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Software which is FreeAsInSpeech.



SoftwareFreedomConservancy protects it.

What are open source projects trying to do? :

Sporadic thoughts and links ...

NB : this wiki is running on free software (CardiganBay).

CategorySoftware, CategoryFreeSoftware

The Software Freedom Law Centre

The risks.

Quora Answer : What makes you switch to open-source software?

Dec 13, 2018

I feel in control of my machine.

There's the abstract sense that I can feel more confident that the programs aren't spying on me or trying to abuse me in one way or another.

And the abstract sense that I could theoretically fix the bugs myself.

But also the far more practical sense...

For example, with Ubuntu, I know that all the packages I use and have come to depend on are easily available just by downloading them from the repository.

I had my computer stolen a couple of week ago. A real pain in many ways.

Except, I had my work and personal data backed up onto a hard disk.

I didn't bother to have much software backed up onto the hard disk. In fact when I got the new computer, I treated it as a useful decluttering. Everything I need to use, I just re-install from the repository.

Contrast this with my friend who bought into the Mac ecosystem. He has an old Mac. He has a tonne of pirate software from 10 years ago. All hoarded away on the hard-disk. When Apple update MacOS he finds it's often broken compatibility with the software. But he can't get new versions (it's pirated from somewhere, somewhen). Similarly he can't upgrade it.

His machine is increasingly cluttered up with incompatible, outdated cruft. Some of which may well contain trojans or malware. The whole machine is fragile. And stops working every few weeks. It's a slow, ugly mess.

If it were me, I'd reformat the whole thing, put a clean Linux (perhaps a light version given that the machine is about 8 years old). Or I'd just buy a cheap new PC and do the same.

But he can't. He's tied in to this mess ... and for what? Because at some time in the past he committed to editing documents in Word rather than OpenOffice. Doing graphics and video with Photoshop and Final Cut rather than Gimp and OpenShot. And DJing and doing music using some proprietary software vs. Mixxx and Ardour.

(I sympathize. I have this last problem with music. I only keep Windows around because of FL Studio)

With free software, apart from the FL Studio case, all my data is in formats which are relatively open. I don't worry about looking after the software, I know I can just get the latest, most bug-fixed, most compatible version at any time. Even if Canonical go bust, I'll probably find 99.99% of what I use in a Debian or equivalent repository.

Or consider all the little things you want to do with your computer .. download videos from Youtube and extract the audio as an MP3. Or to edit the pages of a PDF document. Or to quickly make some PDFs out of plain text. Or to do an incremental backup with rsync. Even when I don't have the software for this on my machine ... I spend 5 minutes with google / apt-cache search and find the software I need, install it, do the job, and maybe uninstall it again.

Mac users are trawling around web-sites, trying to figure out which free-as-in-beer software they can trust that isn't going to clutter their machine up with unwanted adverts and upselling, if not worse malware. Or if it's worth paying $10 for a utility that they'll use for half an hour.

I watch my friends and family with their Macs and shudder at how painful the whole thing is (not to mention expensive) compared to doing things my way in Linux. I'm literally screaming internally in frustration to watch them at it some times.

And the only cost to me? I just had to learn to use the command line and understand a few basic principles of Unix, of free-software culture, how to Google.

It's not like my friends and family are stupid. They could learn this. If they weren't seduced by the marketing of Apple, that the Mac is "easier" and that typing words is more complicated than clicking on icons.

Quora Answer : Should social (software) freedoms as espoused by the Free software Foundation trump technical superiority as implied by the Open Source development paradigm?

Jan 5


The political message of the Free Software Movement is much bigger and more important than the "look this is a cool way to develop software" message that the Open Source people developed.

Our world is being eaten by software. Everything we do in our lives today has a layer of software mediation. And that layer of software is getting thicker, and the layer of free humans with their own discretion to make decisions, is getting thinner.

So at the supermarket you pay a machine rather than someone at a checkout. If you buy on Amazon, almost all your shopping interaction is with server farms, not service workers. Same with most companies, you deal with websites and bots rather than receptionists. We learn from online videos rather than take personal classes. Factories build things with more and more robots and 3D printers and fewer and fewer humans assembling and welding parts. We manage our social relations via social media rather than meet in person in pubs and cafes. Yes, we love socializing and we do a lot of pubs and cafes too. But the proportion of our social lives mediated through software just keeps getting higher and higher. We increasingly vote via software. Manage our money via software. Manage our health bureaucracy via software. Police watch us via software. The military fights wars increasingly through software (cyber attacks on enemy computer networks and autonomous drones).

The world is being eaten by software. And that means the limits of your freedom, to what you can and can't do in this world, are encoded into and determined by the software that the machines run. And those are decided by whoever programs / owns and controls the software.

In this world eaten by software, we have no freedom if we can't ensure that the software works for us. If the software works for someone else, that someone else rules every aspect of our lives.

And this what the Free Software Foundation and the Free Software philosophy stands for. For the fight to push back against having our lives controlled through software, by giving us the right to see and control what software runs the machines that inscribe our lives.