2004 - In April 2004, Mark Shuttleworth began to round up a small but immensely talented and dedicated group of open source developers to create a revolutionary new Linux desktop. Based on the principles of time-based releases, a strong Debian foundation, the GNOME desktop, and a strong commitment to freedom, this group operated initially under the auspices of http://no-name-yet.com.
The first official release of Ubuntu was made in October 2004 and was duly named Version 4.10, thus introducing the Y.MM numbering system. While under development, Version 4.10 was affectionately known as "the Warty Warthog," a name which continued to live on past the time when most development codenames die. Every release since then has had a similarly alliterative codename.
These early days in the project's history provided the basis of many of the naming conventions which continue today. For example, the early testing community of Version 4.10 was called the Sounder, named for the collective noun of warthogs. The Sounder mailing list continues today as an open discussion forum for the community, and development milestones continue to be named for the collective noun of the codename animal.
Interest in Ubuntu was dramatic from the outset. There were nearly 3000 messages on the ubuntu-users mailing list within the first two weeks, and the community focus of the project attracted key contributors. One of the first community driven teams, the supremely dedicated Documentation Team, was founded in late 2004. The first incarnation of the Ubuntu Developer Summit was held in Oxford, UK in August followed by the Mataro Sessions in Mataro, Spain in December.
2005 - The following year saw dramatic growth in the Ubuntu community. Hundreds and then thousands of free software enthusiasts joined the community. The core development team continued to grow, and dedicated volunteers around the world found new ways to contribute through code, advocacy, artwork, documentation, wiki gardening, and more. The community played significant roles in defining the future of Ubuntu at the Ubuntu Developer Summits in Sydney and Montreal.
Ubuntu 5.04 ("Hoary Hedgehog") was released in April 2005. At the same time, the first release of Kubuntu was made, to the delight of KDE fans worldwide.
In addition to the much anticipated Ubuntu and Kubuntu releases, Edubuntu was released for the first time to address the educational market with the release of Ubuntu 5.10.
2006 - The Ubuntu project took a significant step forward in 2006, with the release in June of its first "Long Term Support" or LTS release. While all Ubuntu releases are provided with 18 months of free security updates and maintenance (and commercial support), enterprise users were demanding a longer support cycle to match their upgrade cycles. Thus Ubuntu Version 6.06 LTS ("Dapper Drake") was produced in June. In addition to the extended support cycle, this release also marked the first time a single CD served as a live and install CD, and in which there was a formal Server Edition.
2008 - The Ubuntu project released its second LTS version of Ubuntu, Ubuntu 8.04 LTS, two years after the previous LTS version. This provided users of the 6.06 LTS desktop edition a full year to plan their migrations. Later that year, the 8.10 release featured Wubi, the Windows installer for Ubuntu.
2009 - As Ubuntu gains popularity it gets used in new and exciting ways. The 9.04 release included the Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) designed for small screened netbook devices. Also noteworthy was the inclusion of Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) which enabled organizations to deploy a private computing cloud in their own data center.
Ubuntu's explosive growth is fueled by an enthusiastic community - don't just read about Ubuntu's story, become part of it!