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Debian vs. Ubuntu: Contrasting Philosophies

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Debian and Ubuntu are distributions that lend themselves naturally to comparison. Not only is Ubuntu a continuing fork of Debian, but many of its developers also work on Debian.

Even more important, you sometimes hear the suggestion that Ubuntu is a beginner's distribution, and that users might consider migrating to Debian when they gain experience.

However, like many popular conceptions, the common characterizations of Debian and Ubuntu are only partially true. Debian's reputation as an expert's distribution is partly based on its state a decade ago, although it does provide more scope for hands-on management if that is what you want. Similarly, while Ubuntu has always emphasized usability, like any distro, much of its usability comes from the software that it includes -- software that is just as much a part of Debian as of Ubuntu.

So what are the differences between these Siamese twins? Looking at installation, the desktop, package management, and community in the two distributions what emerges is not so much major differences as differences of emphasis, and ultimately, of philosophy.

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