7 reasons why Ubuntu is so successful

Most people like it, many others don’t, the fact is that Ubuntu is the king of Linux distributions right now – and for some very good reasons. Below I will attempt to identify those reasons that made Ubuntu the most popular distribution and explain why its success was “inevitable”.

1) A good start: Ubuntu started with a strong background. It wasn’t “yet another” distribution, it was a distribution that had a vision and enough people and money behind it to support that vision.

2) Easy and straightforward installation: From the text-based installer of the first few versions, to the point&click installer of today, ubuntu always had a very straightforward and simple installation. Every step of the installer was explained in a short, yet clear manner that made it easy for everyone to follow the steps of the installation proccedure (almost) regardless of their experience with computers.

3) ShipIt: Sharing “official” CD’s with the Ubuntu logo increased the trust of users towards the distribution and made it much easier for users on slow connections to try it. People could now give away several CD’s to their friends and coworkers which made the general adoption of Linux much faster.

4) Synaptic: If you ask a first-time Ubuntu user to tell you what impressed them most, chances are that the answer will be “synaptic”. Indeed, this application brought APT much closer to the average user and made program installation in Linux a lot easier. Users didn’t have to search for RPMs or worry that they might needed to deal with dependancies, compile from source etc, synaptic solved everything using a very simple interface. When the first versions of Ubuntu came out, the only thing that could be compared to the flexibility and ease of use of APT and Synaptic was Fedora’s YUM, but unfortunately at that time Fedora didn’t have a good front-end for YUM (although Synaptic could be used with YUM, it was not nearly as easy to set up as synaptic and Ubuntu were).

5) Ubuntu forums/Community: The Ubuntu community was, and still is one of the most important factors that promote the growth of Ubuntu. The forums are very active and old users are very friendly and patient towards newcomers. Maybe it has to do with the philosophy of “Ubuntu”…

6) User promotion: Ubuntu is based heavily on the promotion it receives from it’s users. Nearly every person who uses Ubuntu today has beed advised to try it by someone else who had tried it before them and so on. This, combined with the strong influence of Ubuntu to the internet forums related to GNU/Linux, has led to a major increase in it’s adoption .

7) Fragmented competitors: When Ubuntu started it’s “march to glory” there were three “big” distributions, SuSE, Mandriva, and Fedora. Debian and Slackware were popular but were not very appealling to newbies (Debian still had a text based installer…). All of the “big three” were not at their best when Ubuntu came out and started gathering users. SuSE had recently been bought by Novell and was still undergoing internal reconstructions, Mandriva has in the middle of a severe financial crisis, and Fedora was just at FC2 which wasn’t nearly as easy as it now is. This “fragmentation” (or “decay of the distribution maket” if you like) helped many users make the decision to switch to Ubuntu.

There are definately many other reasons why Ubuntu managed to get to the top, and stay there, but making a complete analysis is not within the purposes of this post. Highlighting some of the points that made Ubuntu what it is today, is.

Till next time, keep drinking coffee 😉

Ubuntu | ShipIt | Synaptic | Wikipedia Article – Synaptic | Wikipedia Article – APT | Wikipedia Article – RPM | Ubuntu Forums | Fedora | OpenSuSE | Mandriva | Debian | Slackware | Wikipedia Article – Linux Distribution |



  1. katm said,

    October 15, 2007 at 11:51 am

    I started a few months ago with Ubuntu. It was my first major experience with Linux (aside from a failed attempt to use SUSE with our wireless network about a year ago). I found it dead simple to get up and running, even dual booting with Vista. I’ve since gone to a triple boot setup with Fedora 7, Ubuntu 7.06 and Vista. For the last 2 weeks or so I’ve been in Fedora about 99% of the time. I booted back to Vista to backup my email and patch it. I booted to Ubuntu to install some software so I could give the person who wrote the documentation feedback. Ubuntu now feels quirky after using Fedora, some of it the CLI and some of it the GUI (I use KDE on my Fedora install).

    I’m happy with Fedora. I may reclaim the space that Ubuntu is taking up. Or I may just leave it and use it for a change of pace. Or I may nuke it and install something else.

    ~ A happy Linux user

  2. Pradeep Jindal said,

    October 15, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    I think they knew what Debian lacked. If we see technically then Base Distro (Debian) is one of the Strongest reasons for Ubuntu’s popularity, which is being overlooked by most of the users. Because that’s what makes Ubuntu offer such good things like, loads of packages, package manager, community and lot more. But, Mark is the one who used it very efficiently. So, full credit to Mark & Ubuntu Team. Yeah!, money is also a very good thing to have for supporting an open source project.

  3. Tony said,

    October 15, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    1–I think Ubuntus background was no better than Mandrivas at the time.

    2–rubbish. me and 4 dozen experienced users have been battling like hell.
    Ubuntu didn’t install on many computers and the partitioner was crap

    3– Agree.

    4–Rubbish — I have been using Mandriva’s installer for 3 years without a problem worth talking about

    5–Agree, but it has nothing to do with the Ubuntu philosophy


    7–Highly debatable.

