Ubuntu (pronounced /uːˈbuːntuː/ oo-BOON-too), is a computer operating system based on the Debian Linux distribution. It is named after the South African ethical ideology Ubuntu (“humanity towards others”) and is distributed as free and open source software. Ubuntu provides an up-to-date, stable operating system for the average user, with a strong focus on usability and ease-of-installation. Ubuntu has been selected by readers of desktoplinux.com as the most popular Linux distribution for the desktop, claiming approximately 30% of Linux desktop installations in both 2006 and 2007.
Ubuntu is composed of multiple software packages of which the vast majority is distributed under a free software license (also known as open source). The main license used is the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) which, along with the GNU Lesser General Public License (GNU LGPL), explicitly declare that users are free to run, copy, distribute, study, change, develop and improve the software.
Ubuntu is sponsored by the UK based company Canonical Ltd., owned by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth. By keeping Ubuntu free and open source, Canonical is able to utilize the talents of community developers in Ubuntu’s constituent components. (Instead of selling Ubuntu for profit, Canonical creates revenue by selling technical support and from creating several services tied to Ubuntu.)
Canonical endorses and provides support for three additional Ubuntu-derived operating systems: Kubuntu, Edubuntu and Ubuntu Server Edition. There are several other derivative operating systems including local language and hardware-specific versions.