It's time to reclaim our freedom from the abuse of multinational corporations, who use proprietary software and malicious "antifeatures" to keep us powerless, dependent, and surveilled by the devices that we use. There's no time at which it's more important to turn these unfortunate facts into positive action than the holiday season.
The gifts that we recommend here might not be making headlines, but they're the rare exception to the apparent rule that devices should mistreat their users. We encourage you to take a close look at our recommendations and see if they might work for you or a loved one.
To minimize ecological waste and encourage free software adoption, we advise you to end that cycle of forced obsolescence and user exploitation, and opt to try running free software on a device you already own.
If you're unlucky enough to get a gift that doesn't respect your freedom, you can still help others avoid it by documenting its ethical pitfalls. And if you're a strongly technical user, this year's Guide also lists devices that need a little help or development to cross the freedom "finish line."
Share the Guide! Use the hashtag #FreedomToShare on social media sites like Mastodon, GNU social, or Twitter. You might get a gift out of it yourself!
You can help others know which devices to avoid by documenting hardware you own that does or doesn't work with free software in the h-node database.
Join a growing community of volunteers to help individuals choose hardware compatible with their freedom, even if they don't have Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification.
Freedom is the gift that keeps on giving. By giving your friend or family member an FSF associate membership, you can show them you care and benefit the cause for global software freedom. Or, add it to your wishlist and let your own friends and family know you want to support the FSF!
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Why it's cool: The X200 is one of the few home user devices that's able to run fully free software from top to bottom. Starting with an attractive user interface and extending through the microcode (or "BIOS") at the heart of the system, this laptop is powered by software that takes your freedom and privacy seriously.
While it may be a little vintage, what it lacks in speed it makes up for in utmost respect to user freedom. It's so good that it's the laptop that's most frequently used in the FSF office!
Why it's cool: Trying to get closer to 100% free but stuck with a proprietary Wi-Fi card? Just plug this into your USB port and you're ready to go.
Each and every day, free software reaches more devices and is used in more interesting contexts. While we haven't evaluated these products specifically in our RYF program, we're including mentions of certain communities who are going in the right direction when it comes to freedom, but who aren't fully there yet. They're already making waves, but need the help of developers or technical users in crossing the freedom "finish line" to full acceptability.
If you know of a project or company we've missed who are earnestly working to free their devices, but who need a little help in doing so, please let us know!
There are plenty of places to get your literature fix without the shackles of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). We're highlighting some publishers and shops you should patronize below!
Despite the efforts of companies like Spotify, we can still dance to music in the free world. Thanks to the artists, producers, record labels, and shops highlighted on on our Guide to DRM-free Living, the rights-respecting options are nearly endless. Check out music from great labels and artists, including:
Apple Music is no better, and places heavy restrictions on the music streamed through the platform.
Over the past few years, many people have unfortunately become more dependent on streaming media. But it's important to remember how streaming services can deprive you of important rights. "Dis-services" like Disney+ and Netflix mandate the use of a hardware-level backdoor called Widevine, giving them permanent access into deep components of your machine. Don't be swayed by them -- even if your access is gratis and "ad-supported."
Widevine prohibits these services from running on many older devices, leaving families who can't afford a new computer or a new television out in the cold.
Try these video services and sites instead:
Visit the Guide to DRM-free Living for more suggestions on how to stay a film lover and keep your freedom at the same time.
Netflix is continuing its disturbing trend of making onerous DRM the norm for streaming media. That's why they were a target for last year's International Day Against DRM (IDAD).
They're also leveraging their place in the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to advocate for tighter restrictions on users, and drove the effort to embed DRM into the fabric of the Web.
The FSF's long-running h-node project has recently seen an uptick in activity, and we need your help to document how well free software runs on common devices.
By registering an account on h-node and filling out listings for your hardware, you can help newcomers to the free software movement select hardware that will make their transition as easy as possible. You can also participate in the h-node community by joining the #h-node channel on the Libera.Chat IRC network.
If you're in the Boston area and would like to volunteer some time in support of free software and the FSF's mission, get in touch with us! We're always in need of help stuffing envelopes, scanning copyright assignments, and more. One great place to get involved in volunteering is our upcoming LibrePlanet 2023 conference.
Do you have a product that you think is eligible for RYF certification? Read our information for hardware vendors to find out.
The Giving Guide is brought to you by the Free Software Foundation. Our associate membership program is the heart of the FSF's work campaigning for computer user freedom worldwide. If you're still looking for a gift, and want to put your money towards digital freedom, please consider becoming a member or donating to another charity supported by your friend or loved one.
We've been fighting for digital freedoms since 1985, and have no plans of stopping. The work we do year-round is work to provide more and better options for gifts: spreading the message of software freedom, as well as helping retailers do the right thing and promoting the work of those who do. It's your support that makes this work possible.
This page by the Free Software Foundation is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license.
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