Canonical licences 'satanists' selling Ubuntu-esque t-shirts

There are, of course, many Linux distros based on Ubuntu out there (Shift Linux was, for a time, one of them). Among the religious derivatives, we have seen the Ubuntu Christian Edition,

the Ubuntu Muslim Edition,

and the Ubuntu Satanic Edition.

Normally the Ubuntu spirit of mutual respect keeps most people happy, but, according to their website, the developers of the Ubuntu Satanic Edition had run into trouble with Canonical, the company that oversees the Ubuntu distro, over what might be called an "image" issue, but what could have proved to be a "freedom of religion" publicity nightmare for Canonical.

Why? The Ubuntu Satanic Edition ("Linux for the Damned") is known for its dark Gnome themes ("Inhuman" and "Recant"), demonic wallpapers (featuring flames, pentagrams, bats, devils, skulls, etc), and special screensaver. The distro's developers had been running a CafePress store featuring merchandise that incorporates their distinctive re-imagining of the Ubuntu logo, and Canonical, citing trademark violations, had earlier last week asked them to close down their shop.

Distraught, the Ubuntu Satanic Edition team reported, "You may know that we used to have a cafepress store which sold t-shirts and stickers. It was completely commission free and we made no money from it - which made the stuff as cheap as possible. Well, it seems that Canonical is enforcing their intellectual property rights over the Ubuntu name. The store is now closed and you will no longer be able to buy any Ubuntu Satanic merchandise. This saddens us. We are big fans of Ubuntu and have a lot of respect for Canonical. However, they need to understand that a phenomenon such as Ubuntu is only as strong as its community and alienating that community over the sale of a couple of lousy t-shirts is not the way to go."

On Thursday, Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon responded, vowing to investigate and writing, "Hi - I am the Ubuntu Community Manager. Could you email the letter that you received on this to jono AT ubuntu DOT com and I will check into it. Thanks!"

On Friday, Bacon returned with a favourable resolution to the situation, stating, "I checked into it and I have managed to clear this up. Some kind of mistake occured and the Ubuntu Satanic Edition folks should not have got that letter. I spoke with our trademarks folks and they will be sending them an explicit trademark license as their merch is clearly under parady [sic], which we are indeed cool about in the trademark license. Rock on!"

So, this appears not to be the end of the road for Ubuntu Satanic Edition merchandise, and Ubuntu's reputation for tolerance and community seems to have been given a new lease of life.

Update: On Monday (22 June), the Ubuntu Satanic Edition developers breathed a public sigh of relief, writing, "Thanks to everyone in the community who got behind us and also Ubuntu and Canonical for 'not being evil'. That’s our job, after all. The store will be back on line once we receive the official license agreement."

Update: On Tuesday (23 June), Canonical's Jane Silber confirmed that, as far as the company is concerned, the issue has indeed been settled, writing, "That project [the Ubuntu Satanic Edition] is developed and supported by the open-source community rather than Canonical. We support the open-source community and the freedoms that Ubuntu enables. There was in fact a communication issue about the merchandise being sold, which has now been resolved."

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45 Comments

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They can still have a satanic version, they just can't call it Ubuntu. The software's open, but a trademark's a trademark. If someone made a broken version of it and still called it Ubuntu, it would give users an impression that was not intended by Canonical. This version may not be broken, but its users will still be able to obtain it, just under another name. They can even create a meta-package for Ubuntu, which is pretty much what they have now.

Yep, just like the non-theist editions come with a religious discussion tracker in which you can easily select from an predefined list of responses to espouse your hatred of religion anytime something remotely related to religion pops up somewhere on the internet.

Solid Knight said,
Yep, just like the non-theist editions come with a religious discussion tracker in which you can easily select from an predefined list of responses to espouse your hatred of religion anytime something remotely related to religion pops up somewhere on the internet.

oh thats awesome, i want one of those

I guess if Neowin supports Satanism than I don't support Neowin anymore. People don't realize Satan and demons are very real and toying with them or worshiping them is not the way to go. Hell is a very real place that to many people are going to end up one day.

jmc15john said,
I guess if Neowin supports Satanism than I don't support Neowin anymore. People don't realize Satan and demons are very real and toying with them or worshiping them is not the way to go. Hell is a very real place that to many people are going to end up one day.

Keep me a seat.

jmc15john said,
I guess if Neowin supports Satanism than I don't support Neowin anymore. People don't realize Satan and demons are very real and toying with them or worshiping them is not the way to go. Hell is a very real place that to many people are going to end up one day.

