Definition

Ubuntu

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: What's the best Linux OS for your enterprise data center?

Ubuntu (pronounced oo-BOON-too) is an open source Debian-based Linux distribution. Sponsored by Canonical Ltd., Ubuntu is considered a good distribution for beginners. The operating system was intended primarily for personal computers (PCs) but it can also be used on servers. The word "ubuntu" is from the African Zulu language and translates as "humanity to others."

The primary version of Ubuntu employs GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment, pronounced gah-NOHM), a graphical user interface (GUI) and set of desktop applications for Linux. GNOME is intended to make Linux easy to use for non-programmers and is similar to the Windows desktop interface.

Several variants of Ubuntu are available in addition to the regular distribution:

  • Ubuntu Server Edition
  • Ubuntu Studio, for multimedia applications
  • Edubuntu, for educational institutions and home schooling
  • Kubuntu, a version that employs KDE (Kool Desktop Environment) instead of GNOME
  • Xubuntu, for computers with limited processing power
  • JeOS (just enough OS), a lightweight version for virtual appliances.

Canonical Ltd. adds new releases of Ubuntu at six-month intervals along with a minimum 18-month security-update commitment for each release.

This was last updated in June 2009

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