Ubuntu's first release was on October 20, 2004, which began by making a temporary fork of the Debian GNU/Linux project. This was done so that a new version of Ubuntu could be released every six months, resulting in a more frequently updated system. Ubuntu releases always include the most recent GNOME release, and are scheduled to be released about a month after GNOME.
In contrast with previous general-purpose forks of Debian—such as MEPIS, Xandros, Linspire, Progeny and Libranet, many of which relied on proprietary and closed source add-ons as part of their business model—Ubuntu has stayed closer to Debian's philosophy and uses free (libre) software most of the time.
The Ubuntu logo and typography has remained the same since that first release. The hand-drawn, lower case OpenType font used is called Ubuntu-Title and was created by Andy Fitzsimon.The font is distributed under the Lesser General Public License and use with logos derived from the Ubuntu logo is encouraged.The font is available as a package for Ubuntu.
Ubuntu packages have generally been based on packages from Debian's unstable branch: both distributions use Debian's deb package format and APT/Synaptic to manage installed packages. Ubuntu cooperates with Debian - to some extent pushing changes back to Debian,although there has been criticism that this is not happening enoughand Debian and Ubuntu packages are not necessarily 'binary compatible' with each other. Many Ubuntu developers are also maintainers of key packages within Debian itself. However, Ian Murdock, the founder of Debian, criticized Ubuntu for incompatibilities between its packages and those of Debian, saying that Ubuntu had diverged too far from Debian Sarge to remain compatible.
There are plans for a branch codenamed Grumpy Groundhog. It will be a permanently unstable development and testing branch, pulling the source directly out of the revision control of the various programs and applications that are shipped as part of Ubuntu. This will allow power users and upstream developers to test up-to-the-minute versions of individual programs as they would appear if packaged for the distribution today, without needing to build packages themselves; it will be able to provide early warning of build failures on various architectures. It is intended that Grumpy Groundhog should merge with Debian Unstable every six months. Grumpy Groundhog has not been made available to the public yet.
Ubuntu is currently funded by Canonical Ltd. On July 8, 2005, Mark Shuttleworth and Canonical Ltd announced the creation of the Ubuntu Foundation and provided an initial funding of US$10 million. The purpose of the foundation is to ensure the support and development for all future versions of Ubuntu, but as of 2006, the foundation remains dormant. Mark Shuttleworth describes the foundation as an emergency fund in case Canonical's involvement ends.
On 1 May 2007, Dell announced they would sell desktops and laptops with Ubuntu installed and on 24 May 2007 these computers went on sale in the United States. They also stated that customers would be able to buy support for Ubuntu through Dell, with the support coming from Canonical. On 8 August 2007 these computers went on sale in the UK, France and Germany as well.In October, Tesco followed in Dell's footsteps and started to sell desktop computers with Ubuntu 6.06 LTS pre-installed on them . However unlike Dell, they do not offer Canonical's support program.
During July 2007 at Ubuntu Live 2007, Mark Shuttleworth announced that Ubuntu 8.04 (out April 2008) would be the next LTS (Long Term Support) release. He also added that Canonical is committed to releasing a new LTS version every two years.
Source : Wikipedia