Ubuntu (Linux distribution)


Ubuntu 6.10 "Edgy Eft" running GNOME.
Website: http://www.ubuntu.com/
Canonical Ltd. / Ubuntu Foundation
OS family: Linux
Source model: Free and Open Source Software
Latest stable release: 6.10 / October 26 2006
Update method: APT
Package manager: dpkg
Supported platforms: i386, AMD64, PowerPC, UltraSPARC[1]
Kernel type: Monolithic kernel
Default user interface: GNOME
Working state: Current

Ubuntu (IPA pronunciation: /ubun'tu/, pronounced like oo-BOON-too) is a widely used Linux distribution predominantly targeted at personal computers. Based on Debian GNU/Linux, Ubuntu concentrates on usability, regular releases, ease of installation, and freedom from legal restrictions. Ubuntu is sponsored by Canonical Ltd., a private company founded by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth.

The name of the distribution comes from the Zulu and Xhosa concept of ubuntu, which means "humanity towards others". Ubuntu’s slogan – “Linux for Human Beings”, encapsulates one of its main goals – making Linux more available and easy to use. Due to its ease of use, it is considered by many to be a great "beginner" distribution of Linux.

The most recent version, Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy Eft), was released on October 26 2006.



History and development

The original name of the Ubuntu project was no-name-yet.com.[2] Canonical has continued to use the http://no-name-yet.com/ domain.

Ubuntu's first release on October 20 2004 began as a temporary fork of Debian GNU/Linux, with the aim of drawing from Debian's code regularly in order to allow for a new version of Ubuntu to be released every six months.[3] In contrast to other general-purpose forks of Debian such as Xandros, Linspire and Libranet, Canonical remains close to Debian's philosophy with Ubuntu and uses predominantly free software rather than making the inclusion of proprietary applications part of their business model.[4]

Ubuntu uses Debian's Advanced Packaging Tool to manage installed packages. Ubuntu packages are generally based on packages from Debian's unstable repository; however, they are not always compatible with each other. Several Ubuntu developers are also maintainers of packages within Debian's repositories, and Ubuntu changes are contributed back to Debian as they are made, rather than being announced only at release time.[5] Ian Murdock, the founder of Debian, criticised Ubuntu in April 2005 for incompatibilities between its packages and those of Debian sarge, saying that Ubuntu had diverged too far to remain compatible.[6]

Bugs in Ubuntu are tracked through the Launchpad web interface, which integrates with the Bazaar version control system in a similar way to SourceForge's integration with CVS.

Ubuntu is currently funded by Mark Shuttleworth through Canonical Ltd. On July 8 2005, Canonical announced the creation of the Ubuntu Foundation and provided an initial funding of US$10 million. The purpose of the foundation is to ensure the support and development for all future versions of Ubuntu, but as of 2006, the foundation remains dormant. Shuttleworth describes the foundation as an emergency fund should Canonical's involvement end.[7]



A screenshot of Ubuntu 6.06 LTS, showing the Dawn of Ubuntu wallpaper, one of several pre-installed options.
A screenshot of Ubuntu 6.06 LTS, showing the Dawn of Ubuntu wallpaper, one of several pre-installed options.


Ubuntu is based on the GNOME desktop environment, which is intended to provide a free, simple and intuitive interface while offering a full range of modern desktop applications.[8] While Ubuntu distributes common productivity software including OpenOffice.org, the Mozilla Firefox web browser and the GIMP image editor, it aims to avoid overlap in its default feature set rather than providing many different choices of similar packages.

After the initial Ubuntu installation, the user is greeted with a clean and tidy desktop which contains no desktop icons by default. General desktop applications are located under the Applications menu, an easy to use desktop launcher menu. Open windows can be viewed on the taskbar along the bottom of the screen. The default user interface in Ubuntu is easy on the eye and is characterized by shades of orange and brown, imitating African tribal imagery. The user retains the option to customize the look and behavior of the desktop in a variety of ways. Ubuntu is available in over 40 languages. It also allows users to submit additional translations by using the Rosetta Translation tool.[9]

Ubuntu's focus on usability includes the widespread use of the sudo tool, which allows users to carry out administrative tasks without initiating a potentially unsafe superuser session.[10]



Ubuntu ships as an ISO image that fits on a single CD or, in the case of the older version 6.06, mailed free to anyone requesting them via Canonical's ShipIt service.[11] This is intended to reduce the amount of time it takes to download Ubuntu and the possibility of losing part of the installation software. Many Linux distributions necessitate the downloading of multiple iso images and hours of installation process, while Ubuntu is one of the few distributions that can be installed quickly, and from a single CD.

