16/Oct/2007 – Do You Ubuntu?   4 comments

Do You Ubuntu?

Ubuntu Logo

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:

Ubuntu is an African word meaning ‘Humanity to others’, or ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’. The Ubuntu distribution brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the software world.

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.


Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2007 by Grant in Random

4 responses to “16/Oct/2007 – Do You Ubuntu?

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  1. i like ubuntu. i do use live distro and play around…

  2. First thing I thought of when I saw this in my updates was… Um Bongo! That probably meant nothing to you… it’s a kids’ fruit juice that comes in a wee carton here. Act. I’m not sure if they still make it. What got stuck in my head for the past hour or so is a parody song from an old (and quite a bit since discontinued) comedy show called Shooting Stars:

    “Um Bongo, Um Bongo,
    We drink it in the Congo!”

    : D

    Anywho… hm, I’ve not used Ubuntu, but installed Debian Linux before now (it was one of my assignments last year). Ah, at the risk of being lynched by grassroots programmers, Windows is better… well, only because it’s widespread and relatively easy to use (ahem, after ignoring the various quirks, annoyances and whatnot).

    : )

  3. @ diwakar: Thanks for mentioning the Live CDs. I’ll make sure to mention them.

    @ Naima: Sorry I accidentally put that jingle in your head. “Easy to use,” I agree, is important. That’s why Linux has been out of reach for so long. Ubuntu is easy to use. And it doesn’t have Windows’s “various quirks, annoyances and whatnot”. Instead, it has its own. 🙂

  4. lol, as it would. : D

    PS: it’s a fun song anyway… ; )

    : )

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