Ubuntu has been around for years and I've been using it since 4.10. Now Ubuntu 10.10 is near release and I'm still loving it. There's just something about this distribution that draws me into it like no other. In previous years I've flirted with Red Hat. While interesting, it simply wasn't compelling enough for me to stick around for the show.
So what is it about Ubuntu that draws me into using it?
It's free both from financial and freedom perspectives. There's paid support available for those who need it and that's part of what helps the Ubuntu project sustain itself. As an open source project, access to the source code is freely available empowering the community to contribute changes and bug fixes directly.
Ubuntu has a “Just Works” philosophy that aims to make the user experience as simple and pleasant as possible. Tools like Ubiquity, update manager, and migration assistant, for example, help ease the process of installing and maintaining Ubuntu. Hardware enablement in particular is a sore point for open source OS users especially for 3D hardware or wireless device support and Ubuntu's Jockey makes installation of proprietary drivers for these as simple and painless as possible.
Whether it's the the wiki, forums, irc channels, or any other community-based efforts Ubuntu provides a wide range of resources for Ubuntu users to get together, socialise and even seek help from other community members. It's quite appropriate to say that Ubuntu (or any project for that matter) is it's community of users and Ubuntu has done a admirable job of nurturing and harnessing the community that grew from it. Without it's vibrant community base there's simply no way Ubuntu would have been anywhere near as successful as it is today.
Of course, there's no argument that other Linux distributions also have these same attributes. The difference is in the focus. Ubuntu focuses more on the average user who isn't technically savvy, while other distributions may have a more advanced audience in mind. There's also the all powerful tool called marketing that helped propel Microsoft and Apple products into center stage. Ubuntu simply does it better, making it more present in the minds of users.