Ubuntu is an open source operating system for computers. It is a Linux distribution based on the Debian architecture. It is usually run on personal computers, and is also popular on network servers, usually running the Ubuntu Server variant, with enterprise-class features. Ubuntu runs on the most popular architectures, including Intel, AMD, and ARM-based machines. Ubuntu is also available for tabletsand smartphones, with the Ubuntu Touch edition.
Ubuntu is published by Canonical Ltd, who offer commercial support. It is based on free software and named after the Southern African philosophy of ubuntu, which Canonical Ltd. suggests can be loosely translated as "humanity to others" or "I am what I am because of who we all are".
Ubuntu is the most popular operating system running in hosted environments, so–called "clouds", as it is the most popular server Linux distribution.
Development of Ubuntu is led by UK-based Canonical Ltd., a company founded by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth. Canonical generates revenue through the sale of technical support and other services related to Ubuntu The Ubuntu project is publicly committed to the principles of open-source software development; people are encouraged to use free software, study how it works, improve upon it, and distribute it
A default installation of Ubuntu contains a wide range of software that includes LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, Transmission, and several lightweight games such as Sudoku and chess. Many additional software packages are accessible from the built in Ubuntu Software Center as well as any other APT-based package management tools. Many additional software packages that are no longer installed by default, such as Evolution, GIMP, Pidgin, and Synaptic, are still accessible in the repositories, installable with the built in Ubuntu Software Center; or by any other APT-based package management tool and Snappy.
Ubuntu operates under the GNU General Public License (GPL) and all of the application software installed by default is free software. In addition, Ubuntu installs some hardware drivers that are available only in binary format, but such packages are clearly marked in the restricted component.
Ubuntu running on the Nexus S, a smartphone that ran Android prior to Ubuntu
The system requirements vary among Ubuntu products. For the Ubuntu desktop release 16.04 LTS, a PC with at least 2 GHz dual-core processor, 2 GB of RAM and 25 GB of free disk space is recommended. For less powerful computers, there are other Ubuntu distributions such as Lubuntu and Xubuntu. Since version 12.04, Ubuntu supports the ARM architecture. Ubuntu is also available on Power, older PowerPC architecture was at one point unofficial supported, and now newer Power Architecture CPUs (POWER8) are supported.
Live images are the typical way for users to assess and subsequently install Ubuntu. These can be downloaded as a disk image (.iso) and subsequently burnt to a DVD and booted, or run via UNetbootin directly from a USB drive (making, respectively, a live DVD or live USB medium). Running Ubuntu in this way is typically slower than running it from a hard drive, but does not alter the computer unless specifically instructed by the user. If the user chooses to boot the live image rather than execute an installer at boot time, there is still the option to then use an installer called Ubiquity to install Ubuntu once booted into the live environment. Disk images of all current and past versions are available for download at the Ubuntu web site. Various third-party programs such as remastersys and Reconstructor are available to create customized copies of the Ubuntu Live DVDs (or CDs). "Minimal CDs" are available (for server use) that fit on a CD.
Additionally, USB flash drive installations can be used to boot Ubuntu and Kubuntu in a way that allows permanent saving of user settings and portability of the USB-installed system between physical machines (however, the computers' BIOS must support booting from USB). In newer versions of Ubuntu, the Ubuntu Live USB creator can be used to install Ubuntu on a USB drive (with or without a live CD or DVD). Creating a bootable USB drive with persistence is as simple as dragging a slider to determine how much space to reserve for persistence; for this, Ubuntu employs casper.
The desktop edition can also be installed using the Netboot image (a.k.a. netboot tarball) which uses the debian-installer and allows certain specialist installations of Ubuntu: setting up automated deployments, upgrading from older installations without network access, LVM or RAID partitioning, installs on systems with less than about 256 MB of RAM (although low-memory systems may not be able to run a full desktop environment reasonably)