Please support free software

I’m Matt Lee, and I support free software.

I have been a GNU volunteer for over ten years. Between 2007 and 2012, I worked at the Free Software Foundation, where I wrote and produced the short film, “Happy Birthday to GNU” starring Stephen Fry. The film was a huge success for the FSF and continues to be watched today.

Stephen Fry in Happy Birthday to GNU by Matt Lee. (c) 2008 Free Software Foundation.

These days, I work on as a free software developer in my capacity as Technical Lead at Creative Commons, and as a maintainer of two GNU projects – GNU FM (which powers the music community, and GNU social, which is used by the FSF and thousands of other free software enthusiasts to communicate with free software in a federated, decentralized social network.

The FSF is not perfect. Sometimes campaigning for free software can seem frustrating or negative to people already in the know, yet we believe that the GNU operating system, together with Linux is capable of liberating every computer user on this planet. This is true, but only if you have both the technical chops and the means to use it.

Many of the computer users in the world right now, are using cheap mobile devices. Even in a wealthy city like Boston, you’ll find people who’s only computer is a cellphone. Increasingly, most of these cellphones run the Android operating system, which has free software at its core – yet these users are trapped. Trapped in a mire of proprietary software, unable to upgrade and often unable to install many extra applications, due to a lack of space on the device.

A goal of the GNU operating system is to make it possible to do any job you want, using free software.

I recently gave a video interview to the popular YouTube channel, computerphile. Along with the release of the interview in two parts (Part 1, Part 2), the editor released a third video where he explains his experiences trying to use free software to edit my interview. It is worth a watch and you’ll see it is still clear that we have some way to go before free software tools will be able to do anything you’d like to do with a computer, but I think we are very very close, and the FSF’s directed donations and high priority projects list help to remedy some of these critical steps.

Matt Lee, yesterday

For the last few years, I have been working on a movie script, and we hope to begin shooting our movie in 2015 and I will edit it using free software, even if the output isn’t perfect. I will release the footage and all of the video editor files so that others can help me improve the movie in the way that we currently improve free software.

Finally, I ask everyone to be more welcoming in the free software community. We have seen attacks on game developers, software developers and journalists in 2014 – let’s work together to make free software a safe and inviting place for all people – from all walks of life, from all nations on earth. Take time not to criticize the work of others, but instead to improve our community as well as our software.

Please help people install the F-Droid marketplace and free browser like Firefox on their Android phones. Support projects like Replicant and Firefox OS which aim to bring free software to people who’s only experience of a computer may be their cheap cellphone, and support the FSF in their mission to protect and inform users about software freedom. Plus, they really need a new printer.

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