Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ubuntu 14.10 vs Kubuntu 14.10 vs Xubuntu 14.10 vs Lubuntu 14.10 vs Ubuntu GNOME 14.10: A Comparison

Honestly, I have used better Linux distros than Ubuntu. But, I don't deny that Canonical's Ubuntu took Linux to the masses. Five years ago when I started using Linux, I started with Ubuntu as well. Those days none of my friends knew about Linux and now almost everyone of my friends knows Ubuntu, if not any other Linux. And even in my blog, articles on Ubuntu gets 30% more hits than non-Ubuntu articles. And the request for this article came from quite a few readers of my blog. Here I won't compare a lot on the aesthetics bit as each distro is unique and it is good to have diversity. My primary focus will be on comparing performance and ease of use.

I reviewed each and every one of the official Utopic Unicorn releases separately. If interested you can visit individual reviews:
Further, 64-bit versions of all the five distros were benchmarked using the exactly same machine over last 1.5 months. So, in this comparison I am comparing apples to apples.

Operating System (64 bit) Ubuntu 14.10 Kubuntu 14.10 Xubuntu 14.10 Lubuntu 14.10 Ubuntu GNOME 14.10
Release Year 2014 2014 2014 2014 2014
Size of ISO (GB) 1.109 1.017 0.979 0.702 0.998
Base Ubuntu Utopic Ubuntu Utopic Ubuntu Utopic Ubuntu Utopic Ubuntu Utopic
Desktop Unity 7.3.1 KDE 4.14.1 XFCE 4.11 LXDE GNOME 3.12
Linux kernel 3.16.0 3.16.0 3.16.0 3.16.0 3.16.0

Hardware Used for the Review
Asus K55VM laptop with 2.3 Ghz 3rd Gen. Core i7 3610QM processor with 8 cores, 8 GB DDR3 RAM, 1366x768 resolution, 2 GB NVIDIA GeForce 630M graphic card.

All 5 Ubuntu releases have similar installation steps though the installer may look marginally different in case of Kubuntu. The steps are pretty simple and should not take more than 10-30 minutes of your time depending upon your internet connection.
  • Step 1: Choose language
  • Step 2: Check if it meets the minimum requirement and manually check download updates while installing and install third party software. Installing third party software is critical to play multimedia files and watch online videos in YouTube. If you are not an expert in Linux, please check this.
  • Step 3: Select where to install, choose your destination drive and format options. Hit enter once done.
  • Step 4: Select geographical location - mostly picked automatically. Otherwise click on the graph to select.
  • Step 5: Select Keyboard language and layout. In general it should be English (US) for most of the users.
  • Step 6: Create user ID and password. Please remember what you are setting as if you forget, you may not be able to log in.
  • Step 7: Click continue and wait till the distro installs.
From Ubuntu 14.10
Ubuntu has the most intuitive installation process and it works every time I have used. I guess it should not challenge even novice users.

Each of the five distros are unique and look different from each other. Ubuntu 14.10 has Unity 7.3.1 desktop environment and has an unique look with a blank desktop and left hand side panel. Ubuntu's customization options are rather less than other four. Ubuntu Tweak tool comes really handy in this regard.
Kubuntu 14.10 should look familiar to Windows 7 users. I used both KDE 4.14.1 and KDE Plasma 5 in my review. Plasma 5 with flat icons looks simply stunning and should appeal to Windows 8 users. KDE 4.14 has countless themes and user customization options available across the internet. You can practically make it look whatever way you like it to be.
Both Xubuntu and Lubuntu are comparatively lightweight operating systems and they look visually less appealing than Ubuntu or Kubuntu. But, experienced users can tweak them appropriately to make them look better.
Ubuntu GNOME looks very refined and supports some customization option. I found a lot of aesthetically appealing themes across the internet for GNOME 3 which works with Ubuntu GNOME 14.10. Further, Tweak tool is there to tinker around with default settings and add GNOME extensions.
From Ubuntu GNOME 14.10

I would score or rank order the distros on aesthetics. I leave it to you to decide which one looks best to you.

Hardware Recognition
All of the Ubuntu distros recognize hardware impeccably without any issue. Screen resolution, sound, WIFI, LAN, touch pad, etc. worked perfectly without any issue for all the five distros. I was able to successfully install NVIDIA prime or bumblebee on each of them.

