KDE Neon vs Kubuntu: What's the Difference Between the Two KDE Distribution?

When you find two Linux distributions based on Ubuntu and powered up by KDE, which one do you choose? To help you out, we compare KDE Neon with Kubuntu.

When you find two Linux distributions based on Ubuntu and powered up by KDE, which one do you choose?

  • Kubuntu is the official KDE flavor of Ubuntu.
  • KDE Neon is the Ubuntu-based distribution by KDE itself.

I know it is often confusing especially if you have never used either of them but got them as recommendations for usage. Hence, to help you make a decision, I thought of compiling a list of differences (and similarities) between KDE Neon and Kubuntu, the two of the best KDE-based distros.

Let’s start with getting to know the similarities and then proceed with the differences.

Depending on your system, your experience with the distributions might differ. So, take this article as a reference and not a “what’s better” comparison.

KDE Neon vs Kubuntu: Feature wise comparison

Kde Neon Vs Kubuntu

It’s always good to compare distributions based on their similarities. So, theoretically, I’ve tried to put down the most important differences.

However, it is worth noting that the compatibility, performance, and stability of the distros will vary depending on your hardware and hence, that has not been accounted here.

Ubuntu as the Base

Install Ubuntu 8

Yes, both the Linux distributions are based on Ubuntu. However, KDE Neon is based only on the latest Ubuntu LTS release while Kubuntu offers an Ubuntu LTS based edition and a non-LTS edition as well.

So, with KDE Neon, you would expect to get your hands on the latest Ubuntu features right after a few months of the next Ubuntu LTS release (2 years). But, with Kubuntu, you have got the option to opt for a non-LTS release and try on the latest Ubuntu releases with 6 months of software updates.

KDE Neon does offer testing editions and developer editions but those are meant to test pre-release KDE software.

KDE Plasma Desktop

Kde Plasma 5 20 Feat

Even though both of the distros feature KDE plasma desktop and you can get the same level of customization, KDE Neon gets the latest KDE Plasma desktop release first.

If you did not know already, KDE Neon is developed by the official KDE team and was announced by Jonathan Riddell (Founder of Kubuntu) after he was forced out of Kubuntu by Canonical.

So, not just limited to the latest Plasma desktop, but if you want the latest and greatest of KDE as soon as possible, KDE Neon is the perfect choice for that.

Kubuntu will eventually get the update for newer KDE software — but it will take time. If you’re not too sure about the latest KDE software/desktop and all you need is a stable KDE-powered system, you should go with Kubuntu LTS releases.

Pre-installed Software

Out of the box, you will find Kubuntu to have several essential tools and applications pre-installed. But, with KDE Neon, you would need to find and install several applications and tools.

To give you some perspective, KDE Neon might turn out to be a lightweight distro when compared to Kubuntu. However, for new Linux users, they might find Kubuntu as an easy-to-use experience with more essential software and tools pre-installed.

Software Updates

If you are not using a metered connection, this may not matter at all. But, just for the sake of it, I should mention that KDE Neon gets more software updates considering the regular Ubuntu LTS fixes/updates along with KDE software updates.

With Kubuntu, you just get the Ubuntu LTS updates (unless you’re using the non-LTS edition). So, technically, you can expect less number of updates.

Ubuntu with KDE vs Plasma Experience

Kubuntu Kde

I know if you haven’t tried both of them, you might think of them as pretty similar. But, Kubuntu is an official flavour of Ubuntu that focused more on the experience with Ubuntu on a KDE desktop environment.

While KDE Neon is technically the same thing, but it is all about getting the best-in-class Plasma desktop experience with the latest stuff on board.

Even though both the distributions work amazing out of the box, they have a different vision and the development proceeds on both them accordingly. You just have to decide what you want for yourself and choose one of them.

Hardware Compatibility

Kubuntu Focus Laptop
Kubuntu Focus Laptop

As I mentioned earlier, this is not a fact-based point here. But, as per my quick look on the feedback or experiences shared by the users online, it seems that Kubuntu works with a wide range of old hardware along with new hardware (potentially dating back to 2012) while KDE Neon may not.

It’s just a thing to keep in mind if you try KDE Neon and it doesn’t work for some reason. You know what to do.

Wrapping Up

So, what would it be? KDE Neon or Kubuntu? That’s really is your choice.

Both are good choices for a beginner-friendly Linux distribution but if you want the latest KDE Plasma desktop, KDE Neon gets the edge here. You can read more about it in our review of KDE Neon.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments down below and what do you find good/bad on either of them.

About the author
Ankush Das

Ankush Das

A passionate technophile who also happens to be a Computer Science graduate. You will usually see cats dancing to the beautiful tunes sung by him.

Become a Better Linux User

With the FOSS Weekly Newsletter, you learn useful Linux tips, discover applications, explore new distros and stay updated with the latest from Linux world


Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to It's FOSS.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.