Ubuntu Atheist Edition (hypothetical)

Have been, for a few years now, waiting for the perfect combination of dementia and wealth to come for me to buy a laptop and put Linux on it. Not because I’d particularly need a laptop, or particularly have a reason to yearn for Linux; but still the hunger for something new to play with persists.

I’m aware of the fact that there is something called Ubuntu Christian Edition, a (in its makers’ image) Christian version of Linux — and I’m not very surprised one of its main features seems to be a big chunk of parental controls.

I’m also aware there’s something called Ubuntu Satanic Edition, mostly as a reaction to the previous — I rather like the perversity of the idea, and the aesthetics. Oh, and the fact that it comes with a load of (free) heavy metal music.

Now, talking of niche markets, could someone whip up an Ubuntu Atheist Edition? (I realize that would be silly ghetto thinking, because God is no computer-relevant detail, and all operating systems are secular by default — insert a bad joke about Windows and curses here — but it’s a nice little thought game.)

Then again, what the crocoduck would an atheist operating system contain? Popups every five minutes, saying “Remember to deny the Holy Spirit”? A darts board with a picture of Jesus on it?

Well, maybe an e-copy of the Bible… with plenty of space for margin notes and rude doodles. (Nah, actually such copies of every holy book. One has to be an equal-opportunity skeptic.)

Lots of science would have to be included, of course. The problem is, it might be difficult to find an encyclopedia both up-to-date and free; but hey, take all the books you can, add a few reader programs, and that’s a good way towards reason. Maybe one could take a tape recorder and a lot of gall, and go around collecting words and sounds to make a text-to-speech program that sounded like Richard Dawkins? (Then again, text-to-speech being what it is, I don’t think it would be very pleasant listening to Zombie Richard.)

One could take the bones of some very simple Mario-like platform-jumping game, and do new graphics, levels and ideas for it… “The Escape from Ham’s Folly”, maybe? Or would that be a text adventure — “You have ridden the dinosaur. Your score is now 412/666.” Or — and I hope someone has thought of this before — “Super Darwin”? (“Thank you Darwin! But our finch is on another island!”?) Or a new skin for some FPS game. (Then again, some people read malice into the simple stress relief of making manikins out of your opponents… and then blasting them to gory little giblets!)

Wait a minute — Minesweeper… Quote Miner?

Some kind of a stress relief desktop toy would be nice, too. (Possibly to be launched whenever you close the news reader.) Maybe something utterly ridiculous — a randomly pinging turning-radar ghost detector (or a God Alert!), or an electro-homeopathic virus scanner. (Basically a window whose top reads that… and which contains no buttons and no code at all.)

(Well, laughter at woo is strictly skeptical, and not atheistic, just like fun with UFOs is not strictly speaking a Bigfoot-denier pursuit; but when I say atheist I mean “atheist materialist brimming with scientific skeptical goodness”, and not “Ah don’t believe in god because the mole-men tole me he’s dead”. And speaking of skepticism, some software about illusions would fit nicely; something for constructing Escherian pictures and detecting traces of photoshopping, if there is such a thing — if nothing else, a slideshow of optical illusions. And shouldn’t be too difficult to code a puzzle of the day. And naturally a fully loaded quote-of-the-day program, freethinkers being freethinkers fully customizable and reloadable of course.)

Hmm. Maybe it’s just me, but if it does not come naturally, an atheistic Linux distribution should have a spellchecker, because lexical incoherence is (by my experience) mostly an attribute of the other side. (Throw in a dictionary of logical fallacies, too. Also, since the subject of dialogue and the unsuccessful termination of it came up, a dictionary of insults — if you have to scream, you can at least scream something varied. And it would be so nice if someone threw together a dictionary of net-atheism: Godwinning, Godbotting, POEsy and all that.)

There would of course be no annoying regular ritual reminders: no “Go kneel in a corner for the midday prayer”, no “Fumble through the rosary, twice, praying to St. OCD”, no “Sit in a lotus position; try to not fall asleep”, no “Feastday of St. Whatever; abstain from meat and potatoes”. There would be no parental controls; Firefox would have Google’s safe search off by default, and just to make you face the ugly realities of life, randomly roughly once every three hours the browser would redirect you to goatse.

Aaand the previous sentence would be an example of the triumph of ideals over practicality.

If one wanted to be really morbid (and why not?) one could remember the idea of a death clock, and do enough algorithm spaghetti and queries about the user to show, in the place of the usual time-piece, a guesstimate countdown of the user’s remaining lifetime. Because it’s your only life and all.

Okay, heck, I wouldn’t use that.

And imagine the psychological effects of a glitch!

Maybe it’s a good thing no-one has actually taken the idea seriously. (“The file you are looking for does not (probably) exist. Try again? (yes/no/agnostic)”)

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