  4. Vince said,

    October 15, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Wasn’t Synaptic created by the late Conectiva, which is now called Mandriva?

  5. Charles Witt said,

    October 15, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    I agree. For me, I was heavily influenced by the following factors: ShipIt, Ubuntu philosophy, equal treatment of home users and business users, usability, friendly and very active forums, Mark Shuttleworth’s reputation and financial backing, and Ubuntu’s strong Debian heritage. I always loved Debian but hated to install it. Ubuntu, Mepis, Knoppix, and others changed that forever with the Live CD install. Debian has benefited also because their installers are now very easy. Debian’s usability has improved also IMHO due to some degree to jealousy towards Ubuntu’s success using the excellent Debian technology as its core.

  6. Derek Cordeiro said,

    October 15, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    You forget to mention one major factor: Ubuntu and Debian are closely tied. Ubuntu added some stuff that Debian lacks, viz. simpler installing, newer packages(from debain repos), hype and ofcourse shipit.

    If debian had a GUI installer, some sort of control center, newer packages and shipit, do you really think debian would be so unpopular?

  7. Alex said,

    October 15, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Funny to suggest Synaptic is attractive. I much prefer Adept, the type and incremental search just works so much better for me. It has downsides but it still wins for me.

  8. Stephen said,

    October 15, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    For all its popularity, it still lost the #1 position on Distrowatch to PCLinuxOS.

  9. dkd903 said,

    October 15, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    Promotion of Ubuntu throug media and freeCDs and the well maintained package repositories are some of the key points which Canonical has laid stress upon, which was unlike with Novell or Red Hat

  10. Raghu Nayak said,

    October 15, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    apt-get is the only reason why I still use Ubuntu.

  11. October 15, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    Vince, yes. You might notice the current ties to Canonical as well.

  12. Conley said,

    October 15, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    You are missing #8: Compromise. Ubuntu is not afraid to cheat on core values to win user base. mp3, dvd-css, and proprietary video drivers with a click of a button.

  13. WireSharkK said,

    October 15, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    I have been using Ubuntu for the last 8 months, and I am gladly pleased with the developments so far. I hope Gutsy Gibbon will continue its trend. With the popularity it gains, I hope it doesnt lead to its downfall.

    Nicely written article, but you might debate there are other distros not in the limelight still preferred. That’s Linux for you, the choice is abundant

  14. Ingmar said,

    October 15, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    I am currently using Ubuntu exclusively, but I think I’ll give the new OpenSuSE a chance. A few things I found annoying, not the least of which is the root concept. Or, since I like the strong Debian foundation that Ubuntu is built upon, I might switch to that.

  15. niemau said,

    October 15, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    debian *does* have a GUI installer. and, for that matter, ubuntu did NOT when it was released, so that’s neither here nor there.

    ubuntu, plain and simple, became successful because it had the image of ‘easy, slightly browner debian’. debian has had a bad reputation with regard to usability and installation for a long time. granted, that reputation is largely unfounded. case in point, ubuntu’s original, text-based, installer *was* debian’s installer. the initial success was pretty much based on the illusion of additional ease and the brownification of debian.

  16. October 15, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Nice article, easy to read. Maybe some points are not as strong, as mentioned before, but there is a core of truth in all points.
    I am still in the phase of trying diverse distributions, but for now I always fall back to Ubuntu, but there are several other equally good distributions out there! (depending on your situation….

  17. john said,

    October 15, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    I have yet to find a Linux distro that comes close to a commercial product.
    Yes, if you absolutely hate Microsoft by all means use Linux. Frankly, I do not have a lot of love for Microsoft myself. But, the rest of the business world and most average consumers use Windows. So it stands to reason that Windows is still by far the most popular OS. Now I give Linux the thumbs up for being better in security and for having many options avaliable to the end user.
    However, many common applications have yet to be fully addressed in the Linux world. Many companies of hardware and software have yet to look really hard at Linux. For good reason too. Until Linux becomes a mainstream player and attracts a 10% plus market share. Nobody but geeks and Microsoft haters will truly embrace Linux.
    Now I have tried Fedora,Red Hat, Suse,Ubuntu, Knoppix, and the like.
    None of them have totally provided a simple conversion to Linux. At best they provide a way to surf the web and even then some content is not fully avaliable. They have applications that come close to popular commercial programs but still fall short. Because they are trying to mimick the program.
    Even Apple user’s have had to embrace Windows on their Mac’s just so they can use a Mac?? Huh? Linux even has the upper hand here because it can run on almost any computer! But still it lacks common home user acceptance.
    It’s sad but true that until Linux acts like Windows and will run windows applications. It will never be anything more then a limited desktop OS.

  18. Tyler said,

    October 15, 2007 at 5:48 pm

    I like that fact that closed source drivers were easily accessible. Wireless card, nvidia graphics driver etc all worked “out of the box”.

  19. vignesh said,

    October 15, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    Im not using ubuntu as the main desktop. but synaptic was really impressive, and not having to download package information from the net every time i do a search was good. i was more impressed by the sheer no. pf guides/how tos that are avialabe and the speed with which they turn up 🙂
    great work….

