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Software enshittification or freedom? It's not a hard choice!

Nonfree software subjugates users. That's wrong enough, but such power is now used to wrong users even harder. The easier it is for third parties to impose on a user their choice of software version the more they can twiddle the software's behavior to best serve themselves and enshittify the user's computing. This holds for dominant (nonfree) operating systems for workstations and mobiles, with their mandatory updates, but users become even more vulnerable to enshittification by using web apps downloaded at every use from somebody else's servers, by doing their computing through somebody else's services, and by using remotely controlled and remotely mediated smartIoT devices and appliances. Even when using software that's not updated automatically on their own computers, users (and their upstream distributors) may be persuaded to adopt enshittif(ied/ying?) versions, including CPU microcode and firmware for system initialization and for peripheral devices. Is using free software enough to escape?

Presented by: Alexandre Oliva

Free software evangelist. GNU speaker and advisory-committee member. Recipient of the FSF's 2016 Award for the Advancement of Free Software. FSF Latin America board member. FSF supporter, voting member, and former acting president. LibrePlanet São Paulo activist. 0G foreseer. Maintainer of GNU Linux-libre, and co-maintainer of the GNU Compiler Collection, GNU binutils, and GNU libc. Libre-SOC contributor. GNU tools engineer at AdaCore.


2 weeks, 2 days ago

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video · LibrePlanet 2024 video · FSF · LibrePlanet 2024 · LibrePlanet · lp2024 · libreplanet-conference


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.