Anytime something becomes considered special, a community will form around it. When that something special, and it’s community, encounters something else special but different, it begs a question: Which is more worthwhile? The answer is often both and conflict and morays establish around each. Very rarely cooperation will occur in addition to competition.

  • Republicans vs Democrats
  • Leaded vs Unleaded Petrol
  • Coke vs Pepsi
  • Mac vs Microsoft

After a period of time, both sides tend to grow more similar with one side generally taking dominance. At this point people within both communities tend to become dissatisfied and usually look for another option.

When this happens, the distinctiveness of the specialness is often diminished and the communities surrounding it become fragmented. These diverse, fragmented communities find they no longer have the same commonalities between themselves that existed before, opening up the rift between them. What once was competition is now conflict.

In order to remove the conflict we need to find common goals to build cohesion. But to do that, we have to find motivation to make it happen.

Enter Ubuntu: The belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.

With one simple concept we find both altruistic (and often times cost-avoidance) motivation and a common goal such that we can progress to actually building the cohesion. Interestingly enough, there is an attempt to do this right now within the computing realm. The free (as in without cost) Linux distribution called Ubuntu GNU/Linux.

Ubuntu GNU/Linux maintains a Code of Conduct that “covers your behaviour as a member of the Ubuntu Community, in any forum, mailing list, wiki, web site, IRC channel, install-fest, public meeting or private correspondence.” It’s basic tenets generally follow the Ubuntu ideology making Ubuntu GNU/Linux special in it’s own right.

I would be surprised if anyone reading this wasn’t already familiar with the argument for Free Software. Free Software, both the ideology and the movement, is the creation of Richard M. Stallman who believes that if we “share the software; you’ll be free“. “Free” referring to Freedom. It follows that if the software is free, and therefore freely distributable and customizable, then, by its utilization, we could establish a “universal bond of sharing”. As you can plainly see, this fits in nicely with the Ubuntu ideology. Ubuntu GNU/Linux uses Free Software via the GNU project in order to establish the foundation from which to spread the ideology to the masses.

Several years ago, Brian Behlendorf started espousing a plan that would help make Free Software more prevalent. He proposed that we start using Free Software to replace all of the layers in the OSI model, starting at the Layer 1 (the base) and working upwards. He believed that if we were able to develop a Free alternative to any proprietary material that adoption would increase due to lack of encumbrances and speed to develop in an Open world. Today, many of the programs in the computing realm, from compilers to Internet infrastructure, have already been replace by their Free counterparts with open standards. Here one can begin to see how, after having the “universal bond of sharing”, we might enable it so it “connects to all humanity”. This fact was not lost on Mark Shuttleworth, the primary sponsor and founder of Ubuntu GNU/Linux. Mark has openly stated that “We’re committed to reinventing everything we need until the free software stack [e.g. the OSI model] is a genuinely complete computing universe.”

Therefore, within the computing space we have a tug-of-war being played out with non-free operating systems and applications which locks one into a course of action thereby effectively eliminating that entity’s freedom and causing turmoil. On the flip side we have a philanthropic effort to mend the rift which at it’s basic core promotes both freedom and benevolent sharing while costing nothing to use.

Ubuntu GNU/Linux has set itself up smartly to be the philanthropic side’s champion. It is making a name for itself with respect to other GNU/Linux distributions but, more importantly, to those currently not using Free Software today. In the spirit of Ubuntu, every time another person takes steps away from dependency toward freedom, the Free Software folks, and humanity, win. If Ubuntu GNU/Linux can, with its influence, encourage more people to take those steps, even if they don’t use Ubuntu GNU/Linux but some other distribution like FreeBSD or Red Hat, we still all win.

The traditional software manufacturers have seen where this Free Software road-map will lead. They are worried and rightly so because Here Be Dragons, some of which are their own doing.