I use Dapper Drake on my laptop because it doesn't do everything I want it to do. But, I'm bound and determined to make sure the final release can do everything I want it to do.
Back in the day, I used to change distros faster than Distrowatch could index them. I loved experimenting with new, exciting distributions. I still do. I keep the hard drive in my old laptop primed to play with the latest Alpha release of Foobar Linux. At long last I have settled into the happy home of Ubuntu. In the next few minutes I want to share with you why I think technological excellence plays second fiddle to human needs and aspirations.
To be perfectly fair, Ubuntu is a lot like every other distribution out there. It uses the same office suite openSUSE uses (OpenOffice.org). It uses the same IM client Fedora Core uses (Gaim). Ubuntu even uses the same web-browser most other distros use (Fire Fox).
So, why does a self-professed Distro Junkie like myself settle down to use a distribution that uses the same applications everyone else does? I'll give you one hint, it has NOTHING to do with the default GTK Theme. I hate the color brown.
Most Ubuntistas I know would now point to the Ubuntu Slogan: "Linux For Human Beings". This is narrowly interpreted to mean that Ubuntu wants to make a "newbie friendly" distribution. The passionate Ubuntista would then point to the oodles of hours the Ubuntu devs spend making sure the desktop experience is as smooth and integrated as possible. And, although I think the Ubuntu Developers do a GREAT!!! job, it's not why I use Ubuntu.
If all I wanted was an integrated desktop I could use SUSE, Mandrake, NLD, Xandros, Fedora Core, etc. There are lots of Distros out there with a desktop focus these days. I like Ubuntu's slogan because it means more than just a painless installation and good integration between foo and bar.
I use Ubuntu because of the philosophy behind the slogan. Mark Shuttleworth's creation goes beyond bug hunting with programs like Ship It. Will Novell mail you and 100 of your closest friends a copy of openSUSE? Will Red Hat mail copies of Fedora Core to the local elementary school or library so they can use Linux? No, they won't. And, that's OK. I respect both companies, and we can all agree they are contributing to the open source community with their terrific programs and stalwart defense of the GPL.
I like Ubuntu's focus on giving all human beings access to software. But, we do have to be realists. Free software isn't going to single handedly stop the famine in Ethopia. Instead, Ubuntu is an opportunity for technically gifted people to contribute to the needs of the world with their skill set.
Programmers are remarkably ill-equipped to enter Ethiopia and set up food distribution programs. But, they can help make the software necessary for those efforts to be stable, secure, and available. That's why I use some of my free time hunting for bugs on Dapper. It's one way this geeky social worker can contribute to a cause. How can you contribute to the goal of "Linux For Human Beings?"