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December 27, 2020

Ringing in the new year with free software!

This is it, folks. 2020 is finally over.

This year has brought a lot to digest for me, personally. I have lost a few people in my life due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and I have spent a good amount of my free time this year contirbuting to free software projects and expanding more of my own software projects. I launched this site this year, along with my FOSSphones website to discuss the emergence of FOSS mobile software and hardware projects, like the PinePhone and Ubuntu Touch.

I'm on my computer the biggest majority of every day, and I am proud to say that with one exception, I use one-hundred percent free and open source software. The one proprietary application I still have around on my machine is Discord, and I am actively working to get all of the people who actively talk with me on Discord to switch to Element so I can finally rid myself of that last accursed piece of proprietary software. I am purely on federated social networks, and have removed myself from all of the evil, proprietary platforms that I was on years ago.

This year, more than almost any other year, I have done a lot to further my own interest and contribution to the free software movement. I don't believe there is a more important movement when it comes to the software we use every single day, and the further expansion of technology into our lives. We are highly dependent on our technology, and we need to know that the software we use every single day is working for us, and not against us. This is what proprietary software does, by design.

With proprietary software, we have no control over what the program does. We can't see the source code, so we often have to assume that it is malware. After all, if a developer has the chance to take advantage of the user in a sneaky way, you have to assume that they will.

So, does this mean you should never use a computer or mobile device again? No, not at all!

You can use software that respects your freedom.

On my sites, you will see the expression FOSS quite a bit. This stands for Free and Open Source Software, which is software that the user has complete control over. With free software, we aren't referring to a monetary exchange, but the freedom to use the software as you see fit. Free software can also cost money. In this sense, a more appropriate term would be libre software.

I am a proud supporter of the Free Software Foundation, and do everything I can to help further the movement to get more people to use free software. When just a handful of technology companies control what we see and do with our devices, having freedom-respecting alternatives available is paramount to maintaining your digital freedom. These programs are built by community members instead of huge companies, and the code is auditable by everyone, ensuring that there are no backdoors or other pieces of malware in the software that would take away the freedom of the user.

Make your new year's resolution!

So, if you aren't a supporter and user of free software, think about changing that and taking control of your digital life! Using free software is simple, and anyone can do it. You can install a GNU/Linux or BSD system to replace Windows or MacOS to take full control of your computing. You can use free and open source versions of Android on your mobile phone, or one of the various GNU/Linux mobile distros if you have the right device, like a PinePhone or a Librem 5.

You can take yourself off of those huge, data-mining platforms like Facebook and Twitter, that only want to take away your data and your privacy. Move onto federated and free platforms such as Mastodon, Pixelfed, and Diaspora to maintain your freedom from the social giants while enjoying taking part in social discourse on a completely free and open source platform.

Make your new year's resolution to begin using free software and remove the digital handcuffs from your life. You might be surprised at how well it works for you.