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High Priority Free Software Projects

by Matt Lee Contributions Published on Mar 02, 2012 03:48 PM
There is a vital need to draw the free software community's attention to the ongoing development work on these particular projects.

The FSF high-priority projects list serves to foster the development of projects that are important for increasing the adoption and use of free software and free software operating systems. Our list helps guide volunteers and supporters to projects where their skills can be utilized, whether they be in coding, graphic design, writing, or activism. The FSF does not ask to run or control these projects; some of them are in fact GNU projects (and all are welcome to apply), but we are happy to encourage them whether they are done under our auspices or not. We hope that you can find a project here where your skill, energy, and time can be put to good use.

Some of the most important projects on our list are replacement projects. These projects are important because they address areas where users are continually being seduced into using nonfree software by the lack of an adequate free replacement.

We also have a separate list of projects that require reverse engineering and a list of completed high priority projects.

Please email any suggestions you have about the list to campaigns@fsf.org.

(This list is in no particular order.)

Gnash, the free software Flash player

This project was removed from the High Priority Projects list in 2017.

Gnash is a GNU program to play Flash movies. Flash is an animation and multimedia file format from Adobe. Gnash is based on GameSWF, and supports most Flash (SWF) version 7 as well as some of versions 8 and 9. Although Gnash handles many popular sites and media (such as YouTube), much work is needed to be a full replacement for Adobe's Flash player. Visit http://www.gnu.org/software/gnash/ for more details about installing and using Gnash.

Ways to help. The easiest way to start helping the Gnash project is to use the program and to file bug reports. If you want to find out how to become a contributor to the Gnash project, consider joining the Gnash developers mailing list (gnash-dev@gnu.org), the Gnash discussion mailing list (gnash@gnu.org), or dropping by #gnash channel on irc.freenode.net.

Coreboot, the campaign for a free BIOS

This project was removed from the High Priority Projects list in 2017.

Coreboot is a free software project aimed at replacing the proprietary BIOS (firmware) you can find in most of today's computers. In many cases the BIOS or boot firmware is the only thing standing in the way of a person running their system using exclusively free software (learn more about the FSF's Campaign for a Free BIOS). Visit http://www.coreboot.org to learn more about the development of Coreboot, supported systems, and how you can get started running a free BIOS.

Ways to help. One of the biggest ways you can help the Coreboot project is to encourage vendors to release their specifications so that the Coreboot software can be made to run on those systems. If you wish to learn more about becoming a Coreboot developer, visit the #coreboot channel on irc.freenode.net, or join the Coreboot mailing list to talk with the current developers. One additional area where there is a need for development and attention is in the development of a free software VGA BIOS on graphics cards. We encourage you to pressure graphics card manufacturers to release their VGA BIOS as free software. If you'd like to begin development on a free software VGA BIOS, a good starting point would be the Geode LX chipset by AMD, for which full documentation is available. Also, some coreboot ports still rely on proprietary microcode -- we need to separate the list into ports that do and don't, and for the ones that do, we need to figure out how to replace the proprietary bits or work without them.

Free software replacement for Skype

This project was rolled in to Real time voice and video chat in 2017.

Skype is a proprietary Voice-over-IP program that uses a proprietary protocol. Skype is seducing free software users into using proprietary software, often two users at a time. Using proprietary phone software means that we can't be sure who is listening in, because we can't see the code.

Free software video editing software

This project was removed from the High Priority Projects list in 2017.

Many users are seduced into using proprietary software for video editing because they are unable to achieve the effects they want using the current state of the art in free software video editing and production software.

Free Google Earth Replacement

This project was removed from the High Priority Projects list in 2017.

Google Earth is a proprietary software program for visualizing and annotating map data. We need a free software version of this client.

Help GNU/Linux distributions be committed to freedom

Projects like those on the FSF Licensing and Compliance Lab's list of free distros are dedicated to distributing a complete GNU/Linux operating system that contains only free software.

Projects like those on the FSF Licensing and Compliance Lab's list of free distros are dedicated to distributing a complete GNU/Linux operating system that contains only free software. They are high-quality distributions that create a complete free operating system without any binary-only blobs or package trees that contain proprietary software.

Ways to help

  • Explore the list of free GNU/Linux distributions, try one out, and contribute to the project if you're a developer. To learn more about what makes for a free GNU/Linux distribution, see our Guidelines for Free System Distributions.
  • You can also help by working to move other popular distributions that don't currently meet the criteria toward being fully free, by identifying existing efforts within the developer community to remove proprietary software, and providing encouragement or contributions, or by making a list of all the proprietary elements in the operating system and using it to rally developers to replace them.

This is just one item on the Free Software Foundation's High Priority Projects list.

Replacement for OpenDWG libraries

This project was removed from the High Priority Projects list in 2017.

Reversible Debugging in GDB

The rr project meets some of the major needs of reversible debugging in GDB, therefore this project was removed from the High Priority Projects list in 2017.

Free software drivers for network routers

Free software projects such as OrangeMesh make it easy for users to turn their network routers into mesh network access points. However, there is no way of running OrangeMesh at this time without the use of proprietary software.

Ways to help. We need your help in developing free software drivers and other low-level software to run network routers. One way to do this is to contact the device manufacturer and ask them to release their specifications and/or code as free software. If you know of routers that do not require the use of proprietary software please let us know by contacting hardware@fsf.org. Projects seeking funding in this area should consider applying for a grant from the NLnet Foundation.

To get started, head over to the LibrePlanet wiki area for this project. Please share your plans and work there, so others can help you!

Free software replacement for Oracle Forms

This project was removed from the High Priority Projects list in 2017.

Automatic transcription

This project was removed from the High Priority Projects list in 2017.

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