package. Good to know: Kernels are also updated or removed in Debian via the APT.

There are now over 57,000 ready-made packages (pre-compiled programs), but unlike Ubuntu, Debian does not support PPAs (“Personal Package Archives”). These do not actually differ fundamentally from normal Debian repositories, but in contrast to this, the GPG key has to be imported manually and the repository address added to the configuration file.

Fewer updates for more stability

Debian has three different releases (unstable, testing and stable) and is considered to be the more reliable distribution compared to Ubuntu due to its irregular release cycles. Debian has fewer updates in comparison, but these are thoroughly tested and are therefore actually stable. The standard user interface is GNOME3, but you can also switch to KDE or Xcfe at any time.

Debian is a community distribution. This means that it is managed by a selected developer board, has its own internal structure and follows its own laws. In addition, almost all of the participants are volunteers.

While Ubuntu already makes certain demands on the hardware to be used due to its size, Debian is a real lightweight that you can operate (without a desktop environment) even on systems with only 64 MB RAM and 10 GB hard disk.

Ubuntu – The ambitious offspring

Ubuntu was first released in 2005 and is based on a snapshot from Debian (testing branch). As a derivative, it builds on its architecture and infrastructure, so it is of course not surprising that the two operating systems are very similar in many ways. In contrast to the “mother ship” Debian, Ubuntu is aimed more at inexperienced users who want to get to their destination quickly without much configuration effort.

This is particularly noticeable when selecting the installed standard programs. While Debian relies entirely on free software, Ubuntu uses both free and proprietary applications. However, this has advantages and disadvantages. While the standard user does not normally care what type of driver (free or not free) is running his hardware, it can be problematic in a company if it is not possible to understand exactly how an application works. Good to know: The popular Linux Mint is a distribution that is based on Ubuntu and contains extensions that are not included there.

Unity Desktop in Ubuntu

With Unity, Ubuntu even comes with a specially developed user interface.

While Debian offers you a multitude of options for configuring the desktop environment, Ubuntu provides these already pre-configured (e.g. in the form of Gnome, the specially developed Unity, KDE, Budgie or Xfce). Releases in Ubuntu are strictly scheduled (every 2 months and every 6 months). This means that you always know exactly in advance when a new version is available.

Sponsored by Canonical

Ubuntu is a product of Canonical Company, who developed it along with several related products. That means in plain language: Canonical has full control over the operating system and all decisions that are made in connection with it.

But it also has some advantages. On the one hand, Canonical concludes co-operations with hardware manufacturers in order to guarantee the greatest possible compatibility. The computers of the computer giant DELL, for example, are now delivered with Ubuntu as standard alongside Windows. In addition, the company also offers support contracts, which can be particularly helpful in the event of malfunctions or failures in production environments. Good to know: With the help of special packages such as Wine or PlayOnLinux, it is in principle possible to run any commercial Windows software under Ubuntu.

The advantages and disadvantages of Debian and Ubuntu

Debian advantages for VPS:

  • Open source
  • Supports numerous hardware architectures
  • Powerful and flexible package management
  • Individual adjustments possible
  • extensive software selection
  • automatic updates possible
  • always the latest distribution thanks to the cooperation of the developers
  • high stability
  • Installation also possible as a minimal system

Debian disadvantages:

  • complex installation and setup
  • not suitable for inexperienced users
  • Program versions partly out of date at the release
  • Updates appear irregularly and cannot be planned

Ubuntu advantages for VPS:

  • easy installation and configuration
  • can also be installed on mobile devices
  • Programs are newer and usually offer more functions
  • is also suitable for inexperienced users
  • Releases are carried out regularly (every 2 months and every 6 months)
  • Program versions always up to date

Ubuntu disadvantages:

  • is published as a product of a company and is controlled by it
  • its scope makes certain hardware requirements (no minimum installation possible)
  • hardly any individual adjustments possible


I hope that your question “Debian or Ubuntu server” is answered and that it makes the choice easier to you. Both are very similar, but they also have some significant differences in terms of the release model, the software that comes with it, and the configuration options. While Ubuntu is more geared towards user-friendliness, Debian primarily pursues the freedom philosophy and scores with its stability.

If the VPS in question is to fulfill a mission-critical function (e.g. a productive server), you should definitely use a professional (commercial) distribution such as Ubuntu. However, if you have the opportunity to fall back on appropriate support on site or even have extensive Linux knowledge yourself, you can not only save a lot of money with Debian, but also have significantly more configuration and application options on a VPS. For a normal end user who only needs a reliable desktop operating system, however, Ubuntu is just the thing.