Since version 6.06, Ubuntu's disc has served both as a Live CD and an install disc. This disc boots into a fully featured desktop, allowing the user to see whether his or her hardware is compatible and experiment with the applications available. The CD also allows the user to install Ubuntu to the hard disk using the Ubiquity application, and preserves documents created on the live desktop. An alternate install disc using the text-mode debian-installer is also available, aimed towards those with lower system specifications, towards administrators installing Ubuntu on many systems, and for complex disk partitioning.

There are two types of releases: one for desktop and laptop computers and one for servers. The desktop and laptop version is available for Intel x86 PCs, 64-bit AMD64 PCs, and PowerPC Macintosh computers. The server edition is available for these platforms in addition to SPARC and does not ship as a Live CD (using the text-mode installer exclusively).



Ubuntu emphasizes accessibility and internationalisation, to reach as many people as possible. Since version 5.04, UTF-8 has been the default character encoding. High-visibility themes, screen-reading software, and an on-screen keyboard all come with Ubuntu.

Canonical's Rosetta tool is a part of the Launchpad web-based application which allows Ubuntu users to contribute translations of Ubuntu software in a straightforward way.


Community, and "humanity"

Ubuntu has a number of official web forums where discussion of the operating system is encouraged. Canonical hosts a number of mailing lists for the project and the developer mailing lists and Ubuntu's developer conferences remain open to users.

Users are encouraged to make use of The Fridge, a community weblog intended to keep users informed with Ubuntu-related news.

The Human user interface theme in Ubuntu is characterised by shades of brown and orange, with art intended to mimic African tribal imagery. Illustrations of human beings in global community feature prominently in Ubuntu promotional artwork.


Package classification and support

Browsing Ubuntu core packages in Synaptic.
Browsing Ubuntu core packages in Synaptic.

Ubuntu divides all software into four sections, called components, to reflect differences in licensing and level of support available.[12] The components are Main, Restricted, Universe and Multiverse.

Main and Universe contain software which meets the Ubuntu license requirements, which correspond roughly to the Debian Free Software Guidelines.[13] Main may also contain binary firmware and selected fonts used in supported software that cannot be modified without permission. In all cases, redistribution is unencumbered.

Non-free device drivers remain in the Restricted component, where support is present because of their importance, but limited due to lack of, or limited, access to the source code.

It is intended that Main and Restricted contain all software needed for a general-use desktop operating system. Other, unsupported programs are placed in Universe (free) and Multiverse (Non-free). Multiverse contains software packages which may infringe on U.S. and international patent or copyright law. Examples of these include software that enables the playback of copyrighted media formats. Due to the questionable legal status of unofficial DVD-decoding in some parts of the world, Libdvdcss was removed from Ubuntu's official repository, but can still be downloaded at the VideoLAN Project's website.[14] Encoding and decoding libraries for many proprietary media formats such as Windows Media are also unavailable by default.[15]

Ubuntu Backports is an officially recognized project to backport newer versions of certain software that are available only in unstable versions of Ubuntu. The repository is not comprehensive; it mostly consists of user-requested packages, which are approved if they meet quality guidelines.[16]

Unofficial utilities such as EasyUbuntu[17] and Automatix aim to automate the installation and configuration of software which is not officially packaged for Ubuntu for legal or philosophical reasons. They are not recommended by the Ubuntu development team and have been accused of breaking updates.[18]

Ubuntu has a certification system for third-party proprietary software, and Canonical manages a special repository for certified proprietary packages named Commercial,[19] which includes software that Canonical has obtained special permission to distribute.[20] As of this writing, the repository includes the Opera web browser and the RealPlayer media player.



Each Ubuntu release has a code name, and also has a version number based on the year and month of release. Canonical provides support and security updates for most Ubuntu versions for 18 months after release.[21]



Version Release date Code name Supported until
4.10 October 2004 Warty Warthog Unsupported as of April 30, 2006
5.04 April 2005 Hoary Hedgehog Unsupported as of October 31, 2006
5.10 13 October 2005[22][23] Breezy Badger April 2007
6.06 LTS 1 June 2006[24][25] Dapper Drake June 2009 (desktops) and June 2011 (servers)
6.10 26 October 2006[26][27] Edgy Eft April 2008

Long Term Support

Release 6.06 LTS, codenamed "Dapper Drake", is the first Long Term Support release of Ubuntu. Canonical plans to support LTS releases with updates longer than other Ubuntu releases. Package updates are planned and paid technical support is available for three years on the desktop and five years on the server.

