The Free Software Foundation (FSF)
is a nonprofit with a worldwide mission to promote computer user freedom. We defend the rights of all software users.
Free software developers guarantee everyone equal rights to their programs; any user can study the source code, modify it, and share the program. By contrast, most software carries fine print that denies users these basic rights, leaving them susceptible to the whims of its owners and vulnerable to surveillance.
The FSF provides critical infrastructure and funding for the GNU project, the foundation of the popular GNU/Linux family of free operating systems and the keystone of the Internet.
With your support, we’ve done these things for 30 years. Help launch us into 30 more; please become a member today.
The FSF’s campaigns
target important opportunities for free software adoption and development, empower people against specific threats to their freedom, and move us closer to a free society.
Our successes are driven by the efforts of supporters and activists like you all around the world. Please take a moment today to make a contribution, by joining the FSF as an associate member, making a tax-deductible donation and volunteering your time.
Secure Boot vs Restricted Boot
When done correctly, „Secure Boot“ is designed to protect against malware by preventing computers from loading unauthorized binary programs when booting. In practice, this means that computers implementing it won’t boot unauthorized operating systems – including initially authorized systems that have been modified without being re-approved.
This could be a feature deserving of the name, as long as the user is able to authorize the programs she wants to use, so she can run free software written and modified by herself or people she trusts. However, we are concerned that Microsoft and hardware manufacturers will implement these boot restrictions in a way that will prevent users from booting anything other than Windows. In this case, we are better off calling the technology Restricted Boot, since such a requirement would be a disastrous restriction on computer users and not a security feature at all.
- Learn more about Secure Boot vs Restricted Boot.
- Join over 30,000 others and sign the statement, Stand up for your freedom to install free software
- Read our white paper to find out about our recommendations for free operating system distributions considering Secure Boot (PDF)
- See the winning entry of our webcomic contest.
Upgrade from Windows
Microsoft uses draconian law to put Windows, the world’s most-used operating system, completely outside the control of its users. Neither Windows users nor independent experts can view the system’s source code, make modifications or fixes, or copy the system. This puts Microsoft in a dominant position over its customers, which it takes advantage of to treat them as a product.
Learn more about our campaign and pledge to upgrade away from Windows at http://www.upgradefromwindows.com
If we want to defang surveillance programs like PRISM, we need to stop using centralized systems and come together to build an Internet that’s decentralized, trustworthy, and free „as in freedom.“ Check out the surveillance campaign area to get involved with the effort to make the Web in general safer and from surveillance.
On an individual level, we also need to start encrypting our personal communication to make bulk surveillance much more difficult and to protect the people we communicate with. Try Email Self-Defense, our beginner’s guide to email encryption, to get started in less than an hour.
Free software is simply software that respects our freedom — our freedom to learn and understand the software we are using. Free software is designed to free the user from restrictions put in place by proprietary software, and so using free software lets you join a global community of people who are making the political and ethical choice assertion of our rights to learn and to share what we learn with others.
This is a campaign aimed at getting new users into free software.
The GNU operating system is a complete operating system made entirely of free software. Millions of people are using GNU every day to edit their documents, browse the web, play games, and handle their email, or as part of a GNU/Linux system on their home computer. Even people who have never heard of it use GNU everyday, because it powers many of the sites they visit and services they use. Learn more about GNU, and support progress on fully free operating systems by volunteering or donating to the FSF.
Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) robs us of control over the technology we use and the culture we live in. DRM and the DMCA can make it illegal to share an article, back-up your kids’ favorite DVD, or move your music from one player to another. Since DRM is inherently incompatible with free software, it also excludes free software users from equal participation in culture. Now, we are facing a new threat: DRM in HTML5. Millions of Internet users came together to defeat SOPA/PIPA, but now Big Media moguls are going through non-governmental channels to try to sneak digital restrictions into every interaction we have online.
DefectiveByDesign.org is our anti-DRM campaign, where we mobilize large vocal communities to reject products from businesses that insist on using to DRM to control their customers. Learn more at DefectiveByDesign.org and the campaign wiki.
The PlayOgg campaign (playogg.org) promotes the use of free audio and video formats unencumbered by patent restrictions, rather than MP3, QuickTime, Windows Media, and AAC, whose patent problems threaten free software and hinder progress. We also promote the use of the new „video tag“ standard as an alternative to Adobe Flash for embedding audio and video in webpages. Find out more about PlayOgg at playogg.org or at the campaign wiki. You can also join the PlayOgg volunteer team to push companies and services to use Ogg by joining the mailing list.
Software patents create a legal nightmare for all software developers and pose particular problems for the free software movement. So as the FSF campaigns for formats that are free of software patents, we also work on the more fundamental task of ending software patents entirely, through legal and legislative action. Learn more at EndSoftPatents.org, see the wiki, join the action alert mailing list.
Our OpenDocument campaign fights for the use of free formats in government documents, pushing governments to adopt policies requiring that all digital public documents and information be stored and distributed in formats that are standard, open, and royalty-free. OpenDocument Format (ODF) is one such format. Get involved and take action against Microsoft’s Open XML.
The FSF’s High Priority Projects list and reverse engineering projects list serve to foster the development of projects that are important for increasing the adoption and use of free software and free software operating systems. Some of the most important projects on our list are „replacement projects“. These projects are important because they address areas where users are continually seduced into using nonfree software by the lack of an adequate free replacement. These are critical projects that need your help.
Hardware manufacturers are often negligent in offering support for free software. Our hardware directory helps people identify hardware to buy that works with their free software operating system. It is also an important part of the FSF’s ongoing work to persuade hardware vendors to respect free software users. For more information on the FSF’s plans, read our whitepaper: The road to hardware free from restriction, or see its most recent revisions on its LibrePlanet wiki page.
Our campaign for a Free BIOS protects your rights by giving you freedom at the lowest level (if the BIOS is not free, manufacturers can use it to interfere with your control over the computer you use, for example). One piece of this campaign is Coreboot, a free software project aimed at replacing the proprietary BIOS (firmware) you can find in most of today’s computers. Visit coreboot.org to learn more about the development of Coreboot, supported systems, and how you can get started running a free BIOS. For more, join the Coreboot mailing list. The FSF is also pushing for the creation of a laptop with a free BIOS.