The Free Software Foundation (FSF) was founded in 1985 to promote software freedom. In the 30 years since it was founded, it has battled for the rights of users to control the software they run, rather than the makers of that software — still an critical fight today.
The FSF’s newly released video tells the story.
As the video says, the definition of free software (formalized in 1986) requires that software gives its users 4 freedoms.
- Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program for any purpose.
- Freedom 1: The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish.
- Freedom 2: The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.
- Freedom 3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits.
These freedoms are essential to put the user in charge of her computer, not the software developer or the developer’s boss, or a government.
The threats to freedom have changed in the last 30 years. Network services (sometimes made using free software components) seek to privatize our personal data; governments force mass surveillance programmes on their populations; medical technology has advanced to the point where we wear technology inside our bodies. Nevertheless, the four freedoms remain at the core of any attempt to provide a vision of computing that is liberatory.
The FSF are trying to raise $525,000 (£337,000) by the end of January 2015 to continue their work promoting software freedom. I donated today. You should donate today too, and help them hit their target.
Because software freedom costs money.