Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Does Nelson Mandela support Ubuntu Linux?

I am a great admirer of Nelson Mandela and also fan of the Ubuntu Linux distribution. Therefore I was initially very impressed when I saw the following video which seems to show Nelson Mandela endorsing Ubuntu Linux. However, when you listen closer you realize that he never actually mentions the word Linux.  The video shows what seems to be excepts clipped from a longer interview and it has the logo of the Ubuntu Linux community overlaid on some screens to imply that his words are intended as support for the Ubuntu Linux project.

The African word Ubuntu does not have a direct translation in English, but roughly translates as helping other people in your community. As I understand, it may be close to the Irish word meitheal. I can see why Nelson Mandela might want to support the philosophy of Ubuntu but at the same time avoid explicitly endorsing the Ubuntu variant of Linux (it is quite possible that he never even heard of the Linux variant).

I am confused about how to react to this video, because it must represent one of two very different situations:
  • If Nelson Mandela knows of and supports the Ubuntu Linux community, then someone should clearly document this support.
  • If Nelson Mandela does not wish to publicly support the Ubuntu Linux community then I think this video represents an underhand way of trying to mislead people into thinking that he is a public supporter. In this case the Ubuntu community should publicly disassociate themselves from such trickery.

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