Is Ubuntu becoming the generic Linux distro?

Has anyone else noticed an increasing number of Linux newbies who seem to think that Ubuntu is Linux and Linux is Ubuntu?
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Has anyone else noticed an increasing number of Linux newbies who seem to think that Ubuntu is Linux and Linux is Ubuntu?

Over the past year or so I've noticed an increasing number of newbies (a term which I use affectionately) interested in taking Linux for a spin - for example, the number or emails I'm getting on the subject from zero a year ago to several dozen a week.  The reasons for their interest in Linux are many and varied, as is the level of commitment to making the switch from Windows or Mac.  However, one thing stands out from all the conversations - the number of people who seem to confuse Ubuntu for Linux.  I can tell because they will either use both terms interchangeably or be using the name Ubuntu in a generic sense.  Moreover, it seems to be confined to Ubuntu.  I've not seen the name of another distro used in the same way.

I have to admit that I like Ubuntu.  Like it a lot.  I've handled dozens of Linux distros over the past year to eighteen months and I always come back to Ubuntu.  While I don't put myself into the Linux n00b category, I know that I'm not a million miles away from that camp so Ubuntu's friendliness and simplicity isn't lost on me.  But another appeal of Ubuntu is the clear development cycle that the developers follow, along with the fact that each version I try turns out to be a significant improvement over the previous release.  There's real momentum in the project.  Whether the same level of development will happen once the basics have been nailed down remains to be seen, but for now, development seems to be moving on at a fair pace.

I'm of the opinion that the evolution of Ubuntu into the generic Linux distro isn't a bad thing.  My opinion is that when it comes to a beginner entering the world of Linux, the staggering array of distros available is off-putting (I know that many disagree with me on this point and claim that choice is a good thing, but no one can show me evidence that new users embrace the huge number of distros with ease).  A single distro offers those wanting to dabble in Linux a place to start and if Ubuntu is all; they need from Linux, great, otherwise there's a whole world of Linux distros to experiment and play with.

Ubuntu upcoming release, codenamed Hardy Heron, will be one of the easiest distros for newbies to try out thanks to the addition of the umenu loader and Wubi installer, both of which make installing Ubuntu alongside Windows easy.  This will no doubt help make Ubuntu even more popular with Linux newbies.

Thoughts?  Do you think that Ubuntu is becoming the generic Linux distro?  Is this a good thing?  Is Ubuntu the best distro for beginners?  If not, what do you suggest?

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