In 2017 Linux computer maker System76 introduced their own flavor of Linux called Pop!_OS and started offering it as an option alongside Ubuntu as the pre-installed OS on their computers. I have been using Pop!_OS (that is a pain in the ass to type) for a few weeks and finally got the opportunity to compare it to the newest Ubuntu version side by side. Here is what I think.
Pop OS - System76 markets this for professional creators. By that I think they mean people who use Linux professionally every day, know what software they will use and don’t want a lot of distractions. And the Pop OS pretty much does this. You don’t have to uninstall a bunch of programs you will never use. The software store is a bit spartan, and does not offer as wide a range of choices in software as Ubuntu. The core Gnome desktop software is there along with some other programs. Program descriptions are pretty sketchy in many instances but you can get by.
Take System76 at their word. Pop OS is for the pros. It is rock solid and workmanlike and a mainstream user can get by (especially if they Duckduck third party Linux how to articles). In other words it does not suck. People switching from Windows or macOS should use Ubuntu.
Ubuntu - One noticeable thing: right out of the box and unlike Pop OS, Ubuntu has proper Minimize, Maximize, Close buttons on the top right of each program window. No horsing around, Ubuntu is ready to be a desktop OS and a replacement for Windows or macOS. The Ubuntu software store (repository) has a lot more choices in software available, better icons and better more complete descriptions. Pros won’t care but mainstream users will appreciate the extra choices. Even better Ubuntu has gone back to the Gnome 3 UI and dumped that awful Unity UI. Win!
If you are a mainstream computer user or are moving to Linux from Windows or macOS, of the two, get Ubuntu. You will be happier.
All that said, I don’t regret my purchase of Pop OS. It is perfectly competent and serves my needs. It is rock solid like Linux is supposed to be. While I don’t put myself in the creator class, once I find a program I like and does the job I pretty much stick with it. Which is what Pop OS was aiming for. Either way, I am happy with my System76 hardware it is good quality and they have good support.
Added 4 September 2018
I’m downgrading my opinion of Pop_OS. I am now encountering my 3rd problem with it that is going to require contacting Support. System 76 support is excellent BTW. But one problem locked down the whole computer and took nearly a week of back and forth command line stuff to fix. 4 days later a new problem cropped up with stuck system updates.
When this computer’s warranty runs out I will overwrite and install Ubuntu.
I really like System 76 hardware and support. I highly recommend it. For now I only recommend you get Ubuntu installed as the OS.