It’s been quite some time that I’m active in promoting software libre and free culture. In all these years that I’ve been active, I saw many people that use software libre because they were excited about it. They were trying something new (for them) and they have been interested in finding every aspect of it.

However, when I talk about software freedom to somebody and that person decides to immediately delete its Google (and other proprietary) accounts, services, and software, I ask for patience and tell that person to not hurry. I tell those who make emotional and hurried decisions not to act in a hurry and to move forward step by step with patience.

I believe, freedom of thought is much more important than using software libre.

A free-thinking person makes decisions not out of temporary and false feelings but out of study and awareness. That person weighs the consequences of each action and chooses tools not on the basis of emotion, but on the basis of its long-term impact on itself and society.

A free-thinking person cares about software libre because that person is deeply aware of its rights and responsibilities.

Instant decisions often lead to short-term use and boredom of software libre, while informing people and giving freedom of thought to people leads to the right choice and development of software and culture freedom movement.

Just using software libre is not important and even sometimes wrong; It is important to think about software and culture freedom.

As technology and software usage grows in world, the need for software libre is being felt more than ever. We see new services everyday and software libre contributors and developers try to make a service/software like the proprietary one to make sure nobody is forced to use any proprietary software.

Some foundations such as FSF and EFF are trying their best to spread knowledge about people’s digital rights. However, getting people to avoid proprietary software and only using software libre is not an easy job to do.

We need more than possibility of using software libre to get people respecting their freedom and rights over their computing. There should be benefits for people in using software libre. For example, whenever I ask people to leave Google services and use software libre tools such as Nextcloud, I tell them how more efficient and useful Nextcloud is comparing to proprietary services such as Google.

Another example is telling them how tech giants are violating his privacy and they control their way of life and their current way of thinking by controlling the flow of information they get. I tell them how using software libre benefits them and gives them back their control over their digital and non-digital life by giving them back their rights.

Another thing which can attract people is that I treat them with respect. I tell them they have rights over what’s theirs and and I answer their questions with patience. Unlike most proprietary software that treats people as “customers” or “money machines”, I try to treat people with kindness and patience. This way, they understand that software libre is more humane. GNU Kind Communications Guidelines can be a good document regarding this.

Another thing that I always have in mind is to teach people how freedom of software can lead us to a free society. I teach them how their rights is being violated everyday and how governments are benefiting tech giants instead of people. For example, I tell people how governments spend millions of people’s taxes in buying license of Microsoft Windows when they can use GNU+Linux for free.

Many of times, I try to teach people about about their privacy and security. I teach them how software libre is generally more secure than proprietary software because we can study and/or change it while proprietary software forces us to obey its every rule and do what it says. I teach them how using software libre can free them from being a digital slave.

Finally, I teach companies and projects/individuals about how they can make money from their project by publishing it under a free (as in freedom) license and receive help from a large community to make their software better and more efficient, so they can attract more people into buying it. I teach them how they can benefit from the software libre communities worldwide and how they can be mutually beneficial.

I teach people how software libre generally costs less than proprietary software and how software libre projects are more economical for them.

I’ve talked about how software libre has nothing against selling software/services. I truly believe we should buy stuff from companies that sell software libre (or anything that benefits all) to support them. But some of companies/foundations are not for profit.

Some foundations are nonprofits working to promote knowledge and information for benefit of all people. Some like FSF, a nonprofit with a worldwide mission to promote computer user freedom, depend on people’s donations.

Our donations are not used for the financial benefit of certain individuals, but to build a better world. Wikimedia (parent of Wikipedia) is another example. Wikipedia is considered as the largest online encyclopedia online and it completely depends on donations. According to Wikimedia, 98% of readers of Wikipedia don’t give.

Imagine internet without Wikipedia; it’s scary. Wikipedia has a history of balckout. For example, about 1800 (English Wikipedia) editors voted in favor of a 24-hour global blackout of the site on January 18, disabling normal reading and editing functions. This was to protest against SOPA and PIPA. A lot of people, including a large number of students worldwide were troubled.

Now imagine that Wikipedia is completely shut down and never returns to its previous state. If we don’t donate to such foundations, this would happen. Free Software Foundation, Wikimedia, GNU Project, VideoLAN, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Riseup, and a lot of other great and amazing foundations/projects are doing for benefit of all and we should keep them alive.

It is important to donate and participate in them to build a better world.

A free (libre) license is needed to make your software libre, there’s no doubt in that. A software libre needs a license to be considered as free (as in freedom). As we can see in gnu.org:

A free program must offer the four freedoms to any user that obtains a copy of the software, provided the user has complied thus far with the conditions of the free license covering the software. Putting some of the freedoms off limits to some users, or requiring that users pay, in money or in kind, to exercise them, is tantamount to not granting the freedoms in question, and thus renders the program nonfree.

Also, as I mentioned, there should be a license. A software with no license can’t be considered as a software libre. Again, as GNU says:

If source code does not carry a license to give users the four essential freedoms, then unless it has been explicitly and validly placed in the public domain, it is not free software.

