Free As In Freedom

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Libre, not gratis.

I won’t go into the specifics of Free Software in this article, if you would like to know more check the references at the bottom of the page.

Freedom is non-negotiable

GNU Pepe

Your freedom as a user is the most important aspect of the software that you use.

A common phrase found online regarding services such as search engines and email service providers goes something like “if it’s free then you are the product”. This is a fairly good summary as it implies (accurately) that these service providers see YOU as an extension of their property.

The issue with this statement is the implication that software that is paid for will respect your rights. This is of course not true.

The solution to this problem is straightforward. Don’t use them. I’m not suggesting a boycott (boycotts don’t work lol) I am actually just suggesting that you opt out and choose to use Free Software.

Make a change

The most significant services you can change are:

You should also drop social media and streaming services.

It may seem daunting to have to switch all of your service providers but you don’t need to do it all at once. In fact if you do it slowly over time that is perfectly fine. You may find that you have to do so anyway if you keep on top of sanitising your email inbox, have ongoing projects or need access to a given social media platform to stay in contact with family.

In the latter case you may wish to get them onboard with switching to Free Software and Libre services too!

Every proprietary service you currently use likely has a Free Software equivalent. If it doesn’t then you probably never needed it.

Regarding Video Games and DRM

Video games are almost always proprietary. If you want to play them there are ways to do so on Linux including native Linux binaries. However for those that don’t have native binaries you may experience issues with their “Anti-Cheat” or DRM. I recommend just not buying games that have intrusive layers like that in the first place, it is unacceptable for these companies to treat customers this way.

Stay away from streaming services like Netflix and Spotify. Buy an SD card instead, store your music on that and stick it in your phone. Streaming services take your money and give you nothing in return, you do not own what you “stream” they are ripping you off.

Don’t be fooled

Open Source and Free Software are not the same thing and whilst many Open Source programs would fit the definition of Free Software in practice this is not true of all Open Source programs.

For example, the popular editing suite Visual Studio Code is not free software due to its inclusion of anti-features such as telemetry and centralisation of integrated services.

Another example is Telegram, the client software uses a modified GPL3 that makes it non-free and the server software is completely proprietary. Telegram is fundamentally no different from using WhatsApp in terms of user freedoms and privacy.

A common misconception is that Android devices are “Free” and “Open Source” but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Out of the box these devices do not run Free Software or Open Source software. They run proprietary builds of a semi-open source project but the closed source proprietary nature of the out of the box device makes it a non-free device.

Many of these devices can be modified with Free and Open Source Android forks such as LineageOS and GrapheneOS. With GrapheneOS being the superior choice if you own a Google Pixel device.

I’m happy to help

If you would like advice or some pointers or if you would like to discuss the topics discussed here feel free to contact me.

I will likely publish articles on switching services in the future so make sure to subscribe to the RSS.