Ubuntu is a Linux-based operating system with its origins in South Africa. Its name means “humanity towards others”. Back in 2004, Linux was already established as a server operating system, but free software was not yet a part of everyday life. Further, Linux was thought of as a complicated operating system which non-technical people couldn’t use. It was at this time in 2004 that Ubuntu began as a Linux distribution aimed at ease of use. Mark Shuttle worth, the creator of the project, gathered a few developers and went on to create the most popular Linux distribution till date.
An introduction to the Ubuntu project
The Ubuntu project is aimed at creating one of the easiest operating systems on the planet using Linux as its base. Ubuntu releases a new version every six months; the latest at the time of writing being 11.04. The next anticipated edition, 11.10, will be out in October 2011. We hope you’ve already understood the subsequent pattern of version numbers: 9.10, 10.04, 10.10, 11.04 and so on. Ubuntu places alongside these numbers names of animals to infuse life into each release. The 11.04 version is named as ‘Natty Narwhal’ (a medium-sized toothed whale).
Yet another unique fact about Ubuntu is that its owners (or you could just call them the creators) at the parent company Canonical have pledged to always keep the OS free. On the other hand are companies who built over and around their open source products, especially Linux distributions such as Novell and Red Hat. They usually treat the free versions of their Linux distributions as a testing ground for commercial products. Canonical promises that Ubuntu is, and always will be, free of cost and open in nature. As far as its bank accounts are concerned, the OS is a volunteer- driven project and the company capitalizes on its Ubuntu-related support and development services to enterprises. The commitment of Canonical and Mark Shuttle worth are to be credited for the ever-growing fame of Ubuntu.
Why is Ubuntu popular ?
For those who’re interested in computing, Linux is something which they
take pride in being a user of, and love its freedom and flexibility.
Among all the Linux distributions, which already are extremely popular (use Google’s free keyword tool to avail salvation for yourself), Ubuntu is the most popular. The reason for its triumph over all other Linux distributions is its ease of use. Before Ubuntu came into picture, Linux was thought of as a real tough nut to crack. Many had the (wrong) notion about Linux being a completely command line based operating system. While it is still true that an extremely rich set of useful applications, programs and features of Linux are dependent on command line (or call it the console), Linux certainly was much more than just a console-driven, type and press Enter styled operating system, even before Ubuntu was born. The one thing it lacked was the real ease of use offered by other operating systems such as Windows and Mac.
Ubuntu changed the scene with its innovative solutions to issues. It ensured that users could download new software easily. The OS was further popularized by the fact that it allowed you to use the system right from the CD and install it only once you felt pleased enough. The installer was simple and the looks were different and beautiful.
Ubuntu software updates were fuss-free even for the regular user to understand. One of its most innovative technical aspects was its self upgrade feature. You didn’t need to download a separate ISO file, burn it to a disk and then install or update from it. All you had to do was upgrade from within the OS. The required files would automatically be downloaded and installed. Version changed! Slowly, many other innovations came in: a music store (just like Apple), a software center, integration of music players and social service into gnome shell and what not. It’s these little changes over time that increasingly increased the interest of new as well as already interested users.
The cherry on the topping was the awesome ‘no drivers required’ approach. Ubuntu made it easy for users to plug in their mobile phones, select their country, fill in a few details and get ready with a GPRS connection. This was, and still is, a huge boost for people (mostly students) who live in places where they can’t afford to have wired connections or costly wireless plans.
For some users, the last mentioned feature (built-in drivers) is most important. Although you won’t find Pentium 4 processors in the market anymore, some still use such machines just because it does all they want it to do. These users don’t upgrade either due to monetary problems or because they’re simply happy with the PC which taught them what a computer is. The bigger problem with owners of ‘boxes’ such as these is more on the side of support than features. If you lost the only copy of the driver CD of the motherboard for a P4 computer today, you will be forced to buy a new system.
The reason is lack of support from the manufacturer. In all probabilities, manufacturers would have stopped supporting the device. So you wouldn’t get the drivers on their web site, with little luck getting it elsewhere either. Since the Linux kernel has a huge database of drivers, Ubuntu gives you reason to rejoice. It brings life back to such old PCs. While system requirements of most other new operating systems for running are high, Ubuntu doesn’t need much to get great performance from older machines. While 512 MB RAM might seem a little less for Windows 7 or Windows Vista, Ubuntu can not only be used on such systems but can also perform pretty decently. In case that description suggests even in the slightest of ways that Ubuntu (or any other Linux distribution) is meant to run on slow devices, you might be enlightened to know that most supercomputers in the world today use Linux as their operating system. All these facts and features make Ubuntu more popular than any other Linux distribution.