Open Ballot: Do you care about software freedom, or is it just because it's free?


It's time for another open ballot! This week, we want to know, why do you use free software? Is it because you think the values espoused by the four software freedoms are important in and of themselves, because you think its technically superior to the proprietary alternatives, or just because it's free? We're open to other possibilities too, so let us know what you think in the comments.

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No one answer to this

Why do _I_ use free software, four reasons occur:
1. Some is technically "better" - e.g. WindowsXP on my Dell laptop is slower and less flexible than the Ubuntu that it's running now. That said, I'm impressed enough with desktop Linux that I'd probably pay for it if asked (I've bought Suse and RH box sets in the past);
2. Some is more "cost efficient" - I don't have a big need for Office type suites, so LibreOffice fulfils the need to do the occasional letter, I can't justify the cost of Win7+Office. That said, I'll quite happily admit that - for example - Excel is better than LibreCalc;
3. Some works where commercial software doesn't - e.g. you try putting Windows on an ancient Pentium II computer to use as a NAS or router - it won't work. On the other hand Linux (or BSD) does. Try squeezing Windows on a RaspberryPi! ;)
4. Cross-platform. Because the source is available, your preferred tool is pretty much guaranteed to be available on whatever you want. E.g. I use Thunderbird purely because I know that I can move _seamlessly_ from my Linux PC to my Windows one and not have to learn new UI's etc. Same deal with Inkscape, Gimp, Firefox, etc!
Open source appeals to me purely because it gives me the _freedom_ to do what I want, on what hardware, when I want, without having to worry about licenses, data formats and all that kind of proprietary nonsense!

screw it

I use what it is useful and awesome. I don't care about any of the politics behind it. I use Linux when it works and when it delivers powerful Unix-like platform. That's why I use propietary drivers with no doubts.

Very hard question

Why do I use Linux? Maybe not so much free as freedom. Freedom to install, uninstall, alter, share.


He aha te mea nui o te ao
What is the most important thing in the world?
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people
Māori proverb

Really. For me, the four freedoms support and encourage people to give, to share, to learn to work together, to be patient, to be polite etc. And I reckon that those are good habits to develop.

Not the current model, but the future one

I have a work laptop - Windows 7 and Office 2010 (no choice). I have an old PC - Windows XP and Open Office. I have learned Perl and PHP, used (free) databases and wikis to try to make IT work for me. I have used Linux on PC (mobo died), PS2 (DVD drive died), PS3 (still have it but it has been 'nobbled' by Sony). I am rebuilding my old PC, including Network storage, printers and scanner. I use 'free' software because I hope it is more resilient to the ravages of time.

I dislike how I am constantly irritated by Windows 7 and Office 2010 not working how I am used to, and my hardware not working with new software. I like how the 'community' has created Linux and programming languages and tools. Both have been driven by need; Windows by the need for a continuing supply of income, the free software by a need for something that does what it needs to.

The problem has always been the hardware. I need something that I can rely on that doesn't need me to rebuild or switch everything over. That won't happen with proprietary software, it might with open source.


Pretty much all of my reasons are mentioned above.

The one thing I have said to those around me is that open source software _must_ win, as in eventually be superior in every area, because it does not have any limits other than the imagination of the contributors.

Proprietary software has to fit within company objectives which ultimately comes down to return on investment (money)

I love the very short time it takes to get a desktop up and running with say ubuntu, enabling a broad range of software.

Another fact is that most seem to still even here talk about superiority of say office or photo packages.

How about opening CAD files in LibreOffice, or the fact that Gimp can handle a files around sixty (60) times the size of Photoshop.

There a squillion more. - please feel free to add.

Linux leads to Socialist Paradise!

Linux is helping to build a better Socialist world where we are freed from the massive constraints of commercial proprietary code!
Viva La Revolution!

Long story shortened

Free and freedom go a long way. I have paid toward different distros at times. But the freedom to put linux on any machine of mine or someone else and be completely legal with no harassing pop ups is great. The freedom from viruses and malware for over 10 years of use is wonderful. And now the ease of use and installation is fantastic and most of the time everything works out of the box. The vast amount of choices from desktops to specific distros for specific tasks, and all kinds of software to do about anything you can imagine makes it an operating system that is educational, fun, and extremely useful.

I'm with Newky

Its my machine.

I used SuSE from 6.3 until I switched to Mint.

I used to buy SuSE now I donate to Mint when I update.

Free is great but a business model that works is essential.


I switched to Linux after trying to fix an issue in Windows that was caused by an anti-virus program. I could only get paid help from MS, the computer manuf., or the AV people. Even after paying for help they said it was a hardware problem. I downloaded a live USB linux distro (Ubuntu) and the hardware in question worked so I cancelled all of my service contracts with the other providers and switched. Since, I have found that "Freedom" doesn't just mean "beer" or money, freedom to change the code, freedom to ask questions and get help, freedom to use the software as I wish!

Corporations are amoral.

For me it's the ability to not only tweak software to your needs but also, via the licencing (GNU/GPL etc), recognise the efforts of the people who built the original systems. I can donate to them if I want to. I can provide feedback if I want to.

I'm not constrained by a corporations 'good luck' licences, or paid support or decades old ideas or amoral stance.

The freedom to explore, make mistakes and learn from them is in my hands.

Simply because it works ... at least in the beginning.

I started using open source software because it simply worked better.

First Firefox over IE/AOL, then slowly Linux over Windows.

As I started to learn more about programming, and started to work more and more to improve my abilities free-as-in-speech became more and more important.

How long will it take us to improve our software if we can't look to other's codes for examples? The University I'm studying at is big on collaboration, and it's easy to see why. Working with several other guys I have chance to learn programming techniques and approaches I'd never come up with on my own.

How can I possibly write the best algorithm for a particular task if I can't look to what others have done, critically examine their work and improve on it? Please note: this involves a large amount of work on my part and is not simply ripping off their code.

Closing the source stifles innovation, that's simply all there is to it.

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