A simple Luganda-based Free operating system you probably haven’t heard about

We at the TechPost are absolutely thrilled whenever we land on an amazing Technology innovation developed by and for Ugandans and Africa at large. We’ve a philosophy that technology needs to be localized in order to have a maximum impact in the community.
This time, we’re reviewing an operating system that’s almost entirely translated into a local language — Luganda — thanks to the tireless efforts of Mr. Kizito Birabwa. Luganda is currently the most spoken language in Uganda. I caught with Mr. Kizito last month at Mozilla Uganda’s anniversary where he show cased what looks to be Mandriva a variant of Linux operating system with the LXDE desktop manager.

Most of the Graphical User Interface(GUI) has been tranlated. For instance, for open there’s “Bikkula”, for “Go to” ,it’s “Genda ku”, for “copy” as you might have guessed it’s “koppa”, for “Move” it’s “Situlawo”.
But Mr. Kizito didn’t just stop at translating the GUI. He also dived into one of the most powerful tools(for advanced users) on the Linux operating system — the shell or the command line, the equivalent of DOS on windows.
Mr. Kizito said that the he was currently localizing the operating system core components;

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The main aim of the work that I have been doing is to get the underlying Linux system localised (i.e. the non-X environment). There are quite of lot of files to work upon, each containing several thousand strings to be translated. Coreutils and Bash are the first priority

And when asked about the availability of the project, he said the operating system would be open to all once the hosting website was up.

By-products of this work are a growing glossary of terms and a dictionary. When the website is back up, these will be available there.

We at the TechPost, we think that this localized Operating System can act as a gateway for some local communities especially those without much understanding of English to understand and use computers in their daily lives.

For the rest of this post, here is a tour of the system:


The desktop


The command line


desktop menu


Desktop preferences


File manager


File menu context menu


File details




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16 thoughts on “A simple Luganda-based Free operating system you probably haven’t heard about

  1. Hi David, thanks for sharing this, its very good. I actually got the files from him and am in the process of porting it to my Ubantu, its not a very straight forward process though, but hope I will be done with it soon.


    • Hey Sam, thanks for that info. Can you prepare a tutorial of how you’re porting the files on your Distro? Am sure some readers want to know how to and the post will be hosted right here or elsewhere.

    • Simon Vass,

      LXDE translations are being managed by the LXDE project themselves at lxde.org. We have been using a pootle server which at the moment is dead so we are now waiting for an alternative server or new system altogether.

      The underlying system files (coreutils),which affect the terminal, are under the Translation Project run from the University of Montreal.

      Other files are in the GTK+ toolkit managed by the GNOME.org via git server.

      At the moment the biggest help would be from people downloading and using the translations and sending feedback.

      There are a number of introduction/guide files and a growing glossary which can be supplied if you would like.

    • Apologies for the delay in response.

      Brian S, at the moment the best way to contribute is to install localised desktop environment on your Linux system, try to use it and send me your comments abut the current translations.

      If you find problems in getting it to work in Luganda,contact me by emailing ‘kbirabwaATyahoo.co.uk’ (replace the AT with the actual symbol).

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