Ubuntu : The Rising

The Ubuntu mission is as follows:

The Ubuntu community is built on the ideas enshrined in the Ubuntu Philosophy: that software should be available free of charge, that software tools should be usable by people in their local language and despite any disabilities, and that people should have the freedom to customize and alter their software in whatever way they see fit.

Ubuntu is special in a few ways. It has regular, predictable releases, every 6 months with Long Time Support (LTS) releases every 1.5 years. It is fast and easy to install thanks to the LiveCD installer. It's useful just after installation since it installs all the commonly used desktop applications altogether. Specialized software can be easily added using the predefined repositories. And finally is has a fine community and support (mailing list, IRC channel and web forums).

Ubuntu is based on Debian GNU/Linux and uses a lot of its tools and packages.

"Ubuntu" is an ancient African word meaning "humanity to others".

User experience

User interface of Ubuntu (GNOME desktop) is very coherent and aesthetic. Apart from standard GNOME applications, a few external open-source killer-applications are included by default, like OpenOffice.org, Firefox and GIMP. The system detects popular mobile devices automatically (e.g. USB stick, digital cameras and memory cards). Its great hardware detection capabilities are especially visible on laptops where technologies like WiFi, software suspend or ACPI used to cause problems on GNU/Linux systems. Not anymore.

Included software

Ubuntu divides all software into 6 categories.

  • Main — includes supported free software (all software included on install CDs plus some additional packages, usually one application for a task).
  • Restricted — included supported non-free software (mainly drivers and fonts).
  • Universe — unsupported free-software (community-driven repository with thousands of free software apps).
  • Multiverse — unsupported non-free software (community-driven repository with things like restricted audio and video codecs or free (as in beer) but proprietary applications like Adobe Reader, etc.).
  • Commercial — commercial software (right now included Opera Browser and Real Player).
  • Backports — repository for software included in newer versions of the OS, targeted at users who need to stick to the older version of Ubuntu but still want a few recent programs.

Main and Restricted repositories are activated by default. Other need to be turned on manually, either by editing /etc/apt/sources.list or choosing the right checkboxes in Synaptic Package Manager.

Ubuntu flavors

Ubuntu is not GNOME-only. Other desktop environments are available as well. There are specialized versions of Ubuntu featuring KDE, XFCE, Fluxbox, IceWM and e17. All of those can be installed and used in regular Ubuntu, as well.

Ubuntu is available in 4 major versions:

  • Default Ubuntu — featuring GNOME and lots of GNOME applications like Evolution, Synaptic Package Manager, Beagle Search, Rhythmbox, Sound Juicer, etc. — this is the original flavor and the most polished and stable one.
  • Edubuntu — a GNOME desktop for kids and children, with games and educational applications.
  • Kubuntu — a flavor of Ubuntu featuring KDE as the default desktop, with KDE applications like Kontact, Adept Package Manager, Amarok, K3B, etc.
  • Xubuntu — the youngest version of Ubuntu with XFCE as the default desktop — this is a lightweight version for older hardware computer users.


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