There are a lot of core files and components needed to run the Linux operating system. Some of these components are system-specific, such as the drivers for various hardware components the system may or may not have. And, in addition to the “core” Linux components — referred to as the “Linux kernel” — there may be other, optional components. For example, Linux' core user interface is text-based, but if you install a window system, window manager, and desktop environment, you can have a visual user interface. But there are numerous choices for the different components you can install for each of these pieces, adding further confusion.

A Linux “distribution” (usually shortened to just “distro”) is a pre-packaged version of the operating system, including the Linux kernel, the various pieces needed for a user interface, and, usually, some type of installation program. According to the Wikipedia article on Linux distributions, there are over 300 Linux distributions. Ubuntu is one of them.

For more information, see the Ubuntu page and the Linux page.

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