[…]

In order for a program to be free, its copyright holders must explicitly grant users the four essential freedoms. The document with which they do so is called a free software license. This is what free software licenses are for.

So, for now, we know that one of the conditions for a software to be considered free (as in freedom) is to carry a free (as in freedom) license. But is that it? Can we just place a license and make a software free?

The answer is no. What makes a software free, is granting people four essential freedoms as mentioned by FSF. A violation of any of these four freedoms makes your software proprietary/nonfree.

Of course, that software can be libre inside, but our issue with software freedom is a legal issue, not just a friendly relationship based on mutual trust. What makes your software free (as in freedom) is to make it legally usable by people by granting them four essential freedoms we talked about before.

If you violate any of those freedoms, you’re the violator of that freedom but still it’s the software that is considered to be proprietary/nonfree. As gnu mentioned it:

Proprietary software, also called nonfree software, means software that doesn’t respect users’ freedom and community. A proprietary program puts its developer or owner in a position of power over its users. This power is in itself an injustice.

License is needed to make a software free but granting a license to a software does not necessarily mean that it is a software libre. Let me make an example. Imagine I make software and put a license in it. Now, I compile the source of it and give it to people, of course with a license, but I don’t give them the source code.

That software is not free (as in freedom) as I don’t have access to the source codes. Let’s check four essential freedoms again:

  • The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

As we can see, access to the source codes by users is necessary to make a software considered to be libre and if you don’t give the source codes to users, it would be a violation of freedom 1.

Or, imagine a company makes a program but limits its usage/distribution for a certain people. Let’s say it says everybody can use and distribute it except for those who are placed in Palestine. Now, even if it has a strict license such as GNU AGPL, it’s discriminatory against people and it violates freedoms zero and two so it’s not libre.

Fedora is an example. Fedora licenses its distro under various free licenses but on its download page, it says they comply with US trade laws therefore people in Iran, Cuba, Syria, and some other countries may not download or distribute it. I talked to Mr. Stallman about this and he said if they actually put this limitation, it would make Fedora nonfree.

About Fedora, I should mention that the philosophy of software freedom doesn’t/can’t be changed by any law and no matter if Fedora is forced to comply or not, violating any of the freedoms makes it nonfree.

As I said, a program/software is considered to be libre only if it grants four essential freedoms (as said by FSF/GNU) to users and a key to do so is to give it a free (as in freedom) license and actually comply with the provisions of that license; needless to say that a license can’t violate any of those four freedoms.

Another thing to mention is that a premium software can be libre as well. Software freedom has nothing against trading/selling. But, there are some conditions. For example, it’s OK to ask for a fee for license but if the user doesn’t pay for that license, the copy the user receives is nonfree. That copy of your software can’t be considered as libre. You may want to provide a free (as in freedom) copy of that to a certain people but copies/versions you sold/distributed without a proper libre license are still nonfree.

Another thing I should mention is that you can protect your trademark and it has nothing against software freedom, as long as the trademark policy of you doesn’t violate any of four essential freedoms. For example, you can’t ask a user to not distribute your software because its origin came from your company. However, in some cases/licenses you can ask the user to distribute the software only if it doesn’t violate your trademark policies.

Also, you can’t take back any granted freedoms to users. You can give freedom to people who own a nonfree/proprietary version/copy of your software but you can’t take back users’ freedoms. However, some local laws may give you this permission but local/global laws have nothing to do with software freedom. As mentioned before, a software is considered to be libre if it grants users the four essential freedoms and that didn’t say it should respect your local laws.

I believe what many companies, whether working in softwaer libre or not, need is to have a No Bullshit culture/philosophy. Treating users how we ourselves want to be treated should be every companies promise. Of course No Bullshit doesn’t mean that companies should be or are perfect, it means that companies promise to be honest.

If a company ever becomes hypocritical, it should admit it, and clean up our act. Companies should be honest about what they do; they should be straightforward in how they deal with you. If a company makes a mistakes, it should apologize and make good. Companies should give what they promised to give. A company should not exaggerate or over-complicate its claims of value to its customers. A company should listen to you, and be honest in its replies, even if it means you won’t always like what it says.

Doing good should not be something like a task that companies are required to do, doing good should be core values of a company. A company should work based on these values, not for these values. The difference is that a company should not check if an exact statement is done, it should check whether its done for a good matter and by a good mean or not.

The No Bullshit culture should define what these companies are. A company may not be perfect but it should do whatever it can to defend good values.

In a video conference, Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sundar Pichai answered questions from members of U.S. Congress.

Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives strongly criticized the monopolistic performance of Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple at a July 29 hearing attended by the heads of major tech companies.

During the anti-monopoly committee meeting, Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook CEO), Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO), Sundar Pichai (Google CEO), and Tim Cook (Apple CEO) were accused of distorting competition. They have deliberately crippled the small tech companies and startups to take over a larger part of the market.

