Software Freedom

This is something that has been worrying me for a while and it’s coming stronger every day, and today a blog post pushed me to start a blog post about that.

We, free (libre, as in freedom) software users are used to prefer open source software over closed source, and I think it’s great, I’m not going to discuss about that now though, there’s plenty of literature about that. My concern today is about distributed services (some people call it the cloud if you wish). A lot of them have appeared lately, and that’s great, but as great as it is I’d like to discuss how much do we want to embrace that, just having a free client is not enough freedom, implementing an open protocol if there are no free servers is not enough freedom. We can compromise, but we don’t compromise by default.

We all want to be able to access our data everywhere, with multiple clients, multiple platforms, etc. It’s so great we’re writing software to support distributed services, distributed systems are great. The problem is we’re providing them our data just by exchanging some “I Agree” contract when signing in which we think could protect us to some extent. We wouldn’t trust on that locally, why do we when distributed?

I think the inflection here comes to the “Am I capable to install that service on my own server?”. If we have an alternative, it’s just our choice to be using the distributed service or not. I think we don’t want to introduce people to closed source software just because it’s easy. Do we?

PS: Yes, I have a Skype account and use it.

9 thoughts on “Software Freedom”

  1. I agree with most you said, we can’t trust that web services will save our data without looking at it just because the contract says they so.
    But if:

    – All data that went to/from the server was encrypted/decrypted on the client (an open client)
    – And all data was easy to recover in an open format (standard for all services ideally)

    Then it could work as I could change to another service whenever I want and even being on the cloud I could conserve my privacy.
    yet the 2 above points should be obligatory by law or else who would want to do it.
    There should also be libre server software that anyone could put on his own server of course.
    this would be a solution to make the cloud be good for everyone but i guess it would be difficult to make the companies accept it

  2. But the thing is that it’s us (the free community) the first ones who have to acknowledge that. Companies just will give people what they want.
    Of course there are technical issues, but the point here is that there’s more than that.

  3. Well, we (KDE community) accept that kind of services since years ago, for example opendesktop is closed src (afaik), and we’re using it in a lot of places (Even more, his author is a board member). Also “remember the milk” is just a front end to the web service.

    Personally I don’t like to use those services, even if they’re opensrc, because you really don’t know how they’re configured. But well, the majority part of KDE accept that services (users at least), so personally I’ll work on improving the interaction between these services and the desktop (kde-silk?), because don’t forget it, we do this for the user (at least I do:)).

  4. We provide “libre” solutions to the users, we don’t just make users happy, in my opinion.

    Creating free software is more than just making users happy during the spare time.

  5. Before you go on , why don’t you explain why is having a free client and open protocol “not enough freedom” for us??????????

    Do you use any searching engine at all????????? Google is not open sourced, bing is not open sourced, Yahoo is not open sourced. I guess they must be “not enough freedom” to you.

    (Personally, I also want my own google-search-engine.rpm so I can have my own crawler too! Must be very cool! But, I can understand why they don’t want to open source it too.)

  6. Well, what I know and understand is why would I want to have it liberated.
    That there’s no alternative is not a proof for anything.

    Having a free client only means that you know what the interface is doing , having an open protocol makes it useful for everyone (note that this is very technical). The point is that a service won’t be free until you can control your data.

  7. You want to have your data liberated? Were they under depression from a certain corporation? Did they cry for help???

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