What does Ubuntu mean?

Submitted by Phillip Williams on Mon, 06/05/2006 - 05:43.

At RealNEO the concepts of openness, sharing and community are realized not just in how we as a group of people interact, but also in the tools we use. The best example of one of these tools is the software used on many of the team members notebooks.

The operating system is Linux, but more specifically it is Ubuntu. This version of Linux is based in Africa, and means much more than most people realize. I came across a video on YouTube that I believe will help explain the meaning better than I can articulate.

Who wants to move to a higher platform?

Thank you for sharing Phillip - what a moving expression of Ubuntu... we've made a good start driving a movement to open source here, distributing 100+ Ubuntu computers to families in need in Cleveland and East Cleveland. Still, In NEO, we have much work to do to extend the understanding of Ububtu and open source information technology across this commuity. That is a continuous process. What do you want to do today? Who wants help moving to Ubuntu and open source computing? We can hold a reformating party for people who want to escape their shrink-wrapped worlds... indicate your interest here or by emailing phillip [at] realinks [dot] us (sorry to volunteer you here, Phillip) and we'll set up an orientation.

Meaning of Ubuntu: Ideology

From wikipedia - the open source encylopedia

Ubuntu (ideology)

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Ubuntu (IPA: /ùbúntú/) is a sub-Saharan African ethic or ideology focusing on people's allegiances and relations with each other. The word has its origin in the Bantu languages of Southern Africa. Ubuntu is seen as a traditional African concept.

A rough translation in English could be "humanity towards others," or "I am because we are," or "A person 'becomes human' through other persons", or also, "A person is a person because of other persons". Another translation could be: "The belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity." [1].

An attempt at a longer definition has been made by Archbishop Desmond Tutu:

A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.

Ubuntu is seen as one of the founding principles of the new republic of South Africa, and is connected to the idea of an African Renaissance. In the political sphere, the concept of ubuntu is used to emphasise the need for unity or consensus in decision-making, as well as the need for a suitably humanitarian ethic to inform those decisions.

Louw (1998) suggests that the concept of ubuntu defines the individual in terms of their several relationships with others, and stresses the importance of ubuntu as a religious concept, stating that while the Zulu maxim umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu ("a person is a person through other persons") may have no apparent religious connotations in the context of Western society, in an African context it suggests that the person one is to become by behaving with humanity is an ancestor worthy of respect or veneration. Those who uphold the principle of ubuntu throughout their lives will, in death, achieve a unity with those still living.

The "Ubuntu" distribution of the Linux computer operating system is inspired by the concept, arguing that it "brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the software world" [2],[3].

References and external links

Further reading

  • Ramose, Mogobe B. (2003) 'The philosophy of ubuntu and ubuntu as a philosophy', in P.H. Coetzee & A.P.J. Roux (eds.) The African Philosophy Reader (2nd ed.) New York/London: Routledge, 230–238.
  • Samkange, S. & Samkange, T.M. (1980) Hunhuism or Ubuntuism: A Zimbabwe indigenous political philosophy. Salisburg: Graham Publishing.
  • Ambrose, David. (2006) 'Your Life Manual: Practical Steps to Genuine Happiness': Revolution Mind Publishing, 37-40.

Meaning of Ubuntu: Linux Distribution

From Wikipedia - the open source encyclopedia

The Ubuntu Linux logo

Ubuntu 6.06 running GNOME
Website: www.ubuntu.com
Canonical Ltd / Ubuntu Foundation
OS family: Linux
Source model: FOSS
Latest stable release: 6.06 / June 1, 2006
Supported platforms: i386, AMD64, Ultrasparc T1, PowerPC
Kernel type: Monolithic kernel
Default user interface: GNOME Graphical User Interface
License: GPL and other licenses
Working state: Current

Ubuntu, pronounced /ùbúntú/ (oo-BOON-too), is a predominantly desktop oriented Linux distribution, based on Debian GNU/Linux. It is sponsored by Canonical Ltd (owned by Mark Shuttleworth), and the name of the distribution comes from the South African concept of ubuntu—roughly, "humanity towards others". It differs from Debian in that there is a release every 6 months and support is provided for at least 18 months after release[1], and in its strong focus on usability.

