Ubuntu (IPA pronunciation /ù'búntú/ (oo-BOON-too)) is a predominantly desktop-oriented Linux distribution, based on Debian GNU/Linux but with a stronger focus on usability, regular releases, and ease of installation at the expense of platform diversity. Ubuntu is sponsored by Canonical Ltd, owned by South African billionaire entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth.
The name of the distribution comes from the southern African concept of ubuntu which may be rendered roughly as "humanity toward others", "we are people because of other people", or "I am who I am because of who we all are," though other meanings have been suggested.
Kubuntu and Xubuntu are official subprojects of the Ubuntu project, aiming to bring the KDE and Xfce desktop environments, respectively, to the Ubuntu core. Edubuntu is an official subproject designed for school environments, and should be equally suitable for children to use at home. Gobuntu was an official subproject, which was aimed at adhering strictly to the Free Software Foundation's Four Freedoms. However, Gobuntu is no longer being developed, since the regular Ubuntu release now gives users the option of installing only free software. The newest official subproject is JeOS. Ubuntu JeOS (pronounced "Juice") is an efficient variant of the popular desktop and server operating system, configured specifically for virtual appliances.
Ubuntu releases new versions every six months, and always supports them for at least 18 months with daily security fixes and patches to critical bugs. Some releases are designated as Long Term Support (LTS) versions, which have three years support for the desktop and five years for the server editions. It is intended that new LTS versions will be released at two year intervals.
The most recent (standard) version, Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala), was released on October 29 2009.
The most recent (and second) LTS version, Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron), was released on April 24 2008.
It has been announced that the next release will be an LTS version, Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx), scheduled for April 2010.
Ubuntu aims to use only free software to provide an up-to-date yet stable operating system for the average user. The initial download and installation is of course free of charge. In addition to free updates, and support from the ubuntu community, and this guide, there are a number of other books about Ubuntu Linux, and paid technical support is available from Canonical Ltd.
Ubuntu focuses on usability, including the widespread use of the sudo tool for administrative tasks. The Ubiquity installer allows installing Ubuntu to the hard disk from within the Live CD environment without the need for restarting the computer prior to installation. Ubuntu furthermore emphasises accessibility and internationalization, to reach as many people as possible. As of version 5.04, UTF-8 is the default character encoding. The default appearance of the user interface in the current version is called Human and is characterised by shades of brown and orange. Beginning with release 11.04, Ubuntu will use the new Ubiquity desktop environment, rather than GNOME, by default.
Besides standard system tools and other small applications, Ubuntu comes installed with the following software: the OpenOffice.org productivity suite, the Internet browser Firefox, the instant messenger Pidgin (formerly known as Gaim), and the raster graphics editor GIMP. Several lightweight card and puzzle games are pre-installed, including Sudoku and Chess. Ubuntu has all ports closed by default adding to security, although some people choose to run a firewall in order to keep tabs of incoming and outgoing connections.
Ubuntu offers a fully featured set of applications that work straight from the standard install, but nonetheless fits on a single CD. The live CD allows users to see whether their hardware is compatible before installation to the hard disk. The live CD is then used to install Ubuntu. CDs are mailed free to anyone who requests them, and CD images are available for download. The Ubuntu live CD requires 256 megabytes of RAM, and once installed on the hard disk, Ubuntu needs four gigabytes of hard-disk space. An alternate install disc using the standard debian-installer in text mode is available for download only, and is aimed at people with lower system specifications, computer dealers selling systems already installed with Ubuntu, and for complex partitioning including the use of LVM.
With the release of Ubuntu 7.04 in April 2007, the Ubuntu installation process changed slightly. It now supports migration from Windows. The new migration tool imports Windows users' bookmarks, desktop background (wallpaper), and settings for immediate use in the Ubuntu installation.
For Ubuntu there are tools available to create a specific installation CD/DVD. With Wubi, it is possible to install Ubuntu on a Windows partition. It also makes use of the migration tool which imports Windows users' configurations.
Since Ubuntu uses GNOME, the language of the GUI can set up in different languages.
Ubuntu's popularity has climbed steadily since its 2004 debut. It is currently the second most viewed Linux distribution on Distrowatch.com, and was the most accessed on the site in 2005 and 2006. This popularity is borne out by a rise in Google searches for "Ubuntu" since 2004 as compared to shrinking or plateauing numbers for terms related to other major desktop Linux distributions such as "Fedora", "Debian" or "SUSE" over the same period. In a 2007 survey of 38500 DesktopLinux.com users Ubuntu was the most popular distribution, with 30.3 percent of respondents using it.
Ubuntu was awarded the Reader Award for best Linux distribution at the 2005 LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in London. It has been favourably reviewed in online and print publications. Ubuntu won InfoWorld's 2007 Bossie Award for Best Open Source Client OS.
Mark Shuttleworth has stated that there were at least 8 million Ubuntu users at the end of 2006.
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- Google Trends, comparing Fedora|RHEL|Red Hat, Debian, Ubuntu, SUSE|OpenSUSE, Mandrake|Mandriva
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- Introduction for n00bs
- Introduction for Windows users
- Introduction for Mac users
- Introduction for Ubuntu users
- Introduction for users of other Linux distributions
- Introduction for users of Unix and/or Unix-like operating systems
- Introduction for users of other operating systems
- Introduction for other