Enterprise Linux Log

May 9 2008   6:59AM GMT

Ubuntu: Smells Like Team Spirit

Suzanne Wheeler Suzanne Wheeler Profile: Suzanne Wheeler

If a Linux distribution is not named after a Red Hat, does it still exist? Do sports teams improve their chances with Linux-inspired monikers? Do Linux administrators need to learn fencing to keep up with the tech industry?

No, I’m not trying to throw you back into the fog that was the college philosophy class in which the only question on the final exam was “Why?” Rather, as a former philosophy student working as an assistant site editor at SearchEnterpriseLinux.com, I have pondered these questions of late.

Many Linux distributions have names that one would not expect of an open source software product, and some of these names have begun to grow into the broader culture because of it.

The Boston Celtics, for example, recently adopted the word Ubuntu. The word Ubuntu is South African for “a philosophy of life that promotes the greater good rather than individual success.”  CNET cited Ubuntu as also having the connotation, “I am what I am because of who we all are.”

Apparently, athletes and open source software developers draw from the same inspirational pool. Perhaps they operate on the same principles.

Before making that jump, though, let’s take a look at the differences between sports and open source software.

Athletes are well paid; open source developers are lucky to have a salary. Athletes are viewed as social and sexual heroes; open source developers are not. Athletes each play a defined role on a team to achieve a win, while open source software developers work independently to lose all limitations upon their engineering creativity. Athletes have simplified public personas and often resort to assuming imaginative names to represent themselves to society; open source developers do … too.

Red Sox, Red Hat; EnGarde, Cavaliers; Ubuntu, Saints; Seattle Seahawks, Linux Penguin.

All right, so the last one might stretch things a bit. Yet all of this name talk highlights a broader fact: Creativity is green and made of paper in these fields. Both the Linux software developers who succeed and the athletes who do the same cast their work in mythical terms.

If you’re looking for a sports team or a Linux distribution on which to place your bets, look at the stats. Read the records. Then consider the options and choose the one with the Odyssean name.

3  Comments on this Post

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  • Nilesh
    nice article ..... but still RedHat rocks man! Ubuntu is basically targeted on end-users while Fedora (a RedHat product) is targeted for an allround purpose.
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  • Rob Enderle
    Ubuntu makes sense for Shuttleworth since he was born in Africa. The black NBA players is more of a sense of searching for an identity that was taken away from the slaves for 400 years. They're not african, or have any real connection to the continent but a psychological need to connect to the continent their forefathers came from. Its like white people putting on 'chinese' signs as tatoos... but sadder.
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  • Stomfi
    Awk, is this a bash on humourous Linux names? I grep and troff my way through the archives, samba out the door, bunzip a few files, give more to the cat, or is that less, and make some changes with sed. He said! It's all about remembering. The more unusual the name, the easier it is to recall. We even have XWindows, KDE, GNOME, XFCE, and Enlightenment. Its the opposition that has the boring names. Linux is fun, don't ya know.
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