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|SUBJECT ||Subject: [hangout] Free Software Day write up - again
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Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 09:57:01 -0400
From: Ruben I Safir
Subject: [hangout] Free Software Day write up - again
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Freedom OS - Operation Digital Freedom
Dispatch: Post 9-11 New York
30 June, 2004
On June 24th, 2004, the BBC has reported that the new liberated Iraq is getting its sea legs as a nation with the help of the GNU/Linux operating system. A Baghdag based GNU/Linux users group that has been at work, nurtured by my friend, and editor of The Linux Journal, Don Marti. The system is quickly taking root in this nation which is emerging from 30 years of brutal repression. It's a natural fit. A nation which has experienced genocidal attacks at the hands of it's own government, and is not still being rocked by fanatical ideologs and religious fanatics, is reacting by reaching for a centralist expression of their collective individuality and singular freedom. GNU/Linux, from its inception, remains one of the most power tools of freedom in human culture. In fact, the United Nations has recognized the Free Software Movement, upon which the GNU/Linux system is built, by receiving the GNU Projects sources and attempting to register GNU as to its Immaterial World Heritage List.
So what is this GNU Free Software stuff?
A technical discussion of the mechanisms of Free Software and all its machorations miss the point. Free Software is simply a tool for the protection of your fundamental freedoms in the Digital Age. It's the means upon which we can be guaranteed that the present and future tools of human expression and communications remain property of the public, and not the guaranteed protected providence of a privledged few. Its the means by which individuals can be assured that digital systems serve to be exploited by the public, rather than have the public be exploited by digital systems.
As a foundation for this freedom, Free Software provides world wide users of digital systems with a Free Operating system. What makes this operating system free is that all of its code is licensed to the public with guaranteed rights to the user. These rights include the right to use the software, to examine the code base, to alter the code base as is fit for the user, and to use the code and its system for any purpose you choose to. In addition, the GNU/Linux system has an additional requirement on the user, that if they make and distribute changes to the code, that they are required to provide the same set of guarantees to the receiver of that software. Together, this provides a working communications solution for the public which can not be obfuscated for the purposes of general political exploitation.
This might pose the question to some, is Free Software useful? Obviously, if digital systems don't work, then they can not provide freedom regardless of the licenses. But in fact, Free Software is more useful that proprietary systems. In addition to the basic usefulness of the software as a hammer or a nail, Free Software has an additional usefulness directly as a result of its freedom. Where would Holywood be without Free Software? Nearly every major motion picture studio is completely dependent on Free Software, and the guarantees of freedom implied through its licensing for their special affects factories. In order to push the envelope, movie after movie, they need the guarantee of free access to source code and design. These studios don't have the luxury to wait for a single companies versioning upgrades. They need improvement now.
Desktop publishing, word processing, database storage, desktop design, raster graphics, network services, educational programming, internet services, digital audio and programming language development are all rapidly evolving in todays Free Software environemt. And Free Software has been so successful at providing real world solutions, that the corporate giants in the computing world have stood up and taken notice. Novel, Hewit Packard, IBM, and Dell have all made major commitments to Free Software and have changed their entire corporate culture and marketing strategies to dovetail with the improved freedom and utility which Free Software provides.
In fact, the offerings of Free Software have exploded in the last 2 years. No manager in business enterprise or education can any longer ignore the obvious advantages of Freedom which only Free Software provides. Free Software has arrived, with 3 cover stories in Forbes Magazine within the last year. Free Software provides a definition of usefulness which can not be matched under any circumstance by proprietary system. This is a definition which says, you can use this software for any purpose that you see fit, without exception, in collaboration of others, for your advantage, without limitation. The complaints of the software end user is instantly responded to, creating a competitive advantage which can not be matched.
Foundations for Freedom
The foundation for all this excitement and development is the General Public License (GPL) of the Free Software foundation. Written and developed by the Free Software Foundation, with the major contribution given by Lawyer Eben Moglen, Professor of Law & Legal History at Columbia University in New York City. Designed on principles laid out by Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and project GNU, the GPL guarantees the the receive of Free Software rights and responsibilities. These Rights and Responsiblilies can be summing up as follows:
1.Users of Free Software are guaranteed to receive the source code for all digital applications licensed under the GPL.
2.Users are entitle to alter and change the digital systems which they acquire according to their needs and ability.
1.Providers of Free Software are required to distribute source code with any digital system they distribute to the public, under all circumstances
2.Providers can not restrict users in the use of their software or or software which they have improvemed and enhancenced when distributing the software.
3.Software developers and distributors can not prevent users from making improvements in their software, and to distribute those improvements under the terms of the GPL.
Today, around the world, people are gathering together to celebrate Operation Digital Freedom with Free Software Day. I would implore everyone to enjoy the software everyone to accept their freedom, and to exploit it. All prosperity, is depending on the pursuit of happiness. Only through the principles of Free Software can we be assured of this freedom in a future of increasing digital communications for our daily living.
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