“Ubuntu Linux”, what you need to know:
What is Linux? The history of the word is boring, but in short it is a portmanteau word and derives from the first name of the creator “Linus”, and “UNIX”, the operating system that it copied.
“Ubuntu” is a free and “open source” operating system. Free means that there is not cost.
Open source means that the programming code used to create it is available, so anyone may change or read the code, if they wanted to.
The numbering scheme and the acronyms that follow are both important:
The latest version of “Ubuntu” is referred to as “Ubuntu 12.10”.
The first part of the number is the year (12 is equivalent to 2012 in this case).
The second part of the number is the month (10 is equivalent to October in this case).
Canonical, the company that maintains Ubuntu, releases a new version every six months.
Released in April of 2012, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS uses “LTS” to mean Long-Term Support, which means that this particular version will be supported five years.
The Long-term support releases are released every two years.
This means that if one installs Ubuntu 12.04 today, the user will be supported until 2017, but at any time may upgrade to the latest six-month release.
Future releases will be available in October of 2012 (10) called, obviously 12.10 and in 2013 there will be versions available in April and October called 13.04 and 13.10.
Bug fixes, security updates, and updates to all of the software are made available daily from the repositories, which is a huge database of all of the parts of the operating system and all of the software available.
There are thousands of software applications available from the repository, which means one needs to just search and with one simple click, download and install.
LibreOffice, which in some cases does things better than Microsoft Office, provides basic document, spreadsheet, and presentation needs.
Chat and social network software is integrated into the operating system, which means that right from the start, the user can be logged into Facebook, Google Chat, Yahoo Messenger, Microsoft Live, and others–there is no need to install separate software.
The email client is also integrated.
The interface was designed to be quick and simple, simple chiclet-like tiles provide quick access to programs and a there is a powerful do-all button which provides access to all applications, documents, bookmarks.
To summarize, Ubuntu, as it is right now, is worth the time investment and is capability-wise currently what Windows 8 will aim for with a new paradigm that Microsoft is putting all of their development efforts into.