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Ubuntu 23.10 launch hit by malicious translation changes

Ubuntu users were treated to the 23.10 update, codenamed Mantic Minotaur, on October 12, but only for a few hours before the ISO files were removed from the site.

The Linux distro creator said in an X post: “We have identified hate speech from a malicious contributor in some of our translations submitted as part of a third party tool outside of the Ubuntu Archive.”

The Ukrainian translation file was affected by malicious hijackers, and slipped completely under the radar, prompting Ubuntu to carry out a thorough investigation.

Ubuntu release pulled hours after launch

According to Joey Sneddon of OMG Ubuntu, who translated the offensive text from a GitHub repo, the file contained messages relating to politics, sexuality, and current events, and used “crude, provocative, and highly inflammatory” language, leading to Ubuntu’s almost-instant action.

In another X post announcing that the text had been remedied, Ubuntu said: “We want to take additional time for a broader audit before making it officially available.”

The operating system then shared on its own site that only installation through the Live CD environment was affected, and users upgrading from previous versions or using the Ubuntu Desktop Legacy ISO were not affected.

Citing its code of conduct, Ubuntu said: “It’s unfortunate when that path of collaboration is undermined and used as a mechanism of social aggression.”

Ubuntu says it has no reason to believe that users’ systems and data have been compromised, which means they can look forward to using Mantic Minotaur’s new features.

The release promises the latest GNOME desktop environment, a new App Center, and a number of security and performance enhancements. Ubuntu 23.10 also brings support to the latest Raspberry Pi 5.

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