  20. blah said,

    October 15, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    While I agree that Ubuntu is a great distribution, me any many others have a great distaste for many users. Sure you can talk about 10 things why its so great, but you forgot to mention the one severe downside. many (but not all) Ubuntu users have a severe intelligence issue that can only really be rectified by a bullet.

    How many ubuntu users could configure their computer from the command line, how many *really* know whats going on under the hood? Hell, how many even know that many of the applications in ubuntu are *not* ubuntu specific applications (many seem to think that ubuntu conjours many magics so that their wifi cards work, and that other distros can not do that).

    Ubuntu is not windows, however a glance at the google search statistics shows you many Ubuntu users think there are… I think there is a need for a ‘tip of the day: OMFG THIS IS NOT WINDOWS’, it’d be nice for the sanity of the rest of us 🙂

    oh btw ftw http://www.gentoo.org

  21. Skeith said,

    October 15, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    Ubuntu had the best business model ever to get on its feet, a blank check from Mark Shuttleworth. Now that Ubuntu is a fairly popular desktop and server distro it can stand on its own.

  22. Ed said,

    October 15, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    I switched to Ubuntu a short while ago, and was very impressed. However I still find Linux unfriendly to the average user.

    Simple things like creating aliases, shortcuts, and application launchers can be irritatingly obtuse. And a simple way of installing software like drag and drop on OSX would be lovely (don’t get me wrong I love synaptic, but still find it generally unfriendly, and dare i say ‘Geeky’ ) .

    Linux will never replace OSX and Windows unless it starts to focus more on the everyday non technical users.

    Ubuntu has been adopted by so many because out of all the distributions it seems to be the one most focused on the non technical market. OSX has arguably most of the advantages of Linux but chooses to hide them under a polished veneer or easy usability.
    I suggest Ubuntu continue in that vain.

  23. October 15, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    I tried ubuntu a while back but couldn’t get dual screen working. Maybe it’s time to try again…maybe.

  24. devolute said,

    October 15, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    All pretty reasonable reasons (especially the point about the community)

    Its certainly less daunting to install than Windows. But then with OS X and other Linux distros, is that really saying very much these days?

  25. Kris said,

    October 15, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    Nice article, dude.
    Although, you did not mention that ubuntu is the only distro out there that has lightweight install CDs with specific sub-group targets (Kubuntu, Xubuntu, edubuntu, etc.). This philosophy caters to people who are used to have questions asked of them instead of providing them with the freedom to designate what it is they need. Most people go for the ubuntu builds, but all in all providing alternate install CDs etc., gives the maintainers of Ubuntu packages a wealth of hardware information to gear future builds closer towards zero configuration.

    I don’t know what John (comment #17) is talking about, but I have been able to access web content just fine using my installation of Ubuntu.

    The biggest reason why you don’t see that 10% PC sales in the market is because there is a lot of currency-less transactions going on. When they came up with the pie representation of sales, they did not take into account the total usage of linux as an OS versus sales of packaged copies. While people use Windows for their DirectX10 games, nobody takes notice of a virtualized linux installation or dual booted equivalent, because most people don’t pay a dime for it…

    Also, there is a different standard between Industrialized nations (US & EU primarily) and developing and newly industrialized nations. Most people do not use linux because they haven’t woken up to it. But, if you look at companies, especially the ones that are just starting up, you don’t see them running Microsoft servers – they run some kind of POSIX machine. I would venture to guess, the mythical 10% figure is not going to be fully realized, even if a POSIX juggernaut takes over the desktop majority, not only because it is hard to keep track of the many Linux distros, but also because you can’t quantify how many machines a downloaded distro has been installed on.

    That’s the problem with free software – how do you gauge how much of it is actually used in the real world…

  26. pad said,

    October 15, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    I decided to install Ubuntu about and year and a half years back on an old dell latitude tha I bought for 100+ bucks. The primary purpose was to test drive linux and see how it performs against XP which came with the laptop. My decision to choose Ubuntu was beacuse of a friend of mine who had been using it for a while. So with some support from my friend, I decided to istal it. 18 months later and with a newly built desktop at home I run ubuntu on a dual boot with XP. The only reason I boot into my XP is for my huge Itunes collection to sync up to my IPod. I am not looking back to windoze any more. I have come a long way – from a weary windoze user to a very happy linux user. Ubuntu rules!!

  27. Josh said,

    October 15, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    One more thing. I think in the last year, all the scary stories about MS Vista has caused many computer savvy folk to consider jumping off the MS ship. I hadn’t used linux in about 7 years (since I couldn’t get my DSL to work in Slackware), but Ubuntu installed and worked right off the bat into the old slackware partition I had laying around.

  28. sagefool said,

    October 15, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    The Ubuntu(and Linux) communities at large are a huge reason for it’s success. I switched to strictly Linux about 4 months ago, and the Ubuntu forum posts have kept me going. In fact, the knowledge base is so comprehensive, that I have not had to actually ask a question yet. All of my questions are answered searching the forums.

    I love the Xubuntu installation, as it is so lightweight, yet ignored, for the most part.

