Canonical withdraws Ubuntu Desktop 23.10 ISO after discovery of hate speech in translations

Mantic Minotaur logo

Friday 13th has indeed proved unlucky for anyone looking to download the Ubuntu Desktop 23.10 ISO -- it is currently unavailable having been pulled just hours after launch.

The decision to withdraw the Mantic Minotaur ISO was taken after it was discovered that a contributor had inserted malicious translations into the installer. Although Canonical has not revealed the content of the user-submitted translations for the Linux distro, it has been described as "hate speech".

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Canonical says that there is no reason for anyone who managed to download the ISO before it was pulled to be concerned. Aside from the presence of malicious translations, it is not thought that the image was tampered with or was impaired in any other way, and there is no suggestion of security issues or code being compromised.

Over on X, formerly Twitter, the Ubuntu team posted about the discovery of malicious translations:

In the linked post on the community forum pages, Canonical says:

Shortly after release we identified hate speech from a malicious contributor in a specific set of translations of the Ubuntu Desktop installer UI and have taken immediate action. These translations are being removed and an updated ISO will be available to download once we have replaced the offending material.

It is important to note that these translations are not part of the Ubuntu Archive and we believe the incident is contained only to translations provided via a third party translation tool we use for a subset of applications.

The post continues: "The affected images that have been removed are Ubuntu Desktop 23.10, Ubuntu Budgie 23.10 and the Ubuntu Desktop daily images. We will update this post with further details on our investigation and when an updated desktop image will be available".

There is no word on just how long it will take for a cleaned-up ISO to be produced, and it is not clear if the incident will force a change in approach to user-submitted translations.

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