Open letter to IFJ

Referring to IFJ Appeals to Microsoft as Russia Uses Anti-Piracy Campaign as a Cover for Media Intimidation:

Why don’t you consider an opportunity to help Russian independent media outlets migrate to free/libre open-source software (FLOSS) instead of begging Microsoft to donate free or discounted licenses for their computers?

With more than 20 years of computing experience, having worked in and with newspapers, and having first-hand knowledge of Windows, Mac OS X and Linux operating systems, I dare to say that FLOSS is a suitable alternative for most people employed in a media organization.

Of course there are specific functions such as desktop publishing, for which the best software solutions are still proprietary — but the bulk of users only really need an operating system, web browser, email client, and some kind of a word processor / spreadsheet editor. For this, free software alternatives already abound. For example, Ubuntu Linux comes complete with Firefox web browser, Evolution email/calendar program, and OpenOffice.org office suite — at a license cost of exactly zero — and tens of thousands of additional applications are available online for easy installation if needed.

Furthermore, FLOSS is not only free in charge, but also free to adapt/modify, and the users of FLOSS are forever guaranteed the freedom of choice, including choice of software, and choice of support provider. This is not so in case of free-of-charge licenses for Microsoft (or other proprietary) operating systems and applications.

Mitigating the risk of government action against Russian independent media by making them dependent on a different kind of superpower is probably not the most effective way of ensuring freedom of press, and freedom of speech.

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