Interesting facts about Ubuntu Linux

Since the first release nine years ago today, Ubuntu Linux has been powering millions of PCs around the world. Love it or hate it, the Ubuntu project has made a great stride for the overall betterment of Linux, and no one can deny that. As its founder Mark Shuttleworth once put it, Ubuntu is all about total commitment to everyday users, making things "just work" for them.

Celebrating its 9th birthday today, I am going to share interesting facts and history behind Ubuntu Linux.

1. "Ubuntu" is an ancient African word translated to "humanity towards others", which aptly describes the open source community spirit behind Ubuntu project.

2. The Ubuntu symbol in the official logo is called "Circle of Friends", and represents: freedom, collaboration, precision and reliability.

3. The version number of a particular Ubuntu release is actually the release year and month. So for example, the very first Ubuntu release is 4.10 because it was released in October, 2004. The recent Ubuntu 13.10 was released in October, 2013. A new release of Ubuntu becomes available every six months, and every fourth release becomes a long-term-support (LTS) version.

4. The code names of Ubuntu releases come from a combination of an adjective and an animal with the same first letter (e.g., "Saucy Salamander"). Code names are chosen in an alphabetical order, so you can tell which release is newer from code names.

5. Canonical Ltd, the commercial company behind Ubuntu, is famously known as a "virtual company" with no national and geographic boundaries. According to its official source, Canonical has over 600 employees in nearly 200 cities across 30 countries, while the company has offices only at six locations (London, Boston, Montreal, Shanghai, São Paulo, Taipei). Most of the employees are working remotely, communicating via IRC, email or Launchpad.

6. According to W3Techs, Ubuntu is used by 8.2% of all the websites whose operating systems are known. Ubuntu is powering 26% of the websites run by Linux server.

7. As of Ubuntu 13.04 Raring, the total number of Ubuntu packages is over 37,500, and total package size is over 45 GB.

8. Ubuntu One, which was personal cloud storage integrated with Ubuntu, but not has been deprecated, ran on Amazon S3.

9. Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of the Ubuntu Project, is the second self-funded space tourist in the world. The ticket to his space trip in 2002 was $20 million dollars.

10. In the UK where Canonical is headquartered, the word "Ubuntu" was trademarked in connection with a list of goods (stationery, clothing, luggage, etc.). Around the same time, Canonical opened an online shop selling various Ubuntu-branded merchandise.

11. According to DistroWatch, a total of 131 Linux distributions are based on Ubuntu, of which 77 are currently active.

12. According to, Ubuntu Linux is ranked first on Amazon EC2 in terms of the number of EC2 images created by users; 54% of created EC2 images are Ubuntu images.

13. The largest desktop migration to Ubuntu is the upgrade of 85,000 desktop PCs from Microsoft operating system to Ubuntu by La Gendarmerie Nationale's IT team, under the French police force.

14. According to Ubuntu popularity contest, dpkg package is ranked first in terms of the number of people who use the package regularly, and ncurses-base package is number one in terms of the number of people who installed the package.

15. The best selling Ubuntu app of July 2013 was filebot, which is TV/movie renamer and subtitle downloader software. It sold 48 copies during the month.

16. Since late 2008, the Wikipedia infrastructure has been powered by LAMP stack running on Ubuntu servers.

17. Ubuntu Font Family, which is used in the official Ubuntu wordmark, is the 8th most popular font used in the Google Web Font directory.

18. Google's self driving car is powered by a stripped version of Ubuntu.

19. Google is known to be a customer of Ubuntu Advantage, Ubuntu's enterprise services, in managing their Goobuntu desktops, a modified LTS version of Ubuntu.

If you know any interesting fact about Ubuntu, feel free to chime in.

Happy 9th Birthday, Ubuntu!

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Dan Nanni is the founder and also a regular contributor of He is a Linux/FOSS enthusiast who loves to get his hands dirty with his Linux box. He likes to procrastinate when he is supposed to be busy and productive. When he is otherwise free, he likes to watch movies and shop for the coolest gadgets.

21 thoughts on “Interesting facts about Ubuntu Linux

    • debian needs configuration? didn't notice that yet ... switched from arch to debian, feels about the same just with a working installer :D

      • While Debian does not require much user configuration all opportunities still exist for those inclined to do so. A lot of the Arch configuration documentation works fine with Debian, or any other Linux distribution for that matter. The difference is most distributions give users sane defaults, Arch doesn't.

  1. Happy birthday Ubuntu! Awesome name, great distro and I'm sure you have made Linux accessible to so many who otherwise wouldn't have migrated. Nice work!

  2. "Ubuntu" contains three "U"s and no other vowels, so it is all about "You". It is not unusual for usurious operating systems to add in other vowels.

  3. I'll give them copious credit for the first 5 years of their existence, but I refuse to applaud the last four years, in which the concept of Ubuntu (humanity towards others) was swept aside for commercial monetization concerns. The way Canonical handled that transition (from mostly community oriented towards hardball for profit, corporately lead) is highly dissapointing.

    • The rise in popularity of distros like Linux Mint are directly attributable to recent improvements made in Ubuntu. So while Ubuntu may be losing some of its fan base, other distros based on Ubuntu are seeing an increase in loyal end users. In that regard, they have improved the quality of many other distros.

      But r_a_trip is correct. One of the main "selling" points in switching to Linux is to get away from the huge money-grubbing corporate mentality. When you take profit out of the equation, all you are left with is a drive for excellence.

      • Which is what makes Linux a pleasure to use. Indeed, Linux is so easy, I've lost all sympathy for the masses who keep throwing good money after bad (how many weeks pass before Windows users must pay someone to salvage their systems, again?).

        BTW, for all the naysaying about Ubuntu, it's still leap years ahead of the 2 (mis)leading proprietary OSs. For that reason alone, I'm happy to cut Canonical plenty of slack.

    • I'd agree. The first 5 years Ubuntu was a fun, refreshing version of Linux and once they moved to their "grown up" corporate style it has lost some of its appeal.

      I understand for their move, but miss it nevertheless. If the Ubuntu Gnome version were to "return to its roots" (multi-color, fun and quirky and not taking themselves too seriously) I think I would jump back in a heartbeat!

      Ubuntu started out with a brown theme color, then moved to brown and orange before their corporate-styled purple and white logo.

    • There are several flavours of Ubuntu that do not require Unity or the commercial add-ons. On top of these are the many Ubuntu-based distros that are lighter, faster and more bare-boned, or conversely, come with a whole slew of apps, etc. making them bloat to about 2 Gig. Like an ice-cream parlour, pick the flavours you want.

  4. How about mentioning the pronunciation of Ubuntu, a South African word, which so many people mispronounce?

    Each "u" has exactly the same sound, sounding like the u in "put".

    Search YouTube for "Mandela ubuntu" to hear a sample including a discussion of its meaning.

  5. Too bad that Ubuntu distro is based on Unity user interface. It is horrible and uncustomisable, and despite the complaints of a lot of people, they don't want to change anything.

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