Sunday, March 15, 2009

History of Free Software

The history of Free Software can be traced back to 1980's. In the beginning stages of computer industry software were given to users for studying, modifying and redistributing. There was no discrimination among the users and there was no commercial interests in software development.

But later situation changed. Computer gain popularity not only in the industry but also among the common people. This made some minds to think about the commercial aspect of software. They made software and given to computer users for an amount and told the users that they are given license only to use the software and the users won't get the source code of the application or he is not permitted to copy or redistribute the software he bought. This type of software were called Proprietary Software.

Dr. Richard Mathew Stallman (RMS) was a scientist in the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT Lab. He was totally frustrated by the change of the attitude of the world towards Software. In 1984 he resigned his job and started the GNU project. The term GNU mean GNU is not Unix which is a recursive acronym. The project aims to build a complete Free Operating System. In 1985 he established Free Software Foundation. But the project lacked a kernel which is the heart of a operating system.

In 1991 a student named Linus Torvolds developed a kernel which he named Linux. The GNU/Linux distribution is made by combining GNU tools and the Linux Kernel. Most of the distributions now available are GNU/Linux distributions. Some of the examples are Debian GNU/Linux, Ututo, gNewSense, Ubuntu etc.

What is Ubuntu?

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 customize and alter their software in whatever way they see fit.
  • Ubuntu will always be free of charge, and there is no extra fee for the “enterprise edition”, we make our very best work available to everyone on the same Free terms.

  • Ubuntu 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.

  • Ubuntu is shipped in stable and regular release cycles; a new release will be shipped every six months. You can use the current stable release or the current development release. A release will be supported for 18 months.

  • Ubuntu is entirely committed to the principles of open source software development; we encourage people to use open source software, improve it and pass it on.

Ubuntu is suitable for both desktop and server use. The current Ubuntu release supports Intel x86 (IBM-compatible PC), AMD64 (Hammer) and PowerPC (Apple iBook and Powerbook, G4 and G5) architectures.

Ubuntu includes more than 1000 pieces of software, starting with the Linux kernel version 2.6 and Gnome 2.16, and covering every standard desktop application from word processing and spreadsheet applications to internet access applications, web server software, email software, programming languages and tools and of course several games.

Meeting Minimum Hardware Requirements

A Pentium 100 is the minimum recommended for desktop systems, and a Pentium II-300 for a Server.

Table 3.2. Recommended Minimum System Requirements

Install Type RAM Hard Drive
No desktop 32 megabytes 400 megabytes
With Desktop 128 megabytes 2 gigabytes
Server 128 megabytes 4 gigabytes

Here is a sampling of some common Ubuntu system configurations. You can also get an idea of the disk space used by related groups of programs by referring to the section called “Disk Space Needed”.

Standard Server

This is a small server profile, useful for a stripped down server which does not have a lot of niceties for shell users. It includes an FTP server, a web server, DNS, NIS, and POP. For these 100MB of disk space would suffice, and then you would need to add space for any data you serve up.


A standard desktop box, including the X window system, full desktop environments, sound, editors, etc. You'll need about 2GB using the standard desktop task, though it can be done in far less.

Work Console

A more stripped-down user machine, without the X window system or X applications. Possibly suitable for a laptop or mobile computer. The size is around 140MB.


A desktop setup with all the development packages, such as Perl, C, C++, etc. Size is around 475MB. Assuming you are adding X11 and some additional packages for other uses, you should plan around 800MB for this type of machine.

Remember that these sizes don't include all the other materials which are usually to be found, such as user files, mail, and data. It is always best to be generous when considering the space for your own files and data. Notably, the /var partition contains a lot of state information specific to Ubuntu in addition to its regular contents like logfiles. The dpkg files (with information on all installed packages) can easily consume 20MB. Also, apt-get puts downloaded packages here before they are installed. You should usually allocate at least 100MB for /var.

Official Ubuntu CD-ROMs

The easiest way to get ubuntu is to download the images grom their mirrors or you can request a cd it will take atleast a time delay of two weeks.If your machine doesn't support CD booting, but you do have a CD, you can use an alternative strategy such as hard disk, usb stick, net boot, or manually loading the kernel from the CD to initially boot the system installer. The files you need for booting by another means are also on the CD; the Ubuntu network archive and CD folder organization are identical. So when archive file paths are given below for particular files you need for booting, look for those files in the same directories and subdirectories on your CD.Once the installer is booted, it will be able to obtain all the other files it needs from the CD.

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