It's enormously gratifying to know that you're participating in a movement that's helping people around the world have access to high-quality software at low to no cost (after all, just try saying "Get a Mac" to someone who lives in a poor township in Africa). Projects such as Ubuntu offer people all around the world the opportunity to get involved in the wider world via the Internet, by providing them with an operating system that is cheap or free, will run on old hardware that isn't much use elsewhere, and gives them an alternative to pirated copies of Windows. And that's just the "free as in free beer" aspect of it.
The "free as in free speech" aspect is even more important. By giving people the opportunity to make changes to the operating system to make it more suitable for a local audience, they're again giving more people the opportunity to get involved. Rather than waiting for Microsoft to translate Windows into their native language, they have the opportunity to do the work themselves and not have to wait. Also they can make changes to software to make it more suitable. And free software often supports many more different formats than its proprietary counterparts (just look at Open Office compared to MS Office for an example), making it easier for it to interoperate.
That's why I'm proud to be a Linux user. I may not have helped out much to date, but I plan to get involved at some point, whether it's packaging, offering advice in the Ubuntu forums, or writing documentation.
Finally, the programs are just so much better named! Don't believe me? Here's a list of proprietary applications and their free software equivalents:
- Internet Explorer - Firefox
- Photoshop - GIMP (makes a better verb too! To Gimp something sounds a lot better than to Photoshop something!)
- Outlook - Thunderbird
- iTunes - Amarok
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