Ubuntu is no usual Linux distribution product. Launched y multi-millionaire South African, Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu (opens in new tab) is gathering awards faster than you can pronounce “Ubuntu”. The last was won today, when Linuxquestions.org readers gave it a slim lead over Slackware for the Distro of the Year award.
Ubuntu - which means Humanity towards others - is released twice a year, and has received rave reviews for its ease of use and security features.. Until now, three versions have been released; the next one - Dapper Drake - is set for release on the 20th April.
Several other specialised distributions have spawned from Ubuntu. Some are targeted at segments such as Education. Others attempt to provide alternatives to the usual Gnome shell. Even Google has hacked its way into the Ubuntu world, with the internally used GooBuntu operating system. Whether they will go global with it, however, it is another question.
There’s something singularly refreshing in what Ubuntu tries to achieve, separating it from the rest of the bunch. Sure, the multi-million dollar investment of Shuttleworth - who is behind Thwate and SSL certificates - does help, but other little things vastly contribute. For example, you can request CDs free of charge, and Ubuntu focuses strongly on providing ease of use.
Add in the fact that there is a huge Ubuntu support community out there, and factor in its ability to run both as a Live CD and a traditional distribution, and you have a winner. Ubuntu’s approach is very much like Linspire (the product of yet another entrepreneur, Michael Robertson) which focuses more on the end user, rather than satisfying the hardcore Linux users. Unlike Linspire, however, Ubuntu is totally free of charge.