Linux Mint, Israel and me

Guest post by Nathan West*

 My friends all know that I am a Linux fan. My sons even call me Linux Man. Recently, I built a computer with one of my sons as part of a family project. When it came time to choose an operating system, we decided that the computer should “dual boot,” meaning that there would be more than one usable operating system on the computer.

Naturally, one operating system used is Linux; however, there are many Linux operating systems. We chose Linux Mint, which is the world’s third or fourth most popular operating system. Not to lose the story in Linux detail, after installing Mint, I became curious about the Mint organization.  That led me to the name Clement Lefebrve who is Mint’s “project leader.” So, I decided to Google his name. Google suggested, among other things, that I search “Clement Lefebrve Israel.”

To my surprise, I found that he holds extremely strong, negative views about Israel; really, really strong, negative views.  In fact, I discovered that Lefebrve wrote back in 2009, on the Mint website no less, that he does not “want any money or help coming from Israel or people who support the action of their current government.”  And, if you do not agree with his views, he states, and I emphasize: “I kindly ask you not to use Linux Mint and not to donate money to it.This is very important to me.

Lefebrve’s post is pretty strong medicine and it made me wonder whether I should simply uninstall Mint.  However, while installing an operating system is not difficult, many days of work are involved in moving files and programs from one computer to another. So, I wanted a rationalization which would permit me to retain Mint.

I found two. First, Mint is, in fact, a souped-up version of the Ubuntu operating system (which has an Israeli website, among others), which, in turn, is borrowed in substantial part from the Debian operating system (which has more than one Israeli website). According to one source: “While I may be oversimplifying my view of Linux Mint, it doesn’t add a whole lot to the original Ubuntu release aside from a very customized desktop.” So, why remove an operating system when Mr. Lefebrve is author of only a small number of Mint programs and, even then, as part of a team of people, of whom, no doubt, there are likely many who disagree with Lefebrve?

Moreover, Lefebrve removed his statement from the Mint website and substituted an apology. He also responded to questions about the affair from Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., telling him:

“Yes. I know this was confusing because of the wording I used in my initial post and that was a mistake. I have no issue with people disagreeing with me. My real aversion is to see horrible things happening and to think that I can be working in harmony or doing business with people directly involved in them. If you disagree with me that’s fair enough, everybody have their own opinions. Now of course if you’re directly involved in cruel actions and terrorism (either on one side or another), you do what you want but I’m not sure I want to receive your money, your help or anything of the sort. That’s only fair and the difference here is that I don’t only see terrorism on the Palestinian side, I see it used by the Israeli army as well.”

There was also a stir on the Mint user forums, in connection with which Lefebrve wrote: “I’m proud of my opinions and I apologized for posting them on the wrong blog.” So, perhaps what he told Brother Fikes was just a bit disingenuous but, as always, I want to believe because I really do not want to remove Mint from my computer.

In the end, I decided upon a compromise: I would continue to use Mint but would do my very best – just as Mr. Lefebrve prefers – not to contribute any money to Lefebrve or Mint. Obviously, I was not going to write a check to Mint. But, I learned that Mint receives money when I use the default search engine on Mint, DuckDuckGo, and if I download music through the Banshee MP3 store that is part of the Banshee Music player, which is the built-in music player on Mint.  I do not download music from Banshee, so that there is no concern there and it is easy to substitute Google for DuckDuckGo as the built-in search engine for Firefox.

So, here are my before and after pictures of the desktop for my new computer, with Firefox displaying DuckDuckGo first and then with Google in place of DuckDuckGo. Nothing to it, you see, and you can then use Linux Mint without contributing to Mr. Lefebrve and remain true to your conscience.

Of course, Mr. Lefebrve is entitled to his opinions. He has the right to side with the Arabs in their war against Israel. He has the right to single out Israel, from all of the world’s disputes, exaggerate its sins and ignore those closer to home – he was born in France but lives in Ireland. And, whether or not his statements make him an antisemite is between him and his conscience. I shall never know – although I do suspect that lurking in the hearts of most Europeans who are obsessed with Israel’s sins is a hatred of Jews. Either way, he is not going to get my money; and he does not have the right to my money, even if I use Linux Mint.

* * *

*Nathan West is the pen name of an attorney who wishes to keep his identity private.

12 responses to “Linux Mint, Israel and me

  1. Its pretty understandable that the coder in question does not want this project usurped and compromised by entities that do not have our security and privacy in mind.

