Saturday, November 28, 2009

What is Ubuntu? : An Introduction to new users

What is Ubuntu?
Ubuntu is an operating system based on the Linux kernel. There are many operating systems that use the Linux kernel, and Ubuntu is only one of hundreds of these. I don't recommend Ubuntu to everyone, but here are some things that make Ubuntu unique among Linux distributions:
  • Ubuntu is guaranteed to be cost-free. Other Linux distributions tend to be cost-free as well, but there exists no subscription or member fee that gives you extra in Ubuntu. There is no "enterprise edition." Ubuntu is Ubuntu, and it's free. Not only is the operating system itself free—Canonical will actually ship Ubuntu CDs (worldwide) and pay for the shipping as well. Granted, these freely shipped CDs can take around two months to arrive, but you can't really complain if you're not paying for postage.
  • Ubuntu and the software it includes are free in two ways—they're cost-free and non-proprietary. You won't be bogged down with all sorts of licensing issues, and if you know something about programming, you can take a look at the source code of the applications and modify them as you see fit. On the one hand, this is an advantage, as you won't have limits on how many computers you put Ubuntu on. On the other hand, you may rely (much more than you may be aware of) heavily on proprietary software and wonder why you can't immediately do something you used to be able to do.
  • Ubuntu tries to make the installation of the operating system as simple as possible—one user (at least initially—you can add more users later), one password, one application per task, one CD for the entire operating system.
  • The forums have quick response times, helpful users and staff, and a lot of good customization tips and tricks. It's a friendly, supportive environment, in accordance with Ubuntu's philosophy of being "Linux for Human Beings"—humanity to others. The forums are run entirely by volunteers and fellow users. They are not paid employees of Canonical.
Some people view these characteristics as advantages. Others view them as disadvantages. Even though Ubuntu comes with a lot of productivity software—an office suite, a music player, a Photoshop-like graphics editor, an instant messaging program, an email client, an internet browser, etc.—many people like their proprietary software to "just work" out of the box. That won't happen in Ubuntu. If you want to play commercial DVDs, have MP3 support, or view Flash movies in your internet browser, you'll have to enable proprietary software that Ubuntu does not include by default. There are guides for enabling these proprietary codecs. Ubuntu has easy codec installation, making the process of enabling these codecs... a little easier.
Of course, there are also several other Linux distributions that have proprietary formats built into them:
Linux Mint, Mepis, and PCLinuxOS, for example.
Regular release cycles generally mean improved software. Regular improvements breed instability, though. Even if you upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7 or from Mac OS X Leopard to Mac OS X Snow Leopard, you may notice some glitches here and there. Likewise, if you upgrade your Ubuntu operating system every six months, you may find the upgrade process a bit wearying, especially if you upgrade on or before the official release day. For those who like a Linux distribution with a lot of stability and infrequent upgrades, Debian may be a better choice than Ubuntu. Ubuntu also has LTS (long-term support) releases that will receive security updates for three years, so you don't have to upgrade every six months if you don't want to.
I think a lot of Ubuntu advocates will agree with me when I say you should use the operating system that best suits your needs. Ubuntu may be that, but there are other Linux distributions out there, and you may be better off with a non-Linux operating system (a Windows or Mac operating system, for example).
If you think you might want to try a Linux distribution other than Ubuntu but aren't sure where to begin, you can take this online Linux Distribution Quiz.
Who are you?
I'm just another Ubuntu user. I don't represent Canonical. I'm a regular on the Ubuntu forums, but that doesn't make this page in any way officially associated with Ubuntu.
Why did you make this?
Some of the documentation out there isn't step-by-step enough for new users. I try to make my tutorials what I feel is a good mix between comprehensive and simple.
Other guides and documentation projects also tend to have too many tutorials—to the point where it's actually difficult to find the tutorial you're looking for. I've tried to include only what I consider questions that are asked frequently enough to warrant a special guide or that do not have documentation in other places.

What other Ubuntu resources are there?
I'd highly recommend these links:
The Ubuntu Forums
The Ubuntu Guide

Can I use this for other Linux distributions?
Not as is. A lot of this stuff applies conceptually to other Linux distributions (particularly Debian-based ones), but practically the steps and commands are slightly different.

How do I contact you?
If you have suggestions or corrections for these tutorials, please leave a comment on my blog.

Rate or comment on this Post please, So that we can serve you better.

Tags:Ubuntu,about ubuntu,Introduction to Ubuntu,canonical,Linux,what is ubuntu?


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