Pre-Installed Packages

Applications Ubuntu 14.10 Kubuntu 14.10 Xubuntu 14.10 Lubuntu 14.10 Ubuntu GNOME 14.10
Office LibreOffice LibreOffice Abiword 3.0.0, Gnumeric 1.12.17 Abiword 3.0.0, Gnumeric 1.12.17 LibreOffice
PDF Viewer Document viewer Okular Document viewer Document viewer Document viewer
Browser Firefox 33, Ubuntu browser Firefox 33 Firefox 33 Firefox 33 Firefox 33
Email Client Thunderbird 33 Kmail Thunderbird 33 Sylpheed Evolution
Torrent Downloader Transmission Ktorrent Transmission Transmission Transmission
Instant Messenger Empathy KDE IM Pidgin Pidgin Empathy
Photo viewer Image viewer, Shotwell Gweview Ristretto Image Viewer Image viewer, Shotwell
GIMP/Photo editor - - GIMP 2.8.10 mtPaint -
Screenshot Screenshot Ksnapshot Screenshot - Screenshot
Audio Player Rhythmbox 3.0.3 Amarok gmusicbrowser Audacious Rhythmbox 3.0.3
Video Player Videos 3.10.1 Dragon Parole Gnome Mplayer Videos 3.10.1
CD/DVD writer Brasero K3b Xfburn Xfburn Brasero
Live USB Creator Startup Disk Creator Startup Disk Creator - Startup Disk Creator -
File Manager Files 3.10.1 Dolphin 4.14.1 Thunar 1.6.3 PCManFM 1.2.3 Files 3.10.1
Integrated Settings Manager Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Ubuntu GNOME ship with full LibreOffice whereas the lightweight Xubuntu and Lubuntu ship with Abiword and Gnumeric. However, complete LibreOffice suite can be installed from Ubuntu repositories.

Image editors like GIMP is pre-installed only in Xubuntu. Lubuntu has mtPaint, a lightweight image editor with limited functionality. Similarly, startup disk creator, a software to create bootable live USBs, is missing in Xubuntu and Ubuntu GNOME while present in the other three.

Integrated settings manager is present in all, barring Lubuntu. So, if you are a Linux novice, Lubuntu may give you a hard time if everything doesn't work well from the beginning. Kubuntu, Ubuntu and Ubuntu GNOME has the best integrated settings managers followed by Xubuntu.

Anyway, these are minor differences that I am pointing out. Mostly the distros try to provide the common applications required for regular use and anything you need extra, can be downloaded from the Ubuntu Utopic repositories.

Each of these distros have a package manager with GUI like Ubuntu Software Center (Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME), Lubuntu Software Center and Muon Discover (Kubuntu). They are easy to use and have good search options. Only Lubuntu has Synaptic Package Manager in addition. I like Synaptic as it works faster than other package managers.

Perhaps the most important section and the results you have been eagerly waiting for. I divide the section into three parts: Resource usage (RAM, CPU), Power Usage and Boot time.

Performance Ubuntu 14.10 Kubuntu 14.10 Xubuntu 14.10 Lubuntu 14.10 Ubuntu GNOME 14.10
RAM Usage (MB) 599 547 350 246 515
CPU Usage 0-5% 0-5% 0-5% 0-5% 0-5%
Boot time (Seconds) 33 34 31 30 39
Power Usage (Watts) 12.06 12.31 11.67 10.21 11.21
Space Occupied (GB) 4.6 4.6 4.3 4 4.8

Resource Usage
As expected, Lubuntu is the least RAM hungry distro followed by Xubuntu. Lubuntu consumes about 250 MB RAM at steady state with no application except system monitor running. Under identical conditions and on the same laptop, Lubuntu consumes 30% lower RAM than Xubuntu, 52% lower RAM than Ubuntu GNOME, 55% lower RAM than Kubuntu and 59% lower RAM than Ubuntu 14.10.

From Ubuntu GNOME 14.10
Ubuntu GNOME is the third most efficient distro with a RAM consumption in low 500 MBs. Both Kubuntu 14.10 and Ubuntu 14.10 consume nearly 600 MB RAM under identical conditions and on the same machine.

Power Consumption
Even on power consumption, Lubuntu 14.10 tops the list for being the most efficient. Lubuntu consumes 9% less power than Ubuntu GNOME 14.10, 13% lower power than Xubuntu. Kubuntu is the most power hungry followed by Ubuntu.

From Ubuntu GNOME 14.10
Boot time
All of the Ubuntu distros boot pretty fast and within 30-40 seconds. There is not much to separate between the five of them but Lubuntu 14.10 boots the fastest.

From Ubuntu GNOME 14.10
Disk Space
All the distros occupy around 4-5 GB of space and nothing really there to separate between them.

So, in nutshell, I found Lubuntu 14.10 to be the best in performance among the Ubuntu distros. It offered me trouble free experience throughout my usage and I found it to be really stable. Anyone looking for a really really efficient distro and those with low powered machines can safely bet on Lubuntu 14.10

Based on my experience, I found Ubuntu GNOME to be the second best offering very decent performance with a very refined desktop environment. I thought Xubuntu would occupy this position but unfortunately, a bit of instability in the distro marred my experience. I would safely recommend Ubuntu GNOME 14.10 to users with modern laptop with or without touchscreen over the rest of the four distros.

As usual Kubuntu is the slowest of the lot and consumes the most power. You can expect the least battery life from Kubuntu. However, the desktop environment (specially the Plasma 5 upgrade) is mind blowing! Those with powerful modern machines and less usage of battery power can safely choose Kubuntu as it seemed to be the most exciting of the lot.

