The Linux operating system is a versatile and powerful platform that has gained popularity among developers, system administrators, and tech enthusiasts. With various Linux distributions available, it can be challenging to choose the right one for your development needs. 

Two of the popular choices, Pop!_OS and Ubuntu, have strong developer communities and offer unique features. In this comprehensive comparison, we will delve into the differences between Pop!_OS and Ubuntu, with a focus on their suitability for developers.

Pop!_OS is a Linux distribution that is developed and maintained by System76, a company known for manufacturing Linux-based hardware. It is built on top of Ubuntu and aims to provide a polished and user-friendly experience while catering to the needs of both casual users and developers. 

Ubuntu, on the other hand, is one of the most well-known and widely used Linux distributions. It has been around since 2004 and is backed by Canonical Ltd. Ubuntu has established itself as a robust, user-friendly, and community-driven operating system. Its reputation as a stable and reliable platform has made it a popular choice among developers for many years.

Let’s now delve deeper into the comparison of these two distributions, considering the various aspects that are important for developers.

Package Management

Package management is a critical aspect of any Linux distribution, as it directly impacts a developer’s ability to install and manage the software. Ubuntu and Pop!_OS use the same package management system, which is based on Debian’s Advanced Package Tool (APT).

Developers who are using either of these distributions can rely on APT to install, update, and remove the software packages. APT’s command-line interface, along with the Software Center GUI, makes it easy for developers to find and install the software they need.

While both distributions use APT, Pop!_OS provides a more streamlined experience for developers. Pop!_OS’s Pop Shop is a user-friendly application store that simplifies the installation of software and integrates with your system, providing a well-organized list of curated applications. 

Ubuntu, on the other hand, uses the GNOME Software Center, which offers similar functionality but is slightly less polished.

Desktop Environment

Pop!_OS uses the Pop Shell desktop environment, which is an extension of GNOME. Pop Shell features a customizable workflow that includes tiling window management, which makes it an excellent choice for developers who prefer an organized and productive workspace. It also includes various themes, including a dark mode, for personalization.

Ubuntu uses the standard GNOME desktop environment, although it customizes it to a certain extent. However, it does not include the same tiling window management features that are found in Pop!_OS. Ubuntu has opted for a more traditional desktop layout, which may be preferred by those who are not comfortable with tiling window managers.


Both Pop!_OS and Ubuntu are known for their performance and stability. Since Pop!_OS is built on top of Ubuntu, it inherits the performance optimizations and reliability that Ubuntu is famous for.

Ubuntu, however, goes a step further by providing the users with tailored power profiles. This feature allows the users to choose between different performance modes, such as Balanced and Power Saver, to optimize their system for tasks like gaming or development. This level of customization is particularly valuable for developers who want to fine-tune their system for specific workloads.

Hardware Compatibility

System76, the company behind Pop!_OS, manufactures its own Linux-based hardware. As a result, Pop!_OS is optimized to work seamlessly with System76 laptops and desktops. This hardware compatibility makes it an excellent choice for developers who use the System76 products. However, Pop!_OS also works well on a wide range of other hardware, which makes it a versatile option for developers with different hardware preferences.

Ubuntu, being one of the most popular Linux distributions, has excellent hardware compatibility across various hardware vendors. Its wide user base and extensive community support ensure that most hardware is well-supported. For developers using a diverse range of hardware, Ubuntu is a reliable choice.

Support and Documentation

Both Pop!_OS and Ubuntu benefit from strong and active communities. Ubuntu, with its long history and widespread usage, has a vast and mature community that provides excellent support and documentation. Whether you’re facing issues with installation, configuring software configurations, or troubleshooting problems, you’re likely to find a solution within the Ubuntu community.

In terms of official support, Ubuntu has the backing of Canonical Ltd., which provides commercial support options for individuals and businesses. This can be advantageous for developers who are working in enterprise environments or seeking professional support.

Development Tools and Software Availability

Both Pop!_OS and Ubuntu offer a wealth of development tools and software through their package management systems. Ubuntu’s extensive repositories include programming languages, libraries, and development environments for a wide range of use cases. This extensive selection makes Ubuntu a versatile choice for developers in various fields.

Pop!_OS builds on Ubuntu’s foundation by including a curated set of developer tools in its distribution. While Pop!_OS may have a more focused set of development tools, developers can always access additional packages from Ubuntu’s repositories.

Pop!_OS also provides an option to install the NVIDIA drivers directly during the installation process, which can be a valuable feature for developers who need GPU acceleration for machine learning, gaming, or other GPU-intensive tasks.


Both Pop!_OS and Ubuntu have strong security features, thanks to their Debian-based roots. These include regular security updates and the ability to install additional security tools and software as needed.

Pop!_OS introduces a unique security feature called “Full Disk Encryption by Default”. During the installation process, you can choose to encrypt your entire disk, providing an extra layer of security for your data. While Ubuntu also offers disk encryption as an option, Pop!_OS makes it the default setting, simplifying the process for users who prioritize security.


Pop!_OS and Ubuntu are both excellent choices for developers, and the decision between them largely depends on your specific needs and preferences. Here’s a summary of their key differences:

  • Pop!_OS offers a modern and efficient desktop environment with tiling window management, making it ideal for developers who value productivity and organization.
  • Ubuntu provides a more traditional desktop environment, which may be preferred by those who are not comfortable with tiling window managers.
  • Pop!_OS is optimized for System76 hardware, but it also works well on a variety of other hardware. Ubuntu has excellent hardware compatibility across a wide range of vendors.
  • Both distributions have strong community support, but Ubuntu has the advantage of being backed by Canonical Ltd. , which offers commercial support options.
  • Pop!_OS includes a curated set of developer tools, which makes it easy to get started with development work, while Ubuntu’s extensive repositories offer a wide range of development tools and software.
  • Pop!_OS offers “Full Disk Encryption by Default” for enhanced data security, while Ubuntu provides encryption as an option.

Ultimately, the choice between Pop!_OS and Ubuntu will depend on your specific requirements and personal preferences. Both distributions offer a robust Linux experience and are well-suited for developers.