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Quick links to release-specific notes:
[ 8.04 Hardy ][ 8.10 Intrepid ][ 9.04 Jaunty ][ 9.10 Karmic ]
Ubuntu is a free Linux distribution, based on Debian with the Gnome desktop environment. I've made a more detailed explanation of how Ubuntu works here. Releases normally come out every half year (barring delays), are supported for 18 months (longer for "Long Term Support" (LTS) releases) and are numbered by the year and month as well as given an alliterative animal name:
4.10 "Warty Warthog" [no longer supported] (the first Ubuntu release)
5.04 "Hoary Hedgehog" [no longer supported]
5.10 "Breezy Badger" [no longer supported]
6.06 "Dapper Drake" (the first LTS release; supported for 3 years as a desktop OS)
6.10 "Edgy Eft" [no longer supported]
7.04 "Feisty Fawn" [no longer supported]
7.10 "Gutsy Gibbon" [no longer supported]
8.04 "Hardy Heron" (the second LTS release)
8.10 "Intrepid Ibex"
9.04 "Jaunty Jackalope"
9.10 "Karmic Koala"
10.04 "Lucid Lynx"
The name "Grumpy Groundhog" was also reserved, for a special version that "will never actually be released, instead it will be in a state of perpetual development, representing the very cutting edge of upstream and distro packaging." I don't know if anything ever actually became of it though...
- Anti-Virus software is not needed for Linux (and here's an example, another, yet another of AV programs being "at worst, downright harmful". Ouch!)
- the very notion of anti-virus software for Linux is about as necessary as wearing a life jacket around the house to prevent drowning.
- To mess up a Linux box, you need to work at it; to mess up your Windows box, you just need to work on it.
Why Linux doesn't need defragmenting
Security Report: Windows vs Linux
The short life and hard times of a Linux virus
The Top Ten Linux Distros
Rough Estimate of Relative Distro Popularity
How Linux Distros are related (see also the Linux Distro Timeline: Image)
Linux Distribution Chooser
Switch to Linux
Tips for Linux Explorers
Why Linux is Better
What’s This "Linux" Thing and Why Should I Try It?
If you need additional help, the Ubuntu Forums are immensely helpful.
The Ubuntu Guide has been wikified for fast updates.
For some really neat tips, see the Ubuntu Blog.
Some interesting (and often highly opinionated ;) articles can be found on the Blog of Helios.
If you find that you're really getting into Linux, consider attending a Linux User Group (LUG) meeting in your area.
I've been attending Saskatoon Linux Group meetings since July 2005 :)