I am writing a series of posts that address various myths and misconceptions about free software. In this first post, I address the misconception that users have no need for freedom 1 as they lack the capability to practise this freedom.
Computer programs are invaluable tools. Software users use computer software to perform a task or solve a problem. Over time, computer software becomes outdated when the user requirements of the software change and the software fails to meet these new requirements. Assuming freedom 1 is permitted, the program can be changed whenever a user identifies a need for this. Access to the source code is a prerequisite for freedom 1. Without freedom 1, the user is expected to be helpless before he gets the blessing from the master for improvements to be commissioned; the user is expected to subject to the master of the software. A user cannot expect to live in freedom while living subject under the rule of a software master.
the average person doesn't give a flying xxxx about the source code. the average person cannot program. the average person doen't care about "freedom of source code" because it has absolutely zero value to them: it's an alien language, well beyond their capabilities. http://advogato.org/article/977.html , 3rd comment
It is true that "average users" are generally non-programmers; these users are unable to comprehend and author programming code. It is true that trying to comprehend programming code is like trying to comprehend an alien language. It is true that average users are incapable of directly practising freedom 1. It is true that the average user doesn't care about their right to freedom 1. One reason why this is so is because users do not understand the fact that users can indirectly practise freedom 1 by asking a skilled programmer for help.
I see four different possibilities that a user can take in order to update the programming of the software they use:
- A user can do it themselves. Of course, this sort of person will need to have programming skills.
- A user can ask a skilled programmer neighbour to help. Some people are fortunate enough to be friends with a computer programmer that is willing to help with programming requests.
- A user can join a free software community and ask the community for help. Whether the community is located on the web or in a real life gathering, there are usually free software communities availiable that are interested in helping users with various free software problems.
- A user can hire a professional programmer. This is my preferred option for most cases as the user can form a relationship with a professional and get (relatively) quick and easy access to improvements.
In conclusion, you should demand your right to practise freedom 1 in order to live in freedom. You don't need any programming skills to practise freedom 1. Non-programmers do not value their right to freedom 1 because they misunderstand their ability to practise this right. Users don't understand that they can indirectly practise this right by asking for help from skilled computer programmers.