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Ubuntu, The Ultimate Linux Distribution

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(khess)
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From its Debian roots to its commercially available support to its overwhelming popularity, Ubuntu is the ultimate Linux distribution. For me, Ubuntu became a significant force within the Linux community with its 2006 releases: 6.04 and 6.10. From April 2006, I've installed and used every new version and anticipate each new one the way a child anticipates toys on Christmas morning. But, have you ever wondered why is Ubuntu the ultimate Linux distribution? Why is it so popular? Why did Canonical choose Debian as its distribution template? And, why did Mark Shuttleworth believe in Linux so much that he chose to create Canonical to support it?

Let's take a look at Ubuntu Linux and see if we can figure out why it is, in fact, the ultimate Linux distribution.

Debian GNU/Linux is Ubuntu's parent distribution which firmly places it at the top of any list of excellent distributions. Debian's apt-get (Advanced Packaging Tool) package maintenance system is absolutely the best available process for keeping your systems updated and secure.
Debian also uses the GPL for its licensing and only uses free software in its main distribution. The GPL and the use of free software is a major selling point for many would-be adopters because of the freedoms it bestows on the user. Free software is less restrictive than software licensed in other ways. The basic premises of free software are given below:

* You can install the software on as many machines as you want.
* Any number of people may use the software at one time.
* You can make as many copies of the software as you want and give them to whomever you want (free or open redistribution).
* There are no restrictions on modifying the software (except for keeping certain notices intact).
* There is no restriction on distributing, or even selling, the software.

The use of Debian for a distribution template is reason enough to love a Linux distribution but what sets Ubuntu apart from its parent that justifies its preferential use over Debian?

The answer lies with Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu and Canonical, and his desire to take something great and make it even better. Mark's goals were to create a new Linux distribution that was free, easy to install, easy to maintain, has commercial support available as a choice and has world class performance on the desktop and at the server level. His vision was realized in Ubuntu's first public release in 2004.

You'd have to go all the way back to Ubuntu's early days (2004) to find it anywhere but at the top spot on Distrowatch's distribution list. It took the #1 spot in 2005 and has held it since that time. It holds a consistent 30 to 50 percent margin over the next most popular distribution (currently Fedora) on that list.

Ubuntu is the distribution most often recommended to users new to Linux or those switching from other distributions. Its ease of installation, quick boot times, GNOME user interface and twice yearly major updates keep it at the top of everyone's best distribution list. And, every two years, a new LTS (Long Term Support) version is released. The next one is due next month (April 2010).

Ubuntu has two major subversions: Desktop and Server. For the desktop, you may choose something other than the default GNOME desktop: Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Edubuntu and a Netbook Remix.

On the server side, you can select the standard Ubuntu server or the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud.

It's no wonder that Ubuntu is the world's most popular Linux distribution with several choices for any purpose or application, an absolutely easy to install system, commercial support and a successful track record of security and popularity that speaks volumes since its inception.

If you haven't tried Ubuntu Linux for yourself, go to this link and download or order your bootable CDs or DVD today.

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sheldonross
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6.06 was the first half release of 2006, released in June 2006. Not April 2006, steals some credibility from your post...

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khess
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Not really a credibility thief--anyone can make mistakes. That was a miss and you are correct. However, other than that release their release cycle is always April and October. Sorry about that.

Shows what going from memory can do to you. I should have checked their release page but, as I said, other than that one, it's always April and October.

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Greycoat
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"6.06 was the first half release of 2006, released in June 2006. Not April 2006, steals some credibility from your post..."

Someone is either anal retentive or an unforgiving perfectionist. LOL

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Greycoat
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"Not really a credibility thief--anyone can make mistakes"

Can we REALLY believe you after being wrong by 60 days! Back where I come from we lynch such people. With that flagrant material error can we REALLY trust you when you say: "The answer lies with Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu and Canonical,..."??? M'mmmmmmmm???

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khess
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LOL, I'll sacrifice a fatted calf for it. I grovel in your general direction.

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Greycoat
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I'm trying out Kubuntu 9.10 and I enjoy it. However, I have to use it via VMWare player within Windows since I can't connect to the internet using Linux and a modem. I'm on dialup. No driver for modem(s). Within VMWare I can try out Kubuntu and it will connect to the internet via Windows.

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Greycoat
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Oh by the way, this thread article showed up on the Google News Page under a Linux section I had. So you're getting out there. After getting therapy for the "April June 2006 date scandal", I have to say I really enjoyed your article. Thank you.

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sheldonross
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First, I really didn't mean it to be a slam, I was just pointing it out.

At the risk of further scathing, I'll elaborate.

You said "6.04 and 6.10. From April 2006, " . Now, not only have you gotten the version wrong, but the month also. You go on to say you have been using it since then. Well, apparently you were using something that didn't exist in a timeframe when you would have to have been using 5.10 or not using Ubuntu at all.

Again, It was not meant as a insult. As an analogy, If someone told me they'd been driving Ford Fusions since 2004, I'd be skeptical of what followed, because I know that Ford Fusions weren't released (in the US) until late 2005 as 2006 models.

My apologies for the trauma suffered and slaughtered calf....

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khess
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@sheldon

No problem. It's just that it was 4 years ago and their cycle is .04 and .10. I didn't recall that it was June. That, of course, was the odd one. Not that big of a deal. It was a memory lapse and an unintentional error on my part. Thanks for pointing it out but I don't think it has anything to do with my credibility which I think is the scathing bit that you're getting. If I could correct it, I would. I don't just work with Ubuntu exclusively, I have all kinds of distros up and running. Right now, I have a Debian 5 and Proxmox 1.5 running for two other articles I'm working on for other sites. Some things just get lost over time.