Ubuntu version 6.06 LTS, codenamed "Dapper Drake", was released on June 1, 2006, and will be supported for 3 years on the desktop and 5 years on the server, instead of the usual 18 months [2]. Ubuntu aims to use only free software to provide an up-to-date yet reasonably stable operating system for the average user. Ubuntu has a lively user and support community[3][4].

Kubuntu and Xubuntu are official subprojects of the Ubuntu project to bring the KDE and Xfce Desktop environments to the Ubuntu core, respectively. Edubuntu is an official subproject "designed for school environments, and should be equally suitable for kids to use at home."




History and development process

Ubuntu's first release was made on October 20, 2004, which began by making a temporary fork of the Debian Linux project [5]. It was done to provide an every 6 month release schedule, resulting in a more up to date system. Ubuntu releases always include the most recent GNOME release, and are scheduled to be released approximately one month after GNOME. In contrast with previous general-purpose forks of Debian such as MEPIS, Xandros, Linspire, Progeny, and Libranet, many of which relied on closed-source add-ons as part of their business model, Ubuntu has stuck with Debian's philosophy and uses Free software wherever possible.

Ubuntu packages are generally based on packages from Debian's unstable branch, and both distributions use Debian's deb package format and APT/Synaptic to manage installed packages. Ubuntu contributes all changes directly and immediately back to Debian, rather than announcing them only at release time [5] (although Debian and Ubuntu packages are not necessarily 'binary compatible' with each other [6]). Many Ubuntu developers are also maintainers of key packages within Debian itself. However, Ian Murdock, the founder of Debian, has criticized Ubuntu for incompatibilities between its packages and Debian's, saying that Ubuntu had diverged too far from Debian Sarge to remain compatible [7].

Ubuntu is currently funded by Canonical Ltd. On July 8, 2005, Mark Shuttleworth and Canonical Ltd announced the creation of the Ubuntu Foundation and provided an initial funding of $10 million. The purpose of the foundation is to ensure support and development for all future versions of Ubuntu but as of 2006, the foundation remains dormant. Mark Shuttleworth describes the foundation as an emergency fund in case all else fails.

The distribution


Ubuntu 5.04 running Gnome 2.10, Firefox 1.0.7, OpenOffice.org 1.1.3

Ubuntu 5.04 running Gnome 2.10, Firefox 1.0.7, OpenOffice.org 1.1.3

A screenshot of Ubuntu 6.06 LTS, showing the 'Dawn of Ubuntu wallpaper, one of several pre-installed options.

A screenshot of Ubuntu 6.06 LTS, showing the 'Dawn of Ubuntu wallpaper, one of several pre-installed options.

Ubuntu focuses on usability [8], including the widespread use of the sudo tool for administrative tasks [9][10], and the Ubiquity installer [11] (previously called Espresso) included in the LiveCD version of the "Dapper" release. Ubuntu furthermore emphasises accessibility and internationalization, to reach as many people as possible. As of 5.04, UTF-8 is the default character encoding. It is stated on the Ubuntu home page that support should be provided to users in their local languages.

Ubuntu offers a full feature set that works straight from the standard install, but nonetheless fits on a single CD. A Live CD and a traditional install CD have been available for each release. The Live CD is used by many to test hardware compatibility before installation with the install disk. All releases of Ubuntu will be provided at no cost [12]. Ubuntu CDs are mailed free to anyone who requests them [13], and CD images are available for download.

The current version's default appearance of the user interface is characterized by an orange theme. Until April 2005, Ubuntu had an optional package called ubuntu-calendar which downloaded a new desktop wallpaper every month, matching the brown colour theme. These wallpapers featured partially nude people and were criticized as overly risqué. This led to Ubuntu receiving nicknames such as "Linuxxx" [14] and "The Porn Distro" [15].

