Ubuntu Linux, a new community-driven Linux distribution based on Debian, was released last week. Ubuntu is an African term meaning "humanity to others".

Development of Ubuntu is being driven Canonical which was founded and is being funded by South Africa's Mark Shuttleworth. Canonical includes many of the world's best known and talented Linux, Gnome and Python developers. The core team selected by Shuttleworth, which include the likes of Benjamin Mako Hill and Jeff Waugh, will drive the development of the new distribution and maintain a regular six-monthly release cycle.

Ubuntu 4.10 Preview is now available through the Ubuntu Linux website. Or users can register to receive a CD-based copy.

The Debian-based Ubuntu Linux includes Gnome 2.8, kernel, 1.1.2 and comes with a text-based, but easy, installation procedure. Ubuntu has disabled the root user preferring to use sudo much like Mac OSX does.

In an interview with OSNews, Ubuntu Linux team member Jeff Waugh said "Canonical has 34 employees around the world, covering almost every timezone. We work just like an open source project internally".

"The project was started by Mark Shuttleworth. Working with the Open Source community is a natural extension of his existing educational and technology philanthropy ... and Ubuntu is a massive contribution on top of that!" said Waugh.

Waugh said in the same interview that "at its core, Ubuntu is Debian. Our six-monthly releases are based on Debian's Sid development branch, with lots of bugfixing and integration work (which goes back to Debian), and some special additions such as the very latest GNOME releases. Ubuntu 4.10, which we call the "Warty Warthog" shipped GNOME 2.8 in our Preview release last night. We provide 18 months of high-impact, dataloss and security support with every release."

According to the development team, "Ubuntu is a complete desktop Linux operating system, freely available with both community and professional support. The Ubuntu community is built on the ideas enshrined in the Ubuntu Manifesto: that software should be available free of charge, that software tools should be usable by people in their local language and despite any disabilities, and that people should have the freedom to customise and alter their software in whatever way they see fit."

With this in mind Ubuntu also includes the very best in translations and accessibility infrastructure that the Free Software community has to offer, to make Ubuntu usable by as many people as possible, says the team.

Ubuntu comes on a single CD, with thousands of extra packages available online. The install is optimised for speed and simplicity. Ubuntu has excellent support for laptops (both x86 based and Powerbook/iBook PPC based), and can also be set up in a minimalist server configuration.

Ubuntu Linux includes:
Firefox 0.9
Evolution 2.0 1.1.2

XFree86 4.3 with improved hardware support - The team says the included XFree86 packages have been updated to support plenty of new hardware. "We also have worked hard to detect as much hardware as possible, simplifying the X install considerably. We plan to ship with our next release, due in April 2005."