Ubuntu flavors: What is the difference?

In the end, an operating system is the combination of different parts that together form a single software. Linux distributions are the best example of this because many components can vary from one to another. Specifically, an example of this is Ubuntu which has different flavors that are no more than the same base with another desktop environment. In this post, we will analyze each of the Ubuntu Flavors and establish some differences. So with this information, you can choose one of them and install it on your system.

Ubuntu Flavors

The flavors of Ubuntu are distinguished by the choice of a different desktop environment than GNOME which uses Ubuntu.

Therefore, it shares the same repositories and the same software base as kernel versions, graphical stack, and so on. They even all benefit from the security patches that Canonical releases periodically.

However, only Ubuntu enjoys the full support of Canonical, not all the other flavors.

So let’s get started.

1.- Ubuntu: GNOME

First of all, there’s the mother lode of all these. Ubuntu is the main version of Canonical development.

By default, it has GNOME as its desktop environment and a bunch of default applications that make it a solid alternative to Windows and macOS.

Thanks to the boost that Canonical has given to Ubuntu, it is possible that it is one of the most stable that there is. Emphasizing as I said, for the use of GNOME as a desktop environment although they add some customizations to give more personality to the distribution.

Ubuntu desktop
Ubuntu desktop

An example of this is the Dock on the left side of Ubuntu’s screen and its old Unity and some patches that add to Nautilus the file browser.

This is the official version that releases Canonical which means more stability and support.

More info: Ubuntu Website, Ubuntu 20.04 main features, How to install Ubuntu 20.04?
Download link

2.- Kubuntu: KDE Plasma

They say that GNOME’s main rival is KDE Plasma. Both desktop environments stand out as being very beautiful and complete. That is, they include many proprietary tools that make it easy to use a Linux distribution.

That’s why Kubuntu was born, which unlike Ubuntu, uses a QT base and KDE Plasma as a desktop environment. It also incorporates many tools from the KDE project such as Discover, KMail, and others.

Kubuntu is the most popular Ubuntu Flavor
Kubuntu is the most popular Ubuntu Flavor

Kubuntu is used by many people who require a solid base like Ubuntu but with a more flexible and lightweight environment like KDE Plasma. Also, it has to be said that over time this version has improved a lot and has become very stable.

More info: Kubuntu Website

Download link

3.- Xubuntu

Both Ubuntu and Kubuntu are great operating systems that are oriented for modern computers. This would not be a problem for much of the population, but some people do need something lighter.

To give a possible solution to the above problem is that Xubuntu arises. This flavor of Ubuntu uses the XFCE desktop environment that is focused on modest computers.

Xubuntu 20.04 desktop
Xubuntu 20.04 desktop

With Xubuntu, you will have all the availability of Ubuntu packages in a lightweight environment like XFCE. This means that computers with 2gb of Ram or less may be sufficient to use it.

More info: Xubuntu website
Download Link

Don’t be fooled, just because XFCE is a simple environment doesn’t mean it isn’t complete and stable enough to use the system all at once.

4.- Ubuntu Mate

When GNOME made the jump from version 2 to 3 everything went haywire. Because the change introduced by GNOME was very radical and many people felt left out.

Thanks to the open-source community, the source code of GNOME 2 has been forked and renamed to Mate. This desktop environment is the evolution of GNOME 2.

From Ubuntu Mate, we can expect a distribution with a mature, stable, solid desktop environment that does not consume as many resources as GNOME or KDE Plasma.

Ubuntu Mate is another Ubuntu Flavor
Ubuntu Mate is another Ubuntu Flavor

On the other hand, Ubuntu Mate has gradually introduced improvements that make it very attractive even to new users.

If your computer is not that powerful, Ubuntu Mate is a great option to consider.

More info: Ubuntu Mate website
Download Link

5.- Lubuntu: The lighter flavor of Ubuntu

Yes, as the most liege of the flavors of Ubuntu appears Lubuntu.

Lubuntu uses the LXQT desktop environment that uses QT technology but its main focus is on simplicity. That’s why Lubuntu can run on computers with 1 Gb of Ram.

Lubuntu with LXQT
Lubuntu with LXQT

This makes Lubuntu ideal to revive some old and obsolete computers you may have. However, it is not as polished as Ubuntu Mate or Xubuntu.

More info: Lubuntu website
Download Link

6.- Ubuntu Budgie

Ubuntu Budgie is a flavor of Ubuntu that uses the Budgie desktop environment. This modern desktop environment is based on GNOME but is lighter.

Also, Ubuntu Budgie is a great combination of modernity without making much expenditure on computer resources.

Budgie is the default desktop environment of Ubuntu Budgie
Budgie is the default desktop environment of Ubuntu Budgie

This flavor of Ubuntu includes such popular applications as Firefox or LibreOffice which makes it ready for everyday use.

More info: Ubuntu Budgie website
Download Link

7.- Ubuntu Studio

Ubuntu and the majority of its flavors are operating systems for general use. This means that they can be used by developers, designers, or simply for leisure. However, Ubuntu Studio specializes in multimedia creators.

With Ubuntu Studio you will have a Linux distribution ready to create multimedia content. For example, it includes applications for the professional manipulation of images, video, or audio.

Ubuntu Studio
Ubuntu Studio

This flavor of Ubuntu uses, at the moment, XFCE as the desktop environment so the resource consumption is quite low.

More info: Ubuntu Studio website
Download Link


Ubuntu is a great Linux distribution that has given way to different flavors. Each one of them has its virtues and it would be mean to say that it is only a Ubuntu with another aspect.

So now that you know what these flavors are and that you can differentiate them you can choose the one that best suits you.

Scroll to Top