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Freedom, Free Software and Free Society

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Yesterday, Portugal celebrated the so called Carnation Revolution. Since then, this day has often been called the “Freedom day”, because during the revolution, the Portuguese regime went from an authoritarian dictatorship to a democracy.

Thirty four years have passed since Portuguese fought for their freedom, as in many other societies freedom is now taken for granted. Though most freedom is not within the grasp of our eyes, and so the majority of people don’t know that many other freedoms have been taken from them on the last decades.

Quoting Richard Buckman and Joshua Gay:

The waning days of the 20th century seemed like an Orwellian nightmare: laws preventing publication of scientific research on software; laws preventing sharing software; an overabundance of software patents preventing development; and end-user license agreements that strip the user of all freedoms—including ownership, privacy, sharing, and understanding how their software works.

Proprietary software means, fundamentally, that you don’t control what it does; you can’t study the source code, or change it. It’s not surprising that clever businessmen find ways to use their control to put you at a disadvantage. Microsoft has done this several times, but they are not alone.

Of course, Hollywood and some record companies plan to use “trusted computing” for DRM, so that downloaded videos and music can be played only on one specified computer.

All these maneuvers are taking away your freedoms. If we don’t watch ourselves, our free society will bounce back to the authoritarian dictatorship’s times, and your computer will start to obey not you, but the “trusted computing” software installed. And the dangers are greater each year.

If you want to keep your freedom, you must be prepared to defend it.

Today you can avoid being restricted by proprietary software not using it. If you run GNU/Linux or another free (as in free speech) operating system, and if you avoid installing proprietary applications on it, then you are in charge of what your computer does. By doing this, you are fighting for your freedoms, and contributing to a real free society.

You can learn more about the Free Software movement at their website.