Software Freedom Conservancy

Conservancy's Member Projects are Building the Next Generation of the Free Software Movement

by Deb Nicholson on December 19, 2018

In order for free software to succeed, we must always be bringing new people to free software. In addition to bringing in developers, we need non-coding contributors and learners of all ages for our software to fulfill the promise of our movement. We love helping our member projects as they reach out to non-coding users and learners of all ages.

Conservancy is well-known for our work to support developers which is obviously super important -- there's no free software without well, people writing software. In fact, it's tough to build truly free software without free tools. So tools and code are critically important for software freedom, but I don't believe we can build a successful free software movement without conscientiously bringing in end-users. Many of our member projects focus on building amazing software for end-users, and maybe (while you're fixing computers for family over the holidays?) one of them can help you bring someone into the free software fold.

Several of our projects don't maintain code at all and/or work solely on helping people learn more about free software. MicroBlocks is a new programming language that enables kids and lifelong learners to start building toys or tools right away. Teaching Open Source collects and advises on curricula that helps college students understand open source development and its legal underpinnings. North Bay Python is a community-driven conference serving local Python developers -- including beginners. Outreachy brings people from underrepresented groups into free software via paid internships. The longevity of the free software movement depends on our collective ability to bring in young people and new people so we are proud to support educational efforts.

Two of our newest projects maintain code bases specifically for people who work at non-profits. Non-profit folks love stuff that is free as in cost and while they appreciate free as in freedom -- they also need code that does not need a lot of tinkering to be deployed. Backdrop CMS is a lightweight, easy to deploy Drupal fork specifically designed for small businesses and non-profits. Houdini helps organizations manage every aspect of their fundraising work. Free software is a good mission match for change organizations so it was great to welcome in two projects this year that are working intentionally to serve this sector.

Of course, we believe that software freedom is for everyone and a few Conservancy projects provide tools that can be used by anyone at all. Etherpad is shared note-taking platform that we use nearly every day in our work at Conservancy. Inkscape can be used for serious artists or those just dabbling in design. There are loads of tutorial videos to help new folks get acclimated and productive. Need a band flyer or church program? There's free software for that!

We even have projects at Conservancy that help people who are just beginning to explore free software. Homebrew enables users to install free software on their Apple systems while Wine helps people use a Windows program on a free operating systems. If you don't work at somewhere like the Conservancy, it can be difficult to ditch proprietary software. Projects like Homebrew and Wine help users find ways to use free software where they can and find a way to transition away from the non-free stuff at their own pace.

So wherever you are in your software freedom journey, Conservancy might have a project that can help. We look forward to helping our member projects do even more to bring in new fans, users and supporters of their work in 2019. Help us help them, by donating to Conservancy today! And be sure to let us know if one of our member projects helped you turn a new person into a free software user -- we love those stories.

Tags: conservancy, Wine, Homebrew, Outreachy, inkscape

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