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Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex)
Company / developer Canonical Ltd. / Ubuntu Foundation
OS family Debian Linux
Working state Current
Source model Free Software / Open source
Initial release October 20, 2004 (2004-10-20)
Latest stable release 8.10 / 2008-10-30; 160 days ago[1]
Latest unstable release 9.04 beta / 2009-03-26; 13 days ago
Available language(s) Multilingual (more than 55)
Update method APT (front-ends available)
Package manager dpkg
Supported platforms i386(x86), amd64(x86-64)
Kernel type Monolithic (Linux)
Default user interface GNOME
License GNU GPL, and other licenses
Website www.ubuntu.com

Ubuntu, (pronounced [ùbúntú], or "Ooh-boon-too"[citation needed]), is a computer operating system based on Debian GNU/Linux. Ubuntu's goals include providing an up-to-date, stable operating system for the average user, with a strong focus on usability and ease of installation. Ubuntu has been rated as the most popular Linux distribution for the desktop, claiming approximately 30% of desktop Linux installations in 2007.[2]

Ubuntu is composed of free and open source software distributed under various licenses, especially the GNU General Public License (GPL) so that users are free to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. Ubuntu is sponsored by the British based company Canonical Ltd., owned by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth. Instead of selling Ubuntu for profit, Canonical creates revenue by selling technical support. By keeping Ubuntu free software and open source, Canonical is able to take advantage of the talents of outside developers in Ubuntu's constituent components without developing the entire operating system itself (which is based primarily on current Linux kernels).

Canonical endorses and provides support for four additional Ubuntu-like operating systems: Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Edubuntu, (a subproject and add-on for Ubuntu, designed for school environments and home users),[3] and Ubuntu JeOS (pronounced "Juice", a stripped-down version of Ubuntu optimized for virtual appliances).[4]

Canonical releases new versions of Ubuntu every six months and supports Ubuntu for eighteen months by submitting security fixes, patches to critical bugs and including minor updates to programs. LTS (Long Term Support) releases, which occur every two years,[5] are supported for three years on the desktop and five years for servers.[6] The current version of Ubuntu, Intrepid Ibex, was released on October 30, 2008, and the upcoming version, Jaunty Jackalope, will be released on April 23, 2009. The version after Jaunty will be Karmic Koala, which will possess several advanced features like Eucalyptus.


[edit] History and development process

Ubuntu was initially forked from the Debian project's code base.[7] The aim was to release a new version of Ubuntu every six months, resulting in a more frequently updated system. Ubuntu's first release was on October 20, 2004.[8] The name Ubuntu, pronounced IPA[uːˈbuːntuː] in English[9], comes from the Zulu word "ubuntu" ([ùɓúntú]), translated as "humanity to others", describing the ubuntu philosophy: "I am what I am because of who we all are", a positive aspect of community.

New releases of Ubuntu coincide a month after GNOME releases.[10] In contrast to previous general-purpose forks of Debian — such as MEPIS, Xandros, Linspire, Progeny and Libranet, many of which relied on proprietary and closed source add-ons as part of their business model — Ubuntu has stayed closer to Debian's philosophy and uses free (libre) software, making an exception only for some proprietary hardware drivers.[11]

Ubuntu packages are based on packages from Debian's unstable branch: both distributions use Debian's deb package format and package management tools, APT and Synaptic, although Debian and Ubuntu packages are not necessarily binary compatible with each other, and may need to be rebuilt from source.[12] Ubuntu cooperates with Debian — to some extent pushing changes back to Debian,[13] although there has been criticism that this doesn't happen often enough.[14] Many Ubuntu developers are also maintainers of key packages within Debian. However, Ian Murdock, the founder of Debian, expressed concern about Ubuntu packages diverging too far from Debian Sarge to remain compatible.[14]

Before release, packages are imported from Debian Unstable continuously and merged with Ubuntu-specific modifications. A month before release, imports are frozen, and soon after a feature freeze is instated, which allows for packagers to work on ensuring that the current software works well, rather than supporting the moving target that is Unstable.

Ubuntu is currently funded by Canonical Ltd. On July 8, 2005, Mark Shuttleworth and Canonical Ltd 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 as an emergency fund in case Canonical's involvement ends.[15]

The Ubuntu logo and typography has remained the same since that first release. The hand-drawn,[16] lowercase OpenType font used is called Ubuntu-Title and was created by Andy Fitzsimon.[17] The font is distributed under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) and use with logos derived from the Ubuntu logo is encouraged.[17] The font is available as a package for Ubuntu.[17]

Ubuntu 8.04, released on April 24, 2008, is the current Long Term Support (LTS) release. Canonical has released previous LTS versions every two years, and has committed to releasing the next LTS version in 2010, two years after 8.04.[18][19][20] Meanwhile, the current standard-support period release, Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex), was released on October 30, 2008.

