Which Ubuntu?

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Ubuntu is based on the Debian distribution, but has extra features, and uses more up-to-date code than what the normal Debian distro uses. In fact, the Ubuntu team are committed to releasing a new version every six months. Unlike other Linux distros, the desktop version of Ubuntu has an easy-to-use utility for upgrading from one version to the next. For every new version, there is also an 18 month commitment to release security updates.

Unlike most other distros, the Ubuntu CD comes with both a fully functional "live" version, and the installation program, all in one handy package. Whether you run the live version, or perform the installation to your hard drive, you'll have immediate access to a full-fledged office suite, Internet browser and email programs.

ubuntu 9.10 splash screen

There are four members of the Ubuntu family.

The original Ubuntu uses the Gnome Desktop environment. It's the most popular member of the Ubuntu family, and is what this course is based upon.

But, what if you don't like Gnome? Fortunately, there are other "flavors" of Ubuntu available.

All flavors come with a single Live/Installation CD, and the installation procedure for each is the same.

If you prefer the K Desktop Environment--more commonly known as "KDE"--then you'll probably like Kubuntu. It has the same underlying operating system code as Ubuntu; only the desktop environment is different.

ubuntu 9.10 splash screen

If you're running an older computer with low-end, not-so-capable video, you may want to try Xubuntu. It uses the Xfce desktop environment, which is less resource-hungry than either Gnome or KDE. To prove our point, here's a shot of Xubuntu running in our test lab. It's running on a collectible Dell Poweredge server, with dual 333 Mhz Pentium II processors and a "whopping" two Meg of video memory.


Edubuntu is the original Ubuntu, only with different artwork and with extra packages that are geared toward elementary school education. The Edubuntu team plan for future versions to also include packages that are useful for college-level education.


Ubuntu Server is a versatile, capable server operating system that works efficiently on both old or new equipment. There's no desktop environment, only a plain-jane command-line interface. This makes for better security and for more efficient use of server resources.

There's a separate course offered for Ubuntu Server.

A unique and welcome feature of Ubuntu Desktop--and all other members of the Ubuntu Desktop family--is that the Live demo and Installation application come on the same CD. So, you can give Feisty Fawn a test drive, evaluate whether or not it's for you, and then install it onto your hard drive if you decide to. All of this is done from one, single CD.

In addition to Ubuntu itself, you also have access to the full OpenOffice suite, Mozilla Firefox, and several other useful programs. You can also use the Live CD when you're traveling, and are unable to carry along your own computer. Just carry along the Ubuntu CD, pop it into a computer at your relative's house or at the local Internet cafe. Then, reboot the computer from the CD. That way, you get to run your operating system of choice while you're on the road. This will also give some measure of privacy, since you won't have to worry about your activities getting logged to the hard drive. Take along a USB "thumb" drive, and you'll be able to save any files that you create or download.