“You need others. But you need others for everything, really. In our part of the world, we have something called ubuntu. Ubuntu. Ubuntu. Ubuntu. The essence of being human. We say a person is a person through other persons. I can’t be human in isolation. I need you to be all you can be so that I can become me and all that I can be.” — Desmond Tutu
We were all sitting around in Mark’s apartment, wondering what on Earth we were going to call this thing, brainstorming ideas and writing them onto a flipchart.
One of my suggestions was ‘Cockfosters’, in appreciation of the London Underground station I discovered on my way to the meeting — as soon as you get on the tube from Heathrow you’re greeted with, “This train is for… Cockfosters.” Endlessly amusing for the Australians (and the New Zealand wannabes). Now, “Cockfosters Linux” would have made the nekkid people release vastly more thrilling!
At one point, with some hesitation and furrowed brow, Mark put a new suggestion up.
Mark: “I don’t know what you guys will think about this, but…”
All: (quizzical silence)
Some clown: “I think you might have missed a ‘U’…”
Then he went on to explain what ‘Ubuntu’ meant. The room of rowdy, celebratory and opinionated hackers were suddenly very quiet indeed. This strange, ancient African word spoke so eloquently of our feelings about Free Software, and our participation in the community — there was no question that somehow, it had to be a part of what we were doing.
Two years and four releases later, Ubuntu 6.06 LTS. Linux for Human Beings.