What is Ubuntu?


Ubuntu is a popular Linux distribution, designed with the intent of overthrowing Microsoft Windows as the world's most widely-used operating system. The distro is composed entirely of open source components, which have been heavily modified for easy of use and migration for users familiar with Microsoft Windows. The name Ubuntu is derived from the Zulu word for humanity, which has been incorporated into South African culture as "humanity towards others".

Ubuntu differs from Microsoft Windows in several fundamental ways. Firstly, Ubuntu is free software in both senses of the word "free". In the financial sense of the word "free", users can acquire and install Ubuntu for any purpose without paying for it. In the liberal sense of the word, users have the freedom of modifying and redistributing the software, and the freedom of examining its source code. Another difference between Ubuntu and MS Windows is the availability of software. Users who purchase Windows are provided with a media player and a web browser. All other software must be purchased separately from Microsoft or other vendors. In contrast, Ubuntu comes preinstalled with a word processor (ie Word), spreadsheet application (ie Excel), presentation manager (ie Powerpoint), PIM client (ie Outlook), webpage editor (ie Frontpage), image manipulator (ie PhotoShop), and many more programs. These programs are, like the operating system itself, provided free of charge for both home and professional use.

Ubuntu has spawned several official variations, which differ from the main distribution in the intended use and the software included. Ubuntu Server Edition is designed for use on Web servers, and therefore includes the Apache webserver, a mail server, and popular scripting languages instead of desktop tools. Kubuntu trades Ubuntu's default Gnome windows manager for the popular KDE windows manager. Xubuntu is similar to Kubuntu in that the major change is the use of the Xfce windows manager in lieu of Gnome. Finally, Edubuntu is designed for children and a classroom setting. Edubuntu includes educational software and tools for non-technical teachers to easily manage 30+ networked computers.

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