Open Source and the Transition Movement

Why on earth would Transition Town be recommending an operating system?

Simple – What you use to connect to the Internet, to view these pages and ultimately to get your communication, work & play done, influences you, cost money (or not) and plays a role in how you do what you do. In the same way that what we choose to purchase affects global trade and what happens to the planet.

Computer operating systems are no different. For those of you that have a PC – it probably came with Windows and for those that have MAC’s – those probably came with Apple OS. While these might seem like the only options – they is not!

There is an exciting world of alternative operating systems (LINUX) designed to run on your PC’s and MAC’s that you can experiment with. Most of these operating systems can be downloaded free of charge from the Internet and come complete with Open Office and FireFox as well as hundreds of other programs that are similar to what you use now. All free of charge.

Here are some even better reasons than “free”;

1. Linux is faster and more robust and not prone to virus damage than Windows. The viruses and crap and malware are all written to infect Windows boxes. Linux is fast, and will stay fast. Apple OS is a Linux / Unix based, so under that pretty facade is a Linux core. Apple made the right choice. Linux supports all the major hardware vendors and has a strong community of dedicated people that like to help.

2. Open as in free to change, experiment and improve upon – also open means you are not locked in to things like iTunes, or other music services.

The best reason to try out Linux is – Open source. But what is open Source?

3. Open source literally means you are free to view and modify the source code, which if your not a programmer is not too helpful. But what this implies is that the product you’re using has been created by multiple people working for the common good, not by a corporation working for profit.

People collaborating for the common good, have much in common with Transition movements.

The concept of open source and free sharing of technological information existed long before computers. For example, cooking recipes have been shared since the beginning of human culture. Open source can pertain to businesses and to computers, software and technology and… Community.

There are many good versions of linux, and you can download them and burn a CD called a live CD that will boot to Linux without making any changes to your computer.

So what do we recommend? Ubuntu! You may download it here:


Ubuntu is an African concept of ‘humanity towards others’.

It is the ‘belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity’. The same ideas are central to the way the Ubuntu software community collaborates. Members of the Ubuntu community need to work together effectively, and this code of conduct lays down the ground rules for their cooperation.

They chose the name Ubuntu for thier operating system because it captures perfectly the spirit of the sharing and cooperation that is at the heart of the open-source movement. “In the free software world, we collaborate freely on a volunteer basis to build software for everyone’s benefit. We improve on the work of others, which we have been given freely, and then share our improvements on the same basis”.

Code of Conduct. (This is similar to the Transition Town Principles)

  • Be considerate. Our work will be used by other people, and we in turn will depend on the work of others. Any decision we take will affect users and colleagues, and we should take those consequences into account when making decisions. Ubuntu has millions of users and thousands of contributors. Even if it’s not obvious at the time, our contributions to Ubuntu will impact the work of others. For example, changes to code, infrastructure, policy, documentation and translations during a release may negatively impact others’ work.
  • Be respectful. The Ubuntu community and its members treat one another with respect. Everyone can make a valuable contribution to Ubuntu. We may not always agree, but disagreement is no excuse for poor behaviour and poor manners. We might all experience some frustration now and then, but we cannot allow that frustration to turn into a personal attack. It’s important to remember that a community where people feel uncomfortable or threatened is not a productive one. We expect members of the Ubuntu community to be respectful when dealing with other contributors as well as with people outside the Ubuntu project and with users of Ubuntu.
  • Be collaborative. Collaboration is central to Ubuntu and to the larger free software community. We encourage individuals and teams to work together whether inside or outside the Ubuntu Project. This collaboration reduces redundancy, and improves the quality of our work. Internally and externally, we should always be open to collaboration. Wherever possible, we should work closely with upstream projects and others in the free software community to coordinate our efforts in all areas whether they be technical, advocacy or documentation. Our work should be done transparently and we should involve as many interested parties as early as possible. If we decide to take a different approach than others, we will let them know early, document our work and inform others regularly of our progress.
  • When we disagree, we consult others. Disagreements, both social and technical, happen all the time and the Ubuntu community is no exception. It is important that we resolve disagreements and differing views constructively and with the help of the community and community processes. We have the Technical Board, the Community Council, and a series of other governance bodies which help to decide the right course for Ubuntu. There are also several project teams and team leaders, who may be able to help us figure out the best direction for Ubuntu. When our goals differ dramatically, we encourage the creation of alternative sets of packages, or derivative distributions, using the Ubuntu Package Management framework, so that the community can test new ideas and contribute to the discussion.
  • When we are unsure, we ask for help. Nobody knows everything, and nobody is expected to be perfect in the Ubuntu community. Asking questions avoids many problems down the road, and so questions are encouraged. Those who are asked questions should be responsive and helpful. However, when asking a question, care must be taken to do so in an appropriate forum.
  • Step down considerately. Members of every project come and go and Ubuntu is no different. When somebody leaves or disengages from the project, in whole or in part, we ask that they do so in a way that minimises disruption to the project. This means they should tell people they are leaving and take the proper steps to ensure that others can pick up where they left off.

The Ubuntu code of conduct is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 licence. You may re-use it for your own project, and modify it as you wish, just please allow others to use your modifications and give credit to the Ubuntu Project!