Ubuntu is a free open source Linux-based operating system developed by Canonical.
Some Linux History
The Linux operating system was developed by Linus Torvalds in 1991 at the University of Helsinki. Over the years its liberal free open source software philosophy has made it popular in academia, and among hobbyists, where its license allows users to freely modify and redistribute the software.
There are many different “flavors” of Linux. Many are popular as server operating systems — according to Wikipedia 63.7% of the top one million publicly available web servers in September 2010 ran Linux.
Ubuntu on the Desktop
While lots of servers are running Linux, Ubuntu has found popularity with desktop users (but is used on servers too). Some factors that contribute to Ubuntu’s popularity on the desktop are:
- Development focused on usability and security.
- Simple installation via Live CD.
- Comes bundled with software for office productivity, web browsing, e-mail, IM and image editing.
- Easy software installation via package manager.
Linux has traditionally been popular with engineers, programmers, computer scientists and hobbyists but did not appeal to casual users who perceive it as too difficult to setup and use. Ubuntu has carved out its niche here, as a UNIX-based operating system that’s friendly towards people without technical backgrounds.
There are many different options for getting Ubuntu:
- Download the OS and burn your own installation CD.
- Run the Windows Installer.
- Buy a CD.
- Use alternative download methods such as BitTorrent.
Be sure to back up all your files and data before installing Ubuntu. If you are overwriting another operating system such as Windows, make sure you have the installation discs in case you want to switch back for some reason. Alternatively, you can install Ubuntu on a separate volume and dual boot with Windows.