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Five things Free Software has taught me

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I’ve been in Free Software for a few years now and learned a ton from it. Sure, I learned how to use new types of software, became efficient on them, and honed my programming skills, but stopping there would be missing the point. Free software has so much more to offer than just computing and technical benefits. In fact, the technical side is the least important thing I’ve learned from my experiences. Free Software has brought me far beyond knowledge of its source code and taught me lessons I will value for a lifetime.

1. Centralized control isn’t worth it

When one single governing body gains absolute control over something, it is only a matter of time before that governing body increases its power tremendously. Many times, it does this in order to avoid vice, but counterintuitively, only ends up creating more of it in the process. Take any modern established proprietary software company that started out in the 60’s or 70’s for example. These software companies were revolutionary in their decision not to share their software for the benefit of learning, but rather, keep it a secret in order to make money from it. As time went on, the companies began imposing slightly harsher methods upon users in an attempt to foil the plans of those who refused to pay. This was the beginning of techniques such as license keys. As users developed ways around the methods, the methods kept getting progressively harsher, severely punishing casual proprietary software users who had been legally using and paying full price for the software since the beginning.

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