Finally, Ubuntu 14.10. I would recommend users to download and install Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS with support till April 2019 rather than this almost similar distro. I didn't see much difference between the two and actually Ubuntu 14.04.1 performs a whole lot better on my laptop.

So, my ranking:
1. Lubuntu 14.10
2. Ubuntu GNOME 14.10
3. Kubuntu 14.10
4. Ubuntu 14.10
5. Xubuntu 14.10


  1. Amazing, I've been waiting for such a comparison. Could you also measure KDE 4.14 and Plasma 5 separately? I find P5 much more responsive but it's far from stable yet. And could you also add Ubuntu MATE to the comparison? It's quite snappy on my old Aspire One netbook and I guess it would be a direct competitor to Lubuntu.

    Best regards,

    1. Sure. Right now I am using Ubuntu Mate 14.10 and will include it in the performance comparison. For Plasma 5 details, please check my review of Kubuntu 14.10.

    2. Hi Robin:

      My Ubuntu Mate 14.10 review is out. You can please read it at

      I found it to be really good in performance and stability.


    3. Hi were you able to compare HDD utilities? like having Gpart? MDADM? raid capable?

  2. Hey, could you explain your methodology for power consumption stats ? (measurement time, arithmetic mean ?, where you take datas ? ) Thanks :)
    PS : a small type in" power comsumton"

    1. Hi, I measure power consumption using a small package powerstat, which is available in Ubuntu repos. And thanks for pointing the typo - I corrected it.


    2. Thanks.
      In fact, I am very disappointed and surprised by this result for Kubuntu. I haven't made a serious study on the topic but the last year i have done some tests with "upower" to check if my KDE+Kwin desktop was using more or less power than a lxde desktop, and it was pretty similar. I'll try again soon on ArchLinux.

    3. I have observed KDE to consume more power and resources over other DEs. Please let me know what you observe in Arch.

  3. Arindam, thank you for this. I know your efforts can probably be a thankless task sometimes, but some of us really appreciate it. And this is an awesome comparison. So, thanks!

  4. Document viewer's name is Evince

  5. Amazing comparison! I wanted to install a Linux on my very old Acer Aspire One D255E notebook and I decided it for Xubuntu thanks to your writing. Maybe I would try Lubuntu next.

  6. This is a great article, thank you very much. I've been sampling a number of distros on Virtualbox but Lubuntu completely slipped my mind. I'll give it a go. I prefer lightweight OSes because I find flashy GUIs unnecessary and distracting.

  7. Hey Arindam, that was a good comparison. I was using Xubuntu until now. I decided to give Ubuntu GNOME a try. I will surely give my feedback.

  8. I loved the unity unified bar, but in my netbook (a Pavilion DM1 3260BR) it is very slow, I am thinking about try luubuntu on it, or even a Mint Linux... any ideas? (btw, it is a APU AMD E350 with 8GB RAM)

  9. Hi,
    If all I want is android studio, eclipse, and GIMP, and perhaps a browser, which linux distros should i use?
    thank in advance

  10. hello.....i have to install " Java,Netbeans,Google Chrome,SVN client" for development. which linux should i use??
    thank in advance...............

  11. Currently i am using Ubuntu 12.0.4. while running Netbeans, java utilizes high memory and system gets very slow.which linux distros should i use?

  12. Thank you! thank you!!
    Between Lubuntu 14.04 and Lubuntu 14.10, which one would you recommend?

  13. I'm a big fan of lightweight OSes. Recently switch over to Linux, primarily Linux Mint, but still doing a little distro-hopping. I intend to crawl your blog for the info but if you haven't done so... would love to see the Ubuntu-family Champion, Lubuntu, go up against some other popular, lightweight distros. This is very useful information for owners of older computers, as well as owners of mid-range systems looking to get the most out of their setups.

  14. Hi, I am running "LXLE" I downloaded and installed it. My choice over Ubuntu vanilla flavor is because it was said on the official site it worked on older machines and I am using a Lenovo g585 ideapad 4gig ram 320 HD.
    with amd processor. Did I make a wise choice?

    1. Hi Robert, LXLE is one of the most good looking and lightweight distros I've used. Definitely a good choice.

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Ι am thinking of installing ubuntu GNOME for my wifes hp mini 1gb ram laptop, cause of the nice looking interface, any suggestions?

  17. some application are not working in xubuntu 14.10... don't know why it is ??

    like upwork tracker used for time tracking

  18. Good information. Thanks. It really helped

  19. I use Lubuntu 16.04 on my 9 years old Laptop, for games l use steam, google chrome aplications and games all free games l found a lot of games supported by Linux.

  20. I look for lightweight linux,it seems lubuntu is the winner
    Help a lot,keep post.

  21. Great!!
    Best detailed Linux review blog I ever visited.
    Always provide what I need to know

  22. In all field xubuntu shines and listed 5..shame

    It's number 1 actually..I used lubuntu and all of these.

    xubuntu provides many features of kubuntu...