Letter to the Editor

I would like to think that Colorado State University is interested in influencing the future of society. If so, what they teach us is integral to that influence. That being said, it is abhorrent that they saddle us with proprietary operating systems. CSU should teach us, and exclusively use free software, which supports democratic — not corporate — values and facilitates a scenario in which we can help others. Oh, and as a byproduct of such an action, we would be creating a generation of computer users who would no longer be burdened by the expense to their wallets and their freedom.

The CSU campus standard states that, “user training is provided for the one industry standard software suite, Microsoft Office.” This is a false statement and maliciously implants dependence on us as students, which as far as I know contradicts the social mission of this land-grant university. This university cooperates, as mandated by law, with corporations to punish students who are good enough at heart to share software, or curious enough to want to change it.

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Free software is software that respects our freedom. To use free software is to make a political and ethical choice asserting our rights to learn and to share what we learn with others.

Usually software we buy denies us these rights, because we don’t actually buy ownership of the software. Instead, we receive a license to use the software, and this license binds us with many fine-print rules about what we can and can’t do.

If we make a copy and give it to a friend, if we try to figure out how the program works, if we put a copy on more than one of our own computers in our own home, we could if caught be fined or put in jail. That’s what’s in the fine print.

What if there were a worldwide group of talented, ethical programmers voluntarily committed to the idea of writing and sharing software with each other and with anyone else who agreed to share alike? What if anyone could be a part of and benefit from this community even without knowing anything about programming? We wouldn’t have to worry about getting caught copying a useful program for our friends — because we wouldn’t be doing anything illegal.

Now I understand what I’m asking. It’s easy, but not without effort. The first step is to get the campus standards changed. I have written to my ASCSU Senator, and look forward to their representation on this matter. There are a whole host of free software options available, including an industry standardized software suite. The idea that everything done today at CSU, can be done with free software is closer to reality than we are led to believe. Yes, some of our procedures may need to change, but isn’t our freedom worth it? FSF.ORG both informed the content of this letter, as well as provides resources for a completely free computing experience. These resources include a catalog of over 6,500 free software applications and completely free operating systems. Please check them out.

Sincerely,

Tony DeNardo

PhD Student, Education