David Seaward

Director of Trustworthy Services at Purism

Latest posts by David Seaward (see all)

Today we celebrate software freedom!

In case you haven’t heard of it before, “software freedom” is a commitment made by programmers: to release apps in a way that always benefits the everyday user. A “free software” application upholds these four essential freedoms, defined by the Free Software Foundation:

  • The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose

  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish; access to the source code is a precondition for this

  • The freedom to redistribute copies, so you can help others

  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others; by doing this, you give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes (access to the source code is a precondition for this)

As part of its social purpose charter, all software released by Purism is free software. That means our software includes a lot of free software created by others–thank you!

We make this commitment with a “free software license” that formally grants these freedoms. This means you don’t need to ask us permission to use our software–you already have it. If you are a programmer, you are free to tweak or even overhaul an application. If you are a consultant, you are free to provide supporting services. If you are an everyday user, you are free to choose whoever you like to provide programming and other services, or even learn how to do it yourself.

There’s a veritable rabbit-hole of information about the software freedom movement out there

But here are four simple actions you can take today to support software freedom:

  1. Join or donate to the Free Software Foundation. They originated, and continue to spearhead, the free software movement. In many ways they foresaw the troubles with digital civil rights that we have today; giving them a louder voice will very likely help forestall more troubles tomorrow.

  2. Buy something from Purism 😉 Whether you buy a laptop, pre-order a phone or subscribe to our services, your support funds our ongoing efforts to advance software freedom and safety.

  3. Try out some free software! Here are some great options:
  4. Switch to copyleft. If you are a programmer and lead a project that uses CC-BY, MIT or Apache-2.0, consider switching to CC-BY-SA-4.0, GPL-3.0-or-later or AGPL-3.0-or-later. Any free software license is good, but a copyleft license is better because it enshrines the four freedoms for your users. This is also applicable to commercial software. Our own software uses copyleft licenses by default–it’s just one of the ways we put the user in control. You can dive into the weeds at copyleft.org.

That’s it–feel free to use, study, modify, distribute and share free software. Happy software freedom day, and may the source be with you!

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