(this page is part of the Family Guide to Digital Freedom, 2007 edition. Please do read that introduction to know more about the Guide, especially if you mean to comment this page. Thanks)
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Is Free Software only relevant for programmers?
Not at all. Demanding a wider adoption of Free Software, starting with Schools and Public Administrations, can be one of the easiest and most effective ways to fight Digital Dangers. Even if one will never use it personally, making sure that everything that can be done with a computer can be done using exclusively Free Software if the end user so wishes is essential to stop many of today’s excesses. Having a Free Software version of any program, means having an already working set of source code for any problem, which solves it and can be legally modified or redistributed without asking permission or paying high fees.
Practically speaking, what becomes possible for all citizens in such a case is having local programmers competing in making custom versions of any program with more functions and/or an interface in any native language: in other words, local jobs and a better service.
The unreplaceable role of source code availability in education and national security, made possible by Free Software licenses, has been already explained in the corresponding chapter. Being highly customizable, Free Software is also an excellent way to extend the life of computers, thus reducing the pollution caused by software.
Free Software can also be an excellent choice for senior citizens, because it is perfectly legal for a specialist to modify it to make it run with a very simple interface on very inexpensive computers. Such computers are just what would allow to many people to really control, for the first time, how their Government is spending their money.
Another reason why Free Software could be the best way to introduce senior citizens or anybody else to computers and the Internet is the fact that it also makes remote administration easy and, if there is a cheap or flat rate Internet connection available, much more affordable. Something goes wrong? Unless you physically break something, no problem! Just call your grandchildren or a specialized technician with a service contract and they’ll fix it from their home or office!