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You are here: Home FSF Appeals 2010 An appeal from Peter Brown

An appeal from Peter Brown

by Matt Lee Contributions Published on Dec 06, 2010 04:24 PM

Dear Free Software Supporter,

Our free software community has grown considerably in the 25 years since the Free Software Foundation was created by Richard Stallman to be a home for the GNU Project and to undertake the advocacy campaigns to advance the cause of free software. As we now celebrate reaching our quarter-century mark, we can reflect that free software is everywhere, doing everything, often in the most mission-critical situations.

Our community has created the philosophy, systems and tools that enhance society's ability to communicate and live in freedom. From Wikipedia to the US Department of Defense, from CERN to the New York Stock Exchange, free software is being deployed by our members, and with it the values of cooperation and sharing that we care so much about. Free software is the embodiment of how humanity can progress collaboratively. Its success is inspiring people to apply its philosophies to new areas in culture, government and activism.

This holiday season I've been reading an advance copy of the second edition of Free Software, Free Society and I wanted to reflect with you on one aspect of the aspirational goals that Stallman described in his GNU Manifesto from 1985:

By working on and using GNU rather than proprietary programs, we can be hospitable to everyone and obey the law. In addition, GNU serves as an example to inspire and a banner to rally others to join us in sharing. This can give us a feeling of harmony which is impossible if we use software that is not free. For about half the programmers I talk to, this is an important happiness that money cannot replace.

The Free Software Foundation speaks out about the ethical questions around the use of technology, and the importance of having computer user freedom, but rarely do we step back to say, to what end? Free software, and its values of sharing and collaboration, reduces the burden on us all individually. It creates abundance in software. And with abundance secured in one area, we are individually freed to aspire to achieve new goals, to break new frontiers. Collaboration in software, which happens across all national boundaries, also creates an opportunity to dispel the natural separation and conflict that occurs. Within our own GNU Project we have copyright assignments from thousands of individuals spanning 66 nation states, and the free software movement, launched here in Massachusetts, is now a worldwide phenomenon.

Stallman's ability to set out such a vision in his manifesto, and then get down to the practicalities of the years-long coding effort necessary to replace Unix and make that vision a reality, gives me great comfort when I see the barriers still ahead of free software and computer user freedom. The vision he set out in the GNU Manifesto gives us all reason to join Stallman and our fellow free software advocates in advancing the cause on all fronts -- because we already know how far we've come and how much we've achieved.

Today, our campaign efforts are focused on ending the patenting of software, and on ending the social acceptance of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). We are campaigning for free data formats and free standards. Our publication of the GNU GPL and our guardianship of GNU Project provide the basis for fulfilling our mission to advance and defend the rights of all free software users.

This year, the FSF will also be undertaking a series of new public advocacy campaigns to advance awareness for free software. This, our first series of general GNU/Linux adoption campaigns, is possible only because we now have fully free distributions utilizing a kernel, Linux-Libre, that has removed all the nonfree code normally present in Linux. And it is only possible because our new hardware endorsement program will make it increasingly possible to find hardware that respects our freedom.

Your donation is a vital part of putting into action these campaigns: to carry forward the ideals represented in Stallman's GNU Manifesto.

Lets keep taking up the challenge! Please consider joining the FSF as an associate member now, or making a one-time donation online.


Peter Brown

Executive Director

Free Software Foundation

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