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Fedora users or potential users sometimes have questions on how Fedora compares to other distributions in the Linux world. If you are wondering if Fedora is the right distribution for you, refer to the following pages:

http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Overview

http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Is_Fedora_For_Me

Linux distributions are very diverse and the following is not meant to a comprehensive comparison of all distributions, nor are they a unbiased review or distribution bashing. Instead, this article looks at some other popular distributions from a Fedora perspective.

We, in the Fedora Project, certainly believe in the diversity and encourage that by working close with upstream projects that benefits all Linux distributions and not just Fedora.


Debian

Debian is a community project and a popular Linux distribution.

Similarities

Like Fedora, Debian is very focused on free and open source software. A good judgement of whether a particular software project is truly free and open source software can be made on the basis of whether it is available via the Debian and Fedora repositories.

Both projects have a large body of collective knowledge from the community in the form of community governance, policies, and packaging guidelines.

Differences

Debian uses the deb format, dpkg package manager, and apt-get dependency resolver. Fedora uses the RPM format, the RPM package manager, and dnf dependency resolver.

Debian has free, non-free and contrib repositories, while Fedora has a single global repository that contains only free software applications. Debian has a larger repository with over 20,000 software packages. Fedora has around 15,000 software packages, although it should be taken into account that Fedora does not include a non-free or contrib repository.

Unlike Fedora, Debian does not follow a time-based release model.


Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a popular Debian derivative and consequently many of the similarities and differences between Debian and Fedora apply to Ubuntu as well.

Similarities

Fedora and Ubuntu both use many of the same command line tools, like nearly any Linux distribution, including cp, mv, rm, sudo, wget, etc.

Just as Fedora is sponsored by Red Hat, Ubuntu is sponsored by Canonical Ltd, a UK-based software company that profits mostly on charging for Ubuntu support. Ubuntu also has its own StackExchange website called Ask Ubuntu, which is similar to Fedora's Ask Fedora Askbot-based website.

Ubuntu has a server and cloud edition like Fedora does.

Differences

Ubuntu is commercially supported by Canonical while Fedora is a community project sponsored by Red Hat. In that sense Fedora is more akin to Ubuntu flavours which are the community based projects with special goals (usually customizing the Desktop Environments); the bigger difference in that comparison is that Fedora works as one unified project even with regard to spins while Ubuntu flavours usually act as a separate projects.

Ubuntu is based off of Debian, but Fedora is not a derivative of another Linux distribution and has a more direct relationship with many upstream projects by using newer versions of their software.

Ubuntu has more relaxed policies involving proprietary or patent-encumbered software and selectively tolerates it to some extent.

Ubuntu also uses the deb format, dpkg package manager, and apt-get dependency resolver.

Ubuntu's default desktop environment is Unity, but Ubuntu can also be used with desktop environments such as GNOME, KDE, Xfce, LXDE, and MATE. Fedora's default desktop environment is GNOME, but there are also Fedora spins of other desktop environments, such as KDE, Xfce, LXDE, and MATE.

openSUSE

openSUSE was founded by SUSE, LLC as a predecessor of Red Hat Linux. Because of similarities in packaging software, there are many similarities between openSUSE and Fedora.

Similarities

Like Fedora, openSUSE uses RPM as a package manager.

openSUSE also has a time-based release model that comes with their Leap version; however, Fedora releases a new major release every six months while openSUSE has a new major release every nine months. Tumbleweed is another openSUSE version, based on the rolling release cycle where the packages are updated more often.

openSUSE has adopted the Fedora trademark license agreement with a few minor differences, and openSUSE has mostly adopted the Fedora Packaging Guidelines as well.

Differences

openSUSE uses the zypper dependency resolver instead of dnf. Both of these dependency resolvers use a SAT-solver for quick dependency resolutions.

openSUSE is freely available, but also sold as a retail boxed product with limited commercial support from SUSE, while Fedora is a community project with no retail business. As of the version 15 of openSUSE Leap users can migrate to SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) if they need support and wish to become a SUSE customer.

Mandriva successors

Mandriva Linux was a distribution by Mandriva S.A. Since it is no longer available both Mageia and OpenMandriva are referred here as Mandriva successors.

Similarities

Like Fedora, Mandriva successors use RPM as a package manager.

Differences

Mandriva successors use the urpmi dependency resolver instead of dnf. They have an official non-free repository for redistributable but non-free software. And usually have a somewhat more relaxed patent policy.

Mandriva successors has a home-grown set of configuration tools, written in perl with GTK+ bindings. Mandriva derived distributions use their own graphical network configuration tool and status applet, rather than NetworkManager like in Fedora. Mandriva used to require all shared libraries to be split into separate packages and to be provided in both x86-32 and x86-64 form.