On March 12, 2009, Ubuntu announced full developer support on 3rd party cloud management platforms to deploy and manage cloud applications on cloud infrastructures such as Amazon EC2.[21]

[edit] Features

Ubuntu install and remove.ogg
Installing and removing software in Ubuntu

Ubuntu focuses on usability,[22] including the widespread use of the sudo tool for administrative tasks.[23][24] The Ubiquity installer allows installing Ubuntu to the hard disk from within the Live CD environment without the need for restarting the computer prior to installation. Ubuntu also emphasizes accessibility and internationalization, to reach as many people as possible. Beginning with 5.04, UTF-8 became the default character encoding,[25] which allows for support of a variety of non-Roman scripts. The default appearance of the user interface in the current version is called Human and is characterized by shades of brown and orange.

The most recent version of Ubuntu comes installed with a wide range of software including OpenOffice, Firefox, Pidgin, Transmission, and GIMP. Several lightweight card, puzzle, and board games are pre-installed, such as Sudoku and chess. Ubuntu has all networking ports closed by default for added security; its firewall offers fine-grained control of incoming and outgoing connections. GNOME 2.22—the default desktop environment of Ubuntu 8.04—offers support for 46 languages.[26] There are several ways to install Ubuntu, outlined below.[27]

[edit] Installation

Installation of Ubuntu is generally performed with the Live CD. By booting it, a user can first choose to "test-drive" the Ubuntu OS (albeit with a performance loss due to loading applications from a CD), providing the opportunity to test hardware compatibility and driver support. The CD also contains the Ubiquity installer,[28] which guides the user through the permanent installation process. CD images of all current and past versions are available for download at the Ubuntu web site. Installing from the CD requires a minimum of 256 MB RAM. Users can download a disk image of the CD which can then be written to a physical medium, or run from a hard drive via UNetbootin.

Canonical offers Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Edubuntu installation CDs at no cost, including paid postage for destinations in most countries around the world, via a service called ShipIt. After a request for CDs is made and approved, disks are sent via post. Delivery is estimated at six to ten weeks.

A Microsoft Windows migration tool, called Migration Assistant, was introduced in April 2007 (with Ubuntu 7.04).[29] It imports Windows users' bookmarks, desktop background (wallpaper), and various settings for immediate use in the Ubuntu installation.[30]

Ubuntu and Kubuntu can be booted and run from a USB Flash drive (as long as the BIOS supports booting from USB), with the option of saving settings to the flashdrive. This allows a portable installation that can be run on any PC which is capable of booting from a USB drive.[31] In newer versions of Ubuntu, the USB creator program is available to install Ubuntu on a USB drive (with or without a LiveCD disc).

Wubi, which is included on the Live CD, allows the distribution to be installed on a virtual Windows loop device. This requires no partitioning of a user's hard drive, allowing the installation of Ubuntu to a file on a Windows drive. This also allows the user to manage Ubuntu as a Windows program, configuring and uninstalling Wubi as another program via the Control Panel (Windows). Wubi also makes use of the Migration Assistant to import users' settings. Initially developed as an independent project for versions 7.04 and 7.10, Wubi was later merged with Ubuntu and is included on Ubuntu Live CD as of the 8.04 release.[32]

[edit] Remastering

Various programs exist to produce customised remasters of the Ubuntu Live CD, which some refer to as a "Custom Spin"[33], such as remastersys and Reconstructor.

[edit] Package classification and support

Ubuntu divides all software into four domains to reflect differences in licensing and the degree of support available.[34] All unsupported applications receive updates from community members, but not from Canonical. They are as follows:

free software non-free software
supported Main Restricted
unsupported Universe Multiverse

Free software here includes only software that meets the Ubuntu licensing requirements,[35] which roughly correspond to the Debian Free Software Guidelines. There is one exception for the Main category, however — it contains firmware and fonts which are not allowed to be modified, but are included because their distribution is otherwise unencumbered.[36]

Non-free software is usually unsupported (Multiverse), but some exceptions (Restricted) are made for very important non-free software. Supported non-free software includes device drivers that can be used to run Ubuntu on some current hardware, such as binary-only graphics card drivers. The level of support in the Restricted category is more limited than that of Main, since the developers may not have access to the source code. It is intended that Main and Restricted should contain all software needed for a general-use Linux system. Alternative programs for the same tasks and programs for specialized applications are placed in the Universe and Multiverse categories.

In addition to the above, in which the software does not receive new features after an initial release, Ubuntu Backports is an officially recognized project to backport newer software from later versions of Ubuntu.[37] The repository is not comprehensive; it consists primarily of user-requested packages, which are approved if they meet quality guidelines. Backports receives no support at all from Canonical, and is entirely community-maintained.

