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Ubuntu, Linux & Canonical
Ubuntu and Linux
Ubuntu is the most popular Linux-based desktop operating system. That begs the question, what’s Linux?
Linux is a kernel, which is the core component of any operating system and allows software to communicate with hardware. A kernel, on its own, is not an operating system, but rather a set of computer instructions that enable communication between software applications and the data processing done at the hardware level. The Linux Kernel: An Explanation In Layman’s Terms The Linux Kernel: An Explanation In Layman’s Terms There is only one de facto thing that Linux distributions have in common: the Linux kernel. But while it’s often talked about, a lot of people don’t really know exactly what it does. Read More
The Linux kernel is used in many free and open source operating systems and, just like Ubuntu, is released under the GNU General Public License. It is called “Linux” because it is named after Linus Torvalds, the Finnish computer programmer who created it in 1991.
Contrary to common belief:
- Linux is not a corporation
- Nobody owns Linux
- Linux is a kernel, not a complete OS
In addition to the Linux kernel, a Linux operating system needs a display server, a sound server, a desktop environment, and many other components to make a complete experience. Like with a commercial OS, you don’t need to know what any of these components are. Ubuntu makes these selections for you and packages them together into a fully functional interface.
Canonical and the Ubuntu Community
Ubuntu is managed and funded by a privately held company called Canonical Ltd. Canonical was founded (and funded) in 2004 by South African entrepreneur, Mark Shuttleworth. Aside from Ubuntu, Shuttleworth is known for making millions selling a company he founded to VeriSign and later visiting the International Space Station.
Canonical provides commercial support to companies using Ubuntu for a fee. The revenue from this support then goes towards the ongoing development of Ubuntu. Canonical’s main headquarters is in London, but it has smaller offices in Canada, Taiwan, and the US.
Canonical’s roles include:
- Releasing new versions of Ubuntu every six months
- Coordinating security
- Hosting servers for Ubuntu’s online community
Canonical also provides various cloud management tools and services. This doesn’t impact Ubuntu on the desktop, but the work benefits people and companies using Ubuntu on servers.
As mentioned earlier, Canonical doesn’t create or maintain most of the software that goes into Ubuntu. That comes from the broader FOSS (Free & Open Source Software) community. That’s not the only way Ubuntu benefits from non-employees. People around the world freely share their time and skills to:
- Test software bugs
- Write user documentation
- Design artwork
- Provide user feedback
- Answer questions and provide support (on sites such as Ask Ubuntu)
- Spread the word