    I can’t wait for the Gutsy to drop!!!

    Now, if I can just get my parents switched over.

  29. Markus said,

    October 15, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    1. Money. Ubuntu had money pumped into it to make it easy and stable—ish. It was a success. Linux needed a big financial boost, and Mark Shuttleworth was the redeemer. Linux is mainstream now.

    2. Having grown up in South Africa, I had to try the Ubuntu version around the 5.xx era. This was after I had tried Suse and Fedora. Neither of them would work with my Atheros wifi card so when Ubuntu did, I was delighted. Without networking, no OS works for me. Ubuntu is approaching a point where I might load it onto my Apple machines as well.

  30. Alexandre said,

    October 15, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    To be perfectly honest, I never really liked Ubuntu, the couple of times I installed it, it was missing one or two of the tools I was used to using in FC, and because it’s kind of safeguarded over tinkering to prevent new users from ruining their systems, it was kind of annoying to make profound changes to make it useable for the tasks I had at hand. Mind you not nearly annoying as UAC…

  31. Stephen said,

    October 15, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    The reason I switched was Redhat forking into Fedora and RHEL. I like Ubuntu’s LTS releases coming from the same codeline that the community releases come from. I also like that Ubuntu didn’t get all sniffy about proprietary code like Fedora.

  32. kk said,

    October 15, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    APT – do I need to say more? 😉

  33. Ryan said,

    October 15, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    #1: It is free.

  34. Cibbuano said,

    October 15, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    Ubuntu is my first step into Linux and it’s been a thrilling new way to use the computer. Sure, I’ve had some problems, but it’s like having a car that you love – you don’t mind tinkering to make it run better…

  35. Geekberg said,

    October 15, 2007 at 10:51 pm

    I have been pleased with Ubuntu, and have been using it for about a year! Each distro seems to get better and better! Although I still have to dual boot with XP, so I can run games and many other programs. The main issue I have had with Ubuntu is support for large volumes of audio. Using Amarok I have a lot of issues when trying to load or skip thru my mp3 library (about 20GB). Using media player or WinAmp in XP, I don’t get the lag or nonresponsiveness of some of the audio programs in Linux. Although I would love to leave Windows for good, but until Ubuntu can run Windows Apps im stuck!

  36. matthew said,

    October 15, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    Nice article! As an admin for ubuntuforums.org, thank you for the kind words about our community. 🙂 I appreciate them.

  37. sightless said,

    October 15, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    For the past two years, I’ve been wondering whether I should install Debian on my five-year-old PC tower.
    Last week, I switched PC tower from a very slow XP to Ubuntu, because of the image of Debian as too command-line intensive. Ubuntu is running faster than XP ever did for me, and I love Synaptic and the ease with which system variables can be changed, at least compared to Windows.

    For me, the best feature of Ubuntu is the online community support, which is better than anything I’ve found for Windows, which has lots of disorganized support (i.e., I have to search for it across half a dozen forum sites) , or Apple, which centralized support but censors discussions that hurt its image, to the detriment of those who want honest answers.

    To john (comment 17):
    “Nobody but geeks and Microsoft haters will truly embrace Linux.”

    How about people who don’t want to pay for or steal an operating system? What about schools?

    “Even Apple user’s have had to embrace Windows on their Mac’s just so they can use a Mac??”

    How is this the case? As a long time Mac user, I haven’t found a pressing need to install any aspect of Windows on my various Apple computers.

    Back to the topic at hand, I really like Kris’ points (comment 24) about Linux as an often untraced user group because no transactions take place.

    Ed’s comment (#21) that:
    “Linux will never replace OSX and Windows unless it starts to focus more on the everyday non technical users.”
    reminds me of Nintendo’s success with the Wii, attracting casual gamers and non-gamers with the simple interface (many of the games have no button combos for special moves) and group mentality, both online and offline. (I’m not a Wii owner, that’s just what I’ve noticed).

    I wouldn’t be able to justify running Ubuntu without also having a computer that supports proprietary media codecs, (DVDs, mp3s) and Adobe products. Linux is going to be unpopular as a media platform until open codecs become mainstream, and more developers code for it. That’s happening faster than ever before, and I’m happy about that.

    Great article, by the way.

  38. Keith said,

    October 16, 2007 at 12:38 am

    Indeed, Ubuntu is the undisputable king of Linux distro, and especially for some of those reasons you have mentioned here. Unfortunately, it is still not a Windows replacement for some sections, e.g. gaming or .NET framework. Though there are alternatives, but sometimes the constraints are there; and that’s why linux is still not widely used in the corporate world.

  39. Rocket said,

    October 16, 2007 at 1:53 am

    I came up in the Cobal, Fortran, Amiga Basic, NDos/MS-Dos days and have been using computers since the commodore 64. I even started programming on a TRS-80 before I got my hands on a Honeywell 3000 in the military. Zenith 120’s were a riot too. Suffice it to say, I have just a tad bit of experience in the computer world and I have always..since day one considered windows to be the number one computer virus.
    Even with limited memory and decadent hardware, computers worked at peak potential, until windows was installed on it. Since then, hardware manufacturers have been trying to make hardware that will run the software better. THe software was the limiting factor (windows) and the industry tried to make machines around faulty software. I don’t think there will ever be a day that we will ever see windows utilize system resources properly. I have a PC running the XP version of the Windows virus, a Mac G5 and a dual booting Unbuntu/Vista machine. Using the word vista is like saying the name Lord Voldemort. I truly like the ease of installation and the ease of use of Ubuntu. I will always favor my Mac over all others, but Ubuntu has earned its place on the desk next to it.