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Greycoat
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Dear sheldonross,

My apology for having fun at your expense. By the way, I am an anal retentive unforgiving perfectionist (working hard on the unforgiving part). Now I make errors and medications deaden the guilt of being imperfect. LOL

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qizzer
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For the most part you could have replaced the word Ubuntu with several other distributions. Mandriva's free version, for instance, does all the things you mentioned.
* You can install the software on as many machines as you want.
* Any number of people may use the software at one time.
* You can make as many copies of the software as you want and give them to whomever you want (free or open redistribution).
* There are no restrictions on modifying the software (except for keeping certain notices intact).
* There is no restriction on distributing, or even selling, the software.
Mandriva also uses the GPL for its licensing and only uses free software in its main distribution.
It uses the urpmi or rpm based package system which many consider superior to deb.
Many other distributions can make these claims. Ubuntu is a nice *nix but many others have been at the top of distrowatch and many more will be there in the future. There is no ultimate linux.

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danni999
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No offense but this article contains nothing new or revealing.
You ask: Why is it so popular?
The reason lies in the clever viral marketing adopted by Ubuntu combined with the fact that Shuttleworth has run it as a loss-leader so far, I expected you would have written about that instead of writing a piece of viral marketing for Ubuntu yourself...

As qizzer says, Ubuntu is no better than several other Linux distros, in fact Mandriva for example is quite a bit better than Ubuntu.

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2handband
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Sorry, can't agree with any of this. Debian is still far better than Ubuntu because it is stable. Ubuntu is not; I've had more problems with it than any other distro except for Fedora. If you want a distro that holds your hand like Ubuntu does but actually works try SimplyMepis or Mandriva. Ubuntu is popular mostly because of very aggressive marketing on the part on Canonical, which most other distros cannot afford.

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KimTjik
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"... keep it at the top of everyone's best distribution list."

I don't know what conclusion to draw. Style of writing suggest advertising and I honestly didn't find any answer to why that really distinguish Ubuntu from some other distributions.

Maybe I'm biased since I've never used Ubuntu for any substantial time, finding it too patched and a bit messy to work with. Anyway it's really to stretch the argument too far when suggesting that Ubuntu is at the top of everyone's list, unless "top" leaves space enough for a broader selection.

I would be more interested in reading an article that analysed:

- does Ubuntu move bug reports upstream quickly enough?
- is the impression that Ubuntu is patched together wrong and if wrong what's the strategy behind some Ubuntu specific patching?
- at its current state how much does Ubuntu benefit from development done by other distribution, and how much does it give back?
- if Ubuntu's work for the totality of Linux is less than its proclaimed dominance, why is that?

All kinds of such questions could be asked. I don't pretend to know the answers. An as objective review of Ubuntu success, neither bashing or hailing, would be appreciated.

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loganf
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I agree, Mandriva has been doing these things for years. In fact making an easy to install, easy to use, commercially supported Linux was their vision years ago, before buntus were even born.

Mandriva by far has the best configuration tools in the business. There is a utility for everything. It's just as easy to install, just as easy to use. Mandriva packages their distro with all major desktops, all properly supported, all with the same comprehensive tools and utilities. Unlike bumtus where their kubuntu, ect, ect derivatives are half broken and not properly supported and maintained as Ubuntu.

And I've had more problems, more horrible user transitions, more instability, with Ubuntu than any other distro I use. I won't suggest it to any new user because there is always something thats broken, crashing, ect. Unlike Mandriva, I install it on new users computers, and it just works, and they get along with it.

And community. Yes they have a large community to "support" new users. All my experiences have been useless. You get jo blo newbies that are so tied up in the hype that they have no clue about the os their running and all you get is a form full of dumb minded answers. Shoot over to Mandriva's forms, they only get half the posts, but thats mainly because there is knowledgeable people that give you decent answers and get you fixed up right away, and their os works like it should, so you don't get half a million people asking dumb questions.

And I have used Ubuntu several times, for months at a time, almost every release hoping it will get better, and hoping I'll catch on the what all the hype is about. But it never does.

Saying any Linux is the Ultimate Linux seems dumb. What keeps bumtu at the top of the list is the hype, nothing more. Mandriva held the top of that list for years too. And they are still there, building a very user friendly, stable, Linux. Let bumtus hype wear off and get a few more years under it's belt, and then maybe we can see about the "Ultimate Linux" title.

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khess
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I used to use Mandriva, when it was Mandrake. But, it's French. Ewwww.

Kidding, just kidding. Ubuntu is so good because everything just works out of the box: wireless, sound, USB devices. It's impressive in its hardware discovery, easy setup, twice yearly updates and user thoughtfulness. Having Debian as its parent is a really good thing too.

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simontag
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For future reference you don't have to "remember" or check when a version was released.

Version numbers are based on the release year and month.
7.10 = 2007 - 10th month (October)

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khess
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@simontag

But I haven't used that version since the next newer one came out. I know how the releases go but just forgot that one glitch.

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swarth
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Ubuntu is a good start but its a skeleton of an operating system. It's because they force it to fit on one CD and don't want to support a DVD full of software. That's why I like distros like http://uberstudent.org that build on the Ubuntu skeleton.

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