Today is Document Freedom Day. If you’re not one of the open source faithful, or even if you are, you might not be familiar with this digital independence day. According to the web site at http://documentfreedom.org, “Document Freedom Day (DFD) is a global day for document liberation. It will be a day of grassroots effort to educate the public about the importance of Open Document Formats and Open Standards in general.”

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 I’m one of those Linux fanatics who enjoy trying new distros almost constantly. Because of the freedom inherent in the GPL and other “open” licenses, there are always new flavors of my favorite OS springing up.  Early spring of last year, I found an Ubuntu-based distro called UbuntuSE.  I was attracted to the screenshots of the dark blood-red and black theme.  This was essentially Ubuntu with fresh artwork: splash screens, window themes, wallpapers, and amazing 3D screensavers.  The SE, it turned out, stood for Satanic Edition.

I consider myself a spiritual person, but I’m not a fan of organized religion.  One of the few things that offends me are people who are easily offended.  Especially those who  believe they somehow deserve to be protected from any speech, image or ideology which they find offensive (typically, anything not their own).  I found out there were two similar themed Ubuntus, the Christian Edition and the Muslim Edition.  With a few hearty chuckles during installation, Ubuntu Satanic Edition became my desktop for a few months.

UbuntuSE

Recently, I followed a link which took me to Distrowatch, a well-known and respected site which offers reviews and news of Linux distributions.  It is run by Ladislav Bodnar (distro AT distrowatch DOT com).  Mr. Bodnar is an intelligent man with an interesting and impressive background.  I noticed he had included the Christian and Muslim versions of Ubuntu, but not the Satanic version.  I thought it unlikely that he was ignorant of it’s existence, but I sent him a short note just in case.

Hi, Ladislav!

I wanted to inform you of another “themed” Ubuntu distro,
Ubuntu Satanic Edition or UbuntuSE. The site is
http://ubuntusatanic.org/ and it has been around since
2006. I see you have UbuntuCE and UbuntuME. I would
like to see UbuntuSE included on distrowatch. The artwork
and attention to detail are amazing. After all, Linux is a
“journey of freedom”. Thanks for a great Linux site!

Peace,
Tim

I quoted the phrase “journey of freedom” from Mr. Bodnar’s description of his experience with Linux. I received this response a few hours later:

I don’t feel comfortable with listing this distro on DistroWatch. I am not
religious or anything, but I think there are some limits of what is an
acceptable name for a Linux distribution. Sorry :-(

Ladislav

Ladislav Bodnar

I ask you to tell me the unvarnished truth.  Is this in keeping with the spirit of Linux, open source and freedom?  Is this arbitrary dictation of what distro shall be included based on the acceptability of it’s name to the maintainer offensive to anyone else?  I think Mr. Bodnar is not telling me the whole story  Perhaps he fears some expression of outrage by Christian and Islamic fanatics if he lists the UbuntuSE distro.  I can’t really speculate further on his true motivations.  I only post this to express my belief in freedom of expression, religious and otherwise.  That is one of the reasons I love Linux: the devotion of the community to freedom.

Mr. Bodnar is using his freedom as the site maintainer to censor the Linux community.  I don’t think he’s right to do so.  I think he needs to re-read his tagline on distrowatch: “Put the fun back into computing.”  What do you think?