I seriously doubt they are supporting Satanism, it seems more over they are expressing endorsement of rights for people to have a choice. I firmly believe in what you said about Satan, demons & hell being a Christian myself, but I also take into consideration that the Bible tells people to choose this day whom they will serve. Choosing means there are available choices and I never see my faith as empowerment to eliminate choices.

jmc15john said,
I guess if Neowin supports Satanism than I don't support Neowin anymore. People don't realize Satan and demons are very real and toying with them or worshiping them is not the way to go. Hell is a very real place that to many people are going to end up one day.

what mushrooms did you eat. the old preachers did drugs, mushrooms are in the design of some of their hats.

Shiranui said,
Personally, I find the Christian edition the creepiest of the lot.

As a Christian myself I defend people's right to choose their own beliefs because the expression of my faith is [should be] protected under the same umbrella as atheists expressing theirs. Personally I think people who go out of their way to tell us of their hatred of religion are just the flip side of the coin of those who abuse religion for a certain agenda

revparadigm said,
As a Christian myself I defend people's right to choose their own beliefs because the expression of my faith is [should be] protected under the same umbrella as atheists expressing theirs. Personally I think people who go out of their way to tell us of their hatred of religion are just the flip side of the coin of those who abuse religion for a certain agenda :)

Er, Atheism is not a faith. It is an absence of faith, the very same absence of faith, I might add, that you were born with prior to your indoctrination.

Your atheism with regard to Islam, for example, remains as strong as ever, I would imagine.


The only agenda an atheist should have is to ensure the the pious keep their beliefs, in whatever, to themselves, where they belong.

Anyway, this is not the place for this kind of discussion.
I apologise for dragging this thread down to the level of pointless discussions of supernatural phenomena.

Awesome, you didn't address his point and you poorly defined atheism which is entirely irrelevant. To reiterate his point, he finds it in bad taste for people to go out of their way to express their hatred of religion.

mindscape said,
This is a joke right?

Why? I would think that L. Ron Hubbard (the founder of Scientology, and a crackerjack SF/fantasy author) would actually approve of Ubuntu Voltarian Edition.

Shiranui said,
No. Religion is a joke. A very, very bad joke.


So is the size of your dick, but no one ever feels obligated to bring that up.

A.B.L.N.N. said,
So is the size of your dick, but no one ever feels obligated to bring that up.

Oops, you just outed yourself.

And apart from being more than adequately sized, my private parts have not been mutilated in anyway in the name of anyone's imaginary friend.

First I've heard about religious versions, seems like a dumb idea as all I assume it is is a different theme. They were asking for trouble.

We in the U.S. have been suffering the erosion of our civil rights over the last two decades, with a marked increase during the years of 2000-2008. It may seem silly to fight for the right of parody, but every single reduction of our civil rights, no matter how small, leads down the slippery slope towards total repression.


"One man's theology is another man's belly laugh."
-From the "Notebooks of Lazarus Long," by Robert A. Heinlein.

Don't think a theme or lack of would count as an "erosion of our civil rights" as you're free to download them. Still think getting involved in something like religion when there's no need is asking for trouble.

And if you think things are bad over there try living in the UK!

m.keeley said,
First I've heard about religious versions, seems like a dumb idea as all I assume it is is a different theme. They were asking for trouble.


How is that, given that Canonical isn't based in the US?

Further, freedom is religion is *explicitly* mentioned in the Constitution of the United States (which is why I have trouble with the neo-con Judeo-Christian arguments; they simply can't pass Constitutional muster).

Contrariwise, I also therefore take issue with the labeling of *any* religious group, no matter how small, as a *cult* (for the same reason; besides, didn't all relgigions start out smaller, and therefore, start as *cults*?).

Sounds like another way of persecuting what we don't understand.

m.keeley said,
And if you think things are bad over there try living in the UK!

Oh come on, the UK is still gold when compared to the US.
I really wouldn't want to live in the US, not for a million!

Anyway, two thumbs up for the Ubuntu Satanic Edition!

On topic does it really matter that someone has developed it around a theme that is't illegal?? If you don't like it don't install it??

Off topic as a UK citizen born and bred I would love to know why you wouldn't live in the US as you put it, "not for a million?" Whilst in some areas of worl politics, economincs and geography it is completely retarded, I would rather live there than in a country that is one of the most taxed places in the developed world. Seriously oppressed and under the control of the bureaucats in the EU, what's good about the UK anymore??

Yes some things the states need to develop on, but as a whole I'd rather be there!!!!!