Free software users at home
I love free software. I really do.
I was at a friend's house the other day, helping her with some computer trouble she was having. One of her computers was running slowly, and she wanted me to take a look at it. The proprietary antivirus program she was using had some sort of system tune-up feature which I tried to use. When I attempted to use it, I found out that doing so required downloading a separate program with a similar but not quite identical name, then running THAT program.
This new program had all kinds of fancy features. It could defragment the hard drive, patch up the registry, fix broken links, and a bunch of other stuff. So I ran it.
It took over an hour to finish. When I restarted the computer, there wasn't any difference. It was still as pokey as it was before.
Actually, there was one difference. This new program was now running in the background, occasionally bugging me to upgrade to the full version. It was like having some dude camping out on my front lawn, tapping on my windows in the middle of the night, telling me that he'll go away if I pay him $39.95.
Also, I still don't understand how having yet another program running in the background could help speed up a computer.
So yes, I love free software. I love not having to agree to end-user license agreements. I love not being hounded by popup windows telling me I have x days remaining in my trial period. I love not having to run programs in the background that apparently serve no useful purpose. But most of all, I love not having some dude camping out on my front lawn, tapping on my windows in the middle of the night, telling me that he'll go away if I pay him $39.95.
Technology Support Specialist
I'd been playing with GNU/Linux for a number of years, but what really pushed me toward using it full time was licensing. Not the GPL, but the new licenses used by more and more proprietary software products that had so-called "Digital Rights Management" components. In essence, you no longer own your computer; you can do only what some 3rd party permits you to do, even if it's with your own files. But my computer is *my* computer, and my files are *my* files. My CDs and DVDs are *my* CDs and DVDs.
With Free Software, I am guaranteed that the programs I install are not spying on me or stopping me from doing something completely legal, because I and thousands of others can take it apart to ensure that it isn't. No proprietary application can offer that same guarantee about my own independence, and in more and more proprietary software specifically does the opposite. With Free Software, I know I am getting the most out of my computer and keeping myself and my data safe, not binding myself to what the company wants to deign to permit me to do with my own system.
The fact that the software is generally better and cheaper as well is icing on the cake.
Freelance Web Developer
The main reason for starting to use free software was that it was free (as in speech). It had an immediate appeal to someone who had grown up learning to get past the constant annoyances (at least some of them) of the Microsoft products that have been intimately associated with computer use in my life time. However, annoyances or not, using computers had become a burden for me because I felt more like I was being used by them, rather than the other way around. Not only was using computers draining me intellectually it was actually wearing me down, making me feel used and repulsed but I knew of nothing else.
In addition to feeling good about myself and my computer use, free software continues to arouse my intellectual curiosity -- the reason for using computers in the first place -- and allows me to partake in a community based on mutual aid -- the reason for a social existence. Free software and especially the concept of copyleft gives hope in a world where seemingly anything, however good, can be turned into a social malaise as with drug patents and the third world, to name just one repulsive instance.
Jonerik P. Sj�lander
I use free software at home for personal use simply for the principal. I believe that the ability to modify and redistribute source code is fundamental to innovation and progress.
I get the added benefit that free software has many of the newest and greatest features that traditional proprietary software just can't offer. Take Firefox vs. MS Internet Explorer for instance, look at all the great features that Firefox has: tabbed browsing, Live Bookmarks, plug-ins. Internet Explorer is months if not years behind on these technologies.
Other programs I use are Open Office and The Gimp. Two amazing applications that allow me to interface with the 'proprietary' world. It's amazing how powerful of a tool The Gimp is compared to it's proprietary counterpart, Adobe Photoshop; it's too bad that more people don't know about it.
We live in a culture where small contributions can be replicated throughout society. For this reason, one individual who decides to modify some source code or make a plug-in for a free software tool can have their efforts duplicated a thousand fold. These small contributions lead to progress.
When I started with computers (my first computer was a TI-99/4A), I was used to get my software by typing program-listings from computer-magazines. So I first read the program and if I liked it I typed it into my computer. And while doing this, I learned a lot. And after a while I was able to change them to my needs or wishes. It was so fascinating. I could talk to my computer and my computer understood me. It did, what I wanted it to do. It followed my "commands". It was so fascinating! That is how computers became my hobby.
But times changed. There were less and less listings in magazines but you could buy software for high prizes. I couldn't afford it, so I was forced into illegality. But also all the fascination has gone. I couldn't read the programs anymore, because they were only in binary form, so I could not learn from them either... And after a while even the command-line vanished, being replaced by some "funny" pictures which I couldn't make to do what I wanted them to do. My computer didn't follow my commands anymore, I had to follow it's commands. I was degraded to be an "end-user". When I am asked "what's your hobby" and I say "computers", nobody understands me anyhow. Computers were still called computers, but what did they have in common with what became my hobby???
Let me tell you a little story: There was a little boy, who just learned to read. He was so fascinated about reading that he read the whole "war and peace". When his parents asked him "What do you want for your birthday present?" he answered "I love reading, so I want to get a good book." On his birthday the boy looked around, and there it was: a package, which looked like a book. Full of excitement he opened the present. It was a book... a picture book, full of pictures and no text. The boy became angry and threw it into the corner. The parents did not understand what was going on. The boy wanted a book, isn't it? That's how I feel when I'm asked about my hobby.
I want to thank anybody who writes free software which I can read. You made a blind man see again.
I want to thank the GNU project <http://www.gnu.org> for they brought back the command-line to me. They made my computer understand me again. They wrote bash and all the shell-utils, text-utils, bin-utils, GCC and whatnot.
But also I want to especially thank the CrossWire Bible Society <http://www.crosswire.org> for "bringing the Gospel to a new generation."
I probably started as many of my fellow free software users: was using my proprietary software, found it was working bad, just slow, crashing all the time and becoming more and more slow every time an update was out; so I made some research (entering the world of free software will increase your curiosity) about why was this way and found out how bad this software wastes resources, I'm, as you may already guessed, talking of Microsoft Windows, I found out all the anti-virus anti-spyware etc, etc, made my computer slow and just hard to use; so I looked for alternatives and found GNU/Linux.
I discovered a wider world full of possibilities, customization and with the right to share not only my software but my knowledge and experience with other users, in a very free and easy way, just the way I got the knowledge from other free software users. This philosophy is really good and brings me satisfaction, to know I can help and get help from people I don't know, makes my experience much more richer.
In a practical sense, free software has made my work much more efficient, all the wonderful tools I can freely use and modify makes my life easier and efficient (like compiz and all the useful tools I can use with it), writing documents and make spreadsheets is very easy and faster with free software, I can research online very easily and use this information in a more efficient way; and the best part is I can share all this programs with my colleges and friends.
Get GNU/Linux, you will love it