How to choose between Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu and Lubuntu

An Ubuntu sticker on a PC keyboard.

There is more than one Ubuntu. You can download Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, or Lubuntu – but what is 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 make the right choice, you will need to understand the strengths of each “flavor.” That could be the polish and polish of Kubuntu, 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, they are all based on the same underlying Ubuntu software. They include the same Linux kernel and low-level system utilities. However, each one has different flavor-specific and desktop apps. That means some have more features, while others are lighter, so each one feels a little different.

Since these flavors are designed to make Linux more accessible, they’re not necessarily going to get upvotes on a geeky Reddit thread. The flavors are all about practicality rather than command line geek.

Here’s a look at four of the Ubuntu distributions. Find out what each one 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 will install quickly and easily on almost any modern hardware, often in as little as 5-10 minutes. You only need 4GB of memory and a 25GB hard drive (Take that, Windows 10!).

The GNOME desktop, with its left-side docking station, is surprisingly intuitive, even if it’s unconventional and not necessarily easy to adjust. You’ll need to install a couple of apps, like the GNOME tweak tool, as well as maneuver through the jungle that is the website for the GNOME Shell extension and its applets.

The software, including the LibreOffice office suite, the Firefox browser, and the Thunderbird email client, are mostly direct replacements for everything Windows offers. That said, the software application, which takes care of the installation, is clunky and prone to crashing. and has been in “repair” for years.

Kubuntu: best for tweaking and customizing

Kubuntu desktop

Kubuntu uses the KDE Plasma desktop and a variety of KDE applications (Kwallet, anyone?) on top of the Ubuntu base. Although there are no official minimum system requirements, this means that it may not seem as light or nimble as Ubuntu in size or resources (and there is no 32-bit version).

But Kubuntu offers a much nicer appearance than Ubuntu, as well as the flexibility to adjust the desktop to look like just about anything you want. Your Dolphin file manager is generally considered one of the most productive in computing. Additionally, developers have consistently replaced many of their infamous K applications, such as the browser, email, and office suite, with Firefox, Thunderbird, and LibreOffice.

The drawbacks? The remaining K applications and their dependencies tend to overwhelm the hard drive. Also, if you want to install a non-KDE application, it often means installing a large number of non-KDE files to make it work, adding to the clutter.

Xubuntu – Best for Simplicity and Stability

Xubuntu desktop

There is nothing flashy or postmodern about Xubuntu, which uses the Xfce desktop on the basis of Ubuntu. That is its biggest advantage: it is as stable, reliable and robust as Linux distributions. In this, the Xfce desktop is so dated that it seems like it hasn’t changed in the last decade (and mostly hasn’t, except for its stability).

Also, Xubuntu doesn’t require a lot of system resources – the minimums are just 512MB of memory and a 7.5GB hard drive. Despite this, it can run the same applications as Ubuntu (LibreOffice, Firefox, VLC, and the rest).

But it also means that since Xfce is so different from GNOME, you may not be able to install a must-have GNOME application that you want, such as the Tweak tool. And because it is so outdated, there is little you can do to modify it. If you think desktops need more than a dock, a wallpaper option, and an icon change, then Xubuntu is not for you.

Lubuntu: best for a lightweight desktop

Lubuntu desktop

Lubuntu started life as a distro designed to run on older, slower, lower-spec hardware, and that’s still one of its selling points: it needs as little as 1GB of memory (though, like Kubuntu, there are no official minimums) .

But its developers have sharpened their focus in recent releases, focusing on a lighter but more modern distribution. Hence the switch to the LXQt desktop, the Calamares installer used by Fedora, the KDE Muon software center, and the decision to remove the 32-bit version.

The LXQt desktop is similar to Xfce in that it is lighter and more basic than GNOME and Plasma, although it uses some of the same internal code as Kubuntu’s Plasma. In this, it is probably fair to think of the new Lubuntu as a lighter and less flashy version of Kubuntu that also uses less resource consuming applications such as Trojita email and the Featherpad text editor. The problem is that this new approach is still a work in progress, and there are There have been several reports in forums and elsewhere of repeated errors.


In the end, every option that interests you is worth trying. You can put each one on a USB drive and test it in a live environment (no installation required) to see what clicks for you.

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