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The Official Ubuntu Book, 4e: Ubuntu-Related Projects

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Explore the universe of other distributions that surround Ubuntu, including Xubuntu, Gobuntu, Ubuntu Studio, Launchpad, and Bazaar.
This chapter is from the book
  • Officially Supported Derivatives
  • Recognized Derivatives
  • Other Distributions
  • Launchpad
  • Bazaar
  • Summary

UBUNTU IS NOT MERELY A COMPLETE operating system; it is also the center of a growing ecosystem of distributions. Some, referred to as the partner projects, work closely with and within Ubuntu. Others prefer to work outside the project and are considered full derivatives. Often, these projects are created in order to highlight a specific selection of software or use case, such as the nUbuntu project, which focuses on security and networking tools. Others, like the gNewSense project supported by the Free Software Foundation, exist for philosophical or social reasons.

Others are created for reasons connected to the international nature of Linux and open source software. While most Ubuntu development happens in English, there are large developer and user communities in other languages and countries. Thus, a derived distribution might spring up to satisfy that need. There are derived distributions targeted at Christians, Muslims, people with slow computers, and people who prefer to have an Ubuntu system optimized for any of several alternative user interfaces or for use in several different schools and government bureaucracies around the world. Should you use any of these over Ubuntu? We can’t answer that question for you. Some of these projects are fully within and, as a result, not mutually exclusive from Ubuntu. Others might be more appropriate depending on your preferences or circumstances. You can mix, match, and sample these distributions until you find one that works great for you. As we mentioned in Chapter 1, Ubuntu sees these derivatives as a sign of a healthy and vibrant community. One of the goals of the project is to make it easier for this type of distribution to appear. We can all expect to see more of them in the future.

Officially Supported Derivatives

Officially supported derivatives, formerly called Partner projects, are those projects that work in close relation with Ubuntu. They share a common repository of packages and release in sync with Ubuntu. These derivatives are officially supported by Canonical in both development and security.


Kubuntu is the first and oldest of all the partner projects. First released alongside Ubuntu 5.04 (Hoary Hedgehog), Kubuntu, which means “toward humanity” in Bemba, builds on the strengths of the K Desktop Environment (KDE) rather than GNOME as Ubuntu does. The project is led by Jonathan Riddell, who now works for Canonical, Ltd.

As with Ubuntu, Kubuntu is a complete desktop, but one built around KDE and Qt. Rather than Ubuntu’s brown theme, Kubuntu opts for a more traditional blue and makes only a few other visual changes. Rather than the two panels and three menus of Ubuntu with GNOME, Kubuntu uses two menus and a single lower panel, closer in style to that of Microsoft Windows.

Kubuntu also comes with OpenOffice.org, the same office suite included in Ubuntu. Along with this office suite, Kubuntu also includes Krita, a photo manipulation tool, the K3b CD Kreator tool, and the media player Amarok, all parts of KDE. Kubuntu is explored in much more depth in Chapter 8 and so is not given a full treatment here.


As the name implies, Edubuntu is a version of Ubuntu for use in schools and other educational environments. Edubuntu uses the thin client technology of the Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP) as well as a number of programs aimed at the educational market, such as GCompris and the KDE Education suite. Oliver Grawert, a Canonical, Ltd. employee, leads the Edubuntu development. Like Ubuntu, Edubuntu uses the GNOME desktop environment. One of Edubuntu’s unique features is the inclusion of the LTSP in an easy-to-use, out-of-the-box installer. LTSP uses a different method of deploying clients over a network than is used in traditional computer deployments. Instead of full-powered computers, LTSP uses thin clients, less capable, cheaper computers that connect to a larger server and have it do all the processing work.

Edubuntu has grown rapidly over the last two years. As a result, we’ve included a full chapter on the subject at the expense of a longer section here. Worth noting perhaps is the fact that rather than simply a different distribution, Edubuntu is now distributed as an add-on to a standard Ubuntu install. To learn much more about this and about the project, take a look at the in-depth overview in Chapter 9.

Ubuntu Server Edition

Ubuntu Server Edition was created with the aim of making Ubuntu easy to install and use on servers. The Server Edition was officially launched with Ubuntu 5.04 and initially focused on making certain that the highest quality server applications were available, including MySQL, Apache, and others.

The most recent work has been the creation of Ubuntu Je0S, or Just-enough-Operating-System, designed for virtual environments, and a specialized version of Ubuntu for Amazon’s EC2.

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