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What Is Ubuntu?
Ubuntu is a free desktop operating system. It’s based on Linux, a massive project that enables millions of people around the world to run machines powered by free and open software on all kinds of devices. Linux comes in many shapes and sizes, with Ubuntu being the most popular iteration on desktops and laptops.
When we say “free,” we are not just referring to cost. I’m also talking about freedom. Unlike most proprietary software (such as Windows and macOS), free and open source software lets you edit its code, install as many copies as you want, and distribute the program as you please. You don’t pay for a license to use it. So Ubuntu is not only free for you to download, it’s free for you to use however you like.
How Can Ubuntu Be Free?
Windows and macOS dominate the desktop landscape throughout much of the world. Microsoft and Apple develop these systems and profit from selling the OSes, or devices running them, to you and me.
Free and open source desktops use a different model. The software comes from many different developers spread all over the world. Anyone is free to put these components together as they wish, and no single company has control over the entire ecosystem. Who Made Linux and Why Is It Free? Who Made Linux and Why Is It Free? Linux is the most widely-used free and open source operating system in the world. Unlike commercial alternatives, no person or company can take credit. But why is it free? And who is behind Linux? Read More
When someone packages the Linux kernel with the software necessary to provide a functional desktop experience, we call the end result a Linux operating system or “distribution.” In 1993, a man named Ian Murdock started a project that did precisely this and named it Debian after him and his then girlfriend, Debra. This project tests software and makes it available for others to download. It quickly blossomed into a massive community.
A decade later, in 2004, a company called Canonical created Ubuntu using code from the Debian project. Since the software is all free and open source, Canonical is free to do this — even encouraged to. These days, many projects are now based on Ubuntu, such as the popular alternative Elementary OS. This is all perfectly fine. Ubuntu goes so far as to enshrine this cooperative spirit in its name: It’s Time to Try Something New: Elementary OS Loki It’s Time to Try Something New: Elementary OS Loki Elementary OS isn’t your typical Linux distribution. Some would say it isn’t a distro at all. But is Elementary really a usable alternative to Windows and macOS as its developers claim? Read More
“Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning ‘humanity to others.’ It also means ‘I am what I am because of who we all are.’” — ubuntu.com
An early goal of Ubuntu has been to bring the spirit of humanity and community to the world of computers. This is emphasized somewhat less now that Canonical has shifted its focus in a more corporate direction, but Ubuntu users still share a deeply held belief that software should be freely accessible to everyone regardless of language, disability, or income.
Why Use Ubuntu?
There are many reasons to use Ubuntu, but here are some of the most important ones:
- It’s free and open source: shared code, shared efforts, shared principles, no cost.
- It’s easy to use, trial and install: you don’t have to be an expert.
- Ubuntu is beautiful, sleek, and stylish: learn more about the GNOME desktop environment
- It’s stable and fast: usually loads in less than a minute on modern computers.
- It has no major viruses! Ubuntu is immune to computer-crashing Windows viruses. Say goodbye to Blue Screens of Death!
- It’s up-to-date: Canonical releases new versions of Ubuntu every six months and also brings you regular updates for free.
- It is supported: you can get all the support and advice you need from the global FOSS community and Canonical.
- Among Linux operating systems, Ubuntu is the most supported.
Every operating system relies on a different approach to assigning version numbers and creating code names. Ubuntu’s method may look strange at first, but it’s actually really simple.
Canonical ships new versions of Ubuntu every six months, in April and October. Each Ubuntu release has a version number that contains the year and month of its release. This guide, for example, discusses the latest version of Ubuntu: 17.10, released in October of 2017. The next scheduled release of Ubuntu, version 18.04, will be in April of 2018. The one after that will be 18.10 in October of 2018, and so on.
In addition to version numbers, Ubuntu releases are also given alliterative code names using an adjective and an animal. The code name for Ubuntu 17.10 is Artful Aardvark. It comes after Zesty Zapus (17.04), which completed the alphabet earlier this year.
The first three versions of Ubuntu were Warty Warthog (4.10), Hoary Hedgehog (5.04), and Breezy Badger (5.10), which had the alliteration but did not yet go in order. Things changed with the release of Dapper Drake (6.06). Ubuntu code names have proceeded in alphabetical order ever since. Thanks to the way things began, Artful Aardvark is the first release to begin with A.
So if you find yourself talking to a fellow Ubuntu enthusiast and they are raving about Wily Werewolf or Yakkety Yak, they are not talking about their love for quirky mammals, but previous versions of the Ubuntu operating system.
Long Term Support Releases
One of the great features of Ubuntu is that it is supported within a structured time frame. New versions of the operating system are released every six months and receive supported from Canonical for 18 months. These versions are referred to as normal releases.
In addition to normal releases, Canonical develops Long Term Support (LTS) releases. These versions come approximately every two years (if on schedule) and get three years of support. The upcoming version of Ubuntu, 18.04, will be a Long Term Support release. The current one is version 16.04.