What Is Ubuntu? A Quick Beginner’s Guide

What Is Ubuntu? A Quick Beginner’s Guide

Windows and macOS are widely recognized as popular operating systems today. Nevertheless, Linux has been steadily growing in popularity, gaining traction not only among developers but also among average consumers.

Linux is a great choice if you want to set up a VPS or try out a free operating system. It offers various distributions, such as Fedora, Debian, and CentOS, allowing you to choose the one that suits your needs best.

Also shortened as “distros”, these are operating systems that are based on the Linux kernel and Ubuntu is one of the most popular among them. It can be installed on personal computers, Linux VPS, and physical servers.

As an open-source software, Ubuntu offers users the freedom to modify its code, create multiple copies, and distribute customizations freely without the need for a license fee.

Ubuntu is a popular free and open-source Linux-based operating system you can use on a computer or virtual private server.

Ubuntu was introduced in 2004 by a British company Canonical. It was based on Debian – a popular distro back then – which was difficult to install. As a result, Ubuntu was proposed as a more user-friendly alternative. 

As the manager of Ubuntu, Canonical is responsible for releasing a new Ubuntu version every six months. Canonical also provides hosting servers for Ubuntu Community, allowing people worldwide to contribute to testing software bugs, answer questions, and give technical support for free.

This article will discuss what Ubuntu is and several reasons why it is so popular. We will also explore the differences between Ubuntu and Linux.

Ubuntu vs Linux: What’s the Difference?

Linux is a family of operating systems based on the Linux kernel – the core of an operating system. It enables the communication between hardware and software components. 

Linux is based on Unix and built around the Linux kernel. It was released in 1991 and is available for web servers, gaming consoles, embedded systems, desktops, and personal computers. It comes in many different versions called distributions

Ubuntu is a Linux distro based on Debian. It is suitable for cloud computing, servers, desktops, and internet of things (IoT) devices. The main difference between Linux and Ubuntu is that the former is an operating system family based on Unix, while Ubuntu is a Linux distribution.

According to Ubuntu’s official website, it is the world’s most widely used Linux workstation platform. We will explain six reasons why it is so popular for both computers and private servers. 


Ubuntu uses Linux desktop environments for its interface. Since Ubuntu 17.10, GNOME is the default one. GNOME doesn’t clutter the screen with descriptions, instead using icons to facilitate navigation.

By default, GNOME features the Activities panel on the left taskbar. 

Ubunt Linux desktop screenshot

Controls are situated on the top-right corner of the screen.

Ubuntu Controls menu

A full applications overview can be viewed by clicking the grid button on the bottom-left corner of the screen.

Ubuntu full menu screenshot

System navigation is made easy because all configuration and application elements are accessible from the main screen. 

Strong Security

Ubuntu is open-source, undergoing constant checks and reviews by its community members. As a result, any security vulnerabilities can be identified and eliminated quickly. Generally, Linux distributions have fewer security flaws compared to other operating systems. 

What’s more, Ubuntu employs AppArmor, a kernel enhancement that restricts how programs behave and limits their resources. It works when you have profiles inserted into the kernel.

These consist of text files containing access rules for each application. AppArmor can mitigate the extent of security breaches since programs don’t have unlimited permissions.

In addition, there are a number of security practices Ubuntu supports, such as automatically installing security updates, using sudo instead of root Linux user, implementing complex passwords, setting up a VPN server, configuring firewall using ufw, and enabling iptables.

More Software Options

Most of the popular macOS and Windows applications such as Slack, Spotify, and Firefox are also available for Linux users and can be installed via the Ubuntu Software Center. Even if you can’t find the application you want, chances are there is a quality alternative available. For example, Libre Office works just as well as Microsoft Office. 

Ubuntu Software menu screenshot

Another option you can use aside from the Ubuntu Software Center is Snapcraft. It is an application created by Canonical that contains open-source and proprietary software packages available for Linux-based operating systems. One major advantage of Snapcraft is that it uses the snapd daemon that automatically checks and updates applications.

Enhanced Privacy

Just like any other operating system, Ubuntu has its data privacy policy. There are four fundamental principles that Ubuntu follows in terms of personal information processing:

  • Ubuntu doesn’t ask for personal data unless it truly needs such information for legal purposes.
  • Ubuntu doesn’t share its users’ personal information with anyone except to provide its customers with products and services, comply with the law, and protect its rights.
  • Ubuntu doesn’t store personal information except if it is required for the operation of services, to provide products, comply with the law, or protect its rights.

Ubuntu also collects some hardware information as well as location and usage data. However, you can always stop it from doing so. For example, location services can be disabled via the Privacy settings, as shown below.

Ubuntu Location Services menu

Lightweight Performance

Ubuntu is not resource-intensive – it operates smoothly on low-end devices. The default interface can run on less than 1 GB of RAM. What’s more, a lot of Ubuntu desktop environments are even more lightweight. For example, Lubuntu can run on systems with as little as 512 MB of RAM.

In comparison, both Windows and macOS require considerably more resources – both macOS Big Sur and Windows 11 need a minimum of 4 GB of RAM to run. This is because these operating systems have resource-heavy user interfaces (UIs) with advanced features incorporated in them. 

Free of Charge

Ubuntu is a free open-source operating system that you can download from its official website. You can also modify its source code as you see fit – as of now, there are numerous projects based on Ubuntu.

In comparison, macOS and Windows are closed-source operating systems. To use Windows, you need to buy a computer that comes with it or purchase a license which starts at $139/license. Meanwhile, macOS is not available for purchase – it comes pre-installed with Mac devices.


While there are various Linux distributions available online, the most popular among them is Ubuntu. It is a free and open-source operating system.

Here are six reasons why Ubuntu is so popular:

  • User-friendliness. – Ubuntu has a simple and intuitive interface.
  • Strong security – Ubuntu employs AppArmor and advanced security measures to prevent breaches.
  • More software options – Ubuntu has a massive number of applications you can install, many of which are available exclusively for the operating system.
  • Enhanced privacy – Ubuntu ensures a strict data privacy policy and allows users to customize privacy settings.
  • Lightweight performance – the default Ubuntu interface only uses less than 1 GB of RAM. Therefore, the operating system works on low-end devices.
  • Free of charge – Ubuntu is a free open-source Linux distribution.

We hope this article has helped you find out more about Ubuntu. If you have any ideas or questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

What Is Ubuntu? FAQ

How Does Ubuntu Differ from Windows?

Ubuntu is an open-source Linux distribution, free to use, emphasizing community support and customization. Windows, a Microsoft product, is proprietary, focusing on commercial applications and user-friendly interfaces.

Who Can Use Ubuntu?

Ubuntu is suitable for everyone, from beginners to advanced users. Its user-friendly design, extensive documentation, and active community make it accessible for personal, educational, and commercial use.

What Is the Latest Version of Ubuntu?

The latest version of Ubuntu was 23.10, named “Mantic Minotaur” and the current long-term support release is 22.04 (“Jammy Jellyfish”). Ubuntu releases new versions every six months, with LTS (Long Term Support) versions every two years.

The author

Noviantika G.

Noviantika is a web development enthusiast with customer obsession at heart. Linux commands and web hosting are like music to her ears. When she's not writing, Noviantika likes to snuggle with her cats and brew some coffee.