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Free software is what unites us

by Zoë Kooyman Contributions Published on Jul 16, 2020 03:33 PM

Sacha Chua's comic on loving free software

This spring, as the time for planning our biannual appeal came around, we discussed the difficult time all of us are experiencing: charities like us, the free software community, and every individual. And it led us to consider why people from all walks of life cherish user freedom.

The socially distant, digital way in which we are carrying on our work and private lives is affecting our software freedom. Globally, decisions to transition to an online and remote life were made with less consideration than we normally put into them, giving proprietary corporations access to parts of our lives we normally protect. Lately, we have been pointing to grim examples of bulk surveillance and privacy violations in the realms of education and communication to help everyone understand why this fight is so important.

But we shouldn't forget that free software is an inherently positive story. It celebrates the creativity and skill that come from collaboration, and the freedom that you have if you understand a program or can freely choose to rely on information about it from someone you trust. Having the right to read, modify, contribute to, and share software we use has changed our lives, and countless others. There are so many people who continue to motivate us to fight for free software with their work, so we decided to ask them to share their stories on why they love free software, and what user freedom means to them or their business.

We spoke with Pouhiou, co-director of the French nonprofit organization Framasoft, who told us:

"What I love about the free software movement: we care about the people and their emancipation, so we make digital tools to empower both. I mean, I've never written a single line of code, but I've been contributing to free software culture for many years just by writing words and talking with (beautiful) people!"

He further explained:

"By itself, free software is not enough. But mixed with respect for privacy, user-oriented design, and popular education, it is a cornerstone. To me, and to Framasoft, free software is the first and essential step on the road where we can built digital tools that can change the world, one byte at the time."

We also heard from Jim Garrett, long-time free software supporter and LibrePlanet 2020 volunteer:

"I've found that it doesn't occur to most people that there exists an ethical dimension to software at all. To them, it's not a question of one mode being more ethical than another, it's thinking about ethics at all. Frankly, I didn't see this clearly myself until attending the LibrePlanet conference some years ago."

One of the most endearing and positive submissions was created by Sacha Chua, whom you may know from her weekly Emacs News, and her notes on her personal blog at We share her visual contribution with you in this post as a reminder of why we fight for software freedom.

Check out our working-together pages for the complete testimonials

Whether your support for and approach to free software is philosophical and ethically motivated, or purely technical, we love hearing and amplifying these stories. If you have your own story to contribute, please share it in the libreplanet-discuss email list. We will be publishing items from our collection of new testimonies on our pages from now until the end of the summer fundraiser on August 7th.

It's your support that makes this work so impactful. Together, we can continue to protect crucial rights for freedom that are being sacrificed in favor of transitioning business or social life to be remote. Like one of our recent donors said: "Not enough people know about or understand free software. I just want to spread the word." And so do we. We are working towards our new member goal of 200 new FSF associate members before August 7, and we could really use your help. You can use one of the beautifully designed free software images to help raise awareness, and publicly bring attention to the need for free software using the hashtag #UserFreedom.

Illustration Copyright © 2020 by Sacha Chua, Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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Filed under: spring2020

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