Ubuntu GNOME vs. openSUSE vs. Fedora

Which distribution is best for Linux?

Ubuntu GNOME, openSUSE, and Fedora are popular Linux distributions. To help you decide which is right for you, we compared how easy it is to install each distribution, how each looks and feels, how these Linux distributions perform, and how easy it is to install multimedia codecs. We also looked at pre-installed applications and package management for each distribution, as well as common issues that may arise.

Ubuntu GNOME vs OpenSUSE vs Fedora

Overall Findings

Ubuntu GNOME openSUSE Fedora
Easiest distro to install. The installer is a bit complicated. The Anaconda installer is fairly easy to use.
Good selection of wallpapers. Utilizes the activities window well. The desktop feels squashed.
Installing multimedia codecs can be difficult. Includes one-click install packages for multimedia codecs. Install codecs one at a time.
Everything is customized to the Ubuntu brand. Features the GNOME music player. Features the GNOME music player.
Uses the Software Centre as a graphical package manager. Uses the GNOME package manager. Uses the GNOME package manager.
Overall good performance. Overall good performance. Overall good performance.
Stable for the most part. The most stable of the three distributions. Can be laggy at times.

These three operating systems have many similarities. All use the same desktop environment, GNOME. Ubuntu GNOME is the easiest distro to install. Fedora has overall good performance as well as easy, one-click installation of multimedia codecs. openSUSE is a good alternative to Ubuntu, with some extra applications, and it's more stable than Fedora.

Installation: Ubuntu GNOME Is Easiest

Ubuntu GNOME openSUSE Fedora
A straightforward installation process. The trickiest installation process. The Anaconda installer is fairly straightforward.
Partitioning a drive is simple. The partitioning process is unclear. Partitioning is less obvious than with Ubuntu.
A dual-boot setup is easy. Difficult to see what's happening. Delete all partitions if you want to install it to the entire disk.

Ubuntu Gnome

Ubuntu GNOME is the easiest of the three distributions to install. The steps are straightforward. Choose a language, connect to the internet, check prerequisites, partition the drive, choose a location and time zone, choose a keyboard layout, and create a user.

The partitioning can be as simple or as involved as you want it to be. If you want Ubuntu to be the only operating system, use the entire disk. To dual boot, install Ubuntu alongside an existing operating system. Dual-booting on a UEFI-based machine is relatively straightforward.

Fedora

The second-best installer is the Fedora Anaconda installer. The process isn't as linear as it is for Ubuntu. Still, the essential steps are to choose a language, set the date and time, choose a keyboard layout, choose where to install Fedora, and set the hostname. Partitioning can be as involved or as simple as you want it to be. It isn't as evident as it is with Ubuntu because you have to reclaim space. There is an option to delete all partitions if you want to install it to the entire disk. The final steps for the Anaconda installer include setting the root password and creating the main user.

openSUSE

The openSUSE installer is the trickiest to understand. It starts easily with steps to accept the license agreement and choose the time zone. It gets complicated when you must choose where to install openSUSE.

The main issue is that you are provided with the list of plans openSUSE made for partitioning the drive, and the way it's listed is too much. It makes it difficult to see what's going to happen.

Look and Feel: All Use the Same Desktop Environment

Ubuntu GNOME openSUSE Fedora
Uses the GNOME desktop environment. Uses the GNOME desktop environment. Uses the GNOME desktop environment.
Best selection of wallpapers. Utilizes the activities window well. The look and feel seem crowded.
Customized GNOME. Fairly plain experience. The most classic GNOME desktop.

It's difficult to compare these three distributions based on the look and feel because all three use the same desktop environment, GNOME, which isn't highly customizable.

Ubuntu GNOME has the best selection of wallpapers installed by default, even one for kitten lovers. Because Ubuntu with the GNOME desktop replaced the Ubuntu Unity desktop as the default for the distribution, the version of GNOME that comes with Ubuntu is modified to feel more like Unity. The change you'll notice most is the Ubuntu Launcher on the left side of the screen. Some people may love it. GNOME purists may find it annoying and cluttered. The only way to know which camp you fit into is to try it.

openSUSE utilizes the activities window well. The icons and workspaces fit perfectly on the screen. When we installed Fedora, everything felt a little bit squashed.

Installing Flash and Multimedia Codecs: Some Headaches

Ubuntu GNOME openSUSE Fedora
There's an option to install third-party components during installation.  Provides one-click package installers for Flash and multimedia codecs. Fedora repositories are limited for multimedia.
A less intuitive option is to install multimedia codecs with the Ubuntu Restricted Extras package.   Enable RPMFusion once, and get access to multimedia apps and codecs, including MP3 and DVD support.

