What is Ubuntu? The ins and outs of one of the most popular Linux distros

When it comes to Linux, one of its most mainstream implementations is Ubuntu. Here’s everything you need to know.

You’ve probably heard of Linux even if you haven’t used it, and while it is often talked about as an alternative to Windows, Linux isn’t just one thing. There are lots of different implementations of Linux, and one of the most popular is Ubuntu, which advertises itself as the Linux operating system for data centers, enterprise PCs, regular desktops and laptops, and more. Here’s everything you need to know about Ubuntu.

What the Ubuntu distro is

One of the somewhat confusing things about Linux is that it’s often pitched as Windows’s primary rival, but strictly speaking there isn’t some Linux OS you install on your computer. Instead, there are lots of implementations of Linux called distributions or distros, and these distros are how you access the Linux software ecosystem. Ubuntu is a Linux distro, but it isn’t Linux itself.

Linux on its own is merely a kernel that can provide the underlying basis of an operating system. Technically you could just run the kernel, but as a user there wouldn’t be anything to interface with: no windows, no taskbar, nothing. Ubuntu and other distros exist on top of the Linux kernel and provide that user interface and everything else that makes an OS an OS.

Ubuntu itself is actually based on another distro called Debian, which is one of the oldest and still most popular distros for Linux users. Then, Ubuntu is split up into three separate editions: Desktop, Server, and Core (which is for Internet of Things or IoT computers). In this sense, Ubuntu is fairly similar to Windows, which has separate versions for desktops, servers, and embedded devices, which includes IoT.

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When it comes to versions (not editions, to be clear) there are two options: a standard release that comes out every six months, and a “Long-Term Support” version that comes out every two years. The main differences between these versions is that LTS receives five years of security and maintenance updates, while non-LTS receives just nine months. With non-LTS, you’ll have to update every single time to get continuous security coverage. At the time of writing, the latest version is 23.04 Lunar Lobster, which came out on April 20 2023, while the LTS version is 22.04.3 from August 10 2023.

Ubuntu system requirements

Ubuntu doesn’t lay out a strict set of hardware requirements for Ubuntu, and recommends the following minimum specifications:

  • Dual-core CPU
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 25GB of storage
  • Internet (not required however)
  • A DVD drive or USB port so the OS can be installed

However, some hardware is not supported, such as 32-bit x86 CPUs. Even with that caveat, pretty much every chip made within the last decade should be able to run Ubuntu.

How to download and install Ubuntu

Installing Ubuntu is like installing any other OS, and Ubuntu even provides a guide on how to do it. Before you try and follow these steps though, make sure you have some necessary items:

  • A download of Ubuntu
  • A DVD, flash drive, or some other external storage that’s at least 12GB in size (recommended)
  • A program such as Rufus or balenaEtcher to create a bootable USB drive
  • A computer that meets all of the recommendations mentioned earlier

According to the official guide, it should take about 35 minutes to install Ubuntu, though it’s probably a good idea to set aside about an hour for the installation process just in case, especially if you’ve never installed Ubuntu or any other OS for that matter.

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The Ubuntu experience: for those who want the best of Windows in a Linux-based OS

Because Ubuntu is as much its own operating system as it is a part of the wider Linux ecosystem, the benefits of using Ubuntu can be pretty varied. In short though, it’s an OS for people who want the Windows experience in a Linux-based OS. The fundamental idea is to marry the user-friendly design of Windows with the open-source ecosystem of Linux. So, Ubuntu offers many of the core features of Windows: a desktop, a taskbar, a file manager, and so on. If you’re familiar with Windows, Ubuntu won’t be an alien experience for you.

Being a Linux-based OS is both good and bad in many ways. On the one hand, Linux is open source, very customizable, and generally more trustworthy (depending on your view) than closed-source OSes like Windows. On the other hand, the Linux software ecosystem isn’t quite as well-developed as Windows, and at times you might not have great software options for specific, niche purposes. However, the gap is always shrinking, and Ubuntu has many native ports of popular apps, alternative apps, and ways to bring non-native games to Linux.

In concrete terms, on Ubuntu you have access to lots of applications that you’d use on Windows, like Firefox, Discord, Blender, and more, which aren’t emulated or anything but native ports to Ubuntu. For apps that aren’t available on Ubuntu, there are alternatives, like GIMP in place of Photoshop (though many would argue that Photoshop is better) and LibreOffice instead of Microsoft Office.

Out of the box, Ubuntu doesn’t come with tons of apps. It has basic stuff like Thunderbird email, LibreOffice, and Firefox, but if you want more, you can use the Ubuntu Software app, which is basically like the Microsoft Store. Pretty much everything you’d probably need is available there, though for apps that aren’t on the Ubuntu Software storefront, you’ll probably have to manually install.

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Can I buy a PC with Ubuntu?

Although Linux isn’t nearly as popular as Windows, there are indeed some OEMs that offer explicit Ubuntu support for their PCs and even ship PCs out with Ubuntu preinstalled. Ubuntu’s official partners are Dell, HP, and Lenovo, and they make some of the best Linux laptops you can buy. Some notable laptops that offer Ubuntu right out of the box include Dell’s XPS 13 Plus, which is a pretty premium device and one of the best laptops today, whether it’s running Ubuntu or Windows.

However, there are many Windows laptops out there without official support for Linux at all, and many rely heavily on Windows for certain functions. However, thanks to the open-source nature of Linux and its very tech-literate (and passionate) community, you can find unofficial support for a lot of laptops, which is certainly better than no support at all.

If you’re curious about Linux, give Ubuntu a try

From casual to enthusiast users that are accustomed to Windows, it can be hard to imagine switching to Linux, which used to be known as an arcane and obtuse OS for only the truly dedicated. However, with distros like Ubuntu, Linux is a real and fairly uncompromising alternative to Windows. It’s definitely one of the best Linux-based operating systems to try if you’re sick of Windows and want to see if the grass is greener on the other side.

Of course, Ubuntu isn’t the only OS out there that’s trying to compete with Windows. Mint and PopOS are also popular Linux distros that are designed to appeal to Windows users, though both of these distros are actually based on Ubuntu itself. Whether you choose Ubuntu or a different distro, odds are you’ll be getting at least part of the Ubuntu experience.

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Source: thptvinhthang.edu.vn