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What is Ubuntu Hosting?

You've probably heard of Linux, which is a successful Unix-like computer operating system. It is the leading operating system on servers across the world. In 2004, businessman and philanthropist Mark Shuttleworth took a team of developers from the successful Debian Linux distribution project and went about developing an easy to use desktop distribution, known to the world as Ubuntu.

Ubuntu is a distribution of Linux (also known as a ‘distro’ in the parlance of Linux) – and is one of hundreds of distros that are out there. Distributed by a company named Canonical, it is an example of a commercial project based on the Linux kernel. Rather than charge for the operating system, Canonical's business depends upon providing commercial support for its products. It also helps companies and organizations design computer systems with an eye on efficiency and cost management.

Underlying the Ubuntu philosophy is a deeply held cause that is partially economic and partially social in that it delivers free software for everybody to use on the same terms. As opposed to other major Linux distributions, Ubuntu has one quality release for both end users and developers that is updated regularly. Other distributions offer a free community version along with a higher quality commercial version, which is a sort of ‘freemium’ model.

Ubuntu is for Everyone

Ubuntu itself says that their name is a Southern African philosophy that roughly translates to "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity." The idea is that Ubuntu is for all and you can get a copy very easily by visiting the Ubuntu web site to download your copy.

The question that many people may have is whether Ubuntu is for them. Ubuntu is a rich and powerful operating system that is well-supported by the community. It has been installed on a wide variety of hardware from personal computers, to laptops, to full-on enterprise mega-servers. It is based on the Linux kernel, which is the core of the operating system and that means that drivers, patches and everything that goes into Linux also goes into Ubuntu. Ubuntu however has its own features and style built into it.

Ubuntu features a rich graphical user interface (GUI), which makes it very user friendly. Similar to other popular GUIs like Windows, Android, Mac OS, and more, Ubuntu lays out options in a graphical manner, with icons and menus that guide the user through the experience with the click of a mouse and type of a keyboard.

At the same time, all of the underlying commands and programs that are a part of Linux are still there. Since Ubuntu was initially designed as a desktop operating system, it not only supports software that was designed for Linux but it supports a whole range of applications including communications, media software and productivity applications.

Ubuntu is Powerful

Ubuntu is a very fast operating system, helping to optimize the user experience and delivering exceptional performance when it runs on a server. Running Ubuntu in a hosted environment is one of the most efficient platforms to run on and it delivers tremendous value because of this efficiency. Ubuntu is compatible with numerous devices beyond laptops and desktops, too, including cameras, MP3 players, and printers.

Ubuntu comes with a whole suite of built-in tools including utilities like virus protection and a built-in firewall. Those factors along with regular security updates that are freely available, make it highly regarded for its inherent security. Ubuntu even makes it easy to try if you’re interested. You can download it for free, install it on an external drive, CD, DVD or USB stick and run it at will without affecting your existing operating system on your personal machine.

Such a powerful operating system is great when it is free but unfortunately many people have come to expect that when something is free you ‘get what you pay for’ especially when it comes to support. That’s not the case with Ubuntu because both support and professional training are available from and within reach from Canonical if you need it. In addition to that, the Ubuntu community is active and responsive to general needs.

Check your hosting plan to confirm whether it supports Linux-based operating systems and applications.

Ubuntu Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Ubuntu?

    Ubuntu is a distribution of the Linux operating system (OS).

  • What is Linux?

    Linux is an OS based on UNIX. UNIX gained popularity in the 1970s and 80s. It is a multitasking, multiuser OS that has a reputation for rock-solid stability. Unix has a very modular design, with each element designed to perform specific functions exceedingly well. UNIX’s multiuser nature means that each user is strictly segregated from other users and from the core system, making it very difficult for viruses or malware to infect the entire system, or for an errant application to bring down the OS. Linus Torvalds created the Linux kernel, or core of the OS, in 1991 after being disillusioned by the licensing of MINIX, a UNIX-like OS he was using at the University of Helsinki. Like UNIX, Linux is a multitasking, multiuser OS that has likewise earned a reputation for stability.

