Free software is software that protects users’ freedoms and their community. It grants four essential computing freedoms; free software means you are free to:
- run the software for any purpose
- study how the software works, including full access to its source code
- share copies of the software, so you can help your neighbor
- modify the software and share your changes, so the community keeps improving the software for all
Why Free Software?
Computing technologies are a central component of the 21st century. We must ensure that these technologies can better society, and not work against its members.
Production of computing technologies in the public space means a better understanding of its outcome, an easier learning curve for users and developers, and an abundance of shared knowledge that can be tapped to innovate freedom-, privacy-, and life-respecting solutions.
The asymetry of power between those who control software production and the rest of humanity amplifies inequalities and fails to deter abuse. A free society needs free software.
Pervasive monitoring is an attack, according to post-Snowden RFC 7258, and more attacks have been discovered since (RFC 7624). Pervasive surveillance enables proprietary software vendors to spy on their users without their consent and capture private information, or execute arbitrary commands with privilege.
An abusive vendor may force an upgrade, capture keystrokes, extract, modify, or remove personal data, etc. Many occurrences of data leaks resulting from poor vendor data maintenance policies and zero-day exploits abound on the Internet, where crackers compromise massive user databases, or where vendors sell personal information to advertisers, or provide it to secret agencies.
Because proprietary software users simply cannot know what the code is doing, they’re predisposed victims to pervasive surveillance and the consequent risk of abuse of private information. Free software, therefore, is a first shield against pervasive surveillance, and a necessary step to protect privacy.
Read more about proprietary abuse.
Contributing to software freedom means to care.
What Does That Mean for My Business?
Major global businesses implement and contribute to free software: Google, Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Amazon, etc.
It enables them to innovate faster and at a lowered cost as development is shared among a vast community of developers and companies. Frequent updates maintain software integrity and keep it patched against recently discovered attack vectors. The free software community works for you.
Small businesses can directly benefit from free software by adapting existing software to their business needs, saving in research and development costs.
Excellence in Software
Free software is an indication that the developers care about the well-being of their users. But it does not guarantee the quality of the code. Code quality comes from experience, attention, refinements, and collaborative code reviews. Public access to source code and a lively community help ensure the code is performing according to specifications and does not unintentionally cause havoc.
Devuan encourages a participative approach where users can easily report issues to developers, and where developers can provide to each other’s code the attention required to ensure stability of the system and continuous improvement.