If there is any one word that could sum up Ubuntu, it would be Community. Even the definition of the word “Ubuntu” makes reference to community, and how the betterment of the individual and community are interconnected. Nearly everyone I’ve met through Ubuntu in the last five years cites the community as the single major reason for their use. In many aspects, Ubuntu is technically equal to its competitors, but nowhere else will you find the same level of community support. Nowhere else will you find the same level of friendship and positive atmosphere.
Over the last five years I have tested many alternate Linux distributions and I have yet to find any other community that is as accepting, or that goes out of their way to invite you into the group. The Ubuntu community has so many people actively engaged in trying to provide a positive environment, it is truly amazing. If you find yourself at an Ubuntu event, don’t be surprised if you actually see hugs! And watch out, it is contagious!
The source of this positive community atmosphere is the guidance of the Ubuntu Code of Conduct. From the beginning, Ubuntu has had a Code of Conduct, and active contributing community members are expected to understand and sign the document. By outlining in clear terms what is expected of a community member, and keeping it forefront in members minds, Ubuntu is able to foster an atmosphere of mutual respect. This one simple document is what sets Ubuntu apart from every other online community. Sure you can find a community of contributors to any project, but nowhere else will you find the same respect and welcoming atmosphere that you’ll find in Ubuntu.
Ubuntu introduced a level of simplicity to the Linux environment that hasn’t been seen before. What has historically been a hobbyist operating system has been tuned and refined to the point that truly anyone can install and use it. Before Ubuntu, a user would need to be familiar with partitioning and package selections (at minimum!) in order to install a machine. With Ubuntu a machine can be installed with a very sane set of default tools without any technical decision making from the user. With tools such as Wubi, now included on Ubuntu installation disks, a user is able to install Ubuntu alongside an existing Windows installation and have the two peacefully coexist. Giving the user the ability to try-before-you-buy, and leave current installations and data intact have also drastically improved the userbase and adoption rate.
Ubuntu was also the first to promote a single CD installation. Where most other Linux distributions were offering DVD based installations, Ubuntu packaged a core selection onto a single CD and offered those for download. They even offered to send free CDs through the mail to anyone that requested them! It doesn’t get much simpler than than!
The truly amazing thing about this simplicity is that, despite being limited to a single 700MB CD, Ubuntu comes with a plethora of software. The base installation provides a comprehensive desktop environment, including a full office suite, web browser, mail client, audio and video tools and more! This emphasis on delivering a highly refined, usable environment from the start is a very important aspect of Ubuntu.