Mentioning free software.

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David Sterry
David Sterry's picture
Joined: 11/19/2008
User offline. Last seen 7 years 35 weeks ago.

Here are some ideas on how to bring up free software to people that might be interested or could be helped by it. Starting the free software conversation is one way you can increase adoption and raise awareness of software freedom as an issue. Each scenario is followed by a sample dialog provided for illustrative purposes.

1. When someone asks you to download or install something illegally.

User: Hey man, can you help me download Office 2007?

Geek: You mean from Microsoft after paying for a valid license?

User: You're kidding right?

Geek: Not really. Let's see Microsoft.com...wow that's quite a price tag. You know what, I can install OpenOffice.org which is free and doesn't lock you into having download this illegally or paying through the nose every few years.

2. When someone asks you to install non-free software.

User: Hey man, can you help me install Office 2007?

Geek: Ok, let's see. Where did you get this disk from and do you have a valid product key?

User: I got it from a friend, he burned it off the internet.

Geek: Uhh, you know I'd rather not but I'll install OpenOffice for you. It's free and doesn't lock you into having to steal this from a friend or, say you want to be legit, being locked into buying a new license every few years.

3. When someone complains about a virus/spyware, antivirus software, or firewall.

User: Hey man, do you know what's some good spyware to get? My computer's running really slow and I get this popup all the time that won't go away.

Geek: Ahh you got some spyware? No fun. You know I haven't seen that crap for years. That's because I run a free operating system on all my laptops and computers. It's nearly impossible to infect and the only real problem is that you might have to get a different audio player besides an iPod due to Apple's restrictive software policies.

User: Free operating system what's that?

Geek: Well see on your laptop here you're running Windows XP. That's the operating system it's what all the other programs on your computer depend on to run. And also hardware like your printer and iPod talk to it as well. The free operating system I'm using is called gNewSense. It was developed by thousands of great programmers and hobbyists and is in many ways better than anything you could buy from Microsoft or Apple. The best part is the freedom.

User: Freedom huh. Ok, so what I buy a computer with this on it or what?

Geek: No, I'll install it for you. It can be installed side-by-side with your spyware infested XP in case you need to go back to it. It can read all your files and surf the web, do email, and I mentioned that it's virtually bulletproof against spyware and viruses right? If you've got 30 minutes I'll install it for you right now.

User: You can install it now?

Geek: Yup, I've got it on my thumb drive.

User: You are insane. Sure. Do it.

4. When someone complains about the cost of a computer or the cost of software.

User: Hey man, did you see how much Windows is?

Geek: Yeah, they're really turning the screws. But what can you do except "install gNewSense" and "experience a whole new world of computing".

User: What are you talking about?

Geek: Free software. It's the bomb. It's free in terms of cost and in terms of freedom and it lets you control your computer.

User: I don't think anything is really going to let me control my computer. I don't have a clue.

Geek: You're not that bad but I can tell you Microsoft hasn't made it as easy for you as they would have you think. You've seen how they like to change things and how you can't really do much about it. Well if you get gNewSense you can really do whatever you want. I can install it for you...when's a good time?

5. When Microsoft or another proprietary software vendor is mentioned.

User: Hey man, is Microsoft taking over everything? Seems like Windows is everywhere.

Geek: Yeah, it's too bad. So many people seem to be stuck with Windows and having a ton of problems.

User: Right but what can you do?

Geek: Well you can install gNewSense...have you heard of the Linux kernel?

User: I've heard of Linux...what the hell is that?

Geek: Linux is a kernel but there's a whole bunch of free software out there like that that's free to use, and to modify, and to share. You should check it out. I can even install it for you. Lots of other people who've tried it like it because they don't have to worry about viruses and can keep using their old computers.

User: Wow so I don't have to buy a new system?

Geek: Nope, I've got a thumb drive here with it. I just put it right here....then go ahead and reboot.

User: Really? Cool.

6. Whenever there's a bug or unwanted update with a piece of software online or off.

User: Hey, what the hell happened to Yahoo Mail?

Geek: Oh, they must've made an update. That's why we need free software.

User: But yahoo is free.

Geek: Yes in once sense but in another it's really not. See if they make a change you can't do much about it. But on my server I run roundcube which I could modify if I wanted or update it or not. You should consider getting a domain name then I can help you have more software freedom.

7. When someone asks you opinion of "Getting a Mac"

User: Hey man, what do you think of Apple?

Geek: Oh, well Apple's different. I mean if you switch you'll get to learn a lot more about the computer but the thing is Apple's actually more restrictive than Windows. And they have their users on even more of a treadmill that Microsoft has everyone else.

User: So I should stick with my PC?

Geek: Yeah, you can keep your same computer but if you want something better, I could install gNewSense for you. It's a free operating system that gives you some serious power and won't cost you an arm and a leg to maintain.

User: You said it's free? How do they make money?

Geek: Money is not their concern. There's a whole bunch of people who just want to build free software to preserve their own freedom but also because it's great work. And some companies pay people to work on it so as a company they can maintain their independence. In any case, I can install gNewSense on your desktop if you'd like. It only takes about 30 minutes.

User: Nice. Ok, do it.