Chapter 1. The Ubuntu Linux Project

Personal computers and their operating systems have come a long way since the late 1970s, when the first home computer hit the market. At that time, you could only toggle in a program by flipping switches on the front of the machine, and the machine could then run that program and only that program until you manually loaded another, at which time the first program was kicked off the system. Today's personal computers provide powerful graphics and a rich user interface that make it easy to select and run a wide variety of software concurrently.

The first home computer users were a community of interested people who just wanted to do something with these early machines. They formed computer clubs and published newsletters to share their interests and knowledge — and often the software that they wrote for and used on their machines. Sensing opportunities and a growing market, thousands of computer companies sprang up to write and sell specific applications for the computer systems of the day. This software ranged from applications such as word processors, spreadsheets, and games to operating systems that made it easier to manage, load, and execute different programs.

Although the power and capabilities of today's personal computers is light-years beyond the capabilities ...

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