Ubuntu Linux operating system
Ubuntu linux operating system has stormed the Linux distribution scene like no other Linux project before. It has done so in a fashion resembling a highly sophisticated player: it seems to have first observed all other major distributions, learnt from their mistakes and combined the best features of all of them into one superior product. A six-month's release cycle, up-to-date package set, a clearly set product lifetime (at 18 months), fast download mirrors, great documentation, even free CDs and free shipment of CDs anywhere in the world to those interested in the distribution. That's Ubuntu.
The project is funded by Mark Shuttleworth. Those who have never heard the name, Mark is a South African entrepreneur who made a fortune when he sold his company, Thawte Consulting, to Verisign, for US$575 million in late 1999. He appears to be a generous person: after the sale, he reportedly paid bonuses of one million Rand each (about US$163,000 at the time) to every one of his employees. He also founded several educational and open source initiatives around South Africa, including Go Open Source. While it is not yet clear how Mark's Canonical Limited intends to make money from Ubuntu, the distribution is certainly off to a good start, at least in terms of getting the name into public consciousness and offering a solid alternative to more established linux operating system distributions.
On the technical side of things, Ubuntu linux operating system is based on Debian Sid (unstable branch), but with more up-to-date packages, inclusive of the latest GNOME packages. The distribution is designed to be used on desktops and servers, with a supported upgrade path from Debian 3.0 (Woody). One of its more interesting features is the fact that the "root" account is disabled by default; the first registered user after installation is granted superuser privileges through the "sudo" command. This measure, while it might sound like an inconvenience at first, has to be applauded since it encourages good security practices.
Pros: Great community of developers and users; fixed release cycle and support period; upgrade path from stable Debian provided
Cons: Ubuntu's backers have not yet built a viable business model around the distribution
Software package management: APT (DEB)
Free download: Yes