This is a repost (from here), with a selection from the original comments, of an item I put up some time ago. is probably an excellent place to continue, or at least, propose, the discussion.

Such a thing may be redundant, what with “Scientific Linux” and all. But I ask the question seriously. There is a fair amount of religious gobbledygook mixed in with Linux and IT generally, and a Distro like Godlessbuntu might be just the trick.

Where is the religion in Linux now? Well, there’s Larry Wall, inventor of perl and fundamentalist Christian. It was rather funny to see Christian biblical references spewing out as error codes during the shakedown cruise of’s recent MovableType upgrade. Given that this is essentially an atheist shop (though we tolerate the occasional non-Atheist. As long as they are not TOO non-Atheist, if you know what I mean) that was pretty funny.

Also, look at the Linux Calendar output. To do so, get thee to thine Command Prompt, and type in “calendar” and see what you get. What you see are the next couple day’s entries in the calendar, and there is a pretty good chance you will see some religious, usually Jewish or Orthodox Christian references along side some Commie Pinko History (often written in Russian) and so on.

But what really brings this home, of course, is Ubuntu CE (CE = Christian Edition).

Ubuntu CE (or Christian Edition) offers the user many unique features, including (but not limited to) a Built-in Bible Memorizer (which will allow you to edit the Bible… like Wikipedia, except with the possibility of eternal damnation if you put something incorrect in there on purpose 😉 and a Virtual Rosary, which (for some reason I have yet to understand) requires WINE. It would be too easy to go for the Holy Communion connection. Perhaps I’ll have an epiphany after I’m finished running this distro through it’s paces 😉

That text and an overall review is from The Linux and Unix Menagerie which has us pretty well covered on a review of the distro, as well as a mention of Jewbuntu and Ubuntu Muslim Edition.

So, from the Jewbuntu support forum:

Question: I’m stymied. I can’t seem to install 3rd party packages on Jewbuntu.

Answer: What, you don’t like your mama’s browser anymore? Such a kvetcher.

Anyhow, I’d love to hear suggestions on what Unbelieverbuntu should include. Clearly, there are things it should exclude. The Linux Calendar part should be, shall we say, cleaned up and enhanced (bowdlerized? … :) for instance. In other ways, we are a good part of the way there. Installing modern Linux distros does not require the commitment to prayer that Windows requires, and installing and upgrading software apps no longer requires animal sacrifice.

But what else? Let’s get working on this worthy project!


Some of the original comments:

Terminal commands, especially relatively arcane though often-used ones such as “./configure; make; sudo make install” are often called “invocations” by old grey-beards. We’d need a new name for them, lest it sound too much like we’re invoking a computer god. Perhaps they could be hypotheses? Formulae?
Posted by: Jason Thibeault | January 25, 2009 4:22 PM

Re: Ubuntu CE:
“Holy Communion connection”
Does it produce a virtual cracker I wonder? PZ would love that 😉
Posted by: Doug Alder | January 25, 2009 4:26 PM

Error messages saying, “You’re on your own here!” and “In cyberspace, no one can hear you scream.”
Posted by: Pierce R. Butler | January 25, 2009 5:29 PM

Daemons. Lots of daemons.
(In fact, I seem to recall a christian linux distribution some years back that had, among others, changed the term daemon, because it sounded too satanic. Can’t remember what they changed it into, though)
Posted by: Beowulff | January 25, 2009 5:30 PM

The whole concept doesn’t make sense. It is as silly as a let’s say a vegan linux distribution or a feminist one. One just doesn’t have anything to do with the other.
Also I fail to see the point of trying to eliminate all religious references everywhere, you would need to get rid of the year numbering then for example. Or rename all the planets. In general it seems more like something religious fanatics would attempt rather than rational thinkers.
And my Linux doesn’t have a calendar command, just the classical “cal”. Of course it still has A.D. dates.
Posted by: nn | January 25, 2009 7:33 PM

1. Get rid of the Godlike “super user”. Fakeroot can be tolerated for short periods of time
2. References to anything beloved by the church (WINE, latin character sets, Forth, daemons etc) to be renamed
3. Replace all adages in the “fortune” program with quotes from Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Asimov, Sagan…
4. “Ghostscript” to be replaced by “hallucinationscript”. And don’t get me started on gnomes
5. The “yes” command to be replaced by “maybe”
6. Get rid of the creat() function call, replace with evolv()
7. Default e-mail client to be… you can probably see where I’m going with this one.
Posted by: Barry | January 25, 2009 8:36 PM

Frethinkerbuntu could use the Reiser file system because not even a prayer would save him.
Posted by: eddie | January 25, 2009 9:38 PM

And so on and so forth…

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3 thoughts on “What Would an Atheist Linux Distro Look Like?

  1. Well, I’m more of a Fedora man myself (maybe that’s why I don’t have `calendar`, just `cal`, like the above quoted commenter?), and a suddenly disappointed perl programmer, so I don’t have a lot to add. I do have an atheist quotes fortune file, though.
    But my main comment is that I do take a perverse satisfaction from having bibletime, sword, and xiphos all installed, to help find contradictions (both self- and with reality) in their texts. You wouldn’t take that away from me, would you? *puppy-dog eyes*

  2. Ubuntu Atheist Edition would look like… Ubuntu.

    Ubuntu Christian Edition is an example of what’s disparagingly referred to as “Jesus Junk”: a perfectly secular product, gratuitously infused with Christianity, for sale in Christian bookstores, etc. Well, I don’t think UCE is a product exactly, but it seems to be the same principle at work. It’s not something we need to or should emulate. Frankly I always considered it an embarrassment to the Ubuntu community, and for that matter, to Christians.

  3. I think for starters it would have to be based on anything but Ubuntu. Sure, it’s great for easing people into Linux, just as it did for me, but Canonical is taking more of an authoritative approach, being less attentive to the Ubuntu community, and less cooperative with upstream developers.

    I think the most “freethought” friendly Linux distro would be Arch Linux since it’s simple, customizable, and cutting edge. Just as no two atheists are the same, no two Arch installations are the same.

    Of course you could also look at FreeBSD which uses a devil as the mascot ;).

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