As mentioned earlier, Ubuntu is built upon and takes many features from Debian Linux. Debian itself is one of the oldest Linux distributions and can trace its development back to 1993. Ian Murdock established the Debian Manifesto, calling for the open and collaborative development of a Linux distribution and used his name and the name of his then-girlfriend and now wife, Debra, to come up with the name.
The Debian distribution is commonly regarded as the most stable and one of the most secure distributions currently available. It is also totally noncommercial, having strict guidelines in place to ensure that only true free software (as in speech) is available through Debian.
Having such a solid background, it is only natural that other distributions base themselves on Debian; and at the time of writing, some 52 distributions can trace their heritage back to Debian. Popular distros such as Linspire, Xandros, and the very useful Knoppix Live CD all use Debian at their core.
Linux is so successful for many reasons. Perhaps the most important one is that it fills a genuine need. Not only can people deploy the software as is, but if they need it to work in a specific way, they can work with the source code, the very building blocks of the software, to manipulate the programs themselves and change the way they work. This kind of openness is unheard of in the software world, but it is a key benefit of Linux. Early inroads were made for Linux in the server rooms, running applications such as web, email, and file servers. With the continued development of the various distributions and the applications and window managers, it is now becoming more and more common to find Linux on the desktop.
UNIX was also very popular when it came into the world during the 1970s. However, restrictive licensing and what has since become known as the UNIX wars managed to stifle significant development and standardization, leading to Microsoft getting through the back door with the vastly inferior Windows NT. Nowadays, Microsoft has a real battle on their hands to stop Linux from dominating the server market.
What it comes down to is this: You are holding in your hands software that if it were developed commercially is estimated at costing $1.9 billion. More than 55 million lines of source code are present in Linux, with the collective development work of thousands of open source developers across the world contributing directly to Linux.
Nowadays, it is fairly common to see reports of companies moving to Linux. In fact, it is more likely to be government authorities that are seeking to extricate themselves from the grip of Redmond. With more choice and significant cost savings to be had, more and more businesses are waking up to the fact that Linux makes sense. Nowadays, you will be hard-pressed to find many companies that do not use Linux in some shape or form, even if it is just on a machine acting as a router or firewall.
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