The date is October 20th, 2014. A brand new Operating System, bound for greatness, was released. That Operating System, was none other than the infamous Ubuntu 4.10 Warty Warthog. That’s right folks, Ubuntu has just turned ten! Here, have an internet-awesome, slightly goofy, birthday cake Ubuntu! (It’s in Canonical-correct colors too!)
Now, I haven’t been using it for that long, joining the OS master-race in early 2011 with the Ubuntu 11.04 release. However, I have been with the OS for nearly a third of its life-span. I stuck with Windows XP as my main OS for another year or so after doing my first installation, simply because I was used to it and hadn’t yet realized the true awesomeness of Ubuntu.
I slowly began using Ubuntu more and more, especially as Windows XP got slower and slower, until around the 12.04 release I began using Ubuntu as my main OS, only booting into Windows for the occasional application that didn’t run right under WINE. And now, it’s the only OS I use; haven’t stepped foot at all in the territories of XP for several months now.
Ubuntu began somewhere around six months prior to the initial release, somewhat of a short time period you might say, and it didn’t start under the name Ubuntu. The group started out called the Super Secret Debian Startup, a far cry from today’s Canonical-backed Ubuntu. The group was a bunch of people Mark Shuttleworth hand-picked and invited from the Debian mailing list.
Once the list was selected Mark Shuttleworth began sending out emails to the various chosen recipients. Some of the recipients of his invitations to join the project received a joke email, imitating the style of the Nigerian scam emails. Supposedly, it’s still included in Canonical’s “Welcome” presentation.
He also had a legitimate email, which went something like this:
I’m putting a team of Debian developers together to work full time on a derivative distribution of Debian. The idea is to provide a high-quality regular release based on Debian unstable, ensuring that all patches are given back to Debian, and ensuring that the install disk of our distribution consists entirely of Free software.
Martin and I spoke at length about the project and he seemed to like the idea very much. I’m sure he’d be happy to let you know his thoughts directly.
If you’re interested I’d like to give you a call to discuss it further with you. I’m based in the UK so we’re roughly in the same timezone, just let me know when and what number to reach you on.
Quote from James Scott Remnant’s Blog
Initially, the group talked via a secret channel on IRC, #weirdos on Freenode; the topic of the channel was “my boss is a cosmonaut”. Slowly and surely the group began rounding out, with more and more names from the Debian community joining.
The project, as I mentioned above, started out called the Super Secret Debian Startup. However, this name wasn’t actually chosen by Mark or any of the group – it came about by the fact that it was obvious a group of a bunch of Debian people were forming a new group that nobody outside of the group knew anything about.
The official name of the group that remains to this day, Ubuntu, was decided upon during the first official company meeting. The original release codename, Warty Warthog, came from a quote by Mark Shuttleworth
“We’ll get it out in just six months, so it’ll be a bit of a warty warthog.”
The name of the IRC channel was changed to #warthogs. Even if it appears like the current naming scheme of Adjective Animal was decided upon way back then, it was kind of a mistake. One of the team made fun of the naming scheme, suggesting the next release should be called Bendy Badger; and Mark Shuttleworth liked it and thus the naming scheme was born that has stuck to this day.
The first meeting laid out the groundworks for the project, setting up the basics of Ubuntu and also Launchpad (known at the time as Soyuz.) The next event in the project’s history was DebConf in Brazil in that same year, and it’s kind of a big one, as it was at DebConf that the project was officially announced and the developers introduced.
The process by which the initial set of packages was decided upon was far from Orthodox, comprising of the team looking at the software installed on Matt Zimmerman’s laptop and deciding from that list. From there, the team slowly began putting together what is the most commonly used Linux distribution.
The very idea of having an all-in-one, one-pass installer was revolutionary in and of itself. When combined with the option of getting free installation disks shipped to your door, Linux installation became far easier and more accessible to the general public.
Finally released on October 20th, 2004, Ubuntu 4.10 Warty Warthog was just the beginning of an incredible project that continues to this day. From the SSDS to Canonical-backed Ubuntu, from the first ever Late To Ship release to the Unity desktop, the trip has been an incredible one and it’s only going to get better.
Here’s to Ubuntu, and its future. Happy Birthday, Ubuntu!