In just the few years that Ubuntu Linux has been around it has become one of the most popular Linux versions available, ahead of others such as Red Hat, Suse and Mandriva.
And not only is Ubuntu a popular distribution in its own right but it has spawned a new generation of Linux versions that use its underlying code to build versions for particular interest groups. Apart from the official Ubuntu derivatives such as Xubuntu, Kubuntu and Edubuntu, there are tens of other distributions built around the Ubuntu community;
Mythbuntu is a customised version of Ubuntu Linux which uses MythTV to set up a home theatre PC system. Similar in intention to KnoppMyth and Mythdora, Mythbuntu can be used to manage and store multimedia files on a central home server. Mythbuntu can also be used, with the correct hardware, to act as a central PVR and record and manage television programmes. Mythbuntu is a "contributed" Ubuntu distribution which means it enjoys a close relationship with the Ubuntu development team. New releases of Mythbuntu are made every six months and typically follow two weeks behind major Ubuntu releases.
Ubuntu Studio is a larger-than-average release as it is a version of Ubuntu customised for multimedia production. The kernel included with Ubuntu Studio is configured for intense audio, video and graphics work and the entire system is configured to reduce latency. The default install – which is a hefty 1.1GB in size – includes a selection of most of the best open source graphics, video and audio applications. Like Mythbuntu, Ubuntu Studio is a "contributed" Ubuntu release so benefits from a close relationship with the core Ubuntu developers.
Linux Mint is very closely based on Ubuntu but has a number of customisations aimed at making it as easy to use as possible. Most noticeably, the user interface on Mint is significantly different to that on Ubuntu default installs, with the intention of appealing to users that don’t enjoy the brown Ubuntu default. Mint also prides itself on full functionality out of the box. So the development team focuses on typically problematic areas such as wireless drivers, multimedia formats and screen resolution issues. Mint also includes a set of Mint tools which are aimed at making it easier to manage system settings.
gNewSense is a version of Ubuntu built for users that want only free software. Backed by the Free Software Foundation, gNewSense removes all the non-free software – software not licensed under a proper free software licence – but still tries to be as user-friendly as possible. gNewSense is extremely strict about its commitment to free software and doesn’t even include documentation on installing non-free software. gNewSense has removed more that 100 pieces of non-free software from Ubuntu, including the likes of some wireless drivers, which means that gNewSense does not support all types of hardware.
Built specifically for the Asus EEE netbooks, Easy Peasy was originally called Ubuntu EEE. But, after discussions with the Ubuntu team, the operating system was renamed Easy Peasy to avoid trademark problems. Easy Peasy uses the Netbook Remix interface from Ubuntu to cater for the smaller screen sizes of the EEE and includes software that Ubuntu doesn’t include by default, such as Skype. The default Easy Peasy install supports the full range of Asus EEE machines. Easy Peasy can also be installed from a USB stick.