About Ubuntu

The Ubuntu Project is built on the ideas enshrined in the Ubuntu Manifesto: that software should be available free of charge, that software tools should be usable by people in their local language, and that people should have the freedom to customize and alter their software in whatever way they need. For those reasons:

Creating a desktop operating system is challenging, but it's also great fun. Read further in this document to learn how you can participate in the Ubuntu Project, and about the free software projects that produce the key components of Ubuntu.

Participate in Ubuntu

The Ubuntu community is made up of software developers, documentation writers, translators, graphic artists, and most importantly, the people who are using Ubuntu in their everyday life. We invite you to join this community and help shape Ubuntu into an operating system that meets your needs better.

You don't have to be a software developer to help improve Ubuntu. You can participate by translating Ubuntu into your own language, test it on desktops, laptops, and servers, help improve the Ubuntu web site with guides and tips for users, answer questions on the forum or mailing lists, contribute artwork, and more. Any contribution, big or small, will shape the future of Ubuntu for all of us. To find out how to participate, visit this webpage!

Read more about Ubuntu and its growing community at www.ubuntu.com and check out other Ubuntu resources such as:

  • The Ubuntu Community Mailing Lists, where we discuss news, ideas and issues with Ubuntu.

  • The Ubuntu Wiki, where we collaborate on the policies and strategy documents that define the direction Ubuntu will follow. There is also a section in the wiki dedicated to community-contributed documentation on using Ubuntu.

  • Chat with the community on Freenode IRC Channel: #ubuntu.

  • Access Ubuntu's local help by clicking the life preserver icon on the top panel of your desktop.

Core Components

The Desktop

The default desktop environment for Ubuntu 5.10 is GNOME, the emerging standard for free software desktops. GNOME provides a modern desktop environment for users, a powerful platform for developers and is fully translated into over 40 languages. You can learn more about the GNOME project at www.gnome.org

Another leading Unix and Linux desktop is KDE. The Kubuntu team is responsible for creating a version of Ubuntu optimized with KDE. Kubuntu releases are synchronized with Ubuntu and can be downloaded at www.kubuntu.org. You can also transform an existing GNOME desktop to a KDE desktop, by removing the GNOME software and installing kubuntu-desktop.

The Office Suite

Ubuntu 5.10 includes OpenOffice.org suite. OpenOffice.org includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, database and drawing tool combination that is compatible with other popular office suites. It also includes Base, a powerful database application that runs on its own built-in HSQL database engine. Base can also extend to your existing databases such as Adabas D, ADO, Microsoft Access and MySQL. It can also connect to any database through industry-standard ODBC and JDBC Drivers. Read more about the OpenOffice.org project at OpenOffice.org.

The Linux Kernel

You might have heard of this amazing thing called "Linux". Linux is a "kernel", it is the core piece of software that starts up when you turn your computer on, and it in turn runs all of the other applications that make up the whole desktop environment. In many ways it's a tiny part of the whole mix, but its role is so important that many people describe the whole desktop as "Linux". Linux is the software which has come to define the worldwide movement to embrace free software. There is another project, called GNU, which set out to create a free operating system before Linux did, and today we use the Linux kernel together with many of the GNU applications. That's why we call Ubuntu an example of GNU/Linux software. Find out about GNU/Linux at www.linux.org.

The Difference

There are many GNU/Linux distributions (e.g., Fedora, SuSE, Debian, Mandriva, Gentoo), but Ubuntu distinguishes itself with clarity of focus, simplicity of installation and use, and a development approach that is both transparent and welcoming.

By default, Ubuntu includes a core selection of the best desktop software for typical desktop users. Almost everything else, the entire free software universe of applications, is available over the Internet for easy installation directly onto this basic desktop environment. Our package management uses the powerful "APT" package management system, which allows easy installation and clean removal of programs, as well as automatic download of any extra packages required. Ubuntu's core list of officially supported software packages is reduced to only the important applications. This allows for greater quality control. For advanced users, the "Universe" and "Multiverse" archives provide instant access to more applications that are maintained and supported by the Ubuntu community.

By focusing on quality, Ubuntu produces a robust and feature rich computing environment that is flexible for use in home and commercial environments. The project has more time to spend on the finer details and is able to release a version featuring the latest and greatest versions of the most popular free software every six months. Ubuntu supports the PC (Intel Pentium, AMD Athlon, and IBM-compatible PCs), 64-bit PC (AMD64, Athlon64, Opteron, EM64T Intel Xeon) and PowerPC (Apple iBook, Powerbook, G3, G4 and G5) architectures.