19 Jan 2012 rkrishnan   » (Journeyer)

Helping the FSF

I like new gadgets and have been tempted many times to acquire some of them (like new Android phones and tablets). Usually these gadgets have a short life though (until it becomes obsolete, but still useful) and then newer gadgets come along. One can go on spending money and chasing these gadgets.

These days, I do a bit more analysis. I really think hard if I really need those gadgets and whether I can live without one. More things in one’s life definitely means less available time for doing other things (like spending time with family or reading books) and certainly more pain maintaining them.

Moreover, most of these gadgets do not respect the user’s freedom. When you buy a stock Android phone, chances are that the bootloader of that phone is locked. What this means is that only binaries of the bootloader signed by the manufacturer can be installed. This is true of most (all?) phones available in the market currently. Clever people have deviced ways to keep the bootloader intact and still load alternate OS images (like the excellent CyanogenMod firmware for Android phones).

When one runs these modern gadgets, the Applications (or apps, as they are called these days) are tied to the users account. The Application distributor (like Google or Amazon) can remotely kill any of those application or the phone itself. This kind of application distribution is very different from the way a desktop computer application is distributed.

These kinds of scenarios are coming to the good old personal computing as well. The UEFI comes with similar restrictions (I have to admit that I haven’t read in-depth about UEFI itself).

The good folks at the FSF have been doing a lot of work on Software Freedom and educating the users on these issues (in addition to supporting a number of Free Software projects and defending the rights of the copyright holders as well). They need to pay the staff, host the machines and support various campaigns (print documents, flyers etc). All these needs money. Projects like Android are successful because they are standing on the shoulders of the great work done for the past few years on various Free Software projects (eventhough Android strives hard to avoid GPL for the userspace projects).

Please consider donating some money to the FSF. I have been a proud associate member of the FSF for many years now. Contributing money is the easiest thing one can do to help the cause. A better way would be to work on Free Software projects itself.

If you are thinking of buying a gadget, think carefully if you really need one and if so, choose one which respects your freedom and don’t become a slave of the manufacturer. Also please think of donating 10% of the cost you plan to spend to organisations like the FSF.

Syndicated 2012-01-18 08:00:00 from Ramakrishnan Muthukrishnan

Latest blog entries     Older blog entries

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!