Yesterday I had the opportunity to represent Ubuntu linux at a symposium held at the United Nations, organized by UNITAR. Together with another representative from Novel, I was invited to demonstrate our operating system and answer any question that may come up during the event.
Together with my new friend Nathan Eckenrode whom I met approximately 3 weeks ago (he was one of those who answered my post about getting a free Ubuntu book. We had lunch one day close to my ex-job), we arrived at the UN around 9:30. It was a pretty “weird” day, with a very fine mist covering everything and everyone walking in New York city. We immediately put on our identification badges and went straight to meeting room #8. The event was set up as a “round tableÃ¢â‚¬Â? discussion, and right away I could see Richard Stallman and Danese Cooper sitting across the room.
Nathan and I decided not to install Ubuntu into the computer we were given by the organizers and use the LiveCD instead, so to give us the opportunity to watch the debate. I was very fascinated with the several talks, specially with Richard’s radical attitude. He gave me the impression of a person who thinks in extremes, never considering that there could be a “in the middle” stance. Still, I was impressed by the fact that he not only “preaches” his beliefs but is also always acting them! For instance, when he asked what the format would be to stream the webcast of the event and received no answer, he stated that had he known of this before, he would have not accepted to attend the event! I thought that was precious! The event was attended by several global delegations, as well as representatives from big companies such as IBM, Red Hat, Novel, Microsoft, etc. My “job” was to just sit by the computers provided so the attendees could “test drive” a free operating system, but those who know me well, know that I am a man of action and emotions. There were several moments when I just could not control myself and, for better or worse, spoke up my true beliefs. I don’t know exactly what (if any) impact my words had, but close to the end of the first session I pleaded to all delegations present, to go back to their governments and ask then to at least give open source and free software a chance! By doing so, I said, they would be freeing their people and allowing them to get the same access to information so many of us have taken for granted. During lunch I had the opportunity to sit next to Richard and Danese and exchange a few words. Danese was very receptive and talked about her life, daughter, music, etc. Richard, on the other had, was very quiet and detached. When Nathan, trying to initiate a dialog, said: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have just tried installing gnash, but got stuck onÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â?, he was immediate interrupted by Richard, who replied: Ã¢â‚¬Å“By telling me this you are not helping anyone! Have you reported the bug? Tried to debug it? ” and he ranted on… Wow!!! It is as I said before, he seems to be very radical and from what I could also notice, good with a fork and a knife! I managed to meet some interesting people from Red Hat, LPI, and Unesco, among others. If there was one thing I got out of the whole experience was that we have got to spend less time perfecting the systems, and spend more of it trying to get it to those who cannot afford to try them!!! What is the point of translating every single program out there or fixing every bug if only a minute fraction of the world gets to use it??? Anyhow, Nathan took a few pictures which I shall publish soon. The webcast for the fist day of the event (more than 3 hours of duration) is below. If anyone could extract the parts where I appear and send it to me in a free format, I’d really appreciate it! Webcast (You can see me for the first minute around minte 54)
Updated: Now with some pictures.