To run our own copy of a free software program, we need hardware that does not limit us. While most "hardware products" today have their functionality defined by software, they don't provide us the opportunity and freedom to study, modify and share the software that runs on that hardware.
If we realise that we want our lives to be powered by free software exclusively, not only do we need to limit which combinations of hardware + software we use, but we also need to chose the hardware carefully based on what respects us and allows us to run our own software on it.
This talk will offer a brief overview of the "hardware problem" with running free software. A lot more proprietary software creeps into our lives by via of being embedded and combined with hardware. There are very obvious and apparent challenges that arise out of using such products. To continue to have and grow our freedom to compute in a manner that we deem fit, we need to make different choices:
- Use "open source" or free-design hardware - this will enable us to fabricate, extend and fix the hardware on our own. All such hardware does (and ought to) run free software easily.
- Liberate and use hardware that is "somehow" enables us to run free software on our own.
- Eliminate those hardware products that force us to use proprietary software and make other such choices (eg. DRM-encrypted content) that are detrimental to our freedom and self-determinism.
- What we can not expect is to choose hardware + software products as we do today and have any reasonable expectation of not being tracked, spied on or our freedoms and privacy not being disrespected. That is bound to happen and it will help if we choose what hardware we use based on how much opportunity and freedom it gives us to run free software.
- Finally, if we are going to design or assemble or ship hardware of any sort, it is our responsibility to design (or assemble) it such that it respects the rights and freedoms of our users and subsequent developers.