Ubuntu 6.06 LTS initially included GNOME 2.14, Mozilla Firefox, OpenOffice.org 2.0.2, Xorg 7.0, GCC 4.0.3, and version 2.6.15 of the Linux kernel. The first maintenance release, version 6.06.1, appeared on 10 August 2006, and is still distributed alongside more recent releases.[28]

Because of the longer support cycle, Canonical has announced that the ShipIt program will continue to ship Dapper, rather than switch to the newer Edgy Eft.[29]


Current release

Edgy Eft running customized theme and background.
Edgy Eft running customized theme and background.

The current Ubuntu release, version 6.10, known as "Edgy Eft", debuts new features such as a new System V init daemon replacement called Upstart, as well as improvements to the memory usage of applications like Evolution and Nautilus which led to an increase in the speed of system boot up and application launch compared to version 6.06.[30] Major applications in this release include GNOME 2.16.1, Mozilla Firefox 2.0, OpenOffice.org 2.0.4, X.Org Server 7.1.1, GCC 4.1.1, and version 2.6.17 of the Linux kernel.

Like previous releases, Edgy allows for direct upgrades from the previous version. Upgrading from version 6.06 is not performed automatically like normal package upgrades, requiring a special switch to Update Manager. Other methods, such as the dist-upgrade feature of apt-get, are not recommended.[31] Some users reported serious trouble in the process.[32]



The next stable release will be Ubuntu 7.04, codenamed "Feisty Fawn". Currently, this release is scheduled for 19 April 2007.[33]

There are plans for a Ubuntu branch codenamed "Grumpy Groundhog", which has not yet been made available to the public. It is planned to be a permanently unstable development and testing branch, pulling the source directly out of the revision control of the various programs and applications that are shipped as part of Ubuntu. This is planned to allow developers to test newer versions of individual programs as they would appear if packaged for the current distribution. It is planned to be able to provide early warning of build failures on various architectures.[34]


System requirements

The current Ubuntu LTS release 6.06 requires 256 megabytes of RAM, and, when installed to the hard disk, requires least three gigabytes of hard-disk space if installed as the usual Desktop installation. The Server installation requires 64MB of RAM and 500MB of hard disk space.[35]



Xubuntu 6.06 default desktop configuration.
Xubuntu 6.06 default desktop configuration.

There are several variants of Ubuntu available, with releases simultaneous with Ubuntu's, as their packages are drawn from the same repositories. The most significant ones are:

Kubuntu, Edubuntu, Xubuntu and the Server Edition are official projects of the Ubuntu Foundation and can be ordered as CDs from the ShipIt service (with the exception of the Server Edition and Xubuntu).

Mark Shuttleworth has also endorsed the creation of an Ubuntu distribution using only Free Software Foundation-approved free software.[37] This was released on November 2, 2006 as gNewSense.

It was widely rumoured that Google would be distributing an Ubuntu derivative called Goobuntu. Google confirmed that it has created a modified version of Ubuntu but insisted there are no plans to distribute it outside the company.[38]



Please expand this section.
Further information might be found on the talk page or at Requests for expansion.
Please remove this message once the section has been expanded.

The Ubuntu page on DistroWatch has been the most frequently accessed of a comprehensive list of Linux distributions for more than a year.[39] Ubuntu was awarded the Reader Award for best Linux distribution at the 2005 LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in London.[40] It has been favourably reviewed in online and print publications.[41][42] At Debconf 6 in May 2006, Mark Shuttleworth stated that "about 6 million Breezy CDs" had been distributed through Ubuntu's ShipIt program.[43] Many reviewers of Ubuntu point out a main part of Ubuntu's success is its community.[44]

An important factor behind the success of Ubuntu is its focus on creating local community teams. There are many established and new teams, and it is easy (and free) to start a new one. If needed, Canonical Ltd. will provide hardware resources for setting up mailing lists, IRC channel and forums, and will pay for domain name registration. Canonical also employs a Ubuntu Community Manager (currently Jono Bacon) to assist with start-up, including payment of travel costs for selected local teams to meet together.[45]

The Edgy Eft version (6.10) has been facing several issues of upgrade and installation (especially with the LiveCD), as many users expressed problems in the process, mainly related to the distribution's Xserver-Xorg video drivers. The issue has been more frequent on laptops and PowerPC computers, and mainly with the Xubuntu and Kubuntu variants. Reconfiguring the Xorg video drivers has been a solution for some users, while the 6.10 version seems to not be working at all for some others. Yet Dapper Drake is still recognized as the most stable and largely supported version of Ubuntu to date.


