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Environmentalism and Free Software Can be Viewed as Closely Connected and Help One Another

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 10:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Someday we’ll all be free

Waiting tables

Summary: Modest lifestyles are an overlapping pattern in the Free software community and green activists; there’s room for alliances and collaboration, bettering society by reducing consumption and discouraging voyeurism

“Environmentalism” is a broad label or a generic term that typically alludes to well-being of nature, including but not limited to flora and fauna (air and water too may count). There are many branches to it and words like “sustainability” or “green” get thrown around quite a lot. The recurrent theme is non-intervention (or reduction in intervention with respect to one’s natural surroundings).

“I met rms several times in the past and we always get along very well; the people whom he doesn’t like and cannot get along with, in my experience, are probably not very pleasant people. He doesn’t have much patience for them.”Free software may sound like it’s about price, but it is not “freeware” (or “shareware”, which isn’t really about proper sharing; see the licensing). Free software in the traditional and old sense is code one can freely share (not only binaries) and modify; this is reducing waste and replication of effort, but that’s not the main goal as the principal objective is to obstruct subjugation of software users. Richard Stallman (rms) put it very well in his manifesto, which he wrote when I was a little baby. Stallman still lives a very modest life; when he travels to give speeches he flies “coach” (if flights are the only option), he doesn’t own a car, and as far as we’re aware he’s still renting a place to live in. I met rms several times in the past and we always get along very well; the people whom he doesn’t like and cannot get along with, in my experience, are probably not very pleasant people. He doesn’t have much patience for them. If they can’t stand him either, fine. They can go back to their Netflix (DRM) on some iPhone with a golden case. Vanity items don’t always speak as favourably as those who have them would like to think. Frugality is nothing to be ashamed of.

The carbon footprint of rms is very small (excepting/annulling the flights, which I suppose are the sole option for physical presence that greatly assists his advocacy and raises funds). His dietary preferences/options aren’t too demanding and he rarely eats out (no need to). When we met in someone’s dormitory/flat in Oxford (a young couple who had helped facilitate his talk there) he insisted on very simple snacks, nothing too fancy. He came there by rail (train from London) and met me at the station. He’s still living and acting like a student, except the partying and fashionable consumerism. He’s backpacking in an urban setting/context. Nothing wrong with that; it’s a form of exercise, too.

To a lot of geeks in the software freedom ‘circles’ the concept of Free software extends somewhat to a lifestyle. It’s a life of moderate means, no unbridled greed (we don’t judge one another based on wealth), limited spendings, and deep consideration for other people’s endeavours/feelings (no need to bother people or reduce them to ‘slave’ status, e.g. people whose job is waiting tables — a dignified, difficult and respectable job by the way, often more stressful that that of a “big shot” suit in some office).

“To a lot of geeks in the software freedom ‘circles’ the concept of Free software extends somewhat to a lifestyle.”Many Free software users and developers are vegetarians and as figosdev noted several times in the past (in his long essays), FSFE had compared Free software to veganism or took advantage of veganism to promote software freedom at events (and vice versa). It sort of makes sense because the driver or motivator behind Free software is typically if not always ethics; and people who are attentive to other people’s needs and feelings extend such sentiments of compassion to animals as well.

The “greens” or the “green movement” would be wise to openly (freely?) embrace or to liaise with the Free software community; we’re natural allies in a lot of ways. People tend to base their lives and their expectations based on their peers’ (or colleagues’). If more people thought like rms and lived like rms (he has no children by the way, by his own choosing), the planet would be better off and sentimental values cherished, solidarity improved, racism reduced, and nationalism blur away (Free software is almost always developed internationally once it becomes widespread; there tend to be no centralised ‘headquarters’).

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