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An Introduction to Ubuntu Linux

Ubuntu Minimum Requirements

The minimum requirements for the current (14.x) releases of Ubuntu are:

  • 700 MHz processor (Intel Celeron or better)
  • 512 Mb RAM
  • 5 GB free disc space
  • Graphics card capable of at least 1024x768 resolution
  • DVD drive or USB port (-for installation media)

The Advantages of Ubuntu

The Unity Desktop

Ubuntu's whole philosophy is based around making is easier for the user - hiding any unnecessary complexity..

In our opinion, Ubuntu Linux has five main strengths (-over and above the usual Linux ones):

  • It is arguably the most user-friendly version of Linux out there. Ubuntu's whole philosophy is based around making is easier for the user - hiding any unnecessary complexity behind the scenes

  • It has a huge repository of (free) software available - by far the most of any Linux distro

  • It has a huge installed base: it's the most popular Linux distro, so there are plenty of people and websites out there supporting it

  • It's backed by Canonical, which means that they have the resources to put out six-monthly releases plus bug-fixes

The user-friendliness and choice of available applications available make Ubuntu our recommendation for novice Linux users.

The Disadvantages of Ubuntu

The main drawbacks of using Ubuntu are:

  • Ubuntu has a slightly conservative approach to new technologies so, if you like to keep up with leading edge technologies then you may be better suited to a distro such as Fedora instead

  • In our experience, Ubuntu (-particularly 11.x) can be very sensitive to hardware (-or software) faults, which can make it much less stable than, for example, Fedora. If resilience is top of your list, then look to Fedora instead

  • Ubuntu is quite large and requires a reasonably capable machine to run effectively: if your machine is particularly old (-and you can't upgrade it) then you may be better off with something like Puppy instead

Ubuntu is not the most popular Linux distro without good reason! However, question marks over it's ability to cope with some dodgy hardware and software faults may lead you to look elsewhere. All in all, it's a great place to start your Linux experience!

Ubuntu Applications

Ubuntu ships with a minimum of installed applications: please see our Useful Linux Applications to see which applications it ships with - and where to go to install others.

Video Tours of the Ubuntu Desktop

We have created a 15 minute video of the Ubuntu 11.10 desktop in action on our Video Section: click here to take a tour of Ubuntu 11.10!

Ubuntu Releases

There are two Ubuntu releases a year. Ubuntu releases are often referred to by an alliterative phrase, composed of an adjective, followed by an animal name. Each release uses the next consecutive alphabetic character in the alphabet.

Often, in forums, you'll see them referred to by just the adjective - such as "Natty" or "Lucid". Here are the release name and versions for the last few releases:

AdjectiveAnimalReleaseRelease Date
LucidLynx10.04April 2010
MaverickMeerkat10.10October 2010
NattyNarwhal11.04April 2011
OneiricOcelot11.10October 2011
PrecisePangolin12.04April 2012
QuantalQuetzal12.10October 2012
SaucySalamander13.04July 2014
RaringRingtail13.10January 2014
TrustyTahr14.04LTS Version (April 2019)

Note: April releases will be x.04 releases and those in October will be x.10 where <x> is the year. So the April release in 2013 will be 13.04 and the October release in 2009 was 9.10

Ubuntu releases prior to 11.04 came with the more traditional Gnome 2.0 desktop. However, Ubuntu 11.04 introduced a radically different desktop called Unity which - like Marmite - users tend either to love or hate.

After all that upheaval, the current (11.10) release came as a welcome respite. Very much like Fedora 16, it can be seen as an evolution of the previous release rather than a revolution: it addresses many of the rough edges and incrementally builds on the concepts introduced in 11.04.

The 12.04 release includes a kernel update from that used in 11.10. You can view the release notes on the Ubuntu wiki for more details on the intended contents of this release - or check our video reviews section for our various desktop tours.

The latest (14.04) seems to be focused on incremental updates to the latest kernel and software. You can view the release notes on the Ubuntu wiki for more details on the contents of this release.

Different Versions of Ubuntu

Ubuntu is available in several different versions - either using different desktops or slanted towards a particular type of user. These include the following:

Ubuntu VariantDesktopDescription
StandardGnomeGnome/Unity edition
KubuntuKDEStandard KDE edition
XubuntuXfceStandard Xfce edition
LubuntuLXDEStandard LXDE edition
EdubuntuGnomeAimed at Schools / Education Market
MythbuntuXfceMythTv Based
Ubuntu Studio?Aimed at Multimedia users
Ubuntu ServerN/AUbuntu for Servers

Installing Ubuntu

Ubuntu can be installed by doing the following:

Links to Ubuntu Linux Articles

We have created several short articles to allow you to familiarise yourself with Ubuntu. This should help you decide if this is the Linux distribution for you - before you take the plunge and download it! Here are a selection of the main pages you may want to review:

Installing the OSHow to install the Ubuntu O/S
Patching the O/S and ApplicationsHow to patch the Ubuntu O/S and applications
The Gnome DesktopAn introduction to Ubuntu (pre 11.x) desktop and how to use it
The Unity DesktopAn introduction to Ubuntu (11.x onwards) desktop and how to use it
The Gnome File ManagerHow to use the Ubuntu file manager
The Ubuntu Software CentreHow to use the Ubuntu Software Centre to install applications

Further Reading:

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