    I dont know who this mook Tony in comment # 3 is talking about with so many “experienced” users having problems with Ubuntu. All I can say is… put the crack down and step away from the equipment. I didn’t need my background and experience to tell me Installing and Using Ubuntu was painless and error free. Ubuntu having detected every bit of hardware and required drivers (including some that I couldn’t get winblows to find and use) has definitely earned a Price tag whereas windows has NEVER earned or validated its cost and continues brutally rape the system resources. I also enjoy seeing a company with a solid philosophy such as that of Ubuntu. They’ve earned their keep.

  40. October 16, 2007 at 1:57 am

    Ubuntu was the first Linux I ever tried last year, and it was amazing. I enjoyed how simple it was to get everything up and running the way I liked. Currently I’m dual booting PCLinuxOS and Windows XP, but if it weren’t for the simplicity of Ubuntu, I might not be running a Linux partition at all right now.

    Great article, by the way. I agree with all of your points. 🙂

  41. kvhurin said,

    October 16, 2007 at 3:22 am

    Ubuntu (Feisty Fawn) was the first attempt for me on linux (after one of friends recommended it) , though I had already read and heard quite a lot about linux before too. The installation unlike for most linux distros as I had heard, was quite simple ( even comparable to XP pro!!). Secondly the support for hardwares was superb too – saying that it also recognised the multimedia buttons on my ‘unbranded’ keyboard!
    Moreover the look and feel of Ubuntu was immensely better than that of Windows (OK it might be a case of appreciating newness which I have) especially when the Beryl desktop effects were switched on!!
    Keep doing the good work Ubuntu…looking forward to Gutsy Gibbon!!

  42. October 16, 2007 at 4:44 am

    Well, I’m running Ubuntu on my laptop (aka node caracara on the PGBuildFarm) and have been plenty happy enough with that.

    The compromises have two effects:

    – It has enough interesting software, as a Debian derivative, to be Plenty Useful.

    – It has enough hardware support “hacked into place” that it plays pretty well pretty easily on modern laptops, which tends to be a bit more challenging, with Debian…

  43. dkd903 said,

    October 16, 2007 at 5:10 am

    why did DELL choose UBUNTU ?
    think over this question and the answers which roll out will suffice the description about Ubuntu`s popularity and the works ….

  44. Shawn said,

    October 16, 2007 at 6:21 am

    I’ve been fan since about last year. A friend told me about using Ubuntu so I tried it out. I haven’t really wanted to use windows since then. Ubuntu does almost everything. Especially with Wine installed. I hope that Ubuntu gets to the status of Apple or better some day. Until then though I think I’m gonna have my eye on a new Macbook Pro.

  45. Josiah said,

    October 16, 2007 at 7:09 am

    I’ve been using Ubuntu since 6.06 I think, on a laptop.

    It’s worked great so far, though my main desire would be easy dual monitor (Xinerama) configuration for intel 915 cards. Gutsy Gibbon looks to have that so will give it a shot.

    I’ve always been a fan of SuSE so I’m planning to give OpenSuSE 10.3 a shout.

    — How I wish I had space for both – still have to boot Win XP for work 😦

    MacBook Pro – tempting but I don’t have $2000+ to spend. MacBook doesn’t cut it.

  46. Myrddin said,

    October 16, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    Part of it may be just lucky timing. At least, that’s why I switched to Ubuntu:

    After the announcements in 2006 of all the lockdowns and hardware demands we could expect from Vista, I started looking for ways to exit this Microsoft train ride. As a result, I discovered Ubuntu and am perfectly happy with it. Grateful for it, in fact.

  47. October 16, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    Debian still had a text based installer…

    How can you say this at the end of the article when at the start you have said:

    From the text-based installer of the first few versions, to the point&click installer of today (…)

    Text-based installers aren’t bad, nor old. It must be well explained and easy to use, nothing more.

  48. mrosedal said,

    October 16, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    Better hardware support…I was a frustrated Fedora user who couldn’t get sound working on my computer (I was a music major so yea that was a no go). Someone told me to try Ubuntu and it picked up my sound card without any trouble. Now I am an IT professional, and I just don’t want to hassle with my machine unless I have to. Ubuntu gives me a full functioning Linux machine without a lot of hassle…I like that!

