What is Ubuntu Server?
Ubuntu is a Linux distribution based on Debian and composed mostly of free and open-source software. Ubuntu is officially released in three editions: Desktop, Server and Core for Internet of things devices and robots. All the editions can run on the computer alone, or in a virtual machine. Ubuntu is a popular operating system for cloud computing, with support for OpenStack. Ubuntu's default desktop has been GNOME, since version 17.10.
Ubuntu is released every six months, with long-term support (LTS) releases every two years. As of 22 April 2021, the most recent long-term support release is 20.04 ("Focal Fossa"), which is supported until 2025 under public support and until 2030 as a paid option. The latest standard release is 21.04 ("Hirsute Hippo"), which is supported for nine months.
Ubuntu is developed by Canonical, and a community of other developers, under a meritocratic governance model. Canonical provides security updates and support for each Ubuntu release, starting from the release date and until the release reaches its designated end-of-life (EOL) date. Canonical generates revenue through the sale of premium services related to Ubuntu and donations from those who download the Ubuntu software.
Ubuntu is named after the Nguni philosophy of ubuntu, which Canonical indicates means "humanity to others" with a connotation of "I am what I am because of who we all are".
Ubuntu Server brings economic and technical scalability to your datacentre, public or private. Whether you want to deploy an OpenStack cloud, a Kubernetes cluster or a 50,000-node render farm, Ubuntu Server delivers the best value scale-out performance available.
Download CD and DVD images or individual RPM packages.
What’s new in 20.04 LTS
- Supported by Canonical until 2025 with ESM coverage until 2030
- Runs on all major architectures – x86-64, ARM v7, ARM64, POWER8, POWER9, IBM s390x (LinuxONE) and introducing initial support for RISC-V
- Ubuntu Pro cloud images for AWS and Azure, which include hardening, certification, kernel livepatch and more
- The Ubuntu Server Live installer is now able to update itself when connected to the internet for the latest features and bug fixes. Initial support for automated installs is now available as well.
- SSH that supports enabling two-factor authorization (2FA)
- WireGuard® – an innovative VPN technology with modern cryptography defaults and streamlined usability
- AppArmor3 for an even more secure system
- More resilient bootloader that tolerates disk failures
- Greater support for IPv6 on Microsoft Azure
- Support for latest Instance Metadata Service (IMDSv2) on Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- The latest long-term Linux 5.4 kernel for the latest hardware and security updates
- Updates to QEMU (v4.2), libvirt (v6.0), PHP (v7.4), Ruby (v2.7), GCC (V9.3), Python (v3.8), MySQL (v8.0), NGINX (v1.17)
History & Background
Ubuntu is built on Debian's architecture and infrastructure, and comprises Linux server, desktop and discontinued phone and tablet operating system versions. Ubuntu releases updated versions predictably every six months, and each release receives free support for nine months (eighteen months prior to 13.04) with security fixes, high-impact bug fixes and conservative, substantially beneficial low-risk bug fixes. The first release was in October 2004.
Current long-term support (LTS) releases are supported for five years, and are released every two years. Since the release of Ubuntu 6.06, every fourth release receives long-term support. Long-term support includes updates for new hardware, security patches and updates to the 'Ubuntu stack' (cloud computing infrastructure). The first LTS releases were supported for three years on the desktop and five years on the server; since Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, desktop support for LTS releases was increased to five years as well. LTS releases get regular point releases with support for new hardware and integration of all the updates published in that series to date.
Ubuntu packages are based on packages from Debian's unstable branch, which are synchronised every six months. Both distributions use Debian's deb package format and package management tools (e.g. APT and Ubuntu Software). Debian and Ubuntu packages are not necessarily binary compatible with each other, however, so packages may need to be rebuilt from source to be used in Ubuntu. Many Ubuntu developers are also maintainers of key packages within Debian. Ubuntu cooperates with Debian by pushing changes back to Debian, although there has been criticism that this does not happen often enough. Ian Murdock, the founder of Debian, had expressed concern about Ubuntu packages potentially diverging too far from Debian to remain compatible. Before release, packages are imported from Debian unstable continuously and merged with Ubuntu-specific modifications. One month before release, imports are frozen, and packagers then work to ensure that the frozen features interoperate well together.
Ubuntu is currently funded by Canonical Ltd. On 8 July 2005, Mark Shuttleworth and Canonical announced the creation of the Ubuntu Foundation and provided initial funding of US$10 million. The purpose of the foundation is to ensure the support and development for all future versions of Ubuntu. Mark Shuttleworth describes the foundation goal as to ensure the continuity of the Ubuntu project.
On 12 March 2009, Ubuntu announced developer support for third-party cloud management platforms, such as those used at Amazon EC2.
32-bit i386 processors were supported up to Ubuntu 18.04. It was decided to support "legacy software", i.e. select 32-bit i386 packages for Ubuntu 19.10 and 20.04 LTS.
Ubuntu aims to be secure by default. User programs run with low privileges and cannot corrupt the operating system or other users' files. For increased security, the sudo tool is used to assign temporary privileges for performing administrative tasks, which allows the root account to remain locked and helps prevent inexperienced users from inadvertently making catastrophic system changes or opening security holes. Polkit is also being widely implemented into the desktop.
Most network ports are closed by default to prevent hacking. A built-in firewall allows end-users who install network servers to control access. A GUI (GUI for Uncomplicated Firewall) is available to configure it. Ubuntu compiles its packages using GCC features such as PIE and buffer overflow protection to harden its software. These extra features greatly increase security at the performance expense of 0.01% in 64-bit.
Ubuntu also supports full disk encryption as well as encryption of the home and Private directories.
Performance and versatility
Agile, secure, deploy-anywhere technology for fast-moving companies
It doesn’t matter whether you want to deploy a NoSQL database, web farm or cloud. Certified by leading hardware OEMs and with comprehensive deployment tools, so you can get the most from your infrastructure.
Ubuntu regular release cycle means access to the latest and most performant open source. A lean initial installation and integrated deployment and application modelling technologies make Ubuntu Server a great solution for simple deployment and management at scale.
A release schedule you can depend on
Stay up-to-date with regular updates and upgrades
Long-term support (LTS) releases of Ubuntu Server receive security updates by Canonical for five years by default. Every six months, interim releases bring new features, while hardware enablement updates add support for the latest machines to all supported LTS releases. All Ubuntu Advantage for Infrastructure subscriptions include Extended Security Maintenance (ESM) increasing the support life-cycle to up to 10 years.
Ubuntu Advantage for your Infrastructure
Ubuntu Advantage for infrastructure offers a single, per-node packaging of the most comprehensive software, security and IaaS support in the industry. With OpenStack and Kubernetes support included, Ubuntu Advantage for Infrastructure provides everything you need to future-proof your data centre.
UA for Infrastructure, Advanced includes Server, OpenStack and Kubernetes support and is available at Standard (24x5) and Advanced (24x7) response times.
Whether you want to configure a simple file server or build a fifty thousand-node cloud, you can rely on Ubuntu Server and its five years of guaranteed free upgrades.
Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa)
(released 23 April 2020, EOL April 2025)
Ubuntu 18.04 (Bionic Beaver)
(released 26 April 2018, EOL April 2023)
Ubuntu 16.04 (Xenial Xerus)
(released 21 April 2016, EOL April 2021)
Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahr)
(released 17 April 2014, EOL April 2019)