  • What is a Linux distribution (distro)?

    Because the Linux kernel is free, open source software, companies and individuals are free to use it to create their own versions, or distros, of the Linux OS. These different distros are designed to meet different needs and often have different philosophies.

  • How was Ubuntu created?

    In 2004, South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth created Canonical Ltd, a software company with the goal of developing and marketing Ubuntu, which debuted in October of that year. Ubuntu was based on the popular Debian distro and Canonical recruited a number of Debian developers to help create Ubuntu. Mr. Shuttleworth himself had worked as a Debian developer in the 1990s, no doubt proving to be a motivating factor in basing Ubuntu on Debian.

  • What is the aim of Ubuntu?

    Ubuntu, more so than many other distros, is aimed at the consumer market. This includes desktops, tablets and smartphones.

  • What role does Canonical play in Ubuntu development?

    Unlike some distros, which are entirely sponsored and developed by a community of volunteers, Canonical plays a significant role in guiding Ubuntu’s growth and development. It oversees bi-yearly releases of the OS, as well as works with hardware partners to make sure Ubuntu can be ordered pre-installed on hardware from over 3,000 retailers worldwide. Canonical also works with commercial software companies, such as VMware, to ensure their applications run on Ubuntu. The company also offers paid technical support to individuals and companies who rely on Ubuntu.

  • Is Ubuntu still free and open source with so much commercial involvement?

    Absolutely. One of the problems that has often plagued other Linux distros, including Debian, is a lack of timely updates and releases. Because all the work is entirely community-based, it can be difficult to set and maintain deadlines for new features and releases. With Ubuntu, in contrast, Canonical employs a number of full-time developers who supplement the work that is done by the open source community, ensuring that Ubuntu is able to release two new versions each year. As stated above, Canonical also does a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes to help further Ubuntu’s adoption. The end result is an open source OS that has the backing, support and financial resources of a company that is dedicated to supporting Ubuntu and other open source software.

  • What software is bundled with Ubuntu?

    Ubuntu comes with a plethora of pre-loaded software, much of which will be familiar if you are coming from Mac or Windows. Firefox is the default web browser, although you can install Chromium (the basis for Google’s Chrome) via the Ubuntu Software Centre. Office needs are met by LibreOffice, an open source office suite that is compatible with Microsoft Office. Thunderbird is installed by default for email, while Skype is included for chat and video conferencing. Ubuntu also has excellent camera importing support, as well as photo organization and editing tools, such as Shotwell and GIMP. Videos and movies can be played in VLC. Canonical has partnered with Valve to bring Steam to the platform, making thousands of gaming titles available to Ubuntu users.

  • What other hardware is Ubuntu developed for?

    Ubuntu is also developed for tablets and smartphones. It has existed for the desktop the longest, with support for smartphones and tablets added later. Canonical’s goals have always been to work with OEMs to deliver Ubuntu pre-installed. While there are over 3,000 retailers worldwide that sell Ubuntu computers, the company is still working to duplicate that ecosystem with smartphones and tablets, although some phones that previously ran Android can run Ubuntu.

  • What is the advantage of Ubuntu on the tablet or smartphone?

    Canonical touts Ubuntu’s speed and platform unity as two main advantages over competing OSs. Core applications run at native speeds, performing well even on low-end hardware. Because Ubuntu will run on computers, tablets and smartphones the experience across all platforms is unified, rather than using one OS for your computer and another for your smartphone.

  • Is Ubuntu right for me?

    The answer to that question depends on a couple of factors, notably what your priorities are and your level of expertise. If you want a computer, phone or tablet that is familiar, works as expected and has access to the latest commercial software on the market, you are better off staying with Mac OS X, Windows, iOS and Android. If, on the other hand, you would rather use open source software, don’t mind a bit of a learning curve and don’t want to be dependent on a single company for your computing needs, then Ubuntu may be for you. Keep in mind, however, that Ubuntu’s smartphone and tablet support is still limited.

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