Do You Ubuntu?
What is Ubuntu?
In the context of this post, Ubuntu (pronounced: oo-BOON-too) is a Linux distribution.
Great. What’s a Linux distribution?
First, Linux is a computer operating system. An operating system (or “OS”) is a collection of computer programs (a system) that deals with the tedious business of operating a computer’s hardware (the bits you can see and touch.) Windows XP and Mac OS are examples of operating systems.
Linux is based on Unix, an OS that long predates Macintosh, Windows, or even DOS. Further, since Linux is published under the GNU General Public License, it is usually free (really, free) or very cheap.
Also, since Linux is open-source, intrepid programmers can (and do) create their own versions of it, adapting it to their own needs or preferences. Just like you can take and adapt your grandmother’s borscht recipe, adding or removing spices to customize it for your tastes.
These variations of Linux are called distributions (also called, “distros” or “flavors”.) Ubuntu is a flavor of Linux.
What does Ubuntu mean?
For that, let’s go to the source:
What the big deal with Ubuntu (or Linux) anyway?
Let’s start with Linux, in general.
First, it is pretty much free. That’s a big appeal when an off-the-shelf OS runs in the $200 range. Commercial “enterprise” ditros of Linux from RedHat or Novell might cost a few bucks, which pays for the documentation and support.
Second, (since it is Unix-like) Linux is very stable and secure. Have you ever had to install a Windows security patch? Security doesn’t get patched into Linux. It gets in on the ground floor.
Third, up until now, Linux has been hard to install and configure. No, that’s not a plus. This made Linux distros attractive only to computer geeks and even some of them weren’t so keen on it. After all, for the most part, we all want an OS to “just work.”
What about Ubuntu?
Since it is Linux, it is free and secure. On the other hand, Ubuntu has taken Linux huge steps forward on that last point. It is very nearly as easy to install and run as any commercial OS.
That is why Dell offers Ubuntu as an alternative operating system on its computers. (There is a five-minute video on the previous link that tells you more about Linux.) Other manufacturers (Lenovo, for example) are likely to follow along.
The Spirit of Ubuntu
Further, in keeping with the philosophy of ubuntu, there is a large and helpful community behind Ubuntu Linux. This is the aspect of Ubuntu that clinched the switch for me. I am writing this in an HTML editor called Screem (free) and previewing my edits in Firefox (free,) both running on Ubuntu 7.04 (yep, free.)
But, before you run out and format your hard drive, keep in mind that switching to Linux it is not all roses and sunshine. Over the next little while, I’ll post a little more about my experiences in setting up and running Ubuntu.
Archive for October 2007
Because, it’s Paris.