  49. koro said,

    October 16, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    a nice article guy…
    ubuntu always came with unique version… sometimes people think other distribution like FC, SuSE, etc, just use version numbering. But Ubuntu use year and month. The first time i know ubuntu, i think it was a mature version, but may be it was second version…
    So there are so many aspects that makes Ubuntu dominated the linux distribution. And one of the best reference is distrowatch.com and some people will always the number one ranking and ubuntu always get the best ranking…

    just my 2 cents…

  50. junim: said,

    October 16, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    1. I agree. Shuttleworth was fundamental for Ubuntu.
    2. I agree that these points make Ubuntu’s installation easy, but another distros like openSUSE have an easy-to-install method.
    3. I agree.
    4. I first met Synaptic on Conectiva Linux 10 (+- 3 years ago), a brazilian distro that was bought by Madrake. From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synaptic): Synaptic was created by Alfredo Kojima a brazilian guy, then an employee of Conectiva.
    5. I agree, but many distros (mainly the biggest ones) has its faithful users that help one another (Debian for example).
    6. The most polemic topic on forums is about what’s the better distro. Each user defends its own one. So, users of many distros promote the one he uses.
    7. I don’t think it’s a cause for Ubuntu’s success.

  51. Alexandre said,

    October 16, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    For those of you using the argument that it’s free as it’s main selling point, you’re missing the issue completely. As RMS himself put it, it’s not that free software is meant to be free as in free beer, but rather free as in free speech. Read his biography from O’Reilly books and you’ll understand far better the concept, it’s released under a GPL style license and is freely available. Remember, it’s ‘liberté” not “gratuit”, two different concepts, easily confused.

  52. EthraZa said,

    October 17, 2007 at 2:06 am

    I think that the main reason to Ubuntu sussess is the money! The man behind it give money from the start to now to keep it running! The fact that this money make possible to they send free CDs to everyone that ask for it is the biggest marketing killer in the history of OSS.
    I have tryed K/U/buntu but it was not even half of what Mandriva is. And now with Mandriva 2008 (the best Mandriva ever), I think *buntu is nothing but a big marketing distro.

  53. David Mackey said,

    October 22, 2007 at 12:03 am

    Great article. One item I would add that is going to be an upcoming reason is Wubi – which makes running Ubuntu on Windows based machines simple as pie.

  54. Zexy said,

    October 22, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    @ post #8

    DistroWatch standings mean nothing other than showing that x amount of people clicked on a link and viewed some info about a particualr distro of linux. It does not corellate to number of installations. If it did, we would be celebrating PCLos’ sundden rise to power and mayhap probably buyout by Micro$oft. It’s been recently said by Mark Shuttleworth that estimates for Ubuntu installations is roughly 6 million. It’s all specualtion of course but I think at least “millions” is probably correct given the size of the active community surrounding Ubuntu. I kinda doubt and I of am speculating here, but I do earnestly doubt that PCLos could estimate numbers even at 10% of those of Ubuntu. That is one of teh big mysteries surronding Linux in general is that no one can put actaul hard numbers on it because there’s no sales numbers that can accurately analyze for the whole of the Linux community.

    Anyways, grats to PCLOs for having an increase of people interested in looking for information about it. Ubuntu may only be “#2 on the DistroWatch” but that’s good enough for a lot of people obviously. And what does it really matter anyways?…as long as PCLos, Ubuntu, Fedora, Madriva, et all are all actively attacking BUG#1. 🙂

  55. Zexy said,

    October 22, 2007 at 7:49 pm

    The thing that drew me to Ubuntu was the “ubuntu” philosophy and the ShipIt CDs.
    I have always had a nagging interest in Linux in general as far back before Win98 even came out. Problem was I only had access to one computer and was deathly affraid of turning it into a 50lb. paperweight. So linux stayed in the back of my mind, every now and then bubbling to the surface/ I had even purchased a boxed set of Suse back around version 6 but never really did much with it. It’s buried deep in my “old software” closet somewhere.

    Just before the release of Breezy Badger my interest peaked again. With two releases under thier belt and the third on its way, I read some articles about it and then found out how to get it sent to me for free. At that time , being the skeptic that i was thanks to Win95/Win98, I went ahead and ordered some discs and completely forgot about them. Lo and behold what do I recieve in the mail one day but a package of Ubuntu CDs. I was taken aback by the simple fact that I now held in my skeptical hands an OS that could run my computer and not cost hundreds of dollars!

    I am a computer hobbyist. I build computers for myself and friends and family. Henceforth, any boxes I build will be installed with Linux and most likely Ubuntu. Anyone I know who comes calling for help to get thier Windoze box working, I’m telling them to either get a better OS(Linux) or call someone and pay them lots of money every 6 months to a year to do what shouldn’t have to be done, clean up the system. I am washing my hands of Micro$oft’s ever festering boil. WinXP will be it for me and M$. I will not give Bill and Company one more dollar for thier laughably inflated sales numbers(Vista).

    Mr.Gates, you may have Aeros(or whatever it’s called) but I have my eyecandy too….and I didn’t even have to buy new hardware to run it…ROFL! Oh and guess what Bill?…..it cost me NOTHING! I don’t have to buy new hardware to make my new OS happy. I don’t have to buy multitudes of anti-virus/anti-spyware to keep it running safe. I don’t even have to wonder if I can afford to buy an application or two because I have literally hundreds if not thousands available to me.

