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Bicycles as a metaphor for free software

Wm Salt Hale


While riding from Seattle to Bellingham, from my biking community to my GNU/Linux community, I considered just how freeing each transition had been. Historically, biking has been associated with many things including health, happiness, and feminism. What about free software?

During the next 45 minutes, we will explore the free engineering, grassroots innovation, hands-on learning, hidden dangers, bright horizons, and overall rad routes that both free software and bicycles cover mile by mile, together.

This ride through history, including the past, present, and future, will leave both free software and cycling enthusiasts with a deeper understanding of what it is that "sparks joy" within members of each group.

Join me in an exploration of excitement, engineering, and freedom as we take this journey on two-wheeled, self-powered transportation and transformation!


3 years, 7 months ago

Tagged with

bicycles · Salt · Free the Future · LibrePlanet conference · LibrePlanet 2020 video · LibrePlanet 2020 · LibrePlanet · lp2020 · video · FSF


CC BY-SA 4.0


This talk was presented at LibrePlanet.


LibrePlanet is the Free Software Foundation's annual conference. The FSF campaigns for free/libre software, meaning it respects users' freedom and community. We believe that users are entitled to this; all software should be free.


We do not advocate "open source".

That term was coined to reject our views. It refers to similar practices, but usually presented solely as advantageous, without talking of right and wrong.


Richard Stallman launched the free software movement in 1983 by announcing development of the free operating system, GNU. By 1992, GNU was nearly operational; one major essential component was lacking, the kernel.


In 1992, Torvalds freed the kernel Linux, which filled the last gap in GNU. Since then, the combined GNU/Linux system has run in millions of computers. Nowadays you can buy a new computer with a totally free GNU/Linux system preinstalled.


The views of the speaker may not represent the Free Software Foundation. The Foundation supports the free software cause and freedom to share, and basic freedoms in the digital domain, but has no position on other political issues.