When Florent Gardan http://www.nuaage.fr suggested I include a definition of Ubuntu, my first reaction was one of enthusiasm. Here at last was a "world word", which sounded African, for a change, and redolent of travel to exotic places. The definition of Ubuntu in Wikipedia (my bedside reading) brought me swiftly back to earth. Ubuntu is an operating system. It’s free (and free of charge), easy to use (for geeks at least), and available to businesses and individuals alike. It was created in 2004 by a South African billionaire, Mark Shuttleworth, with sponsorship from the Canonical company. His initiative looked like an alternative to the quasi-monopoly of Microsoft, bearing in mind that most computers at the time came with Windows pre-installed. Windows, so diabolical and seductive, but expensive and, above all, not free. Meaning that geeks can’t access the source code of the software to develop it. Hence the idea of creating a system that brings together a number of software programmes on an architecture called Debian (or Debian GNU-Linux).
The Ubuntu operating system claims to help you exploit all your audio, digital video and internet potential, as well as giving you access to graphics tools and efficient and fun office tools. The operating system is available in Live CD (or desktop) form, which means that you only have to restart your computer for all the software content of the CD to download automatically to your PC. The user community dedicated to developing, enhancing and optimising this operating system are called Ubunteros or Ubuntists, and they number over 12 million worldwide – it has been especially successful in France, where users include the Parliament and the national police, as well as the French Wikipedia servers.
A new version of the system is brought out every six months, identified by its own code and number. While the concept of Ubuntu is highly technical, the names it gives its various versions are rather more imaginative. They are all drawn from the film Toy Story: version 2.1 is called Slink (the springy dog in the movie), the 2.2 Potato, and the 3.0 Woody (the cowboy). What kids these geeks are!