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This chapter is from the book

Other Distributions

Some distributions generally work outside of the Ubuntu community and usually have their own package repositories. They may not release at the same time as Ubuntu. In the past, several of these derived distributions have been built directly upon other distributions, such as Debian, which is also the base for Ubuntu. The changes that Ubuntu developers make in the process of creating the distribution have been seen as positive and useful as a foundation for others with custom needs or desires. The list of derivative distributions has grown rapidly, and as distributions come and go, the list is constantly in flux. While in the first edition of this book, our list was nearly comprehensive, the size of the derivative distribution community has grown so much that compiling a complete list for this book is no longer possible. Instead, we provide a bit of the flavor of the diversity of derived distributions with some examples of the oldest and most visible derived distributions to give you an idea of the scope of the community.


Guadalinex is the GNU/Linux distribution developed and promoted by the regional government of Andalusia, the most populated autonomous community in Spain with almost 8 million inhabitants. It is currently one of the largest free software implementations worldwide, with more than 200,000 desktops—and increasing. The project is a consequence of the unanimous support of the Andalusian Parliament on the Information Society and Innovation policies approved in 2002 and 2003, urging all the regional institutions to promote and use free software and open licenses. This makes the Guadalinex initiative unique in the world.

Guadalinex was initially released in 2003, and the first two versions were based on Debian. In 2005 the Guadalinex project decided to develop the third version deriving from Ubuntu. Guadalinex version 3 was released in January 2006 based on Ubuntu 5.10 (Breezy Badger), making it the first major Ubuntu derivative. The project is part of a government plan to implement free software as the default option in the public schools. At the beginning of 2006, this project involved 500 schools and approximately 200,000 desktops equipped with Guadalinex and free software only. These numbers increase every year as new courses start every September and new computers are purchased (about 40,000 in 2006). This initiative alone puts Guadalinex in the top position as the biggest free software implementation worldwide. Additionally, the software is used in public Internet access centers, senior centers, libraries, and women's associations, as well as citizens' homes. Guadalinex is merely one example of many Ubuntu derivatives created by or in cooperation with governments for use in schools and bureaucracies. It is now only one among many massive deployments of Ubuntu in these settings.


While Ubuntu has a strong commitment to free and open source software and software freedom, it makes several compromises for binary-only firmware and drivers whose exclusion renders hardware inoperable. These drivers and firmware are placed in the restricted repository. The multiverse and commercial repositories, while not officially supported, reside in the Ubuntu archive and contain software that does not live up to Ubuntu's standards of software freedom. It is for this reason that the gNewSense project, spearheaded by Irish Ubuntu community members, was launched.

gNewSense is a pun on the word nuisance—Richard Stallman, the father of the free software movement and the GNU project, is often jokingly referred to as "chief gnuisance"—but also tries to evoke images of "new sense" that comes from a commitment to software freedom. As a result, the project is primarily reductive.

Linux Mint

Because Ubuntu is dedicated to using free software by default as much as possible, it does not come with proprietary media codecs installed. That was the reason Linux Mint was originally created. Over time, it has developed a community that focuses on creating an easy-to-use-and-install Linux desktop that is nice to look at with a focus on making things as simple and enjoyable as possible, especially for newcomers. The distribution is completely compatible with and uses the Ubuntu software repositories. The main differences are in the look and feel as well as choices for software installed by default.


Lubuntu is a new derivative that strives to provide an even lighter and faster desktop by using the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment (LXDE), by default, in place of GNOME, KDE, or Xfce. It is in active development and seeks to become an official variant. While LXDE can be built on many current Linux distributions, it is the native environment of Lubuntu alone. LXDE is still in active development and has not yet produced its first official stable release, making this a true cutting-edge project.

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