  2. Check this out, haters:
    http://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=2055
    Compulab is an Israeli company and they were working with Clem on this product. Case closed.

  3. Are you kiding me? Lefebvre is dealing zionist because every MintBox are built in Israel.

  4. 1.
    Re: Abuzibby
    Who are we to believe?

    2.
    If one wished to move from Mint, what Linux OS would your experience recommend would be the the most advanced non-Apple/Microsoft OS to migrate to? Long ago I was a happy Amiga guy (and very briefly Be) and I truly miss having such a banquet of uniquely progressive OSes to pick from.

    Keep up the good work!

  5. It’s really sad to see political views hindering the progress of a truly great Linux distribution. All the more reason for me to hate politics. I haven’t been in touch with Mint for a while but I do know that there is an Israeli community in the Mint Forums and Mint Community sites. I wonder how they will respond to this.

  6. It is always stunning how the entire bigot world seems urged to raise the Nazi flag whenever someone says a word against Israel. Of course they didn’t steal the land of people who had been living there peacefully (neglecting the crusades) for 5,000 years. They’re not keeping the rightful owners of their lands in conditions that are akin to concentration camps. They’re not firing machine guns at people who aren’t armed with anything but hunger and rocks, they’re not murdering children. How could this Lefebre guy dare say a word about not wanting donations from them. What a jerk, we should totally boycot him. Actually, why isn’t he in jail?

    • What bothers me most is Clem’s statement “I don’t only see terrorism on the Palestinian side, I see it used by the Israeli army”.

      The Israeli army goes to great lengths to avoid civilian injuries, even when it means letting legitimate targets escape.

      The Palestinians make it a point to intentionally target civilians, including children. (They have frequently attacked schools, school buses, and even kidnapped and killed young children.)

      While I wouldn’t agree, if someone felt that both sides were committing acts of terror I could understand their point of view.

      But for someone to feel that the only acts of terror are being conducted by Israel, what you have is anti-semitism hiding as anti-zionism.

  7. Mario Augusto Puga Valera

    I’m sorry for that awful experience.
    A lot of people have disgusting views of reality. I hope that doesn’t taint your computing.

  8. I live next to Gaza on the Israeli side.
    I don’t hate and never hated Arabic people. And I love Arabic music.
    What Clement said is not true. On the Israeli side there is so much pain because of endless terror.
    I wish the people in Gaza peace. Truly from my heart.
    I will continue to use Linux Mint because it is a greate OS. If Mr. Clement don’t agree with me, then I suggest him to come and be my guest in my home for a week or two. It is not funny to live under bombs for many years.
    Good luck for Linux Mint, People in Gaza and people in Israel.

  9. Johanne K Smith

    “…side with the Arabs in their war against Israel.”
    Provocative wording there. You really have to study history a bit more closely, or see it through unbiased glasses. Israel forcibly annexed Arab lands almost as quickly as it was created by the UN. When the Arabs tried getting it back they were labeled the problem.
    The reason Israel is “singled out,” as you say, is because they are a military and nuclear super-power who accepts “aid” from the US, Canada, et al. In turn the Israeli Government uses it to further discord between Arab and Israeli citizens so they provoke wars in the name of security.
    Any reasonable person should not judge an entire people on the faults of their leaders (I would hesitate to call a bigot of any creed ‘reasonable’), but those very leaders (Sharon, Netanyahu) need to be held accountable for their crimes against an entire race.
    This has nothing to do with Mint Linux, but lest we forget the important point.

  10. Hi Johanne, maybe if you catch up with the news from the Middle East, you’ll see that Arabs don’t need Israel “to further discord”… As for Israel provoking wars “in the name of security,” you seem to have utter contempt for Hamas: their leaders keep repeating that they pretty much mean what it says in their Charter, and their enthusiasm for “jihad in the name of Allah” is actually the reason they invest such enormous resources into accumulating rockets and building tunnels to attack Israel. A credible recent poll also shows that some 80% of Palestinians think that this summer’s war ended with a glorious Hamas victory that made it all worthwhile — so no need to pity the poor Palestinians. For my part I’d say: may all their victories look like their recent one…

  11. Why is it ok for Israel to mass-murder 600.000 Palestinians? Why is such a genocidal, terrorist apartheit country not sanctioned by all civilized countries?

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