Notes and references

  1. The UltraSPARC and UltraSPARC T1 platforms are only supported by the Server Edition.
  2. Hill, Benjamin Mako (26 November 2004). Ubuntu is Born. Ubuntu (A GNU/Linux Operating System): Past Present and Future. Retrieved on 2006-10-18.
  3. Shuttleworth, Mark. What about binary compatibility between distributions?. Ubuntu Wiki. Retrieved on 2006-09-30.
  4. Ubuntu Philosophy. Ubuntu.com. Retrieved on 2006-04-25.
  5. Ubuntu and Debian. Ubuntu.com. Retrieved on 2006-05-25.
  6. internetnews.com Sarge vs. The Hoary Hedgehog?. Retrieved on 2006-04-25.
  7. https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-announce/2005-July/000025.html
  8. About GNOME. GNOME.org.
  9. Ubuntu Homepage.
  10. RootSudo. Ubuntu Wiki. Retrieved on 2006-04-25.
  11. Ubuntu Support: ShipIt FAQ. Canonical Ltd..
  12. Ubuntu Components. Retrieved on 2006-03-16.
  13. Ubuntu Licensing. Retrieved on 2006-06-29.
  14. Ubuntu Free Formats. Ubuntu Community Documentation. Retrieved on 2006-11-28.
  15. Codecs install. Ubuntu Wiki. Retrieved on 2006-08-02.
  16. Ubuntu Backports. Retrieved on 2006-09-17.
  17. EasyUbuntu. Retrieved on 2006-10-17.
  18. Edgy in the news
  19. partners/certification/software. Retrieved on 2006-03-16.
  20. Introducing the Dapper Commercial Repository. Unofficial Ubuntu blog.
  21. Ubuntu Releases FAQ. Retrieved on 2006-12-21.
  22. Ubuntu 5.10 announcement. Retrieved on 2006-10-11.
  23. Ubuntu 5.10 release notes. Retrieved on 2006-12-21.
  24. Ubuntu 6.06 announcement. Retrieved on 2006-12-21.
  25. Ubuntu 6.06 release notes. Retrieved on 2006-12-21.
  26. Ubuntu 6.10 announcement. Retrieved on 2006-10-26.
  27. Ubuntu 6.10 release notes. Retrieved on 2006-12-21.
  28. Downloading Ubuntu. Ubuntu.com.
  29. ShipIt changes. Retrieved on 2006-09-25.
  30. Edgy Eft Knot 3. Retrieved on 2006-09-24.
  31. Edgy Upgrades. Ubuntu Wiki. Retrieved on 2006-10-30.
  32. kdawson (2006-10-29). Upgrading to Ubuntu Edgy Eft a "Nightmare". Slashdot. Retrieved on 2006-10-29.
  33. ubuntu-devel-announce mailing list: Planning for Ubuntu 7.04 - the "Feisty Fawn". Retrieved on 2006-10-26.
  34. Grumpy Groundhog specification. Ubuntu.com. Retrieved on 2006-06-29.
  35. Ubuntu 6.06 Release Notes: Hardware Requirements. Retrieved on 2007-01-19.
  36. Edubuntu - Frequently asked questions. Retrieved on 2006-07-15.
  37. Mark Shuttleworth registers gnubuntu.org (Ubuntu mailing list). Retrieved on 2006-04-25.
  38. The Register: Google at work on desktop Linux. Retrieved on 2006-04-25.
  39. DistroWatch: Linux Distribution Popularity. Retrieved on 2006-04-27.
  40. LinuxWorld Expo UK 2005 (PDF). Retrieved on 2006-05-09.
  41. Ubuntu - A New Approach to Desktop Linux. Retrieved on 2006-05-09.
  42. Linux in Government: Linux Desktop Reviews, Part 6 - Ubuntu. Retrieved on 2006-05-09.
  43. Ubuntu Q&A with Mark Shuttleworth at Debconf 6. Retrieved on 2006-10-25.
  44. XYZ computing article on kubuntu. Retrieved on 2006-03-11.
  45. LoCo member goes to California.

Further reading


External links

Linux distributions
CentOS | Debian | Fedora | Gentoo | Knoppix | Mandriva Linux | Red Hat Enterprise Linux | Slackware | SUSE Linux | Ubuntu | more… | comparison…
Ubuntu-based distributions and derivatives
Official: Ubuntu | Kubuntu | Xubuntu | Edubuntu

Unofficial: Ebuntu | Fluxbuntu | nUbuntu | Ubuntu Lite | zUbuntu | Christian Edition | Ichthux | gNewSense

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