Package classification and support

Ubuntu divides all software into four sections, called components,[16] to reflect differences in licensing and level of support available.

Packages are assigned to components as follows:

Free software non-free software
supported Main Restricted
unsupported Universe Multiverse

"Free" software here includes only that which meets the Ubuntu license requirements, that is, it is published under a GPL or GPL-compatible license.

Non-free software is usually unsupported (Multiverse), but some exceptions (Restricted) are made for very important non-free software, such as non-free device drivers lack of which might prevent a user from running Ubuntu on his/her system, particularly binary-only graphics card drivers. The level of support is more limited than for main, since the developers may not have access to the source code.

It is intended that Main and Restricted should contain all software needed for a general-use Linux system. Alternative programs for the same tasks and programs for specialised applications are placed in Universe and Multiverse.

Beyond the official repositories is Ubuntu Backports,[17] which is an officially recognized project to backport newer versions of certain software that are available only in unstable versions of Ubuntu. The repository is not comprehensive; it mostly consists of user-requested packages, which are approved if they meet quality guidelines.

Desktop of Ubuntu 5.10.

Desktop of Ubuntu 5.10.

Availability of proprietary software

Ubuntu has a certification system [18] for third party software. Ubuntu certified proprietary software should work well in Ubuntu. However, many programs familiar to users of non-free operating systems like Microsoft Windows are incompatible and not Ubuntu certified. Some proprietary software that does not limit distribution is included in Ubuntu's multiverse component.

Some examples of software not distributed by Ubuntu includes:

  • Software which enables playback of region-locked video DVDs, due to the questionable legal status of the DeCSS open-source DVD-decoding library in some parts of the world. (Note: the library is needed even when watching a DVD in the target region)
  • Encoding and decoding libraries for many proprietary media formats such as Windows Media.
  • Some popular proprietary web-browser plugins, such as Macromedia's Flash and Shockwave players.

Some specific proprietary software products are not available in any form for Ubuntu. This includes many popular computer games, although in recent years some game manufacturers have begun making their software available for Linux. For example, Epic Games sells a version of its Unreal Tournament 2004 which can be installed on Ubuntu and other distributions of Linux. This problem is also addressed by emulation and API-translation projects like Wine and Cedega, which make it possible to run non-Linux-based software on Linux systems, either by emulating a proprietary operating system or by translating proprietary API calls (e.g., calls to Microsoft's Win32 or DirectX APIs) into native Linux API calls.


A new version of Ubuntu is released every six months, and each release has both a code name and a version number. The version number is based on the year and month of release. For example, the very first release of Ubuntu, 4.10, was released in October of 2004 [19]. Below is a list of previous and planned releases.

Version Release date Code name
4.10 October 20, 2004 Warty Warthog
5.04 April 8, 2005 Hoary Hedgehog
5.10 October 13, 2005 Breezy Badger
6.06 LTS June 1, 2006 Dapper Drake
6.10 planned for October, 2006 Edgy Eft

Ubuntu 6.06 is a Long Term Support (LTS) release [2].

Developmental/Unstable Branch

In the future, there will be a branch codenamed Grumpy Groundhog. It will be a permanently unstable development and testing branch, pulling the source directly out of the revision control of the various programs and applications that are shipped as part of Ubuntu.

Derivative projects

Ubuntu CDs

Ubuntu CDs

Several derivative distributions are officially recognized:

  • Kubuntu, a desktop distribution using KDE rather than GNOME
  • Edubuntu, a distribution designed for classrooms
  • Xubuntu, a "lightweight" distribution based on the Xfce desktop environment

In addition, Mark Shuttleworth has endorsed the creation of an Ubuntu-libre distribution using only FSF-approved free software. [20][21]

These projects are closely linked to Ubuntu. As of 2006, their releases are simultaneous with Ubuntu's, and packages are drawn from the same official repositories Ubuntu uses.

