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Buildroot vs Ubuntu: What are the differences?

Buildroot and Ubuntu are two popular Linux-based operating systems that are used for different purposes. While Buildroot is a minimalistic and lightweight build system that allows users to create embedded Linux systems from scratch, Ubuntu is a fully-featured and user-friendly operating system designed for general-purpose computing. Despite both being Linux-based, there are several key differences between Buildroot and Ubuntu.

  1. Customizability: Buildroot offers a higher level of customizability compared to Ubuntu. With Buildroot, users can tailor their embedded Linux systems to specific requirements by selecting only the necessary components and optimizing them for their target hardware. On the other hand, Ubuntu provides a pre-configured set of packages and applications, which may not be as flexible or customizable for specific use cases.

  2. Package Management: Ubuntu utilizes a package management system called Advanced Packaging Tool (APT), which provides an extensive repository of pre-compiled software packages that can be easily installed, updated, and removed. In contrast, Buildroot uses a different approach where packages are built from source during the build process. This allows users to have more control over the versions and configurations of the software components, but it requires additional effort for maintaining and updating packages.

  3. System Size: Buildroot focuses on minimizing the system size to fit into resource-constrained embedded devices. It allows users to create a minimalistic system containing only the necessary components, resulting in a smaller footprint. On the other hand, Ubuntu is a full-fledged operating system with a comprehensive set of applications and features, which translates to a larger system size compared to Buildroot.

  4. Ease of Use: Ubuntu is renowned for its user-friendly interface and ease of use, making it suitable for general-purpose computing. It provides a desktop environment with intuitive graphical interfaces, a vast array of applications, and comprehensive documentation for beginners. Buildroot, on the other hand, requires advanced knowledge of Linux and embedded systems as it primarily targets developers and engineers who have expertise in building custom Linux systems from scratch.

  5. Community Support: Ubuntu has a large and active community of users and developers, which results in extensive community support. Users can readily find help, tutorials, and online forums for troubleshooting and learning. Buildroot also has a community, but due to its niche use case and advanced nature, the community may be smaller and the available resources may not be as abundant as those for Ubuntu.

  6. Target Audience: Buildroot and Ubuntu target different audiences. Buildroot is intended for embedded systems developers who need to create customized and optimized Linux systems for resource-constrained devices. In contrast, Ubuntu targets a broader audience, including casual users, developers, and enterprises, aiming to provide a user-friendly and versatile operating system for general-purpose computing.

In summary, Buildroot and Ubuntu differ in terms of customizability, package management, system size, ease of use, community support, and target audience. Buildroot offers high customizability, requires manual package management, focuses on system size optimization, requires advanced knowledge, has a smaller community, and targets embedded systems developers. On the other hand, Ubuntu provides a pre-configured system, utilizes a package management tool, has a larger system size, offers user-friendly interfaces, has extensive community support, and targets a broader audience.

Decisions about Buildroot and Ubuntu

Ubuntu is much more faster over Windows and helps to get software and other utilities easier and within a short span of time compared to Windows.

Ubuntu helps to get robustness and resiliency over Windows. Ubuntu runs faster than Windows on every computer that I have ever tested. LibreOffice (Ubuntu's default office suite) runs much faster than Microsoft Office on every computer that I have ever tested.

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Jerome/Zen Quah

Global familiarity, free, widely used, and as a debian distro feels more comfortable when rapidly switching between local macOS and remote command lines.

CentOS does boast quite a few security/stability improvements, however as a RHEL-based distro, differs quite significantly in the command line and suffers from slightly less frequent package updates. (Could be a good or bad thing depending on your use-case and if it is public facing)

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Simon Aronsson
Developer Advocate at k6 / Load Impact · | 7 upvotes · 271.6K views

At the moment of the decision, my desktop was the primary place I did work. Due to this, I can't have it blow up on me while I work. While Arch is interesting and powerful, Ubuntu offers (at least for me) a lot more stability and lets me focus on other things than maintaining my own OS installation.

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Pros of Buildroot
Pros of Ubuntu
    Be the first to leave a pro
    • 230
      Free to use
    • 96
      Easy setup for testing discord bot
    • 57
      Gateway Linux Distro
    • 54
      Simple interface
    • 9
      Don't need driver installation in most cases
    • 6
      Open Source
    • 6
      Many active communities
    • 3
      Software Availability
    • 3
      Easy to custom
    • 2
      Many flavors/distros based on ubuntu
    • 1
      Lightweight container base OS
    • 1
      Great OotB Linux Shell Experience

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    Cons of Buildroot
    Cons of Ubuntu
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      • 5
        Demanding system requirements
      • 4
        Adds overhead and unnecessary complexity over Debian
      • 2
        Snapd installed by default
      • 1

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      - No public GitHub repository available -

      What is Buildroot?

      It is a tool that simplifies and automates the process of building a complete Linux system for an embedded system, using cross-compilation.

      What is Ubuntu?

      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.

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