IntroIt wasn't too long ago that Ubuntu launched their new open source linux release, Ubuntu 7.04 Fiesty Fawn. Later that day, the Ubuntu servers crashed under the unprecedented load from enthusiasts attempting to pull the new release. But what is Linux and what does it mean to be open source?
Definitions Linux is an operating system (OS) similar in function to Macintosh OS X Tiger and Microsoft Windows Vista. These programs run your computer and allow the user to interact with the machine and complete operations. Wikipedia defines Linux as: Linux (IPA pronunciation: /ˈlɪnʊks/) is a Unix-like computer operating system family. Linux is one of the most prominent examples of free software and of open source development; its underlying source code is available for anyone to use, modify, and redistribute freely. The kernel - or core - runs like Unix and has a similar reputation for stability. But Unix is text only so the latest version of Linux provide user interfaces that resemble those that Mac or PC users operate. In some cases, Linux interfaces are easier to use and customize than their corporate counterparts.
I've been saying a lot about open source on this blog, but what is it really? It sounds highly technical and scary - let's try to clean it up a bit. Open source products are a different way of developing, designing, and ultimately releasing a software product. All programs run on a source code that is the backbone or spine of the application - it holds it all together and like our spinal cord, communicates or coordinates the many processes of a software program. Traditionally, corporate software designers like Microsoft opt to hold the source private so that others cannot duplicate or change the programs they distribute. This ensures market security but stagnates 3rd party development and kills customization.
Open source projects do just that, they "open" the source code and distribute it along with the program they've developed. Now 3rd party programmers and customers can view and alter the underlying code that runs their programs in order to customize their programs. A number of different software licenses are used by developers to control their products but this is beyond the scope of this article. Open source is gaining popularity throughout the world because it pulls on the expertise by many in a community feel to maintain and develop projects. You probably know a few open source projects. RedHat Linux, Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird, Wordpress, and many more. All of these projects have huge user bases and programming community support that keeps them fresh - Ubuntu is no different.
Ubuntu So let me talk about the crux of this entire post -> UBUNTU 7.04 Fiery Fawn! I just have to say that this Linux release is amazing. I haven't had much experience with Linux yet just because all of my work has been on Windows PC's and Apple Mac's so far - I wanted to try it out. I'm really happy that I chose to launch into Linux with Ubuntu. The UI is flawless and easy to use - maybe even familiar. It features easy access to the terminal as well as customization and system control panels. But I think the best part is that it's FUN! I can't think of too many OS's that I would call fun.
Right from the get go, I knew that this was a different kind of OS. Ubuntu is distributed in ISO disk image formats that you must either virtually mount to a drive or burn to a CD. These CD's are what is known as LIVE-CD's because they will boot and run the operating system from the CD-ROM drive without changing anything about your computer. I could try out the UI and use all of the features of the program before deciding to install. When I did decide it was time, Ubuntu did the installation right from the LIVE-CD interface rather than the nasty text interface that you have to install windows from. It was so easy.
15 Minutes later I was using Ubuntu on a crappy old Dell laptop. I didn't need to find drivers, programs or anything - it was all there. As the computer booted into it's new operating system, I was greeted by fresh graphics and fun sound effects. I wanted to play and play I did. I spent an hour just going through everything in the OS and trying to learn more and more. As of today I've even installed Flash into Linux and used it a number of times. So... what's that's about all I can muster right now, but I'll be getting back to this and posting an update in the next week. I'm really excited to use this even more.
Conclusion Ubuntu is a dynamic and refreshing departure from the standard graphical interface such as Windows and Mac. I was excited to play with it and learn and try out this new product. I know that I can take it for a ride any time I want or program modules and customize my own version. I could even sell it if I wanted. I suggest that everyone should take a few minutes and try it out - it's so easy. There's also a Server release that features customizations and 1 touch LAMP (Linux, Apache, MYsql, and PHP4) installation - something that every webserver needs.
This operating system is a huge step in the right direction for open source projects and I feel that if someone wants to step into the Linux/open source realm, this is a great first OS to play with.