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Ubuntu - a Linux star in the making

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 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.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.