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Paul C. Brown, Editor in Chief

Paul C. Brown, Editor in Chief

The Melting Pot


Dear Ubuntu User Reader,

Is it weird for a Spanish editor to edit an Anglo-American magazine written mainly by German writers? We can take this exercise further: Do you find it a bit strange that you are reading about an operating system created by a South African, based on a kernel developed by a Finnish hacker, and maintained and expanded by a worldwide crew of programmers and software companies?

Well, you shouldn't, because the fact is that variety is the lifeblood of FLOSS (if you're not familiar with the term, that is Free/Libre Open Source Software). What's more: Within the open source community, your nationality doesn't matter, your skin color is a non-issue, and your creed is irrelevant. It seems there are some issues regarding gender, but, in typical software-engineery fashion, those issues are being dealt with by workgroups that file bug reports and patches and write charters and best practice reports that are then applied to live conferences and online forums.

But back to diversity. The open source community has set up their working world in a manner in which physical contact with humans – not that it is avoided – is not entirely necessary to fulfill your role within it. It couldn't be done any other way. How else could a worldwide network of developers, users, system administrators, translators, and artists work on projects that require such a wide range of talents?

It's near perfect. Proof that, when nobody knows what you look like or where exactly you come from, only your actions and work count. It is a purely meritocratic system, and what you do is what earns you respect from the rest of your peers.

That is not to say that individuality is lost. Quite the contrary. FLOSS is one of the areas where the work of one can still affect the lives of many. Think of Linus Torvalds, the Finn I mentioned earlier and the original creator of the Linux kernel; or consider Richard Stallman, who apart from contributing many of the building blocks essential to any modern GNU/Linux distro, laid down nearly single-handedly the rules that make Free Software what it is today.

Consider Ian Murdock, the man behind the original Debian distribution that was later forked into Ubuntu. What about Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto, the Japanese creator of the Ruby programming language? And let's not forget Massimo Banzi and David Cuartielles, the Italian and Spanish engineers who designed the original Arduino prototyping board, the cornerstone of today's open hardware movement.

It's not only people from places that we have traditionally labeled as "developed" countries contributing to the mix either. If you visit any international FLOSS event, you'll meet hackers from India, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, China, Singapore, Turkey, Greece, Morocco, and more, not solely as attendees, but taking center stage with their own projects, many of which end up becoming universal.

So we are back to the melting pot, in which where you're from and what you look like doesn't really matter, but what you do for others does. My feeling is that, if more areas of our lives operated the way the Open Source community does, our society would be a much better place to live in.

Anyway, I do hope you enjoy your British-American-Spanish-German-South African-Finnish-whatever issue of Ubuntu User, and see you in a few months.

Abrazos from Spain * Paul Brown

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