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Debian vs Fedora: What are the differences?

Differences Between Debian and Fedora

Debian and Fedora are two popular Linux distributions, each with its own set of features and characteristics. Here are six key differences between the two:

  1. Package Management System: One significant difference between Debian and Fedora is their package management systems. Debian uses the Advanced Package Tool (APT), while Fedora utilizes the Yellowdog Updater, Modified (yum) package management system. APT is known for its robustness and extensive package availability, while yum focuses more on fast and reliable package installation.

  2. Release Frequency and Stability: Debian and Fedora also differ in terms of their release frequency and stability. Debian tends to have longer release cycles, focusing more on stability and long-term support. On the other hand, Fedora has a more frequent release cycle, providing users with the latest features and updates but with slightly less stability.

  3. Community Involvement: Both Debian and Fedora have active communities, but their involvement and governance structures differ. Debian has a highly decentralized community-driven approach, with various development teams and democratic decision-making processes. In contrast, Fedora's development is closely tied to the Red Hat company, with a more centralized decision-making structure.

  4. Default Software Selection: Another difference lies in the default software selection of the distributions. Debian mainly includes free and open-source software, focusing on stability and security. In comparison, Fedora embraces a broader range of open-source software, including bleeding-edge technologies, to provide a more cutting-edge experience for users.

  5. Purpose and Target Audience: Debian and Fedora also have different target audiences and purposes. Debian is known as a versatile and adaptable distribution suitable for a wide range of users, from beginners to advanced users. Fedora, being the community-based testing ground for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), caters more to developers, enthusiasts, and those interested in bleeding-edge technologies.

  6. Supported Architectures: The two distributions also differ in terms of the architectures they support. Debian is well-known for supporting a wide range of architectures, including x86, ARM, PowerPC, and more. Fedora, while also offering a fair number of architectures, has a narrower focus on x86_64 and ARM.

In summary, Debian and Fedora differ in their package management systems, release frequency and stability, community involvement, default software selection, purpose and target audience, and supported architectures. These distinctions make each distribution suitable for different use cases and user preferences.

Decisions about Debian and Fedora
Dimelo Waterson

Coming from a Debian-based Linux background, using the Ubuntu base image for my Docker containers was a natural choice. However, the overhead, even on the impressively-slimmed Hub images, was hard to justify. Seeking to create images that were "just right" in size, without unused packages or dependencies, I made the switch to Alpine.

Alpine's modified BusyBox has a surprising amount of functionality, and the package repository contains plenty of muslc-safe versions of commonly-used packages. It's been a valuable exercise in doing more with less, and, as Alpine is keen to point out, an image with fewer packages makes for a more sustainable environment with a smaller attack surface.

My only regret is that Alpine's documentation leaves a lot to be desired.

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Pros of Debian
Pros of Fedora
  • 54
    Massively supported
  • 50
  • 21
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
    It is free
  • 8
    Turnkey linux use it
  • 6
    Works on all architectures
  • 22
    Great for developers
  • 10
    Great integration with system tools
  • 10
    Represents the future of rhel/centos
  • 9
    Good release schedule
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
    Docker integration
  • 4
    Has SeLinux
  • 3
    Latest packages
  • 3
    Updated with Bleeding-edge software
  • 3
    Great for ops teams
  • 3
    Awesome community
  • 2
    Python distribution
  • 2
    Complies with International Standard

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Cons of Debian
Cons of Fedora
  • 10
    Old versions of software
  • 2
    Can be difficult to set up on vanilla Debian
  • 3
    Bugs get fixed slowly from kernel side
  • 2
    Much less support from Wiki
  • 2
  • 2
  • 1
    Less packages in official repository
  • 1
    A bit complicated
  • 1
    Learning curve for new users
  • 0
    Slightly difficult to install for beginners

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What is Debian?

Debian systems currently use the Linux kernel or the FreeBSD kernel. Linux is a piece of software started by Linus Torvalds and supported by thousands of programmers worldwide. FreeBSD is an operating system including a kernel and other software.

What is Fedora?

Fedora is a Linux-based operating system that provides users with access to the latest free and open source software, in a stable, secure and easy to manage form. Fedora is the largest of many free software creations of the Fedora Project. Because of its predominance, the word "Fedora" is often used interchangeably to mean both the Fedora Project and the Fedora operating system.

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What companies use Debian?
What companies use Fedora?
See which teams inside your own company are using Debian or Fedora.
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Blog Posts

What are some alternatives to Debian and Fedora?
Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning ‘humanity to others’. It also means ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’. The Ubuntu operating system brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the world of computers.
The CentOS Project is a community-driven free software effort focused on delivering a robust open source ecosystem. For users, we offer a consistent manageable platform that suits a wide variety of deployments. For open source communities, we offer a solid, predictable base to build upon, along with extensive resources to build, test, release, and maintain their code.
Linux Mint
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Arch Linux
A lightweight and flexible Linux distribution that tries to Keep It Simple.
The openSUSE project is a worldwide effort that promotes the use of Linux everywhere. openSUSE creates one of the world's best Linux distributions, working together in an open, transparent and friendly manner as part of the worldwide Free and Open Source Software community.
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