Ubuntu is the world's most prominent Linux distribution. Ubuntu and its developer, Canonical, has caught a lot of flack over the years, but the Linux world is much better off thanks to both.
So let's stop and take a moment to appreciate some of what Canonical and Ubuntu have given the Linux community.
1. Ubuntu Placed a Focus on the Desktop
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At the time Ubuntu launched in 2004, Linux was usable on desktop computers and laptops, but it wasn't exactly a great experience. Canonical pushed Ubuntu as "Linux for human beings" and added features that made Linux easier use as a primary operating system. Such features included easily installed hardware drivers and multimedia codecs.
You could also ask to have an Ubuntu CD shipped to your door.
Canonical went on to create many desktop-oriented initiatives. It tried integrating messaging directly into the desktop, created the Ubuntu One file syncing service and music store, and eventually designed its own Unity interface. Canonical has since pulled the plug on all of these projects, but that willingness to experiment pumped excitement into the Linux desktop.
Linux remains more prevalent on servers than laptops, and Ubuntu arguably isn't even the easiest or most intuitive option anymore. Plus many developers outside of the Ubuntu community deserve much of the credit for making desktop Linux more stable and pleasant.
Yet the Linux desktop is in a much better place today than a decade and a half ago, and Canonical played a major role in making that happen.
2. Linux Is Now Available on More Hardware
Part of Canonical's vision to provide a consumer-ready Linux desktop meant offering Ubuntu as an alternative option in stores. The company reached out to hardware manufacturers to make this happen. Over time options grew, both from small businesses such as System76 and multinationals like Dell.
Are you likely to find Ubuntu in a big box store today? No. But Dell isn't alone among the big corporate supporters. HP also sells Ubuntu machines. There are now many Linux PCs you can buy from various companies.