Ubuntu GNOME

During the Ubuntu installation, there's an option to install the third-party components required to play Flash videos and listen to MP3 audio. If you skipped this open during the installation, you can still get everything you need fairly easily. First, don't install Flash. It's deprecated and a security risk. Then, MP3 has become open source. You can install it from the regular Ubuntu repositories. Ubuntu now uses GNOME Software, so you can search for the music player you want and install it graphically if you choose. You may get MP3 support along with it.

Fedora

On Fedora, the RPMFusion repository is the gateway to many non-standard packages. The base Fedora software repositories are small and limited. These repositories don't include many of the multimedia codecs that are needed to listen to music and play videos.

RPMFusion has been around for a long time, and it's an absolute must for a home Fedora computer. You can enable it with a single command, and from there, you have access to a wealth of updated multimedia software and codecs.

Visit our guide to learn more about how to install Flash on Fedora as well as multimedia codecs and STEAM.

openSUSE

openSUSE provides a series of one-click install packages to install Flash and multimedia codecs.

Applications: Standard, With Some Interesting Extras

Ubuntu GNOME openSUSE Fedora
Comes with GNOME's standard set of applications. Comes with GNOME's standard set of applications. Comes with GNOME's standard set of applications.
The style of some applications is customized to fit Ubuntu. Includes the Liferea RSS reader and other extras. Comes with the GNOME music player.

Like the look and feel of these distributions, it's hard to compare application options because all three use the GNOME desktop environment. GNOME comes with a standard set of applications, which includes an address book, mail client, games, and more.

To keep with its brand and style, Ubuntu customized the look of some applications and the theme that ships with GNOME. None of this impacts the usability of the programs. However, everything has a unified Ubuntu feel, for better or worse.

openSUSE has some interesting extras, such as ​Liferea, which is an RSS viewer. It also has Midnight Commander, which is an alternative file manager, and k3b, which is an alternative disk-burning package.

openSUSE and Fedora include the GNOME music player, which integrates well with the desktop environment. All three have Rhythmbox installed, but the GNOME music player looks and feels better.

Totem is the default video player in GNOME. In the Ubuntu version, YouTube videos don't play correctly. This isn't an issue with openSUSE or Fedora.

Installing Software: Various Ways to Install Applications

Ubuntu GNOME openSUSE Fedora
Uses GNOME Software. Uses GNOME Software. Uses GNOME Software.
The Ubuntu GNOME Software comes with extras, like Snaps. The GNOME package manager sometimes omits results. The GNOME package manager sometimes omits results.
Use the command line to install applications. The alternative package manager is YAST. The alternative package manager is DNF.

There are multiple ways to install applications using Ubuntu, Fedora, and openSUSE.

Ubuntu comes with the standard GNOME Software application. It also comes pre-loaded with support for additional sources, like Snap packages. The result is something similar to openSUSE and Fedora but with more software. You can add Snaps to Fedora and openSUSE, but Ubuntu does the work for you.

Alternatives for openSUSE include YAST. Fedora can use the YUM Extender. These are more rudimentary graphical package managers.

If you want to use the command line, Ubuntu uses apt-get, Fedora uses DNF, and openSUSE uses Zypper. In all three cases, it's a matter of learning the correct syntax and switches.

Performance: All Perform Well

Ubuntu GNOME openSUSE Fedora
Faster than openSUSE. Performs well. Best overall performance when using Wayland.

Fedora, with the Wayland desktop server protocol, provides the best performance of the three Linux distributions. Although, Fedora with the X Window System was slower.

Ubuntu is faster than openSUSE and runs very well. But openSUSE is no slouch, either, in its overall performance.

All three distributions are more than adequate for modern laptops.

Stability: openSUSE Wins

Ubuntu GNOME openSUSE Fedora
Very stable, with minor issues. Most stable distro. More error messages across the board.

Out of all three, openSUSE is the most stable. Ubuntu is fine, although the issue with installing the Restricted Extras package can cause the Software Centre to hang.

Fedora is different. When used with the X Window System, it works fine but can be a bit laggy. When used with Wayland, it has issues with some applications, such as Scribus, and error messages.

Final Verdict

All three operating systems have benefits and drawbacks. It's a matter of choosing or trying out what appeals to you.

Ubuntu is the easiest to install, and once you get the multimedia sorted out, you're good to go. Ubuntu also has the benefit of the strongest third-party support from other hardware and software developers. Apps like Steam target Ubuntu.

Fedora is experimental. If you want to try out Wayland, it's worth installing. Fedora traditionally implements GNOME. It uses GNOME tools as opposed to tools traditionally associated with Ubuntu, such as GNOME Boxes and GNOME Packagekit.

openSUSE is a great alternative to Ubuntu and is more stable than Fedora. As with Fedora, it provides tools mainly associated with GNOME but has a few extras, such as Midnight Commander.