Pin Me

The Meaning of Ubuntu

written by: YvetteDavis•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 11/5/2008

Ubuntu has taken the Linux world by storm, and become one of the most popular Linux distributions. But, have you given any thought to the meaning of the word “Ubuntu”? How does the philosophy of Ubuntu apply to the product bearing the same name?

  • slide 1 of 1

    What Is Ubuntu?

    Ubuntu. Sure, most of us know it's the base operating system put out by Canonical Ltd.. Ubuntu Linux is based on Debian and comes in several different flavors to meet the varied needs of users.

    The word Ubuntu comes from the South African Bantu language family. As a word, it's roughly translated as humanity to others. However, in the South African culture, Ubuntu is more than just a word, it's a philosophical idea. A way to live your life.

    The philosophy of Ubuntu means that each person is who they are only because of other people. This is similar to the spiritual philosophy of each human being connected to every other human. And the actions of one, affecting the outcome of all.

    In many South African countries this idea of Ubuntu defines society, government and life in general. It means each person is defined by the relationships they keep, their treatment of others and how they care for those in their village or town.

    One aspect of Ubuntu dictates that strangers are treated well, and children are cared for by every adult in the village. Ubuntu ensures that no child becomes an orphan, because every adult male and every adult female will become father and mother to a child whose biological parents have died.

    Another part of Ubuntu is that life is the most important thing. It is to be valued over any sort of material gain.

    Still a third aspect of Ubuntu maintains that those in charge owe their power to the will of the people they rule. Kings and village leaders are equal to their subjects, and share their wealth with those less fortunate.

    None of this means individual needs and desires are to be ignored, however. Ubuntu simply defines those needs within the needs of others. Ubuntu shows it is possible to meet your personal needs and wants while taking under consideration the needs and desires of those around you.

    The Linux software distribution Ubuntu strives to bring the spirit of Ubuntu to the world through open source code, and open sharing of ideas.