There are also several unofficial derivatives:

  • nUbuntu, a distribution including many security tools.
  • Ubuntu Lite, a distribution for legacy systems (older computers).
  • zUbuntu, a port of the Ubuntu distribution to the zSeries mainframe from IBM.
  • Ebuntu, a fork of Ubuntu with the Enlightenment 0.17 window manager.
  • It was widely rumoured that Google was building and would be distributing an Ubuntu derivative called Goobuntu. Google confirmed that they have created a modified version of Ubuntu but also insisted that they have no plans to distribute this version outside of the company. [22] [23]

How has it been received?

Ubuntu has been marked as the most popular Linux distribution at Distrowatch for more than one year [24], and was awarded the Reader Award for best Linux distribution at the 2005 LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in London [25]. It has also been favourably reviewed in online and print publications [26] [27]. Many reviewers of Ubuntu point out a main part of Ubuntu's success is the fact it has a very large community [3][4], including Ubuntu Forums [28].

See also


Cited references and notes

  1. ^ ubuntu/releases - Ubuntu. URL accessed on 2006-03-11.
  2. ^ a b Announcing Beta release of Ubuntu 6.06 LTS. URL accessed on 2006-04-26.
  3. ^ a b community - Ubuntu. URL accessed on 2006-03-11.
  4. ^ a b XYZ computing article on kubuntu. URL accessed on 2006-03-11.
  5. ^ a b ubuntu/relationship "Debian is the rock upon which Ubuntu is built". URL accessed on 2006-05-25.
  6. ^ Mark Shuttleworth on binary compatibility. URL accessed on 2006-04-25.
  7. ^ internetnews.com Sarge vs. The Hoary Hedgehog?. URL accessed on 2006-04-25.
  8. ^ About Ubuntu Linux. URL accessed on 2006-04-25.
  9. ^ RootSudo - Ubuntu Wiki. URL accessed on 2006-04-25.
  10. ^ Similar to Mac OS X.
  11. ^ Screenshots of Espresso/Ubiquity. URL accessed on 2006-05-03.
  12. ^ ubuntu/philosophy. URL accessed on 2006-04-25.
  13. ^ Shipit - free shipment of Ubuntu CDs. URL accessed on 2006-04-26.
  14. ^ Humorix: The Hottest New Distribution: LinuXXX. URL accessed on 2006-04-27.
  15. ^ Community MX: LinuXXX?. URL accessed on 2006-04-27.
  16. ^ ubuntu/components. URL accessed on 2006-03-16.
  17. ^ UbuntuBackports. URL accessed on 2006-03-16.
  18. ^ parters/certification/software. URL accessed on 2006-03-16.
  19. ^ Ubuntu 4.10 announcement. URL accessed on 2006-04-26.
  20. ^ Ubuntu-libre. URL accessed on 2006-04-25.
  21. ^ Mark Shuttleworth registers gnubuntu.org (Ubuntu mailing list). URL accessed on 2006-04-25.
  22. ^ The Register: Google at work on desktop Linux. URL accessed on 2006-04-25.
  23. ^ Slashdot: Google working on Desktop Linux. URL accessed on 2006-04-25.
  24. ^ DistroWatch: Linux Distribution Popularity. URL accessed on 2006-04-27.
  25. ^ LinuxWorld Expo UK 2005. (PDF) URL accessed on 2006-05-09.
  26. ^ Ubuntu - A New Approach to Desktop Linux. URL accessed on 2006-05-09.
  27. ^ Linux in Government: Linux Desktop Reviews, Part 6 - Ubuntu. URL accessed on 2006-05-09.
  28. ^ Ubuntu Forums. URL accessed on 2006-04-25.

General references

Further reading in print

Currently in print

Thomas, K (2006). Beginning Ubuntu Linux. US: APress. ISBN 1590596277.

Scheduled for release in late 2006

External links

Official online resources
Official Projects
Unofficial online resources
User Communities