This was the first time that the leaders of the four largest companies had attended a meeting in the US Congress at the same time, although they had attended the conference by video conference and remotely due to the coronavirus epidemic.

This is good, but not enough. These companies deny their role in monopolizing the power of technology, saying that none of them alone is a major player in the world of technology.

What they didn’t talk about, is that how their cooperation and share of data is giving them enough power to centralize power. Also, this concentration of power has helped them to control the flow of information. No matter how good a company or a person is, the centralization and concentration of power can lead us to horrible things.

For example, Cloudflare is one of the largest DNS/Web service providers in the world. They have control of every website that uses their service. It’s dangerous. Imagine Cloudflare (which is an American company) decides to shut down all websites that are in Singapore because of U.S. policies against this country. This is just an example of why we shouldn’t give companies so much power that we can’t control it ever again.

Concentration of power always brings corruption. If companies feel they can control anything, they would try to dominate it, as they always have done it. We should stop this. Free world needs control from people, not companies.

One day, a little boy and his dad were traveling with their car on a road full of twists and turns. Suddenly, his dad loses the control of the car and after a severe accident, they fall into a valley. The father dies right on the spot, but the boy is saved and survives. People take him to the hospital.

The the dean of the hospital goes and checks the kid, it gets surprising as the dean finds out the boy is its own child. Now, if the father have died immediately, who’s the dean of the hospital? Please think about it and then read the rest.

Sometimes humans subconsciously have some thoughts for which there is no logical basis. Did you think that maybe the dean of the hospital is a woman?

If there was no dominant thought about gender, most of us would answer the question, yes, the dean of the hospital was the boy’s mother. Can only men be bosses? Of course no. Men and Women are equal.

This should be fixed. Also, it’s not just about sexism; it’s also relatable to many subjects such as race discrimination, etc. Sadly, most people have default misjudgements that can lead us to more discrimination; more racism, more sexism, and more injustice/inequality.

GNU+Linux desktop

One of the advantages that GNU+Linux distros have is that you can install various desktop environments on your computer at your will. I personally like Cinnamon a lot but for using Cinnamon DE, I’m not limited to a specific operating system. This is a problem when you’re using macOS or Windows.

To get Windows desktop environment, you have to install Windows OS. Same goes for macOS. To get Aqua (or whatever it is right now), you have to buy an Apple device running macOS. However, we see Apple Mac devices and Microsoft Windows OS dominating the computer industry and one of the reasons is of course the user interfaces.

Working with Mac and Windows devices is very easy and enjoyable for people. Most users prefer using Windows and macOS because working with them is super easy. The can install an app by dragging the file to Applications folder or just by double-clicking on its installation file.

They can update their apps just by opening Update Center and clicking on “update”, without seeing hundreds of codes appearing on a terminal emulator. Also, on macOS or Windows, you don’t need to manually install 10 – 15 dependencies to run a software.

Of course there are a lot of apps and software available that are easy to use on GNU+Linux but it’s needless to say that majority of apps are having mentioned problems. I believe one of the biggest problems for widespread use of GNU+Linux is the user interface and user experience of the DEs.

Most users are afraid to install even famous and user-friendly distros such as Ubuntu and Fedora. If we want GNU+Linux operating system to dominate the computer world and give users software/computer freedom, we should indeed find a solution (or use current solutions) to fix these problems.

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Google is one of the biggest violators of net neutrality and, sadly, a lot of services worldwide are hosted on Google servers. This has caused a lot of problems for various people around the world as Google discriminates between users.

No matter Google is forced to do this by U.S. Government or it’s done by free will of Google, it’s discriminatory and should be stopped.

Google blocks access to its servers for some people in some countries (such as Iran) and this made a huge problem for other companies as well. For example, some of the services launched by Mozilla are hosted on Google servers. Now, an Iranian user (as an example) can’t access to those services.

I know what Google did is legal inside United States but it shouldn’t be outside of it. Even inside the U.S. it should be stopped as it’s a violation of human rights and it’s an obvious discrimination.

I saw some news about tech companies changing the phrases “blacklist” and “whitelist” to make their products more contrary to racism. I’ve talked about changing the terms “master branch” and I supported it as it’s a good practice to remind everyone that racism still exists and we should do whatever we can to avoid them.

I believe banning the terms blacklist/whitelist is also a good practice to remind people that we still need action about racism but it’s absolutely not enough. As I mentioned this before, the main problem is not the terms but it’s in our behaviors.

There’s still not enough diversity in our societies and workspaces. There are still many racist people who discriminate against black (and other colors) people. I completely support action to remove/ban these terms but before that, we should remove racist thoughts from our society.

Banning the terms without serious action against racist people/thoughts is worthless. We still are facing many problems.

Also, the problem is not only racism. It’s also sexism and general discrimination. We should not think that there’s only racism. We still are paying women less than men for the same job. Anyway, I believe banning these terms is good as long as we first ban those thoughts.