Archive for July, 2007

July 23rd, 2007

“Non-free” and “proprietary” are OK, but it is Freedom-depriving software

While English is the de facto language for technical documentation, it’s a headache when it comes to using the two key words of the free software philosophy: Free and non-free. I mean, to explain what free software is all about, we should also explain what we mean by “free”.

This is so true, that English-speaking people had to borrow a word from another language to work around this ambiguity. Now the “Free as in Freedom, not as free beer” issue is resolved by using a single word: Libre. But, what’s the antonym of Libre? Non-libre? No, it’s non-free or proprietary! (non-libre is seldom used); what a muddle.

Also, both “non-free” and “proprietary” miss the point, just like open-source does in a similar sense; on one hand, “non-free” means that something is not free (yes, I’m a genius!), so we’re back to the starting point, as we have to explain what we mean by “non-free” (a non-gratis-bear or a non-libre-person?) and “non-free” is not an strong term; on the other hand, “proprietary” means that something has one or more owners, that’s it. We need an strong, offending term.

What about “Freedom-depriving software”? It’s the perfect term to refer to software like Microsoft’s. It’s not ambiguous in English, it’s simple and it’s offending (just what they deserve). We can say “Windows is a Freedom-depriving software” and everyday computer users will get what we mean.

PS: English already has a word that perfectly defines the contrary of “Free as in Freedom”: Privative. But people may argue that this is the worst solution because “privative” is an unusual word… And that would be a valid point.

July 21st, 2007

E-verano 2007

I’ve been been invited to the Spanish National Meeting of Free Software, in Seville, Spain. I’m in Seville at this moment, I arrived yesterday and I’ll leave tomorrow.

I’ve had the great pleasure to meet a lot of nice people, including (but not limited to) Pascal Chevrel (Mozilla Europe), Julian Coccia (Spanish Linux), Ramon Ramon (HispaLinux, the Spanish Association of Linux Users), people from Iniciativa Focus

I am very happy of the compliments I’ve received for GNU/Linux Matters and I’ll talk about it on our forum.

By the way, you can see me in; the person behind me is Julian Coccia.

PS: If you speak Spanish, you should check out

July 18th, 2007

Free Computing Environment as a Undeclared Human Right

According to Wikipedia, human rights are:

the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled, often held to include the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law.

On the other hand, Wiktionary defines Liberty as:

The condition of being free from control or restrictions.

So, it is obvious that a free computing environment is a human right, an undeclared one. Then, it must be illegal for someone to forbid others from:

  • using a software,
  • reviewing or adapting its source code,
  • redistributing the original or the derived work,
  • transporting information by using unconstrained means,
  • storing information by using unconstrained formats.

It is not enough to have free alternatives: These constraints must not exist; nothing justifies them.

Software products have a key difference from other products: They can be copied almost instantaneously and its cost tends to zero. This is where the real problem begins: Many software vendors have been using typical commercial strategies in order to make a profit from an unprecedented product type.

These vendors must look for other ways of making money, without depriving their clients of their freedom in their computing environment. But they won’t, so we must stand for a free society and let our governments know that this is an undeclared human right.


July 6th, 2007

Testing, testing… 1, 2, 3… Testing

Well, it looks like I finally got a blog!

I will use it to talk about what’s going on behind-the-scenes with my contributions to the free software movement, mainly by means of GNU/Linux Matters. I want to let people know that we’re alive! That behind those cool but static websites there are people moving forward, getting ready to effectively defend Freedom in computing. Yes, we already have a blog, but I believe that a personal touch would be great as well. I look forward to seeing more people at GLM blogging about what’s happening under the hood.

But that’s not it. I’m studying computing, so you might think that I’ll blog about computing-related stuff; if so, you’re right. I love software and I wish I could only care about it, without worrying about whether it’s free or not… Every single piece of software must be free as in Freedom. Unfortunately, in the real world, most computing systems are powered by privative software.

I hope you enjoy it!

PS: You might wonder what’s “privative software”. I’ll explain it later, but in the mean time you can read dylunio’s brief explanation.


  • About the author

    You're visiting the technical blog of Gustavo Narea, a Software Developer based in Oxford.