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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Ubuntu Subprojects, Derivatives, and Spin offs

Finally, no introduction of Ubuntu is complete without an introduction to a growing list of Ubuntu subprojects and derivatives. While Ubuntu was derived from Debian, the project has, over the last two years, already developed a number of derivatives of its own.

First and foremost among these is Kubuntu—a version of Ubuntu that uses KDE instead of GNOME as the default desktop environment. Kubuntu is described in depth in its own chapter (Chapter 7, Using Kubuntu), and so will not be explored in any serious depth here. However, it is important to realize that the relationship between Kubuntu and Ubuntu is different than the relationship between Ubuntu and Debian. From a technical perspective, Kubuntu is fully within the Ubuntu distribution. Organizationally, the Kubuntu team works fully within Ubuntu as well.

A similar organization exists with the Edubuntu project, which aims to help develop Ubuntu so that a configuration of the distribution can be easily and effectively put into use in schools. That project has a dual focus on both educational and school-related software and on a Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP) setup that allows schools to run many students' computers using one or more powerful servers and many "dumb" terminals that connect to the server and run software off it. This relatively simple technical trick translates into huge cost savings in educational settings.

However, while both Kubuntu and Edubuntu work closely and within the larger Ubuntu project and both are partially funded by Canonical, there are many other derivatives which have begun to appear that do not fit this model. The first "outside" derivative was Guadalinex, a distribution created and maintained by the government of Andalusia in Spain. Other distributions include a lightweight version of Ubuntu for use on slower computers called Xubuntu and a system called nUbuntu, or Network Ubuntu, designed for network security testing. There is work on a host of other systems both inside and outside of the project.

In a way, it is through these derivatives that the work and goals of the Ubuntu project come together and are crystallized. It is only through the free and Open Source software movements' commitment to freely accessible source code that Ubuntu could be built at all. Similarly, it is only through Ubuntu's continued commitment to these ideals that derivatives are able to spring from Ubuntu. As a derivative with a view of distributions within an ecosystem, Ubuntu does not see the process of derivation as an insult or criticism. Far from it. Ubuntu thinks derivation is the highest form of compliment.

Outside of Ubuntu, Canonical Ltd.'s work is largely based around software such as Launchpad and Bazaar that are designed to facilitate precisely this sort of derivative process. This process, when practiced right, is one that describes an ecosystem of development in which everyone benefits—the derivative, Ubuntu, and Ubuntu's upstreams. It is only through this derivative process that everyone gets what they want.

Derivation, done correctly, allows groups to diverge where necessary while working together where possible. Ultimately, it leads to more work done, more happy users, and more overall collaboration. It is through this enhanced collaboration that Ubuntu's philosophical and technical goals will be achieved. It is through this profound community involvement that Bug #1 will be closed. It is through this type of meaningful cooperation, internal and external to the project itself, that the incredible growth of Ubuntu in its first two years will be sustained into the next two and the next twenty.

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