School is almost back in session! For Linux users, there are two top-notch distributions out there specifically aimed towards education: Edubuntu and UberStudent.
While you could easily take a look at both of them to see which one’s better for you, we bet you don’t have a lot of time as you’re busy getting ready for the new school year. So instead, we’ll compare them for you. After reading this, you’ll be able to easily pick the distribution that best suits your needs.
Downloading and Installing
Getting and installing both Edubuntu and UberStudent is easy. Simply get the ISO for Edubuntu or for UberStudent, and write it to a 4GB or larger flash drive. Then, plug it into your computer and boot into it (you may have to change your BIOS settings). After that, you can choose to try it out or go ahead and install it to your system.
Since both distributions are based on Ubuntu, that takes away a lot of behind-the-scene differences. Instead, we can focus purely on what’s important, which includes:
- what programs are preinstalled and if any other special features are included
- how everything is organized
- how it looks.
So, let’s get right to it.
Both distributions provide a good array of educational programs right out of the box. And it shows in the download sizes, as UberStudent and Edubuntu are 2.8 GB and 3.1 GB, respectively. Scrolling through them all, I’ve noticed that Edubuntu has a bigger collection of educational programs preinstalled than UberStudent. In fact, UberStudent even uses links to some web apps as if they’re actual programs. I suppose that can be useful for some people, but I personally consider that as a bad thing rather than a good thing.
Importantly, there are a handful of programs that are on Edubuntu that UberStudent doesn’t have, such as KAlgebra, Kazium, KGeography, and Marble. Instead, UberStudent has a smaller collection of applications but it does include some useful items when it comes to writing papers that Edubuntu does not have. So ultimately, Edubuntu includes more programs that are information-heavy, while UberStudent includes more tools that can aid students in their studies but doesn’t directly give them any sort of information.
I generally find Edubuntu’s array of applications to be larger and more diverse, and it’ll be most useful for math and science folks. UberStudent is still a good choice if you’re less science-oriented and know you’ll be writing a lot of papers. This functionality in UberStudent is primarily provided by Zotero, which also includes a Zotero integration extension in Firefox that communicates with LibreOffice. You can replicate the same experience on Edubuntu. Of course, you can always install additional programs on either distribution, but in this comparison we have to take into account how many programs it includes from the start and how useful that is.
Of course, all of those applications won’t do anything if you can’t find them, and people who are new to Linux will quite possibly not know what all of those applications are called. Having a good menu structure that makes finding relevant applications easy is essential, and UberStudent does a much better job at this.
It’s not necessarily Edubuntu’s fault, as it just uses Ubuntu’s Unity desktop as its default, but Unity itself is flawed by design in this respect and not an ideal solution. Unity can only narrow down by major categories (such as Educational, Math & Science, and Games), while UberStudent can offer finer levels of organization.
Looks and Design
UberStudent uses the Xfce desktop which makes the entire distribution use less system resources, but it uses a rather strange skin that makes it look a little weird. Specifically, the window control buttons all have different colors, which just makes the distribution feel more childish rather than an educational tool.
Edubuntu, on the other hand, stays with the Unity desktop environment along with Ubuntu’s default theme. Therefore, it looks cleaner and more mature. Plus, proficiency with Linux is increasingly becoming a desired skill, and Ubuntu is the top Linux distribution that people work with. Becoming familiar with the Ubuntu user interface can help more later on in life than UberStudent’s user interface.
After these three rounds, Edubuntu leads UberStudent 2-1 and is therefore the winner of this comparison. While it might be a little difficult to sift through all the included applications, it’s a very nice-looking distro that comes with a load of applications preinstalled. However, UberStudent isn’t really that bad either, as it makes finding relevant applications easier and also includes a decent amount of software from the get go.
If you think that UberStudent may fit your needs better, whether you value the better organization, prefer its look and design over Edubuntu’s, or need it due to its lighter load on system resources, it’s still a great choice. Picking either one will put you in the right direction. However, for the purposes of this comparison, Edubuntu is the winner.
What educational Linux tools do you like or use regularly? Have you got any tips for college students as they head into the school year with Linux? Let us know in the comments!