Software Freedom Day – what is it and why should I care?
You might never want to look at the nuts and bolts of the software you use, so why should you support Software Freedom Day? To keep the software you want to use free of charge, and to make sure that the people who can improve it continue to do so. You probably already use, or know of, some open source projects – Firefox (a web browser), Thunderbird (an email client) and Open Office (word processing and spreadsheet software) are all completely free programs used by millions of people worldwide.
The developers who write and maintain free and open source software do so because they are passionate about it – they’re not paid for their work, and they don’t expect to be. By using and distributing their programs, you are helping them to continue making great software for you to use free to charge. Just by copying the software and handing it to your friends, you’re supporting those people who have written the code, and who work hard to maintain it.
When you download and install open source software, not only do you get a program for free, but if you want to, you can take a look at the source code too. And if you find something there you don’t like, you can change it. Submit it to the developers, and see your contributions go out to the next person to download the software.
With proprietary software that you pay money for, the source code is under lock and key, so you can never be quite sure what you’re getting. It could contain viruses or adware, have security vulnerabilities, or just be badly written, making the software unreliable and unstable. Open source software is not only free to use, and free to share with your friends, but it’s also a step towards personal freedom for everybody. With open source software you can see exactly what you’re getting, and can help to make the software better, even if you aren’t a developer.
By supporting Software Freedom Day, you’re supporting the open source community and helping to keep knowledge where it belongs – in the hands of the people who created it.
OK! I’m excited! Where do I start?
Drop in and see the Canberra Software Freedom Day team at the Computer Fair in the Bus Depot Markets on Saturday 20 September, 2008. See free and open source systems in action, get your own free copies of the software, and ask as many questions as you want.
Drop in to the Install Fest at the ANU (CSIT building – Room N101) the following weekend on Saturday 27 September. Bring your computer and we’ll provide the software and help you get up and running.
Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to help.
[ED – depending on how Kramer struggles with his insto on the new server the volunteers might end up configuring a dual quad core beast for us]