Software Freedom Day

Jack Wallen
Sep 19, 2009
Updated • Jan 1, 2018

Today I thought I would diverge away from my usual tutorials so I could point out that today, September the 19th, is Software Freedom Day.

Software Freedom Day is a worldwide celebration of FOSS (Free Open Source Software) that aims to enlighten computer users who do not know about the FOSS alternatives. For this day it is hoped that people across the globe will be holding events and passing out free software CDs to passers by.

Today's struggling economy is the perfect petri for the growth of open source software. And this day should be a perfectly fitting means of doing this.  But there are two problems with the way this is celebrated:

  1. Saturday is wrong day of the week to try to pass out software and hold events.
  2. Where is the publicity?

So in light of that, I am going to do my part here on Ghacks to help out the community learn and understand FOSS. For this article I will highlight outstanding sights where you can become involved with open source as well as other informative sites and ideas. I hope, upon reading this, you will have a better understanding of why open source exists, why you should give it a try, and how you can help.

What is open source?

First and foremost I want to set aside the whole Linux vs. Windows debate for this article. Why? Two reasons: 1) it is counter-productive to the very heart of open source and 2) there is open source software for both platforms.

Open Source is a not just a type of software, it's a philosophy that says the source code to software should be freely available to the public. Being available makes this source code open for modification, forking, etc. The most obvious benefit of open source is that if you want to change (or fix) the way a piece of software behaves you can. You do not have to wait for the developers to release bug fixes or updates. If you have the ability, you can make those changes yourself.

Of course open source is only a type of software that has unlimited access to code guaranteed by a license (GPL). Open source is also a movement with the purpose of fostering open standards, heterogeneous environments (and accessibility), non-monopolistic practices, and world-wide acceptance.

Benefits of using open source

  • Cost effective.
  • Huge variety of software.
  • User-friendly graphical tools.
  • Avoids lock-in.
  • DRM free.
  • Avoids monopolies.
  • Freedom to alter software to fit your needs.

And much more.

How/where to learn more

There are so many places where you can learn about open source. Here is a listing of the best places to start:

How can you help?

There are many ways to help the open source movement. First and foremost you can help others learn about open source. Many people do not even know about the alternatives to proprietary software. Education is the best tool.

One issue many people fight with is the idea that open source, by nature, is less secure or less user-friendly. It is that cross section of users that efforts need to be focused on. Educate them so that they see the validity of open source software.  Of course education goes way beyond trying to spread an "ideal". Other ways to help the open source movement include:

Install Fests: Although, for the most part, the install fest is a thing of the past it was a great idea. LUGs all over the country (and world) would dedicate certain days of the year to help people install Linux on their machines.

That was, of course, during a time when installing Linux was not an easy task. Linux installation is now quite an easy task. But that doesn't mean the install fest has to go away. Instead plan a Linux fest where people can see how it works, bring their machines to be tweaked or have Linux installed on, or show off Linux networking tricks, etc.

Hand out open source software: Download OpenDisk, burn copies onto CD and hand them out. OpenDisk is a collection of open source software for Windows. But don't forget to burn copies of Linux and hand them out as well.

Create a LUG: If your area doesn't already have a Linux User Group start one. This is one of the best ways to foster open source among a community.

Of course there are plenty of other ways to help spread the word of Open Source. Do you know of a way? If so, share it with Ghacks.

Final thoughts

I would like to see those who have developed Software Freedom Day do a better job of promoting this event. Eventually this day should become more widespread, adopted, and celebrated. I hope this has inspired you in some way to celebrate software freedom.

Article Name
Software Freedom Day
What is Software Freedom Day? Jack has the answer for you, and gives you a clear and precise rundown of what Software Freedom Day is.
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  1. Doc said on September 21, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    @Dotan Cohen: Firefox is MUCH more secure than any version of Internet Explorer…not the least of which it DOESN’T do ActiveX controls, will warn you before opening/saving ANY file (including executables), has a built-in popup blocker (which IE didn’t have until 7), automatically updates itself, has a security update roughly once per month (when was the last time you had an IE6-specific security update? 1998?)

  2. ak said on September 20, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    have a look at that event
    software freedom day at alexandria university

  3. Dotan Cohen said on September 20, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Are there any FOSS drawbacks that potential users should be aware of? Is Firefox less secure than Internet Explorer, for example?

  4. jseabold said on September 20, 2009 at 2:43 am

    For the record, GPL is far from the only open source license.

  5. RG said on September 19, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    It’s almost like there is a relationship between piracy and open source…just kidding just kidding :)

  6. Enigma said on September 19, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    Mmm does anyone else think it’s ironic that the 19th is also speak like a pirate day?

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