The -updates repository provides updates to stable releases of Ubuntu and are generally installed through update-manager. Each release is given its own -updates repository (ie. intrepid-updates). The repository is supported by Canonical for packages in main and restricted, and the community for packages in universe and multiverse. All updates to the repository must meet certain requirements and go through the -proposed repository before being made available to the public.[38] Updates will continue to be available until the end of life for the release.

In addition to the -updates repository, the unstable -proposed repository contains uploads which must be confirmed before being copied into -updates. All updates must go through this process to ensure that the patch does truly fix the bug and there is no risk of regression.[39] Updates in -proposed are confirmed by either Canonical or members of the community.

[edit] Availability of third-party software

Ubuntu has a certification system for third party software.[40] Some third-party software that does not limit distribution is included in Ubuntu's multiverse component. The package ubuntu-restricted-extras additionally contains software that may be legally restricted, including support for MP3 and DVD playback, Microsoft TrueType core fonts, Sun's Java runtime environment, Adobe's Flash Player plugin, many common audio/video codecs, and unrar, an unarchiver for files compressed in the RAR file format.

Additionally, several third party application suites are available for purchase through the Canonical web-based store, including software for DVD playback and media codecs.

[edit] Releases

The Ubuntu project makes two releases per year, using the year and month of the release as the version number. The first Ubuntu release, for example, was Ubuntu 4.10 and was released on October 20, 2004.[41] Consequently, version numbers for future versions are provisional; if the release is delayed until a different month to that planned, the version number changes accordingly.

Ubuntu releases are also given code names, using an adjective and an animal with the same first letter e.g: "Dapper Drake" and "Intrepid Ibex". With the exception of the first two releases, code names are in alphabetical order, allowing a quick determination of which release is newer. Commonly, Ubuntu releases are referred to using only the adjective portion of the code name.[42]

Releases are timed to be approximately one month after GNOME releases, which are in turn about one month after releases of X.org. Consequently, every Ubuntu release comes with a newer version of both GNOME and X. Release 6.06 (Dapper Drake)—and recently 8.04 (Hardy Heron)—have been labeled as a Long Term Support (LTS), to indicate support with updates for three years on the desktop and five years on the server, with paid technical support available from Canonical Ltd.[43] Ubuntu 8.10 Desktop was released in 2008. It includes the latest enhancements and is maintained until 2010.

# Version Code name Testing name Release date Supported until
Desktops Servers
1 4.10 Warty Warthog Sounder[44] 2004-10-20[41] 2006-04-30.[45]
2 5.04 Hoary Hedgehog Array[46] 2005-04-08[25] 2006-10-31[47]
3 5.10 Breezy Badger Colony 2005-10-13[48] 2007-04-13[49]
4 6.06 LTS Dapper Drake Flight 2006-06-01[50][51] June 2009 June 2011
5 6.10 Edgy Eft Knot 2006-10-26[52][53] 2008-04-25[54]
6 7.04 Feisty Fawn Herd 2007-04-19[55] 2008-10-19
7 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon Tribe 2007-10-18[56][57] 2009-04-18[58]
8 8.04 LTS Hardy Heron[59] Alpha 2008-04-24[60] April 2011 April 2013
9 8.10 Intrepid Ibex[61] Alpha 2008-10-30[62] April 2010
10 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope[63] Alpha 2009-04-23 October 2010
11 9.10 Karmic Koala[64] Alpha 2009-10-29 April 2011

[edit] Variants

Kubuntu is an official variant of the Ubuntu distribution which uses KDE rather than GNOME
Colinux can be used to run Ubuntu on Windows[65]

Several official and unofficial Ubuntu variants exist. These Ubuntu variants install a set of packages different from the original Ubuntu. Since they draw additional packages and updates from the same repositories as Ubuntu, however, the same software is available for each of them. Unofficial variants and derivatives are not controlled or guided by Canonical and are generally forks with customizations for specific goals. The "fully supported" Ubuntu derivatives include:[66]

  • Kubuntu, a desktop distribution using KDE rather than GNOME
  • Edubuntu, a distribution designed for classrooms using GNOME
  • Ubuntu Server Edition
  • Xubuntu, a "lightweight" distribution based on the Xfce desktop environment instead of GNOME, designed to run better on low-specification computers

Other Ubuntu distributions developed or otherwise recognized by Canonical include:[66]

Other related derivative distributions (not formally recognized by Canonical) include:

  • OpenGEU (formerly Geubuntu) - a distro mixing the power of Enlightenment and usability of Gnome.
  • Easy Peasy (formerly Ubuntu Eee) - an operating system for netbooks based on Ubuntu
  • CrunchBang Linux - a lightweight Ubuntu derivative suitable for low-end hardware with limited resources such as the ASUS Eee PC.
  • Super Ubuntu - a remaster of Ubuntu with usability as the main focus
  • Linux Mint - a distribution that includes desktop improvements and proprietary software/drivers, with a focus on making things work out of the box.
  • Portable Ubuntu for Windows - makes it possible to run Ubuntu within Windows (as an application), uses CoLinux
  • Ubuntu CE - Ubuntu Christian Edition is a free, open source operating system geared towards Christians.

