On Choosing Freedom

Ultimately software freedom is a matter of personal liberty, however it is framed. Whether you describe it as “open source” or “free software”, the goal is for each individual user of software to be self-sovereign in their software and data. Where the privilege of choice is available, this is a matter of consciously choosing liberty, and it is strictly a matter for each individual to make a set of choices — which will necessarily be inter-related.
A gull in flight against a blue sky with a whisp of cloud

In an ideal world, we would all be entirely self-sovereign in our software and the data it uses. But there is a limit to the extent that is possible, largely because of choices others have made before us. No matter how committed to our own software freedom or to preserving that of others, we ultimately need to compromise and in some areas choose or use solutions that abridge our freedoms. Sometimes we may even need to make choices that lead to others having their freedoms abridged. We all have a point-of-compromise, and we all choose a different one. The most important aspect of software freedom is to be aware of it so that choice is a conscious one.

The choices we make are relevant to others only to the extent that they abridge the choices of other software users. It is never OK to bully someone over their software freedom point-of-compromise.

What else is “an abridgment too far”? When I can only choose systems that leave me with no practical software freedoms, and when the person or organisation forcing that choice either has not considered the issue or in doing so has needlessly ignored software freedom as a key factor. In just these cases it may be reasonable to politely inquire why and then to go further if the response is unreasonable.

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