    It’s a good day to be free! Thank you Linus Torvalds and all the developers and visionaries that have given the rest of the world a choice.

  56. anko-dw said,

    November 12, 2007 at 9:11 am

    whew…. seems there was a fight between linux user here….. so weird. Why dont we learn to respect other operating system? It is open source, all right!!!

  57. Tim Dysinger said,

    November 21, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    You missed it entirely. It’s two things Mark’s money and Ubuntu’s Debian foundation. If those things hadn’t happened it would not be what it is today. I wouldn’t have given it a second look in 2004 had it not bee based on my favorite distribution – Debian.

  58. December 14, 2007 at 3:55 am

    Yeah, that is something that I cannot stand. All the fighting about distros. A new Linux user might see this and be turned off immediately.

    Fortunately, the Ubuntu community has been pretty helpful since I have been using the OS. I recently wrote an article about 5 ways to help new Ubuntu users. I am curious if the experiences listed in the article are consistent with what you have experienced as an Ubuntu user. I would also love to hear other thoughts on how to make Ubuntu users’ experience more pleasant in the comments.

    Harley Stagner

  59. Blue Glue said,

    March 1, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    I agree in part with 1-7 although I believe that there is another factor and that is ‘Timing’. This was what has me now using Ubuntu, I have been playing with Linux for about 9 years and have toyed with most distros. I use the term ‘toyed’ as back when i first started out trying Linux you couldn’t get much done and it was not a desktop replacement by a long chalk. I have also owned Macs and yes they do have alot of the good of Linux but they also have alot of the bad of MS Windows such as vendor lock in and the intergration of ways to extract more cash from you contained within the system. Ubuntu come to the forefront about the time people like me started getting WGA messages on their system after trying a beta of Vista (which I hated). So I googled up Linux lots of hits on Ubuntu (I hadn’t used Linux for awhile) so thats where I started and havent looked back). I’m sure I am not the only one!

    I am not a MS hater, I believe they are at this point in time the world leader in the manufacture and distribution of both the best game console on the planet and some excellent optical mice both of which i own and am happy with. Windows is not by comparison a fraction of what is should be by comparison to the fore mentioned products by the same vendor.

    Also for those whom bring up the subject of codes and hardware support.
    1. How many people have plugged a wireless adaptor into a XP box and it’s worked without the need to install software/drivers? O.k so non.

    2. I may be wrong here as it’s been a long time. But if you put a DVD in a ckean XP install doe’s it work?

  60. Blue Glue said,

    March 1, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    I agree in part with 1-7 although I believe that there is another factor and that is ‘Timing’. This was what has me now using Ubuntu, I have been playing with Linux for about 9 years and have toyed with most distros. I use the term ‘toyed’ as back when i first started out trying Linux you couldn’t get much done and it was not a desktop replacement by a long chalk. I have also owned Macs and yes they do have alot of the good of Linux but they also have alot of the bad of MS Windows such as vendor lock in and the intergration of ways to extract more cash from you contained within the system. Ubuntu come to the forefront about the time people like me started getting WGA messages on their system after trying a beta of Vista (which I hated). So I googled up Linux lots of hits on Ubuntu (I hadn’t used Linux for awhile) so thats where I started and havent looked back). I’m sure I am not the only one!

    I am not a MS hater, I believe they are at this point in time the world leader in the manufacture and distribution of both the best game console on the planet and some excellent optical mice both of which i own and am happy with. Windows is not by comparison a fraction of what is should be by comparison to the fore mentioned products by the same vendor.

    Also for those whom bring up the subject of codes and hardware support.
    1. How many people have plugged a wireless adaptor into a XP box and it’s worked without the need to install software/drivers? O.k so non.

    2. I may be wrong here as it’s been a long time. But if you put a DVD in a clean XP install doe’s it work?

    Sorry for the spelling mistakes and bad grammar I’m English.

  61. Anil Garg said,

    April 7, 2008 at 5:04 am

    At work we use Suse. At home I use UBUNTU. A simple text based server installation will make you go through 5 CD’s (vs 1 for UBUNTU).

    UBUNTU rocks on howto’s and its friendly community. In a world where million choices exist, customer experience is everything (be it convenience of installation or interaction with forums and people on the forums.

    I am now thinking to actively advocate UBUNTU at work as soon as I collect some evidence that its as enterprise ready as SUSE.


  62. stewfan said,

    April 7, 2008 at 9:51 pm


    would say:

    At first: better hardware support than Debian ,I use old hardware and not a hacker so that’s why.

    Then: community support, there’s always, I mean always a Ubuntu forum answering my needs. Just google ” Ubuntu issue”. No need for “linux issue”.

    Third: Gives the background for becoming a Debian-user, one day, hopefully.

    Then : aptitude still ever powerfullness, I line of code to install a full Desktop(or server or whatever) system- my box’s still to slow to use those resource-hungry click click packaghe manager GUI or other.

    Then : all the reasons you mentionned.


  63. brad said,

    July 3, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Hello – First things first. This is one of the nicest blog designs I have ever come across. My compliments to the Chef.
    About Ubuntu: How can it not succeed? – It’s Debian!