[edit] System requirements

The desktop version of Ubuntu currently supports the Intel x86 and the AMD64 architectures. Some server releases also support the SPARC architecture[74][75] Unofficial support is available for the PowerPC,[76] IA-64 (Itanium) and PlayStation 3 architectures.

The minimum system requirements for a desktop installation are a 300 MHz x86 processor, 256 MB of RAM, 4 GB of hard drive space,[77] and a video card which supports VGA at 640x480 resolution. The recommended system requirements for the desktop installation are a 700 MHz x86 processor, 384 MB of RAM, 8 GB of hard drive space,[77] and a video card which supports VGA at 1024×768 resolution. The server installation requires a 300 MHz x86 processor, 64 MB of RAM,[78] and a video card which supports VGA at 640×480. Computers that do not meet the minimum recommended system requirements are suggested to try Xubuntu, based on Xfce.[79]

Desktop & Laptop[80] Server[80]
Required Recommended
Processor 300 MHz (x86) 700 MHz (x86) 300 MHz (x86)
Memory 256 MB 384 MB* 64 MB[78]
Hard drive capacity 4 GB[77] 8 GB[77] 500 MB[78]
Video card VGA @ 640x480 VGA @ 1024x768 VGA @ 640x480

* - With compositing effects enabled

[edit] Reception

In an August 2007 survey of 38,500 visitors on DesktopLinux.com, Ubuntu was the most popular distribution with 30.3% of respondents claiming to use it.[2]

In January 2009 the New York Times reported that Ubuntu now has over ten million users.[81]

Ubuntu was awarded the Reader Award for best Linux distribution at the 2005 LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in London,[82] has been favorably reviewed in online and print publications,[83][84][85] and has won InfoWorld's 2007 Bossie Award for Best Open Source Client OS.[86]

Jamie Hyneman, co-host of the television series Mythbusters has advocated Linux (specifically giving the example of Ubuntu) as an alternative to proprietary software, citing software bloat as a major hurdle in proprietary operating systems.[87][88]

Ubuntu has also received negative assessments. Ars Technica reviewed the initial release of Ubuntu 8.04 and concluded that while it was a clear improvement over Ubuntu 7.10, some flaws significantly detracted from the quality of the user experience.[89] Specifically, Ars Technica felt that Transmission (a BitTorrent client) was too simple for BitTorrent power users, that the default search system Tracker was inferior to Beagle and that the PulseAudio configuration that shipped was buggy[89] (a view shared by PulseAudio creator Lennart Poettering, who states, "Ubuntu didn't exactly do a stellar job [adopting PulseAudio]. They didn't do their homework"[90]). PC World criticized the lack of an integrated desktop effects manager, although this did not prevent them from naming Ubuntu the "best all-around Linux distribution available today".[91] ChannelWeb criticized the Wubi installer in 8.04, noting that it hung after the installation was complete.[92] ChannelWeb also noted that while they were able to connect to Microsoft Active Directories, the process was not seamless.[92] In their preview of Ubuntu 8.04 InfoWorld stated that they felt Brasero's CD/DVD burning was lacklustre as compared to similar pay-to-use programs available for Windows or Mac OS X.[93]

The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Macedonia deployed more than 180,000 Ubuntu Linux based classroom desktops,[when?] and has obliged to stimulate every student in the Republic of Macedonia to use Ubuntu-powered computer workstations.[94]

[edit] Vendor support

A number of vendors offer computers with Ubuntu pre-installed. Dell, Tesco,[95] and Gliese IT have provided this option since 2007, while System76 has done so since November 2005.[96] Dell and System76 customers are able to choose between 30-day, three-month, and yearly Ubuntu support plans through Canonical.[97] Dell offers Ubuntu-driven computers for sale in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Spain, and Latin America.[98] In addition to the standard Ubuntu installation, select Dell machines running Ubuntu 7.10 and 8.04 come with proprietary, legal DVD playback capabilities using LinDVD.[99] Dell computers running Ubuntu 8.04 include extra support for ATI Video Graphics, Dell Wireless, Fingerprint Readers, HDMI, Bluetooth and MP3/WMA/WMV.[100]

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