Ubuntu: Is the new Linux distro for you?

Ubuntu: Is the new Linux distro for you?

Summary: I was talking to Doc Searls a few days ago and he told me about Ubuntu, a new Linux distro based on Debian.  Ubuntu is the brainchild of Mark Shuttleworth, who probably best known as the guy who bought a ticket on Soyuz.

TOPICS: Open Source

I was talking to Doc Searls a few days ago and he told me about Ubuntu, a new Linux distro based on Debian.  Ubuntu is the brainchild of Mark Shuttleworth, who probably best known as the guy who bought a ticket on Soyuz.  Mark is from South Africa and made his money building and selling Thawte.  Mark's also involved in the School Tool program, an open source school administration program.

Ubuntu isn't aimed at the corporate market.  Rather, its built for users without the support of an IT department.  From the about page:

Ubuntu is a free, open source operating system that starts with the breadth of Debian and adds regular releases (every six months), a clear focus on the user and usability (it should "Just Work", TM) and a commitment to security updates with 18 months of support for every release. Ubuntu ships with the latest Gnome release as well as a selection of server and desktop software that makes for a comfortable desktop experience off a single installation CD.

The Ubuntu philosophy addresses some of the common complaints people have about other ditros.  Here are a few of the key points:

  • Regular release schedule
  • Fixed maintenance  window for each version (18 months)
  • Free

Doc points to a few reviews of Ubuntu by Russell Beattie and Tom Adelstein.  Both point out that Ubuntu is easy to install and clean.  Tom says:

Although I have access to any pricey distribution I want, I have started using Ubuntu as my standard desktop. I installed Skype and several other programs I use regularly. Overall, this distro performs well.

I haven't had a chance to install and play with it myself yet, but I'm intrigued.  Ubuntu highlights the really great thing about open source: if you're not happy with the current versions, you're free to make your own. 

Topic: Open Source

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Ubuntu is great, but no the only game.

    The wonderful thing about Linux is that you have a choice. There are hundreds of Linux distros out there each with its own special reason for existing. Yoper linux is my personal choice though it doesn't have predictable releases it is the fastest in the world. It installs in 5-15 minutes, runs optimized i686 binaries with prelinking for speed. It is really incredible how fast it runs on older machines and new machines scream! If you want a really good looking bootable CD Live Linux try overclockix. Its currently sporting KDE 3.4 and some really enhanced graphics. If you really want to try Linux out buffet bar of Linux Land www.ditrowatch.com
    • www.distrowatch.com

      Linux Land Buffet---www.distrowatch.com
      Here is the place to find tons of Linux distros.
  • Debian based distro

    Having installed and used Ubuntu I have to say it is a fairly good attempt at a usuable Linux distro. It is based on Debian Sid (unstable) and uses X.org as default. A fairly unique feature of Ubuntu is that the root account is disabled, in that all commands that require root are performed with sudo. This feature should greatly enhance the security of a Linux system for a newbie user.

    I found that MEPIS gave me a better mix of programs (MEPIS is a Debian / KDE based dist), and MEPIS comes as both livecd and installable distro. After using both Ubuntu and MEPIS I had gained enough Linux knowledge to progress to Debian.

    Any of the new distributions seem to be a good way to quickly get a Linux system up and running, and this makes it easy to start learning about Linux without worrying about getting it installed in the first place.
    • I tried Ubuntu too but...

      don't like gnome (gag). In Mepis, I am on the internet in seconds with pppoeconf, not the case in Ubuntu. I agree with the program selection, I found Ubuntu kind of bare. The nVidia driver was a bit of a pain in Ubuntu as well. I don't have time or the patience to delve into Debian right now (but kudos Debian for all the nice packages in Mepis) so I will stick with Mepis for now. >:-]
      • I'm partial to SimplyMEPIS too

        I tried Ubuntu when it first came out, and I tried it again when they offered a Kubuntu (KDE-based) version. Both are really easy to install and seem to work well, but I just like the ease of setup and the smoothness with which SimplyMEPIS works on my system. For a basic desktop system, I rate SimplyMEPIS number one out of all systems. My overall favorite general purpose system (which is primarily a desktop system, but also a development system and a server system, too) is Libranet. They just came out with a new release. The installation program uses Anaconda and Kudzu hardware detection routines that Progeny ported from Red Hat based systems to Debian based systems. The rest of the software is pure Debian and LOTS of it. Libranet is more of a full, complete system, whereas SimplyMEPIS and Ubuntu are desktop oriented systems. All three of them are near the top of the class in what they do. I give the nod to Libranet for the best general purpose system and to SimplyMEPIS as the easiest and smoothest basic desktop system, with Ubuntu/Kubuntu not far behind.
    • Root isn't really disabled, just hidden...

      When I run kdesu konqueror, I can open a terminal session with root access by right-clicking any folder.
      D. W. Bierbaum
  • Tried it---Didn't like it

    For starters, Brown is ugly!

    Hardware detection failure on a USR PCI hardware modem was impossible to overcome. No help from "the community" either. In fairness, this may be a kernel issue with 2.6 but bottom line: it didn't "just work".

    After spending a lot of time with RH9, FC2 and Knoppix (on the hard disc), I found Ubuntu lacking.
  • One size fits all

    Ubuntu is very nice and for those who prefer KDE there is Kubuntu! I have used Linux and BDS's since their inception. I think it's really great that so many distrebutions have surfaced. In fact one size does not fit all. This really gives us a lot of choices not to mention the fact that a specific need can be met. This is a time when we'll really Begin to see the Linux desktop take off. Distro's like Linspire, Ubuntu, Mandriva, and Cobind are great for those migrating to Linux from the "other" OS. With that said, even the software giant is making efforts to run on older PC's.
  • Tried it--didn't like it

    1. Overwhelmed by monolithic BROWN. Had me reaching for my Welbutrin.

    2. Incompatibility with USR 5610b hardware modem puts the lie to "It just works".

    3. Nonsense with no root password creates too many impasses when trying to configure things.

    4. Seemed to be rather short on software compared with other 1 CD distros.
    • Root

      Hi, PapaJuliet.

      You said:

      "3. Nonsense with no root password creates too many impasses when trying to configure things."

      I was a bit miffed at this, too. There are some things you *need* to be root to do. Sudo isn't a cure-all. There is, however, a way to create a new password for root. Just type "sudo passwd" and create a root password. Then you can su to root. Sudo is better for most things, but when you just need root, it's there for you.