Free Software Philosophy and the Tools We Use

What is Free Software?

Free (as in freedom) software is software that is licensed in such a way to give its users the freedom to use the software in any way they see fit and to modify and redistribute the software as necessary and without restriction. The GNU/Linux operating system that we use at Free I.T. Athens, is one example of such software. It is written, updated, and maintained by paid staff, thousands of volunteers all around the world and distributed via the Internet gratis. You can learn more about free software at the Free Software Foundation. Free I.T. Athens encourages you to learn about the GNU Project and to help this important project continue to meet the needs of its ever increasing number of users.

Why Free Software?

  1. We are philosophically opposed to the restrictions that nonfree software places on the end user. It is within our mission and vision to use and promote free technology and free software.
  2. Free software gives us and those that use our services the freedom to use software for any purpose. This freedom allows individuals to make as many copies of software as they wish, and to share the software they like unhindered. It also allows Free I.T. Athens to use as many copies of freely licensed software it needs to reach the maximum amount of people in our community — nonfree software licenses traditionally restrict this kind of freedom. Another perk of free software is that it is not only freely shareable — it usually costs nothing!
  3. Free software gives us and others the ability and freedom to study and modify software. The ability to see the source code, or blueprints, enables Free I.T. Athens to modify the software to fit the needs and wants of those we serve. For example, since GNU/Linux is freely modifiable, we are able to put educational software and other programs on the computers we sell, give and grant to the community that is very specific to our locale. We cannot do this with nonfree software.
  4. Free software follows a community development framework that aims to empower users and raise social capital.  We aim to do the same through providing technology and services to residents of Athens, Georgia and the surrounding area.
  5. It’s better. As free software advocates, we feel that free software is technologically superior to nonfree offerings. Since anyone can view and modify the source code of free software, many expert developers from around the globe are able to fix bugs and security holes much more quickly than nonfree software developers. Free software also allows us to breathe new life into machines considered “old” or “junk,” thus making a positive impact on the environment through re-use.

What We Use to Make an Impact

  • Almost 100% (we’ve had to purchase a few things!) re-purposed equipment for our office and technical infrastructure.
  • WordPress  for our Web site (GPLv2+).
  • Mint GNU/Linux operating system for the computers we distribute (GPL and other various licenses).  We are living proof that a nonprofit can be run on donated equipment.
  • Debian  GNU/Linux operating system for our servers and a mixture of Arch, Mint, Ubuntu and various GNU/Linux derivatives for internal use (GPL and other various licenses).
  • DBAN  for wiping hard drives (GPL).
  • LibreOffice  for document, presentation and spreadsheet creation (LGPLv3 and MPL).
  • GIMP for raster image creation, editing and design (LGPLv3+ and GPLv3+).
  • Inkscape  for vector image creation, editing and design (GPL).
  • Clonezilla for computer imaging (GPL.
  • ownCloud  for file storage (AGPLv3).
  • Rsync and cron for backups (GPLv3).
  • GnuCash for bookkeeping (GPL/ALv2).
  • DD-WRT  for our router firmware (GPL).