While Debian has been around for over a decade, Gentoo for five years, and Mandriva/Mandrake for nearly nine years, in less than three years of existence Ubuntu has received the most attention and generated the greatest amount of publicity in the Linux limelight. Why is that? In this article we will be taking a look back at all of the Ubuntu releases to date and exploring how this Linux distribution has evolved so quickly over its short lifespan.
Founded in 2004 as the no-name-yet.com project, Ubuntu was the brainchild of Mark Shuttleworth. Ubuntu is funded by Canonical Limited, which runs off of Mark Shuttleworth's dime, to work on Ubuntu as well as other free software projects. Most are familiar with Mark either due to his space tourism expedition or from starting Thawte. The name Ubuntu was chosen to be representative of the Free Software and open-source development model. Ubuntu is based upon Debian -unstable. With one exception to date, all Ubuntu releases have been based upon a six month development cycle that aligns with GNOME releases.
In less than three years of existence, Ubuntu has outpaced Fedora, Debian, SuSE, and other Linux distributions for the number one spot on DistroWatch as well as having sported several other awards. Ubuntu has also been a popular topic of discussion for Linux users on the social networking web-site Digg. Among the attributing factors to the success of Ubuntu has been Mark Shuttleworth's involvement and funding, regular releases, ease of use, choice of packages, and the community that has formed. For assisting those on slower Internet connections, Ubuntu will even ship Ubuntu-loaded CDs to users around the world who request this free media and they have been doing this since the beginning.
To date Ubuntu has released five versions -- 4.10 Warty Warthog, 5.04 Hoary Hedgehog, 5.10 Breezy Badger, 6.06 Dapper Drake, and 6.10 Edgy Eft. In this article we will also cover 7.04 Feisty Fawn, which will be released this April. On the following pages you can see our comments as we look back at each of these distributions by reinstalling them and comparing the past to present.