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What are the key features that made Ubuntu the most successful Linux distro to date? And what features do you think Ubuntu is still missing?

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+1 for marking this as Community-Wiki from the get-go. –  Nathan Osman Aug 3 '10 at 22:55
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closed as not constructive by jokerdino, Anwar Shah, Tom Brossman, Luis Alvarado, jrg Sep 15 '12 at 1:47

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8 Answers

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Ubuntu just looks good. For newcomers it's a sleek alternative that can rival Mac OSX and Windows 7 UI. Though still a Linux operating system it's network of support and abundance of GUI options makes it great for people not comfortable with command line.

Ubuntu is really missing something (something which I can't put my finger on) but the one thing that will really propel it into the arena/marketshare of the Desktop OS. Something like mainstream publicity/PR - or a very large company prevalently offering it as an option. (Yes Dell has http://dell.com/ubuntu but it's kind of off to the side and not something that's part of the default selection of setups). That's what's missing - 90% of the people out there just don't know that Ubuntu exists, what it is, how it works, and how it can potentially improve their life.

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You're absolutely right. Ubuntu needs more awareness. –  Nathan Osman Aug 4 '10 at 3:41
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Well, I wouldn't go so far as to call it the 'most successful Linux distro to date' but I agree that it is very popular among those who are new to Linux.

Some of the reasons it is so popular:

  • Ubuntu is very easy to use and is quite intuitive.
  • There are a wealth of support forums, IRC channels, etc. dedicated to helping people out with their problems.
  • Ubuntu is well-maintained.

And what features do you think Ubuntu is still missing?

Well, some areas that aren't quite perfect:

  • Bluetooth support is sometimes quirky.
  • Support for certain wireless network cards can be spotty.
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For me personally, back in the day, it was http://ubuntuforums.org.

The other assertions made may be true now but they weren't five years ago.

  • The distro itself was not any more user friendly than any other distro, in fact it was probably less so as it didn't (and still doesn't) have a "control panel" like SuSE YaST or Mandrake's Control Center.

  • It did not work out of the box, setting up X was a real hassle, something that Mandrake 9.2 onwards handled seemlessly.

  • It didn't look good compared to SuSE.

It has come a long way in a very short space of time.

What was missing in distros before Ubuntu was a common unified experience. You and everyone you knew might be running Debian but no two desktops were the same which made it difficult to get straight answers to questions.

When it came to Ubuntu you could ask for help for an application which you could reasonably be sure people reading the post would be running the same version as you.

The community surrounding Ubuntu shot up and whilst it wasn't (and perhaps still isn't) as big as many other distro communities it was extremely friendly and welcoming.

As for what it is still missing, well ... Ubuntu doesn't make me a cup of tea in the morning. :)

Seriously, I am sure there will always be another application or function that someone will want. For me Ubuntu was feature complete in Dapper, everything since then is a plus.

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  • Live-CD
    • Self-contained, has the basics covered compressed into 700M
    • Dual use as try-out and installer
  • Friendly default configuration
  • Pragmatic approach to closed drivers
  • Debian-based
    • dpkg and apt
    • Universe
  • Release schedule
  • Community orientation
    • not an overt test-bed for a commercial offering
    • Code of Conduct, friendlier people
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I guess many other linux distros have users that will say "...this distro is very easy to use, undefeated community support, has many forums with lots of users, etc..." But I guess, what gave Ubuntu a good start was it's name, and the philosophy it put in the name itself. This gave way for its loyal users to have something unusual, that is true of Ubuntu, to brag about, and thus, make Ubuntu popular to many. Another thing was its consistent updates, and I mean, USEFUL updates. It copes with the very rapidly changing trends from coping with drivers for graphic cards, wireless devices and other peripherals -- you buy a new model of a scanner today, you find that Ubuntu doesn't support it, report it to launchpad or any other means of letting the devs know and in the next 6 months, Ubuntu already has it... another 100 users did what you do, and there it goes, Ubuntu can know support a heap of newly manufactured devices of varying categories, so that more users can comfortably use it.

Regarding the features that I think it is missing, (I guess this is just to cater the needs of the skeptics and for those who gets easily intimidated by instructions in community forums about how to make this-and-that work) I think it would be to provide a way for REALLY novice users to know how to be comfortable navigating and customizing such an unfamiliar operating system, esp. for those who've just switched to linux. It would also be great if it can convince software companies to make a version of their really popular products that can be run with linux, like some popular photoediting softwares (yeah, I know, Gimp is amazing, but what disturbs me is that still many find it way too complex for average users (???)), games (uugghhh... yes I mean, those kind of graphically intensive games that will push you deep down through your seat), and many other useful and very popular softwares. That will make convincing other users and professionals alike to switch to Ubuntu.

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Ubuntu is usually seen as very user-friendly for Linux newbies, and people who are not interested in the technical aspects of IT.

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ready out of box. No need go to some website to download something. Of course that go's for Linux as a whole.

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I laughed. That does not go for Linux as a whole. Even in Ubuntu, it requires quite a bit of setup on several of my computers until my audio and wireless works properly. Windows is truly ready out of the box, at least on these computers. Mac OS X is literally ready out of the box because they also own the hardware. But Linux is far from it. –  Ricket Aug 4 '10 at 4:25
Windows is not always as Ready out of the box as you may perceive it to be. It's ready out of the box 90% of the times (and Mac OSX 100% of the times) is because it came installed on the box by the Vendor with drivers already in place. Comparatively though Ubuntu 10.04 v 8.04 more and more vendors setups are supported and more configurations supported out of the box. Until more hardware vendors start collaborating and releasing drivers though this will continue to be a problem. –  Marco Ceppi Aug 4 '10 at 12:14
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COMMUNITY. Ubuntu is successful because of its community. To know what I mean you just need to visit other distros forums and you will know the difference.

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