I'm often asked why do I prefer to use free software in places (Dakar, Libreville, Kinshasa, ...), where basically every human being is using closed source and proprietary software? Here are some of the reasons.
Not being able to pay for a license
Learning informatics was equivalent to installing a bunch of software requiring me to pay for a license. And coming from a very modest family, paying for a license was not an option. I've never really been able to explain to my parent that
- I need to pay, via internet, using a credit card
- a company located somewhere in the world, I don't even know where
- to get the permission to use such an abstract thing like a software
- for some time, then I'll have to pay again, to renew the permission
Tired of looking for the crack
Not being able to pay for the license, the remaining choice was to look for the crack. that was the most easy way to get the software you want to use. But in the mean time, That was a very difficult task, always browsing the internet, looking for the product keys, the key generator, the patch, the full activator, etc... It was time consuming, and boring as editors are always trying to make it more and more difficult.
Trying to be a good citizen
Even if they should, most people often do not feel bad about using cracked software. After all, there were no physical harm, no shoplifting, no unlawful entry into a building, no indiscriminate taking of goods. Why feeling bad about it?
Theft, from Wikipedia
In common usage, a theft is the illegal taking of another person's property or services without that person's permission or consent with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of it.
Property, from Wikepedia
Important widely recognized types of property include real property (the combination of land and any improvements to or on the land), personal property (physical possessions belonging to a person), private property (property owned by legal persons, business entities or individual natural persons), public property (state owned or publicly owned and available possessions) and intellectual property (exclusive rights over artistic creations, inventions, etc.), although the last is not always as widely recognized or enforced.
Above are the main reasons why I chose free and open source software. You can actually close this page, and go back to your awesome life, thanks for reading. But there is more.
The free and open source software philosophy promotes values that go beyond software
- It's about the right to own an item, to use it for any purpose
- It's about the right to study how this item is made
- It's about the right to customize this item
- It's about the right to share the item modified or not, with whoever you want
Fine, can we have some real life examples please?
From Software Heritage
Software controls the electronic equipment embedded in the machines we use to travel, communicate, trade and exchange. Software is just crucial for the proper operation of every large organizations. Software has enabled the emergence of new forms of social and political organizations. Software is essential to understand our society.
Maybe it's not perceptible enough, but free and open source software is already everywhere. Here you are:
- Aerospace: Open Source Software projects from NASA
- Automotive: AGL group, including lots of automakers
- Robotics: Open Source Robotics Foundation
- Healthcare: Open-EMR, OpenMRS
- Education: Open Sankoré, an interactive whiteboard software.
- Films: Sintel, and many other open movies by Blender Foundation.
It is no more about software, it is about openess and freedom.
The topic is actually very huge and deep, I've not even mentioned privacy, nor surveillance. I obviously won't be able to cover the whole thing. For those who want to go further, I strongly recommands the following links: