Ubuntu derivatives flourish

Ubuntu 10.04, aka Lucid Lynx, has now been released and work has already started on version 10.10, its successor. But, if Ubuntu 10.04 isn’t your ideal operating system then it’s worth taking a look at some of Ubuntu’s derivative versions. Chances are that one those will suit your needs.

Ubuntu is a derivative of Debian Linux. But, as it has grown, Ubuntu has now become a source for other derivatives, some of them focused on education, some on multimedia and others on ease-of-use. Here are some of the most popular and best Ubuntu variations.


Kubuntu is the KDE version of Ubuntu. Released concurrently with Ubuntu, Kubuntu uses the KDE desktop in place of the Gnome interface.

Kubuntu is not just Ubuntu with a KDE desktop. It is much more than that and includes its own filemanager, has its own web browser and even includes its own package management system.

KDE has an entirely different look to the Ubuntu release and includes features such as Plasma for displaying desktop widgets. KDE and Gnome fans rarely see eye-to-eye so if Gnome’s interface leaves you cold, KDE might well be the answer.

Because KDE and Gnome mostly use different base libraries for building their interface, running Gnome applications on KDE is usually awkward as they are not graphically integrated. With the most recent release (10.04) a lot of work has been done to improve the integration of Gnome applications in the Kubuntu desktop.

Mint Linux

Mint Linux is a derivative of Ubuntu aimed at users looking for an easy to use version of Linux. Although heavily based on the standard Ubuntu release, Mint adds in a set of its own tools and configurations to make it simple for users to get up and running.

These changes include support for proprietary multimedia codecs. Ubuntu doesn’t ship support for non-free multimedia format by default. These can be added in by users at a later stage but Mint Linux does this by default, making it easier for users to get working without wasting time.

Mint also includes additional tools such as its own file uploader for managing remote copy.


While there are many users that appreciate Mint Linux’s default support for non-free multimedia codecs, there are also those that prefer not to use any proprietary code. gNewSense is a version of Ubuntu Linux which strips out all proprietary code from the release before making it available.

gNewSense is endorsed by the Free Software Foundation and is aimed at users vehemently opposed to any form of proprietary software.

Where possible gNewSense replaces the removed code with free alternatives.
Ubuntu doesn’t ship a great deal of proprietary software so gNewSense is not radically different to the original release.

Ubuntu Studio

The standard Ubuntu release is a general purpose desktop operating system and includes only a limited set of multimedia applications. Ubuntu Studio aims to improve that by giving creative users a full set of open source multimedia tools.

Ubuntu Studio includes applications such as The Gimp, Blender, Kino and Inkscape. The standard Ubuntu release includes none of these applications, although they can also be installed at a later stage.

Because Ubuntu Studio includes all the major creative applications in the installer the release ships only as a DVD image, so downloading a copy can use up a fair amount of bandwidth.


Another multimedia version of Ubuntu is Mythbuntu, a release designed to power a PVR (personal video recorder). Using the MythTV system, Mythbuntu makes it possible to turn an old PC into a home media centre. Mythbuntu can record, store and replay television and video content.

Mythbuntu uses the lightweight XFCE desktop and has a customised Control Centre built into it. Most of the standard Ubuntu applications such as office tools, email clients and the Gnome desktop are removed from the release because Mythbuntu is only intended to be used as a media centre.

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Ubuntu derivatives flourish