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I need to explain to friends what Ubuntu is and I don't want to link them just to the wikipedia page. I want them to get a guide with the right information.

  • What is Ubuntu?
  • How do I use it?
  • What does the name Ubuntu mean?
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closed as too broad by Jorge Castro, Florian Diesch, Avinash Raj, BuZZ-dEE, Eliah Kagan Jan 13 '14 at 15:26

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

up vote 4 down vote accepted

work in progress


Ubuntu is a free and opensource operating system. It's based on Debian and runs the Linux Kernel.


One of the upsides with being based of Debian is that you have access to the apt-get system. This means that you can easily install and remove applications via the command line. This system is the same for a server and a desktop.

If I'm new to Ubuntu why should I learn some basic commands, why not just use the GUI?

  • Because most things are easier and faster to do via the terminal. Things like installing and removing software it's just sudo apt-get install packagename to install an application and to remove just type sudo apt-get remove packagename. Doing the same in the GUI involves more steps and takes more time.
  • Don't enter a command you don't understand. If you don't understand it then you don't know when it's going wrong and what can happen when it does. Look up the command you want to use before entering it. You can use man command to find out what it does, like man apt-get.

If you prefer to manage programs via the GUI instead I would start with the Software Center, more information can be found here.

Server or Desktop?

Every release of Ubuntu comes as two different types:

  • One is the server version, which installs without a GUI (Graphical User Interface). The server can run on any system that meet the minimum system requirements.
  • The other version is the Desktop which comes with a GUI and the basic applications that you need. The Ubuntu desktop ahs higher minimum system requirements than the server since it runs with a GUI and it comes with more applications pre-installed.

Wait, there are also different versions depending on the hardware you have.

32-bit or 64-bit?

The two most used are the 32-bit and 64-bit. but there are more specific versions like the PPC Power PC version and the minimal install. These also come as server and Desktop edition.

  • 64-bit - Is the one you should use if you have a newer computer, this is the general recommendation because it works for all new computers. but if you have an older computer and aren't sure if your processor support the 64-bit version. Either lookup your computer and find out if it supports 64-bit or choose the 32-bit version.

  • 32-bit - This version is support by all computers that runs the x86 platform, which is all intels and AMD processors.

  • PowerPC - The PPC version isn't officially supported anymore and is only released by enthusiasts, so this version may come out at a later time than the 32-bit and 64-bit version. There is no guarantee that it will be released at all.

  • Minimal install - It only consists of the necessary packages to start the installation, it will download the rest of the packages while installing, thus it requires an internet connection.

What is normal release and LTS release?

There are two types of releases, one is the Long term support (LTS) that is released every 2 year and is supported for 5 years. The LTS is aimed to be stable and doesn't therefor come with the latest software. It's a system that desire stability and

  • The LTS release schedule can be found here.

The other version is the normal release, it follows the LTS but it comes with all the latest software. this is the version for anyone who wants the latest software but also want a stable system. The normal release is released every 6 month, and has an Alpha and Beta release.

But the Alpha and Beta are unstable and is only to be used if you can live with crashes.

More information can be found here:

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