Incredible Stories Of Free Software and Open Source

A little while back I blogged about wanting to reconnect with our ethos. In a continuation of that theme I am keen to talk about stories.

I have talked about stories quite a bit in my writings on community management (particularly so in my book The Art of Community). Stories are important entities in communities – they are vessels in which we share ideas, lessons we have learned, our experience and more. Many stories come laced with these underlining nuggets of wisdom that we then take aware and help us to refine and improve how we interface with the world and the people around us.

Stories though encompass another significant benefit: they allow us to inspire and encourage others via real-world practical examples of our ethos being put into practice.

A story I share at every Ubuntu Developer Summit is that when I started working as the Ubuntu Community Manager I got a lovely email from a kid in Africa who would walk two hours to his local town where he would spend his own money to buy Internet time in an Internet cafe to contribute to Ubuntu and then walk two hours back home. This story was powerful to me. It told me that my job is to help that guy get the most out of his hour, to justify his investment of energy and expense to just get involved in the first place. His story was inspiring, encouraging, and an impressive example of commitment. I always share this story at UDS as an inspiration for us to get the most out of each one-hour session.

These stories benefit us all, and in the continued theme of reconnecting with our ethos, I wanted to ask you folks what are the most inspiring and encouraging stories of Free Software and community that you have heard? Which story have made those little hairs on the back of your neck stand on end?

  • Jim Campbell

    I think that it was two or three releases ago that Nathan Handler did all of his Ubuntu development via an Ubuntu live CD for pretty much the entire release cycle. He had all of his packaging-related debs and scripts backed up to a USB hard drive, but would build chroots and whatever else he needed via his live environment. He did a lot of packaging that cycle, too. It was pretty cool to see that.

  • Benjamin Humphrey

    I really enjoyed hearing about the Tamil translation team who really picked up the challenge of translating the 172 page Ubuntu Manual and ran with it.

    These guys live in the remote province of Kancipuram in India. They come together every weekend to translate the book into Tamil. Because they only have a couple of computers, most of the translation is done using pen and paper – they print the book out in English, hand out pages to people and then translate those pages by hand. Then someone enters their translations in Launchpad.

    They showed me lots of photos and they all seem to have a tonne of fun doing it. After I saw this, I realized that Ubuntu was more than what I originally thought, and I felt really good knowing that the project I had started was being worked on the world over, and the fruits of our labour would help people who need it most.

  • Navneeth


    Just to set the record straight (and definitely not to belittle the work of the translators): Kancheepuram is not a remote province but a historically significant town and a popular tourist destination, well-connected from the nearest big city, Chennai, which is much less than 100 km away.