Ubuntu Linux is one of a number of different flavors of the Linux operating system. The various different brands of Linux are generally known as Linux Distributions and usually shortened to Linux Distros by Linux community. In terms of the history of Linux, Ubuntu is not very old. In the relatively short period of time that it has been available, however, Ubuntu has rapidly gained the respect of both experienced and novice Linux users throughout the world.
The word “Ubuntu” is an ancient Zulu and Xhosa word which means “humanity to others”. Ubuntu also means “I am what I am because of who we all are”. It was chosen because these sentiments precisely describe the spirit of the Ubuntu Linux distribution.
A Brief History of Ubuntu
Ubuntu is built on Debian’s architecture and infrastructure, and comprises Linux server, desktop and discontinued phone and tablet operating system versions. Ubuntu releases Non-LTS updated versions predictably every six months, and each release receives free support for nine months (eighteen months prior to 13.04) with security fixes, high-impact bug fixes and conservative, substantially beneficial low-risk bug fixes. The first release was in October 2004.
Starting with Ubuntu 6.06, every fourth release, one release every two years, receives long-term support (LTS). Long-term support (LTS) includes updates for new hardware, security patches and updates to the ‘Ubuntu stack’ (cloud computing infrastructure). The first LTS releases were supported for three years on the desktop and five years on the server; since Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, desktop support for LTS releases was increased to five years as well. LTS releases get regular point releases with support for new hardware and integration of all the updates published in that series to date.
Ubuntu packages are based on packages from Debian’s unstable branch. Both distributions use Debian’s deb package format and package management tools (e.g. APT and Ubuntu Software). Debian and Ubuntu packages are not necessarily binary compatible with each other, however; packages may need to be rebuilt from source to be used in Ubuntu. Many Ubuntu developers are also maintainers of key packages within Debian. Ubuntu cooperates with Debian by pushing changes back to Debian, although there has been criticism that this does not happen often enough. Ian Murdock, the founder of Debian, had expressed concern about Ubuntu packages potentially diverging too far from Debian to remain compatible. Before release, packages are imported from Debian unstable continuously and merged with Ubuntu-specific modifications. One month before release, imports are frozen, and packagers then work to ensure that the frozen features interoperate well together.
Ubuntu is currently funded by Canonical Ltd. On 8 July 2005, Mark Shuttleworth and 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. Mark Shuttleworth describes the foundation goal as to ensure the continuity of the Ubuntu project.
On 12 March 2009, Ubuntu announced developer support for 3rd-party cloud management platforms, such as those used at Amazon EC2.
Unity has become the default GUI for Ubuntu Desktop, although following the release of Ubuntu 17.10 it will move to the GNOME 3 desktop instead as work on Unity ends. However, a community-driven fork of Unity 8, called Yunit, has been created to continue the development of Unity. Shuttleworth wrote on 8 April 2017, “We will invest in Ubuntu GNOME with the intent of delivering a fantastic all-GNOME desktop. We’re helping the Ubuntu GNOME team, not creating something different or competitive with that effort. While I am passionate about the design ideas in Unity, and hope GNOME may be more open to them now, I think we should respect the GNOME design leadership by delivering GNOME the way GNOME wants it delivered. Our role in that, as usual, will be to make sure that upgrades, integration, security, performance and the full experience are fantastic”. Shuttleworth also mentioned that Canonical will cease development for Ubuntu Phone, Tablet, and convergence.
Ubuntu has a server edition that uses the same APT repositories as the Ubuntu Desktop Edition. The differences between them are the absence of an X Window environment in a default installation of the server edition (although one can easily be installed, including Unity, GNOME, KDE or Xfce), and some alterations to the installation process. The server edition uses a screen-mode (CUI), character-based interface for the installation, instead of a graphical installation process (GUI). This enables installation on machines with a serial or “dumb terminal” interface without graphics support.
Package Archives [PPA]:
A Personal Package Archive (PPA) is a software repository for uploading source packages to be built and published as an Advanced Packaging Tool (APT) repository by Launchpad. While the term is used exclusively within Ubuntu, Launchpad host Canonical envisions adoption beyond the Ubuntu community.
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