  64. TusharG said,

    September 17, 2008 at 3:11 am

    Here are my reasons why moved from Fedora to Ubuntu.
    Like you said synaptic was very impressive for me to work with. Dealing with 100+ users with their yum nightmare was not easy, Ubuntu gave me a fresh breath with synaptic. Layman user also started installing packages.

  65. Balaji said,

    November 15, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    I have Ubuntu on my laptop and I like using Linux. There is however one problem that I think that Linux really needs to fix before it can ever think of become mainstream usage OS. You cannot afford to have a newer version of your OS not run certain softwares. Period. Take Vista for example. The main reason many Windows users are not as satisfied with Vista is that softwares that ran perfectly on Windows xp do not run on Vista anymore.

    Ubuntu comes with exactly the same problem and you cannot afford to have that problem at all. No software can afford to be broken in any version of Linux if it is officially being distributed. It MUST be tested well and all functionalities MUST work fine. I simply don’t understand why somethings just don’t work in Linux. Take for instance, video recording or say, a good media center platform. They are ALL broken in some or the other way. Make-shift isn’t good enough. It has to be PERFECT. There can be NO EXCUSE for not working. It is just so frustrating when some software does not work fine.

    Even seasoned Linux users like me are contemplating going back to Windows xp, where at least my useful software works. I want to get all my functionality. Period. I don’t care about whether the software has its source code open or closed. It doesn’t matter to me. I really like Linux and have always been a UNIX fan. But I’m sorry – Linux, you always fail me on at least one ground. I always have to explain to my friends why some functionality won’t work in Linux. Why some program is broken and why it cannot be fixed right now – because some ***hole wrote bad software and shipped it. What people think is that I have a virus (broken software) on my machine. An infected machine is also similar to a Linux machine with broken software functionalities.

    Ubuntu may have made strides in this direction. But…. Not good enough! I want PERFECTION. The word has a meaning. It must NEVER need any software tweaking. The default MUST be so EASY to use that no one can complain a bit about it. THAT is stability. Only then can Linux even imagine trying to take on other OS vendors. I’m not a Windows fan – in fact, I hate Microsoft’s susceptibility to viruses. But I love it when software just works. I don’t want to spend time trying to figure out why something is not working or reading some useless documentation or some stupid forum. I don’t have time for it. I’m a student – not a businessman. But that is the very same attitude you will find from businessmen.

    I do agree that many things work just fine in Ubuntu. But not everything. EVERYTHING is the keyword. You CANNOT afford to have even a fraction of a software not working fine. EVERYTHING MUST work.

  66. Antton said,

    December 17, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Hey. As a finn i used first time Linux distro in 1999, Red Hat version xxx(can’t remember it). But experience in those days were not very good. Installation hard from easy. Applications hard any (Open Office march started year later). OKay KDE desktop looked fine – and that’s it. So it takes some 8 years when i finally decided to check Linux-world next time. But i haven’t ever done it if my XP would have worked fine. So i think 2008 was great and final breakthrough for whole Linux family coz MS was doing really bad indeed. XP was awfull and Vista sucks.

    Only MINUS of my Ubuntu Hardy Heron is that i can’t still update my navigator (Tom Tom). And when people heard about things like that they don’t very eagerly choose Ubuntu or any Linux. But if scanners, navigators and all the other devices worked and you can updated them – then it’s gonna be real march to victory. To normal internet using – Linux has been surely the best already many years.

  67. tasos said,

    February 4, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    My first experience as a live cd with ubuntu was 4 years ago with ubuntu 5.04. I hated it! I was a Mandrake user, but in my computer were several distros (all, but not Red Hat) and after a couple years I installed ubuntu 6.06. I liked it, but still wasn’t my main OS. All these untill 2007 when I had adsl at home and found the greatness of apt. I had answers for all questions from ubuntu huge community. Ubuntu was getting better and better and suse, mandriva and fedora couldn’t reach it. Several usefull tools made ubuntu really popular in windows users, who want everything with one click! In the beggining I hated that, but my lack of time made me use ubuntu as my primary OS and the other distros just to play with.
    Nowadays Ubuntu is not the best distro as many linux users say, but the most popular, because all the others big distros (opensuse,mandriva,fedora,debian AND Slackware) are friendly and have made many steps front (finally).

    sorry for my bad english!

  68. Websheep said,

    February 15, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Why I use Ubuntu on my laptop.

    1. Free CD
    2. Installs faster
    3. Detects all my hardware
    4. Works. Faster.
    5. Better security & stability.
    6. Community support.

    I still have XP on my desktop for Adobe software and games, but I use my laptop mostly & RDP into my desktop when I need to.

  69. Joe said,

    July 8, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Comment 17, John, isn’t right about Linux. Linux already has 80% of all servers, a lot of supercomputers, and more that 1.2% of desktop computers. So, in a couple of years, lets see how many people are going to use Linux, let alone Ubuntu. Ubuntu rocks.

  70. juzzlin said,

    December 15, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    I use Ubuntu because it’s based on Debian and the community support is awesome. And today Ubuntu is more or less de facto. Canonical did the marketing right.

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